‘…shadowed silvery moon…’
A long, narrow strip of pale yellow is left along the horizon where the sun has gone down behind the distant black mesh trees, but the garden is in darkness. The black evergreens toss restlessly fro and fro in the cold breeze, and the bare branches of the other trees look delicate and vulnerably silhouetted. Behind the trees, but visible at some angles, is a half-moon, with the thin grey clouds rushing coolly over it like liquid, as though it were a shiny pebble under a stream. At one moment, it is shining gently, with the dark cloud shapes hurrying over – at another, it is quite gone and extinguished behind the greyness, as if it had never been there at all – and then it begins to show again, a faint traced shape in the clouds – and they pass over, and it shines serenely, illuminating the sky around in soft whiteness – and then once more the dark shadows begin to flurry over it like waves.
The timeless, boundless branches of the huge beech are like dark trickling veins, behind and around the dark soft shape of the trunk.
The shadows stand still in strange shapes on the lawn, and everything seems to listen to the wind at it makes gentle noises in the tossing branches. Half-afraid of the shapes, she tiptoes down the garden path. The moon draws out of sight for a while behind the blackness of the trees – but as she reaches the lawn, she looks up again. And it shows itself, lonely in the sky, more glorious because isolated by a vastness of grey drifting cloud, wide and swallowing.
In the soft darkness the shape of the beech’s trunk seems huge – far larger than it seems in the daytime – a wide greatness of rising bark. And looking up, she is almost dizzied by the upward spiral of trunk and branches, starting in a faint dimness, but darkly silhouetted as they rise above the paler sky. The well-known turn of every branch is something unfamiliar, something great, something strange, something very old. The moon hangs trembling behind the rushing cloud, and the closer drooping twigs, every little detail of them outlined in black against her gentle white light.
Knowing she would soon be away, she took another glance at the great and grotesquely twisting trunk, and let her fears loose, speeding up the garden path as fast as she could go with every seed-head stirring in the motion.
And reached the house-door, from which the warm light flowed out onto the shining cobbles, that moon and those twigs forever imprinted in her memory.
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