August

From Chapter XVI of The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens: ‘Too Full of Adventure to Be Briefly Described’:

There is no month in the whole year in which nature wears a more beautiful appearance than in the month of August. Spring has many beauties, and May is a fresh and blooming month, but the charms of this time of year are enhanced by their contrast with the winter season. August has no such advantage. It comes when we remember nothing but clear skies, green fields, and sweet-smelling flowers—when the recollection of snow and ice and bleak winds has faded from our minds as completely as they have disappeared from the earth—and yet what a pleasant time it is! Orchards and cornfields ring with the hum of labour; trees bend beneath the thick clusters of rich fruit, which bow their branches to the ground; and the corn, piled in graceful sheaves or waving in every light breath that sweeps above it, as if it wooed the sickle, tinges the landscape with a golden hue. A mellow softness appears to hang over the whole earth; the influence of the season seems to extend itself to the very waggon, whose slow motion across the well-reaped field is perceptible only to the eye, but strikes with no harsh sound upon the ear.

As the coach rolls swiftly past the fields and orchards which skirt the road, groups of women and children, piling the fruit in sieves or gathering the scattered ears of corn, pause for an instant from their labour, and shading the sun-burnt face with a still browner hand, gaze upon the passengers with curious eyes, while some stout urchin, too small to work but too mischievous to be left at home, scrambles over the side of the basket in which he has been deposited for security and kicks and screams with delight. The reaper stops in his work and stands with folded arms, looking at the vehicle as it whirls past; and the rough cart-horses bestow a sleepy glance upon the smart coach-team, which says as plainly as a horse’s glance can, “It’s all very fine to look at, but slow going over a heavy field is better than warm work like that upon a dusty road, after all.” You cast a look behind you as you turn a corner of the road. The women and children have resumed their labour; the reaper once more stoops to his work; the cart-horses have moved on; and all are again in motion.

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