[Manchester—Thursday, 4 August 1870]

August 4. We are enduring a fearful drought. Scarcely any rain has fallen since we came to this place nearly five weeks ago. This too is near the time of harvest. However the clouds are mustering, as they always do in time after all, and although it is excessively warm I think we are sure soon to have a deluge. The grass seems to be turning into grasshoppers as I walk over it. The clover disappears day by day and a grasshopper appears to stand where the purple tops did of old. They leap up to my waist as I walk through the stubble. I have no fear of wet feet in crossing the fields however early I start in the morning and this I never knew before in a dry season. The last dry time I remember, there was usually a heavy dew in the morning which would often keep the grass moist until the heat of noon.

I have had a weakly week. I who am usually so strong! Only a slight indisposition: but I am so grateful for physical strength and always use to the full what I have, that to come short is a greater affliction than it ought to be. If the spirit did not respond so closely it would surely be different. “Fallen cherub, to be weak” etc.

I was sitting in an appletree yesterday when Lissie Bartol & Miss Oakey came walking rapidly through the orchard without observing me in order to find a good point for sketching. It gives one a strange sense of being in the spirit, a part, yet not partaking of what is, to experience this! They sat where I could see them, but in the multiplicity of objects presented to them in a new place they did not for some time observe me. When they did however I perceived it but we both kept on in our occupations as before. If I can consider myself occupied!! I had a copy of Milton with me but any book compared with the great book of nature, pales and fades read under green leaves or by the sea except one has a companion, or is much habituated to out of door life when doubtless it would become different.

I passed nearly an entire day with Mrs Darrah near the old cedar tree on Gales’ Point this week. She sketched the tree while I looked up into the blue sky. I shall never forget it until the daisies grow over me. Mr. Bartol brought us home in flood tide, in his boat. The day was perfectly brilliant, without a speck; haymakers were piling up the last of the marsh hay on their cart.

I heard poor Mr. Bartol murmur, ‘there is good in this if in anything!’ He rowed us about and about much too long for his strength; but he was reluctant to give over and come in. I don’t think “good” was the word he used. It was ‘comfort’ perhaps or something to that end.

But now I must stop writing and watch the rain. Thank heaven! It has come at last majestically.


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