From Melisande, by E. Nesbit. (emphasis mine)

They stayed talking in the garden till all the shadows had crept under their proper trees and the sun-dial said it was breakfast time.

What's the meaning of the highlighted sentence?

It's a bit confusing to me.

  • 3
    This means exactly what it says it means. Which word don't you understand from looking it up in the dictionary?
    – tchrist
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 0:20
  • 1
    The sun at six o'clock casts long shadows across the grass. As the sun climbs up into the sky, the shadow cast by each tree gets shorter,
    – Hugh
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


The sentence means that they stayed talking in the garden from when it was dark until the sun rose.

At night, there are shadows everywhere. As the sun rises, the shadows disappear slowly. If you have moved slowly enough, you have crept. The shadows do not disappear completely in full daylight. Each shadow now is under one tree, which can be considered "proper."


At dawn shadows are long and are spread at great length from the trees but as the sun gets higher the shadows shorten and gather under the trees that are their sources. (She's a wonderful writer. I wish you much pleasure.)


It's the middle of the day. This is when the sun is straight above (not entirely straight unless you're on the equator but let's not nitpick) the tree, so the shadow is directly underneath the tree

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