Chapter 160140940

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Chapter NumberXI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160140940
Full Date1881-02-05
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count1067
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleEndymion
article text

CHAPTER XI.

At the foot of the Berkshire downs, and itself on a gentle elevation, there is an old hall with gable ends and lattice windows, standing ir grounds which onoe were stately, and where there are yet glade-like terraces) of yew trees, which give an air of dignity to a neglected scene. In the front of the hall huge gates of iron, highly wrought, and bearing an ancient date as well as the shield of a noble house, opened on a village green, round which were clustered the cottages of the parish with only one exception, and that was the vicarage house, a modern building, not without taste, and surrounded by a small but brilliant garden. The church was contiguous to the hall, and had been raised by the lord on a portion of his domain. Behind the ball and its enclosure, the country was common land but picturesque. It had once been a beech forest, and though tbe timber had been greatly cleared, the green land was still occasionally dotted, sometimes with groups and sometimes with single trees, while the juniper which hero abounded, and rose to a great height, gave a rich wildness to the scene, and sustained its forest oharacter.

Hurstley had for many years been deserted by the family to which it belonged. Indeed, it was rather difficult to say to whom it did belong. A dreary fate had awaited an ancient, and, in its time, even not immemorable home. It had fallen into Chancery, and for the last half century had either been uninhabited or let to strangers. Mr. Ferrers' lawyer was in the Chancery suit, and knew all about it. The diffi culty of finding a tenant for such a place, never easy, was increased by its remoteness from any railway communication, which was now begin ning to figure aB an important element in such arrangements. The Master in Chancery would be .satisfied with a nominal rent, provided only he could obtain a family of consideration to hold under him. Mr. Ferrars was persuaded to go down alone to reconnoitre the place. It pleased him. It was aristocratic, yet singulary inexpensive. The house contained an immense hall, which reached the roof, and which would have become a baronial mansion, and a vast staircase in keeping; but the living roams were moderate, even small, in dimensions, and not numerous. The land he was expected to take consisted only of a few meadows, whioh he could let if necessary, and a single labourer could manage tbe garden.

Mrs. Ferrars was so delighted with the description ot the galleried hall, that she resolved on their faking Hurstley without her previously visiting it. The only things she cared for in the country were a hall and a pony-chair.

All the carriages were sold, and all the servonts discharged. Two or three maid servants and a man who muBt be found in this country, who could attend them at table, and valet alike his master and pony, was the establishment whioh was to succeed the crowd of retainers who had so long lounged away their lives in the saloons of Hill-street, and the groves and gardens of Wimbledon.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferrars and their daughter travelled down to Hurstley in a post-chase; Endymion, with the servants, was sent by the stage-coach, which accomplished the journey of sixty miles in ten hours. Myra said little during tbe journey, but an expression of ineff able contempt and disgust seemed permanent on her countenance. Sometimes she shrugged her shoulders, sometimes she raised her eyebrows, and sometimes she turned up her nose. And then she gave a sigh; bnt it was a sigh not of sorrow, but of impatience. Her parents lavished attentions on her which she acoepted without recognition, only occasionally observing that she wished she had gone with Endymion.

It was dusk when they arrived at Hurstley, and the melancholy hour did not tend to raise their spirits. However, the gardener's wife bad lit a good fire of beechwood in the drawing room, and threw as they entered a pannier of cones upon the logs, which crackled and cheer fully blazed away. Even Myra seemed interested by the novelty of the wood fire and the iron dogs. She remained by their side, looking abstractedly on the expiring logs, while her parents wandered about the house and examined or prepared the requisite arrange ments. While they were yet absent, there was some noise and a considerable bustle in the hall. Endymion and his retinue had arrived. Then Myra immediately roused herself, and listened like a startled deer. But the moment she caught his voice, an expression of rapture suffused her countenance. It beamed with vivacity and delight. She rushed away, pnshed through the servants and the luggage, embraced him and said, "We will go over the house and see our rooms together."

Wandering without a guide and making many mistakes, fortunately they soon met their parents. Mis. Ferrars good-naturedly recommenced her labours of inspection, and explained all her plans. There was a very pretty room for Endymion, and to-morrow it was to be very comfortable. He was quite pleased. Then they were shown Myra's room, but she said nothing, standing by with a sweet scoff, as it were, lingering on her lips, while her mother disserted on ell the excellences of the chamber. Then they were summoned to tea. The gardener's wife was quite a leading spirit, and had prepared everything; the curtains were drawn, and the room lighted; an urn hissed: there were piles of bread and butter and a pyramid of buttered toast. It was wonderful what an air of comfort had been conjured up in this dreary mansion, and it was impossible for the travellers, however wearied or chagrined, to be insensible to the convenience and cheerfulness of all around them.

When the meal was over, the children sat to gether in whispering tattle. Mrs. Ferrars had left tbe room to see if all was ready for their hour of retirement, and Mrs. Ferrars was walk ing up and down the room, absorbed in thought.

"What do you think of it all, Endymion?" whispered Myra to her twin.

" I rather like it," he replied.

She looked at him with a glance of blended love and mockery, and then she said in his ear, " I feel as if we had fallen from some star."