BOOK I. MISS BROOKE.
12. CHAPTER XII.
"He had more tow on his distaffe
Than Gerveis knew."
The ride to Stone Court, which Fred and Rosamond took the next morning,
lay through a pretty bit of midland landscape, almost all meadows
and pastures, with hedgerows still allowed to grow in bushy beauty
and to spread out coral fruit for the birds. Little details gave
each field a particular physiognomy, dear to the eyes that have looked
on them from childhood: the pool in the corner where the grasses
were dank and trees leaned whisperingly; the great oak shadowing
a bare place in mid-pasture; the high bank where the ash-trees grew;
the sudden slope of the old marl-pit making a red background for
the burdock; the huddled roofs and ricks of the homestead without
a traceable way of approach; the gray gate and fences against
the depths of the bordering wood; and the stray hovel, its old,
old thatch full of mossy hills and valleys with wondrous modulations
of light and shadow such as we travel far to see in later life,
and see larger, but not more beautiful. These are the things
that make the gamut of joy in landscape to midland-bred souls--the
things they toddled among, or perhaps learned by heart standing
between their father's knees while he drove leisurely.
But the road, even the byroad, was excellent; for Lowick, as we
have seen, was not a parish of muddy lanes and poor tenants; and it
was into Lowick parish that Fred and Rosamond entered after a couple
of miles' riding. Another mile would bring them to Stone Court,
and at the end of the first half, the house was already visible,
looking as if it had been arrested in its growth toward a stone
mansion by an unexpected budding of farm-buildings on its left flank,
which had hindered it from becoming anything more than the substantial
dwelling of a gentleman farmer. It was not the less agreeable
an object in the distance for the cluster of pinnacled corn-ricks
which balanced the fine row of walnuts on the right.
Presently it was possible to discern something that might be a gig
on the circular drive before the front door.
"Dear me," said Rosamond, "I hope none of my uncle's horrible
relations are there."