Adrien Leroy (Chapter 8, page 1 of 7)

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Chapter 8

High up in the woods of Buckinghamshire stood Barminster Castle, so old
that one-half of its pile dated back to Norman times; while the whole,
with the wings and parts added by the successive generations of Leroys,
might have passed for a royal palace by reason of its splendour and

Needless to say, the Leroys were proud of their ancestral home, for
there had been Leroys since William the Conqueror had calmly annexed the
land on which it now stood, and had given it to his faithful baron,
Philip Le Roi. But they valued still more the love and respect of their
people, who in hamlet and village surrounded the castle as naturally as
did the woods.

Yet the present Lord Barminster had done little to keep the flame of
loyalty alight in the hearts of his tenants. He was an old man, nearing
seventy, tall, white-headed and haughty--every feature clear-cut, as if
carved from marble. Few people had ever seen the stern lines of that
face relax in light-hearted laughter since the death of his young wife,
which had occurred a few years after the birth of Adrien. None, outside
his immediate family circle, had ever known the curtness of his speech
to be softened unless in sarcasm; and his habitual expression was one of
haughty tolerance.

His friends feared him, even as they respected him, for if he had the
faults of his race, he also possessed its great virtue--justice. No man,
prince or peasant, friend or foe, ever appealed to Lord Barminster for
that in vain.

Now, in the clear brightness of the spring morning he paced to and fro
on the south terrace.

Behind him glittered the long French windows of the morning-room, one of
which stood open, revealing the luxury of the room beyond; the table
with its silver and delicate china service, and the purple hangings of
the walls.

Presently he stopped in his stroll and turned his stern eyes towards the
landscape stretching beneath him. Through the confusion of the dark
woods there lay a long line of turf, cut here and there by formidable
hedges, and divided by a streak of glittering silver, which was in
reality a dangerous stream--indeed, higher up it became a
torrent--forming the final obstacle of the Barminster steeple-course.
All the Leroys had been fond of horses. The Barminster stables had sent
many a satin-coated colt to carry off the gold cup; and this race-course
had been carefully kept and preserved by the family for many

While he stood gazing on it a light footstep sounded behind him, and a
slender hand was laid on his shoulder. He turned slowly, and with a kind
of kingly courtesy kissed the long white fingers.

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