The Hampstead Mystery eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 406 pages of information about The Hampstead Mystery.
lack of money from carrying out his original intention of erecting a fine symmetrical house.  The first story was well enough—­an imposing, massive, colonnaded front in the Greek style, with marble pillars supporting the entrance.  But the two stories surmounting this failed lamentably to carry on the pretentious design.  Viewed from the front, they looked as though the builder, after erecting the first story, had found himself in pecuniary straits, but, determined to finish his house somehow, had built two smaller stories on the solid edifice of the first.  For the two second stories were not flush with the front of the house, but reared themselves from several feet behind, so that the occupants of the bedrooms on the first story could have used the intervening space as a balcony.  Viewed from the rear, the architectural imperfections of the upper part of the house were in even stronger contrast with the ornamental first story.  Apparently the impecunious builder, by the time he had reached the rear, had completely run out of funds, for on the third floor he had failed altogether to build in one small room, and had left the unfinished brickwork unplastered.

The large open space between the house and the fir plantation had once been laid out as an Italian garden at the cost of much time and money, but Sir Horace Fewbanks had lacked the taste or money to keep it up, and had allowed it to become a luxuriant wilderness, though the sloping parterres and the centre flowerbeds still retained traces of their former beauty.  The small lake in the centre, spanned by a rustic hand-bridge, was still inhabited by a few specimens of the carp family—­sole survivors of the numerous gold-fish with which the original designer of the garden had stocked the lake.

Sir Horace Fewbanks had rented Riversbrook as a town house for some years before his death, having acquired the lease cheaply from the previous possessor, a retired Indian civil servant, who had taken a dislike to the place because his wife had gone insane within its walls.  Sir Horace had lived much in the house alone, though each London season his daughter spent a few weeks with him in order to preside over the few Society functions that her father felt it due to his position to give, and which generally took the form of solemn dinners to which he invited some of his brother judges, a few eminent barristers, a few political friends, and their wives.  But rumour had whispered that the judge and his daughter had not got on too well together—­that Miss Fewbanks was a strange girl who did not care for Society or the Society functions which most girls of her age would have delighted in, but preferred to spend her time on her father’s country estate, taking an interest in the villagers or walking the country-side with half a dozen dogs at her heels.

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The Hampstead Mystery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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