THE HOME OF LAFAYETTE
La Grange was looking its loveliest when I arrived the other day. It was a bright, beautiful October afternoon and the first glimpse of the chateau was most picturesque. It was all the more striking as the run down from Paris was so ugly and commonplace. The suburbs of Paris around the Gare de l’Est—the Plain of St. Denis and all the small villages, with kitchen gardens, rows of green vegetables under glass “cloches”—are anything but interesting. It was not until we got near Grety and alongside of Ferrieres, the big Rothschild place, that we seemed to be in the country. The broad green alleys of the park, with the trees just changing a little, were quite charming. Our station was Verneuil l’Etang, a quiet little country station dumped down in the middle of the fields, and a drive of about fifty minutes brought us to the chateau. The country is not at all pretty, always the same thing—great cultivated fields stretching off on each side of the road—every now and then a little wood or clump of trees. One does not see the chateau from the high road.
We turned off sharply to the left and at the end of a long avenue saw the house, half hidden by the trees. The entrance through a low archway, flanked on each side by high round towers covered with ivy, is most picturesque. The chateau is built around three sides of a square court-yard, the other side looking straight over broad green meadows ending in a background of wood. A moat runs almost all around the house—a border of salvias making a belt of colour which is most effective. We found the family—Marquis and Marquise de Lasteyrie and their two sons—waiting at the hall door. The Marquis, great-grandson of the General Marquis de Lafayette, is a type of the well-born, courteous French gentleman (one of the most attractive types, to my mind, that one can meet anywhere). There is something in perfectly well-bred French people of a certain class that one never sees in any other nationality. Such refinement and charm of manner—a great desire to put every one at their ease and to please the person with whom they are thrown for the moment. That, after all, is all one cares for in the casual acquaintances one makes in society. From friends, of course, we want something deeper and more lasting, but life is too short to find out the depth and sterling qualities of the world in general.