Lionel passed into the high road from Verner’s Pride, and, turning to the left, commenced his walk to Deerham. There were no roadside houses for a little way, but they soon began, by ones, by twos, until at last they grew into a consecutive street. These houses were mostly very poor; small shops, beer-houses, labourers’ cottages; but a turning to the right in the midst of the village led to a part where the houses were of a superior character, several gentlemen living there. It was a new road, called Belvedere Road; the first house in it being inhabited by Dr. West.
Lionel cast a glance across at that house as he passed down the long street. At least, as much as he could see of it, looking obliquely. His glance was not rewarded. Very frequently pretty Sibylla would be at the windows, or her vain sister Amilly. Though, if vanity is to be brought in, I don’t know where it would be found in an equal degree, as it was in Sibylla West. The windows appeared to be untenanted, and Lionel withdrew his eyes and passed straightly on his way. On his left hand was situated the shop of Mrs. Duff; its prints, its silk neckerchiefs, and its ribbons displayed in three parts of its bow-window. The fourth part was devoted to more ignominious articles, huddled indiscriminately into a corner. Children’s Dutch dolls and black-lead, penny tale-books and square pink packets of cocoa, bottles of ink and india-rubber balls, side combs and papers of stationery, scented soap and Circassian cream (home made), tape, needles, pins, starch, bandoline, lavender-water, baking-powder, iron skewers, and a host of other articles too numerous to notice. Nothing came amiss to Mrs. Duff. She patronised everything she thought she could turn a penny by.
“Your servant, sir,” said she, dropping a curtsy as Lionel came up; for Mrs. Duff was standing at the door.
He merely nodded to her, and went on. Whether it was the sight of the woman or of some lavender prints hanging in her window, certain it was, that the image of poor Rachel Frost came vividly into the mind of Lionel. Nothing had been heard, nothing found, to clear up the mystery of that past night.
AT the extremity of the village, lying a little back from it, was a moderate-sized, red brick house, standing in the midst of lands, and called Deerham Court. It had once been an extensive farm; but the present tenant, Lionel’s mother, rented the house, but only very little of the land. The land was let to a neighbouring farmer. Nearly a mile beyond—you could see its towers and its chimneys from the Court—rose the stately old mansion, called Deerham Hall, Deerham Court, and a great deal of the land and property on that side of the village, belonged to Sir Rufus Hautley, a proud, unsociable man. He lived at the Hall; and his only son, between whom and himself it was conjectured there existed some estrangement, had purchased into an Indian regiment, where he was now serving.