Adrien Leroy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 190 pages of information about Adrien Leroy.

CHAPTER VIII

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 magnificence.

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 generations.

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.

“You are early as usual, Constance,” he said approvingly.

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Adrien Leroy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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