The second morning of the visit was delightful. Madam Archdale had taken Lady Dacre to the cupola, and the view that met their eyes would have more admiration from people more travelled than these. On the east was the sea, looking in the early sunshine like a great flashing crescent of silver laid with both its arcs upon the earth. Down to it wandered the creek winding by the grounds beneath the watchers, turned out of its straight course, now to lave the foot of some large tree that in return spread a circle of shade to cool its waters before they passed out under the hot sun again; now to creep through some field, perhaps of daises, to send its freshness through all their roots and renew their courage in the contest with the farmers, so that the more they were cut down, the more they flourished, for the sun, and the stream, the summer air, and the soil, all were upon their side. Shadows fell upon the water from the bridge across the road over which the lumbering carts went sometimes, and the heavy carriages still more seldom. On the other hand, looking up the stream, were the hills from among which this little river slipped out rippling along with its musical undertone, as if they had sent it as a messenger to express their delight in summer. In the distance the Piscataqua broadened out to the sea, and beyond the river the city was outlined against the sky. To the left of this, and in great sweeps along the horizon stretched the forests. As one looked at these forests, the fields of com, the scattered houses, the pastures dotted with cattle, the city, all signs of civilization, seemed like a forlorn hope sent against these dense barriers of nature; yet it was that forlorn hope that is destined always to win.
“Do you know, I like it?” said Lady Dacre turning to her hostess. “I think it all very nice. So does Sir Temple. Yet I don’t see how you can get along without a bit of London, sometimes. London is the spice, you know, the flavor of the cake, the bouquet of the wine.”
“Only, it differs from these, since one cannot get too much of it,” answered Madam Archdale smiling, thinking as her eyes swept over the landscape that there were charms in her own land which it would be hard to lose.
Lady Dacre settled herself comfortably in one of the chairs of the cupola, and turning to her companion, said abruptly:
“Dear Madam Archdale, what is going to be done about that poor son of yours; he is in a terrible situation?”
“Indeed, he is.”
“When is he going to get out? Have you done anything about it?”
“Done anything? Everything, rather. To say nothing of Stephen and my poor little niece. Elizabeth Royal is not a woman to sit down calmly under the imputation of having married a man against his will. And, besides, I have heard that she would like to marry one of her suitors.”