The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Patrician.
reality and ‘go’; and this refulgence, almost unearthly in its travelling glory, passed over her small head and played strangely with the pillars in the hall, without exciting in her any fancies or any sentiment.  The intention of discovering what was at the end of the picture gallery absorbed the whole of her essentially practical and active mind.  Deciding on the left-hand flight of stairs, she entered that immensely long, narrow, and—­with blinds drawn—­rather dark saloon.  She walked carefully, because the floor was very slippery here, and with a kind of seriousness due partly to the darkness and partly to the pictures.  They were indeed, in this light, rather formidable, those old Caradocs black, armoured creatures, some of them, who seemed to eye with a sort of burning, grim, defensive greed the small white figure of their descendant passing along between them.  But little Ann, who knew they were only pictures, maintained her course steadily, and every now and then, as she passed one who seemed to her rather uglier than the others, wrinkled her sudden little nose.  At the end, as she had thought; appeared a door.  She opened it, and passed on to a landing.  There was a stone staircase in the corner, and there were two doors.  It would be nice to go up the staircase, but it would also be nice to open the doors.  Going towards the first door, with a little thrill, she turned the handle.  It was one of those rooms, necessary in houses, for which she had no great liking; and closing this door rather loudly she opened the other one, finding herself in a chamber not resembling the rooms downstairs, which were all high and nicely gilded, but more like where she had lessons, low, and filled with books and leather chairs.  From the end of the room which she could not see, she heard a sound as of someone kissing something, and instinct had almost made her turn to go away when the word:  “Hallo!” suddenly opened her lips.  And almost directly she saw that Granny and Grandpapa were standing by the fireplace.  Not knowing quite whether they were glad to see her, she went forward and began at once: 

“Is this where you sit, Grandpapa?”

“It is.”

“It’s nice, isn’t it, Granny?  Where does the stone staircase go to?”

“To the roof of the tower, Ann.”

“Oh!  I have to give a message, so I must go now.”

“Sorry to lose you.”

“Yes; good-bye!”

Hearing the door shut behind her, Lord and Lady Valleys looked at each other with a dubious smile.

The little interview which she had interrupted, had arisen in this way.

Accustomed to retire to this quiet and homely room, which was not his official study where he was always liable to the attacks of secretaries, Lord Valleys had come up here after lunch to smoke and chew the cud of a worry.

The matter was one in connection with his Pendridny estate, in Cornwall.  It had long agitated both his agent and himself, and had now come to him for final decision.  The question affected two villages to the north of the property, whose inhabitants were solely dependent on the working of a large quarry, which had for some time been losing money.

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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