And her husband—Mr. Darpent, as every one called him, with true English pronunciation—it amused us to see how much of an Englishman he had become, though Harry Merrycourt told us the squires had began by calling him Frenchy, and sneering at his lack of taste and skill in their sports; but they came to him whenever they had a knotty point to disentangle in law or justice, they turned to him at Quarter-Sessions for help; and though they laughed at the plans of farming, gardening, and planting he had brought from Holland, or had learned from Mr. Evelyn of Says Court, still, when they saw that his trees grew, his crops prospered, and his sheep fetched a good price at market, some of them began to declare he was only too clever, and one or two of the more enlightened actually came privately to ask his advice.
It was pleasant to see him in his library, among books he had picked up, one by one, at stalls in London, where he read and wrote and taught his sons, never long without the door being opened by Nan to see whether his fire needed a fresh log, or whether his ink-stand were full, or to announce that the pigs were in the garden, and turn out all his pupils in pursuit! Interrupt as she would, she never seemed to come amiss to him.
He was glad to talk over all the affairs of our country with us. In his office in London he had of course been abreast with facts, but he was keenly interested in all the details of the Prince’s return to favour, of the Cardinal’s death, of the King’s assumption of the entire management of State affairs, and of the manner in which the last hopes of the Parliament of Paris had been extinguished. France was—as he allowed to my eager son—beginning to advance rapidly on the road of glory, it might be of universal empire. He agreed to it, but, said he, with a curious perverse smile: ’For all that, M. le Marquis, I remain thankful that my wife’s inheritance is on this side of the Channel, and though I myself may be but an exile and a fugitive, I rejoice that my sons and their children after them will not grow up where there is brilliancy and grandeur without, but beneath them corruption and a people’s misery!’