Lothair, by Benjamin Disraeli

Chapter 40

There never was any thing so successful as the arrangements of the next day. After breakfast they inspected the castle, and in the easiest manner, without form and without hurry, resting occasionally in a gallery or a saloon, never examining a cabinet, and only looking at a picture now and then. Generally speaking, nothing is more fatiguing than the survey of a great house; but this enterprise was conducted with so much tact and consideration, and much which they had to see was so beautiful and novel, that every one was interested, and remained quite fresh for their subsequent exertions. “And then the duke is so much amused,” said the duchess to her daughter, delighted at the unusual excitement of the handsome, but somewhat too serene, partner of her life.

After luncheon they visited the gardens, which had been formed in a sylvan valley, enclosed with gilded gates. The creator of this, paradise had been favored by Nature, and had availed himself of this opportunity. The contrast between the parterres, blazing with color, and the sylvan background, the undulating paths over romantic heights, the fanes and the fountains, the glittering statues, and the Babylonian terraces, formed a whole, much of which was beautiful, and all of which was striking and singular.

“Perhaps too many temples,” said Lothair; “but this ancestor of mine had some imagination.”

A carriage met them on the other side of the valley, and then they soon entered the park.

“I am almost as much a stranger here as yourself, dear duchess,” said Lothair; “but I have seen some parts which, I think, will please you.” And they commenced a drive of varying, but unceasing, beauty.

“I hope I see the wild-cattle,” said Lady Corisande.

Lady Corisande saw the wild-cattle, and many other things, which gratified and charmed her. It was a long drive, even of hours, and yet no one was, for a moment, wearied.

“What a delightful day!” Lady Corisande exclaimed in her mother’s dressing-room. “I have never seen any place so beautiful.”

“I agree with you,” said the duchess; “but what pleases me most are his manners. They were always kind and natural; but they are so polished — so exactly what they ought to be; and he always says the right thing. I never knew any one who had so matured.”

“Yes; it is very little more than a year since he came to us at Brentham,” said Lady Corisande, thoughtfully. “Certainly he has greatly changed. I remember he could hardly open his lips; and now I think him very agreeable.”

“He is more than that,” said the duchess; “he is interesting.”

“Yes,” said Lady Corisande; “he is interesting.”

“What delights me,” said the duchess, “is to see his enjoyment of his position. He seems to take such an interest in every thing. It makes me happy to see him so happy.”

“Well, I hardly know,” said Lady Corisande, “about that. There is something occasionally about his expression which I should hardly describe as indicative of happiness or content. It would be ungrateful to describe one as distrait, who seems to watch all one wants, and hangs on every word; and yet — especially as we returned, and when we were all of us a little silent — there was a remarkable abstraction about him; I caught it once or twice before, earlier in the day; his mind seemed in another place, and anxiously.”

“He has a great deal to think of,” said the duchess.

“I fear it is that dreadful Monsignore Catesby,” said Lady Corisande, with a sigh.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:19