had favoured this last of the Crowthers, and, at forty years of age, he had found himself rich enough to dispose of his business to two younger brothers and a brother-in-law, and to convert himself into a landed proprietor. He bought up all the land that was to be had about Trelasco. Cornish people cling to their land like limpets to a rock; and it was not easy to acquire the ownership of the soil. In the prosperous past, when land was paying nearly four per cent. in other parts of England, Cornishmen were content to hold estates that yielded only two per cent.; but the days of decay had come when Mr. Crowther entered the market, and he was able to buy out more than one gentleman of ancient lineage.
When he had secured his land, he sent to Plymouth for an architect, and he so harried that architect and so tampered with his
drawings that the result of much labour and outlay was that monstrosity in red brick with stone dressings, known in the neighbourhood as Glenaveril. Mr. Crowther’s elder daughter was deep in Lord Lytton’s newly published poem when the house was being finished, and had imposed that euphonious name upon her father. Glenaveril. The house really was in a glen, or at least in a wooded valley, and Glenaveril seemed to suit it to perfection; and so the romantic name of a romantic poem was cut in massive Gothic letters on the granite pillars of[Pg 38] Vansittart Crowther’s gate, beneath a shield which exhibited the coat of arms made and provided by the Herald’s College.
Mrs. Vansittart Crowther was at home on Thursday afternoons, when the choicest Indian tea and the thickest cream, coffee as in Paris, and the daintiest cakes and muffins which a professed cook could provide, furnished the zest to conversation; for it could scarcely be said that the conversation gave a zest to those creature comforts. It would be perhaps nearer the mark to say that Mrs. Crowther was supposed to sit in the drawing-room on these occasions while the two Miss Crowthers were at home. The mistress of Glenaveril was not an aspiring woman; and in her heart of hearts she preferred Gloucestershire to Cornwall, and the stuccoed villa on the Cheltenham road, with its acre and a half of tennis-lawn and flower-beds, open to the blazing sun, and powdered with the summer dust, to Glenaveril, with its solemn belt of woodlands, and its too spacious grandeur. She was not vulgar or illiterate. She never misplaced an aspirate. She had learnt to play the piano and to talk French at the politest of young ladies’ schools at Cheltenham. She never dressed outrageously, or behaved rudely. She had neither red hands nor splay feet. She was in all things blameless; and yet Belinda and Alicia, her daughters, were ashamed of her, and did their utmost to keep her, and her tastes, and her opinions in the background. She had no style. She was not “smart.” She seemed incapable of grasping the ideas, or understanding the ways of smart people; or at least her daughters thought so.
“Your mother is one of the best women I know,” said the curate to Alicia, being on the most confidential terms with both sisters, “and yet you and Miss Crowther are always trying to edit her.”
“Father wants a great deal more editing than mother,” said Belinda, “but there’s no use in talking to him. He is encased in the armour of self-esteem. It made my blood[Pg 39] run cold to see him taking Lord Lostwithiel over the grounds and stables the other day—praising everything, and pointing out this and that,—and even saying how much things had cost!”
“I dare say it was vulgar,” agreed the curate, “but it’s 长沙桑拿全套会所 human nature. I’ve seen a duke behave in pretty much the same way. Children are always proud of their new toys, and men are but children of a larger growth, don’t you know. You’ll find there’s a family resemblance in humanity, and that nature is stronger than training.”
“Lord Lostwithiel would never behave in that kind of way—boring people about his stables.”
“Lord Lostwithiel doesn’t care about stables—he would bore you about his yacht, I dare say.”
“No, he never talks of himself or his own affairs. That is just the charm of his manner. He makes us all believe that he is thinking about us; and yet I dare say he forgets us directly he is outside the gate.”
“I’m sure he does,” replied Mr. Colfox, the curate. “There isn’t a more selfish man living than Lostwithiel.”
The fair Belinda looked at him angrily. There are assertions 2019长沙桑拿论坛 which young ladies make on purpose to have them controverted.
Mrs. Disney hated the great red-brick porch, with its vaulted roof and monstrous iron lantern, and the bell which made such a clamour, as if it meant fire, or at least dinner, when she touched the hanging brass handle. She hated to find herself face to face with a tall footman, who hardly condescended to say whether his mistress were at home or not, but just preceded her languidly along the broad corridor, where the carpet was so thick that it felt like turf, and flung open the drawing-room door with an air, and pronounced her name into empty space, so remote were the half-dozen ladies at the other end of the room, clustered round Belinda’s tea-table, and fed with cake by Alicia, while Mrs. Crowther sat in the window a little way off, with her basket of woolwork 长沙桑拿按摩酒店 at her side, and her fat[Pg 40] somnolent pug lying at her feet. To Isola it was an ordeal to have to walk the length of the drawing-room, navigating her course amidst an archipelago of expensive things—Florentine tables, portfolios of engravings, Louis Seize Jardinières, easels supporting the last expensive etching from Goupil’s—to the window where Mrs. Crowther waited to receive her, rising with her lap full of wools, to shake hands with simple friendliness and without a vestige of style. Belinda shook hands on a level with the tip of her sharp retroussé nose, and twirled the silken train of her tea-gown with the serpentine grace of Sarah Bernhardt. She prided herself on those serpentine movements and languid graces which belong to the Gr?co-Belgravian period; while Alicia held herself like a ramrod, and took her stand upon 长沙桑拿会所 being nothing if not sporting. Her olive-cloth gown and starched collar, her neat double-soled boots and cloth gaiters, were a standing reproach to Belinda’s silken slovenliness and embroidered slippers, always dropping off her restless feet, and being chased surreptitiously among her lace and pongee frillings. Poor Mrs. Crowther disliked the Guard’s collar, which she felt was writing premature wrinkles upon her younger girl’s throat, but she positively loathed the loose elegance of the Indian silk tea-gown, with its wide Oriental sleeves, exhibiting naked arms to the broad daylight. That sloppy raiment made a discord in the subdued harmony of the visitors’ tailor-made gowns—well worn some of them—brown, and grey, and indigo, and russet; and Mrs. Crowther was tortured by the conviction that her elder daughter looked disreputable. 长沙桑拿按摩论坛社区 This honest matron was fond of Isola Disney. In her own simple phraseology, she had “taken to her;
” and pressed the girl-wife to come every Thursday afternoon.
“It must be so lonely for you,” she said gently, “with your husband so far away, and you such a child, too. I wonder your mamma doesn’t come and stay with you for a bit. You must always come on our Thursdays. Now mind you do, my dear.”
“I don’t think our Thursdays are remarkably enlivening, mother,” said Alicia, objecting to the faintest suggestion of fussiness, the crying sin of both her parents. And then she turned to Isola, and measured her from head to foot. “It’s rather a pity you don’t hunt,” she said. “We had a splendid morning with the hounds.”
“Perhaps I may get a little hunting by-and-by, when my husband comes home.”
“Ah, but one can’t begin all at once; and this is a difficult country; breakneck hills, and nasty banks. Have you hunted much?”