Page:Court Royal.djvu/133

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do not dispute it—that the inn in question has two porticos. But there is a difference, my girl, between porticos. Some are shams, shabby, and stucco; two, even five, porticos would be insignificant beside one real portico, such as that which graces the front of Court Royal. The pillars are of granite, red granite from Exmoor. When your eyes rest on the mansion you will feel at once the temerity of drawing comparisons between it and—and—an inn. Upon my word, I think you had better go there at once—that is, after you have had something to eat and drink. By the way, do not speak of the mansion as “the house;” that is scarcely respectful, and is contrary to usage. You mention it always as “the Court.” You shall go down, Joan, to the Court after you have partaken of some refreshment. I will write a note which will serve as an excuse for sending you. When there, ask to see the housekeeper, Mrs. Probus, a most admirable woman. She will show you over the state apartments. His grace is out. He has gone for a drive. I saw the carriage pass half an hour ago, and unquestionably the Lady Grace is with him. Lord Edward is away, back at his Somersetshire living, superintending the preparations for Christmas and the charities. The marquess, I have no doubt, is out shooting, and you are not likely to come across Lord Ronald. Mrs. Probus knows what to do and where to take you. Rely upon her. Do not put off your walk too late. The days close in rapidly, and I want you to see the Court to advantage, and to be impressed by the influences of the Place and the Family.’


Joanna was given the letter by Mr. Worthivale, and walked through the park to Court Royal. The evergreen shrubs on both sides of the drive relieved the monotony of winter bleakness. The pines were clothed; of them there was great variety. The oak, though turned brown, was not divested of all its leaves. The day was fine and the air mild. Joanna knew nothing of the country; she was surprised at and delighted