Page:The King's Men (1884).djvu/29

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CHAPTER III.

MY LADY'S CHAMBER.

The seashore in late November is never cheerful. The gray, downcast skies sadden the sympathetic ocean; the winds cut to the marrow, and the yellow grass and bare trees make the land as sad-colored as the sea. But even at this season a walk along the cliff upon which Ripon House stands is invigorating, if the walker's blood is young. The outlook toward the water is bluff and bold and the descent sheer.

A neat, gravelled path conforming to the line of the coast divides the precipice from the smooth, closely-cropped lawn which sweeps down from the terrace of the ancient mansion. Ripon House is an imposing, spacious pile. It bears marks of the tampering of the last century when the resuscitated architecture of Queen Anne threatened to become ubiquitous.

A vast plantation of stately trees originally shut out the buildings on three sides from the common gaze, but the exigencies of the lawn-tennis court and the subsequent destitution of the late earl, who renounced his wood fire the last of all the luxuries then appurtenant to a noble lineage, have sadly thinned the splendid grove. Nor is the domain void of historic interest. Here was the scene of the crown-