Page:What will he do with it.djvu/84

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towards the house: it had an air of tranquillity so sequestered, so solemn. A lively man of the world would have been seized with spleen at the first glimpse of it; but he who had known some great grief, some anxious care, would have drunk the calm into his weary soul like an anodyne. The house,—small, low, ancient, about the date of Edward VI., before the statelier architecture of Elizabeth. Few houses in England so old, indeed, as Fawley Manor House. A vast weight of roof, with high gables; windows on the upper story projecting far over the lower part; a covered porch with a coat of half-obliterated arms deep panelled over the oak door. Nothing grand, yet all how venerable! But what is this? Close beside the old, quiet, unassuming Manor House rises the skeleton of a superb and costly pile,—a palace uncompleted, and the work evidently suspended,—perhaps long since, perhaps now forever. No busy workmen nor animated scaffolding. The perforated battlements roofed over with visible haste,—here with slate, there with tile; the Elizabethan mullion casements unglazed; some roughly boarded across,—some with staring forlorn apertures, that showed floorless chambers, for winds to whistle through and rats to tenant. Weeds and long grass were growing over blocks of stone that lay at hand. A wallflower had forced itself into root on the sill of a giant oriel. The effect was startling. A fabric which he who conceived it must have founded for posterity,—so solid its masonry, so thick its walls,—and thus abruptly left to moulder; a palace constructed for the reception of crowding guests, the pomp of stately revels, abandoned to owl and bat. And the homely old house beside it, which that lordly hall was doubtless designed to replace, looking so safe and tranquil at the baffled presumption of its spectral neighbour.

The driver had rung the bell, and now turning back to the chaise met Lionel's inquiring eye, and said, "Yes; Squire Darrell began to build that—many years ago—when I was a boy. I heerd say it was to be the show-house of the whole county. Been stopped these ten or a dozen years."

"Why?—do you know?"

"No one knows. Squire was a laryer, I b'leve: perhaps he put it into Chancery. My wife's grandfather was put into Chancery jist as he was growing up, and never grew afterwards: never got out o' it; nout ever does. There's our churchwarden comes to me with a petition to sign agin the Pope. Says I, 'That old Pope is always in trouble: what's he bin doin' now?' Says he, 'Spreading! He's a-got into Parlyment, and he's now got a colledge, and we pays for it. I does n't