2 Flotver and Weed.
and the tourist, thirsting to steep himself in the historic
associations of the Castle, turns from the gate with reluctant
feet. Perhaps there never was a more quiet household than
this of Ingleshaw Castle. There is something akin to pain
in the silence of the long corridors and the empty suites of
rooms, where the effigies of departed Ingleshaws stare for
ever at vacancy; where a bee comes booming in at an open
pane in the mullioned window, hovers over a bowl of hot¬
house flowers on a Florentine marble table, and goes boom¬
ing out asain, disgusted at the dulness of life within stone
walls. Sometimes the ripjile of girlish laughter floats
through an open window of the southern wing, or the bird¬
like notes of a girlish soprano are heard in the distance,
singing one of Mozart's tenderest melodies.
Lord Ingleshaw is something of a recluse, and his only
daughter has not yet made her entrance upon the bustling
theatre of society, to be elbowed and hustled by that com¬
mon herd to which the doting father deems his child in¬
finitely superior. Her eighteenth birthday is drawing near,
and next year, the father tells himself, his innocent simple-
minded darling must needs be handed over to the high
priestesses of the temple of fashion ; must take her place in
society, be wooed, won, and wedded ; and then it would be to
him almost as if he had no daughter. New associations,
new loves, new joys, new hopes, new cares, would arise for
her who was now all his own.
' Well, it is the common lot,' he muses, dreaming in his
library oyer an open folio of Bacon's Essays. ' I must
wait for a girl-grandchild, whom I may train up to be some¬
thing like the companion and friend my little girl has been
to me. She will last my time. I shall be dead and gone
before she need be presented at Court.'
He has a fixed idea that from the hour his daughter enters
society she will be in great measure lost to him. This
comes, perhaps, from his profound contempt for modern
society, which, he despises the more intensely because he has
held himself aloof from the vortex, and only contemplates
its foolishness from the outside. This external view of
fashionable life is like a deaf man's view of a ball-room.
Lord Ingleshaw sees the puppets dancing, without hearing
the music which is their motive power; and the whole thing
seems rank folly : folly treading on the heels of vice.
His sister, Lady Carlyon, a dowager countess, jjassing
young for her years, as all dowager peeresses are nowadays,
a lady who lives in society and for society, has told him that