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Two on a Tower

Chapter 3
Mr. Torkingham trotted briskly onward to his house, a distance of about a mile,
each cottage, as it revealed its half-buried position by its single light, appearing
like a one-eyed night creature watching him from an ambush. Leaving his horse
at the parsonage he performed the remainder of the journey on foot, crossing the
park towards Welland House by a stile and path, till he struck into the drive near
the north door of the mansion.
This drive, it may be remarked, was also the common highway to the lower
village, and hence Lady Constantine's residence and park, as is occasionally the
case with old-fashioned manors, possessed none of the exclusiveness found in
some aristocratic settlements. The parishioners looked upon the park avenue as
their natural thoroughfare, particularly for christenings, weddings, and funerals,
which passed the squire's mansion with due considerations as to the scenic
effect of the same from the manor windows. Hence the house of Constantine,
when going out from its breakfast, had been continually crossed on the doorstep
for the last two hundred years by the houses of Hodge and Giles in full cry to
dinner. At present these collisions were but too infrequent, for though the
villagers passed the north front door as regularly as ever, they seldom met a
Constantine. Only one was there to be met, and she had no zest for outings
before noon.
The long, low front of the Great House, as it was called by the parish, stretching
from end to end of the terrace, was in darkness as the vicar slackened his pace
before it, and only the distant fall of water disturbed the stillness of the manorial
precincts.
On gaining admittance he found Lady Constantine waiting to receive him. She
wore a heavy dress of velvet and lace, and being the only person in the spacious
apartment she looked small and isolated. In her left hand she held a letter and a
couple of at-home cards. The soft dark eyes which she raised to him as he
entered--large, and melancholy by circumstance far more than by quality--were
the natural indices of a warm and affectionate, perhaps slightly voluptuous
temperament, languishing for want of something to do, cherish, or suffer for.
Mr. Torkingham seated himself. His boots, which had seemed elegant in the
farm-house, appeared rather clumsy here, and his coat, that was a model of
tailoring when he stood amid the choir, now exhibited decidedly strained relations
with his limbs. Three years had passed since his induction to the living of
Welland, but he had never as yet found means to establish that reciprocity with
Lady Constantine which usually grows up, in the course of time, between
parsonage and manor-house,--unless, indeed, either side should surprise the
other by showing respectively a weakness for awkward modern ideas on
landownership, or on church formulas, which had not been the case here. The
present meeting, however, seemed likely to initiate such a reciprocity.
There was an appearance of confidence on Lady Constantine's face; she said
she was so very glad that he had come, and looking down at the letter in her
hand was on the point of pulling it from its envelope; but she did not. After a
 
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