Armadale HTML version

II.3. The Claims Of Society
More than an hour after Allan had set forth on his exploring expedition through
his own grounds, Midwinter rose, and enjoyed, in his turn, a full view by daylight
of the magnificence of the new house.
Refreshed by his long night's rest, he descended the great staircase as cheerfully
as Allan himself. One after another, he, too, looked into the spacious rooms on the
ground floor in breathless astonishment at the beauty and the luxury which
surrounded him. "The house where I lived in service when I was a boy, was a fine
one," he thought, gayly; "but it was nothing to this! I wonder if Allan is as
surprised and delighted as I am?" The beauty of the summer morning drew him
out through the open hall door, as it had drawn his friend out before him. He ran
briskly down the steps, humming the burden of one of the old vagabond tunes
which he had danced to long since in the old vagabond time. Even the memories
of his wretched childhood took their color, on that happy morning. from the bright
medium through which he looked back at them. "If I was not out of practice," he
thought to himself, as he leaned on the fence and looked over at the park, "I could
try some of my old tumbling tricks on that delicious grass." He turned, noticed
two of the servants talking together near the shrubbery, and asked for news of the
master of the house.
The men pointed with a smile in the direction of the gardens; Mr. Armadale had
gone that way more than an hour since, and had met (as had been reported) with
Miss Milroy in the grounds. Midwinter followed the path through the shrubbery,
but, on reaching the flower garden, stopped, considered a little, and retraced his
steps. "If Allan has met with the young lady," he said to himself, "Allan doesn't
want me." He laughed as he drew that inevitable inference, and turned
considerately to explore the beauties of Thorpe Ambrose on the other side of the
Passing the angle of the front wall of the building, he descended some steps,
advanced along a paved walk, turned another angle, and found himself in a strip
of garden ground at the back of the house.
Behind him was a row of small rooms situated on the level of the servants'
offices. In front of him, on the further side of the little garden, rose a wall,
screened by a laurel hedge, and having a door at one end of it, leading past the
stables to a gate that opened on the high-road. Perceiving that he had only
discovered thus far the shorter way to the house, used by the servants and trades-
people, Midwinter turned back again, and looked in at the window of one of the
rooms on the basement story as he passed it. Were these the servants' offices? No;
the offices were apparently in some other part of the ground-floor; the window he
had looked in at was the window of a lumber-room. The next two rooms in the
row were both empty. The fourth window, when he approached it, presented a
little variety. It served also as a door; and it stood open to the garden at that