The Woodlanders HTML version

Chapter 23
With this in view he took her out for a walk, a custom of his when he wished to
say anything specially impressive. Their way was over the top of that lofty ridge
dividing their woodland from the cider district, whence they had in the spring
beheld the miles of apple-trees in bloom. All was now deep green. The spot
recalled to Grace's mind the last occasion of her presence there, and she said,
"The promise of an enormous apple-crop is fulfilling itself, is it not? I suppose
Giles is getting his mills and presses ready."
This was just what her father had not come there to talk about. Without replying
he raised his arm, and moved his finger till he fixed it at a point. "There," he said,
"you see that plantation reaching over the hill like a great slug, and just behind
the hill a particularly green sheltered bottom? That's where Mr. Fitzpiers's family
were lords of the manor for I don't know how many hundred years, and there
stands the village of Buckbury Fitzpiers. A wonderful property 'twas--wonderful!"
"But they are not lords of the manor there now."
"Why, no. But good and great things die as well as little and foolish. The only
ones representing the family now, I believe, are our doctor and a maiden lady
living I don't know where. You can't help being happy, Grace, in allying yourself
with such a romantical family. You'll feel as if you've stepped into history."
"We've been at Hintock as long as they've been at Buckbury; is it not so? You
say our name occurs in old deeds continually."
"Oh yes--as yeomen, copyholders, and such like. But think how much better this
will be for 'ee. You'll be living a high intellectual life, such as has now become
natural to you; and though the doctor's practice is small here, he'll no doubt go to
a dashing town when he's got his hand in, and keep a stylish carriage, and you'll
be brought to know a good many ladies of excellent society. If you should ever
meet me then, Grace, you can drive past me, looking the other way. I shouldn't
expect you to speak to me, or wish such a thing, unless it happened to be in
some lonely, private place where 'twouldn't lower ye at all. Don't think such men
as neighbor Giles your equal. He and I shall be good friends enough, but he's not
for the like of you. He's lived our rough and homely life here, and his wife's life
must be rough and homely likewise."
So much pressure could not but produce some displacement. As Grace was left
very much to herself, she took advantage of one fine day before Fitzpiers's return
to drive into the aforesaid vale where stood the village of Buckbury Fitzpiers.
Leaving her father's man at the inn with the horse and gig, she rambled onward