ble-looking mansion, made picturesque by a background of lofty trees, and by the ivy and Virginia creeper and clematis in which it was embowered, rather than by the style of its architecture. Along the front of the building ran a wide terrace, with stone balustrades and flights of steps at either end leading to the flower garden, which sloped down to an ornamental piece of water fed by springs from the rich meadow-land beyond. This terrace and the exquisitely-kept garden gave the house a stateliness of aspect, which it would have lost if severed from its surroundings; but the General was proud of every stick and stone about the place, and could never be brought to see that its beauty existed chiefly in his own fond imagination.
Whether Beechfield Hall was beautiful or not, however, mattered little to the county squires and their families, to whom it had been for many years a centre of life and gaiety. The General and his brother were hunting-men; they had a capital stud, and were always ready to give t