Robin Redbreast A Story for Girls

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 1 week ago
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CHAPTER I.

THE HOUSE IN THE LANE.

It stood not very far from the corner—the corner where the lane turned off from the high-road. And it suited its name, or its name suited it. It was such a pretty, cosy-looking house, much larger really than it seemed at the first glance, for it spread out wonderfully at the back.

It was red too—the out-jutting front, where the deep porch was, looking specially red, in contrast with the wings, which were entirely covered with ivy, while this centre was kept clear of any creepers. And high up, almost in the roof, two curious round windows, which caught and reflected the sunset glow—for the front was due west—over the top of the wall, itself so ivy grown that it seemed more like a hedge, might easily have been taken as representing two bright, watchful eyes. For these windows were, or always looked as if they were, spotlessly clean and shining.

'What a quaint name! how uncommon and picturesque!' people used to say the first time they saw the house and heard what it was called. I don't know if it will spoil the prettiness and the quaintness if I reveal its real origin. Not so very long ago, the old house was a queer, rambling inn, and its sign was the redbreasted bird himself; somewhere up in the attics, the ancient board that used to swing and creak of a windy night, was still hidden—it may perhaps be there to this day! And somebody (it does not matter who, for it was not any somebody that has to do with this story) took a fancy to the house—fast growing dilapidated, and in danger of sinking from a respectable old inn into a very undesirable public-house, for the coaches had left off running, and the old traffic was all at an end—and bought it just in time to save it from such degradation.

This somebody repaired and restored it to a certain extent, and then sold it again. The new owner enlarged and improved it, and built the high wall which now looked so venerable; for already this was many, many years ago. The present owner of Robin Redbreast was the daughter of this gentleman—or nobleman rather—and she had lived in it ever since the death of her husband, fully twenty years ago.

She was an old woman now. Her name was Lady Myrtle Goodacre. The Goodacres, her husband's family, belonged to a distant county, and when her Mr Goodacre died, her connection with his part of the country seemed to cease, for she had no children, and her thoughts turned to the neighbourhood of her own old home, and the pretty quaint house not very far from it, which had been left her by her father, the late earl. And thither she came. But she was not exactly a sociable old lady, and few of the Thetford people knew her. So that there grew to be a slight flavour of mystery about Robin Redbreast.

The lane was about three-quarters of a mile from the little town of Thetford. Not that it was a little town in its own estimation; like many small things, it thought itself decidedly important. It was a pleasant, healthy place, and of late years it had wakened up a good deal in some directions, of which education was one, so that several families with boys and girls in want of schooling came and settled there....