The London stagecoach dropped me at the gatelodge of Grantley Grange, and according to my usual custom I started up to the Hall on foot. It was such a pleasant Christmas morning as perhaps is not often seen, and might well have tempted to a longer walk than that short mile up the carefully trimmed avenue. There had been a slight fall of snow, a mere sprinkle indeed; but it was sufficient to clothe the brown turf with a dainty tint of pearl, and to make the dry leaves rattle crisp beneath the feet, and to project the great oaks in seemingly more ancient grandeur against the brightened background and generally to give an unusually cheery and exhilerating aspect to the whole scenery of the park. When I had nearly reached the Hall, the church clock struck noon, and immediately all the bells began to ring out a merry Christmas peal. Up and down, hither and thither, now a snatch of tune and again a meaningless clashing of all the bells at oncesingle notes and double and triple concords, and, in fact, everything that well-disposed bells ever can or will doso it ran on right cheerily. Now it was that I anticipated my Uncle Ruthven would hasten out to meet and welcome me. For I knew that he was fond of listening to the chimes; and when the changes were being sounded upon them he would not unfrequently sit at the open window, the better to enjoy them. And of course, as I could now plainly see the Hall through the leafless trees, he from his open window could as readily watch my approach. Somewhat to my momentary chagrin, however, he did not come forth or even meet me at the door, and I was suffered to enter unannounced. And passing through the main hall, I wandered into the library.