The palace stood on a slight eminence in the center of the park. The eastern slope of the hill had been planted with vineyards, and its crest was covered with mighty, towering beeches. The park abounded with maples, plane-trees and elms, with their rich foliage, and firs of various kinds, while the thick clusters of needles on the fir-leaved mountain pine showed that it had become acclimated. On grassy lawns there were solitary tall pines of perfect growth. A charming variety of flowers and leaf plants lent grace to the picture which, in all its details, showed evidence of artistic design and exquisite taste.
The paths were neatly kept. The flowers were sparkling with the dews of morning; birds were singing and the air was laden with the fragrant perfume of the new-mown grass. Swans, and rare varieties of ducks from foreign lands, were swimming in the large lake, on the banks of which the bright-hued flamingo might also have been seen. The fountain in the center of the lake sent its waters to such a height that they were lost in spray.
A clear mountain brook, running between alders and weeping-willows, and under many a rustic bridge, emptied into the lake, flowing thence through the valley until it reached the river, bright glimpses of which might here and there be caught through openings in the shrubbery.
Tables, chairs and benches of graceful form had been placed under the trees and at various points that commanded a fine prospect.
Seated near the chapel there was a man of impressive appearance. His dress betokened scrupulous care. His thick hair was as white as his cravat. His eyes were blue and sparkling, and full of youthful fire. He looked out upon the broad landscape, the valley crowded with fruit-trees, the near-lying hills, and the mountain beyond, whose lines stood out in bold relief against the blue sky above. He had a book in his hand, but now laid it aside and drank in the peaceful influences of the scene before him....