Edmund walked out of the grand room, down the steps to the entrance hall, which was as empty as the rest of the house, and stopped on the round blue carpet. He had looked through enough magazines to have more than a passing acquaintance with the modern day décor of the well-to-do. Great sashes were always in season, it seemed, combined with moldings of fruits and flowers and birds, copiously detailed, large sweeping chandeliers, thick carpets intricately woven into red and green and gold landscapes of pastoral themes, purple curtains with bells and tassles and buttons, tall paper screens with mythical beasts lolling on tufted hillsides, bejeweled family crests in every room, impressively scaled pictures of ancestors on horseback mounted on each wall, enshrined in gold frames for guests to admire. He had once visited the Gala manor in Rotunda with his mother, and even that had been detailed and decorated ad infinitum.
But Mr. Edward’s house was spared of such features, and Edmund was surprised he felt disappointed. The walls were very tall, either white-washed stone or covered in pale gold wallpaper, richly-textured, with plainly vaulted high ceilings. The furniture was spotless, dusted just that morning, and oddly scaled, much larger and taller than necessary, with the backs of chairs rising high and severe. The glass windows reached almost to the ceiling, constructed of many sheets of glass locked in an intricate, geometrical pattern of squares and triangles. The windows were open to the hot morning air—he heard seagulls crying—and a breeze stirred the white curtains and exotic plants on the windowsill. The room was octagonal, and he suspected the rest of the house was also designed in much the same way.
He moved to the window and touched the plants, feeling the cool soil between his fingers. He had never seen such plants. They had long, fibrous roots that budded and flowered, thick green stalks that split and narrowed into heavy pink and white and yellow flowers. Other plants had been tended and cut, vines lifted onto thin cane frames to encourage growth. A tiny plum tree, potted, trimmed and carefully cultivated, was almost obscured under its masses of fruits. Edmund leaned on the wide windowsill and pinched one of its plums, surprised to find it ripe and warm from the sun.