In the midst of the Berkshire scenery, so fair and wealthy, this pleasant little place, Netherleigh, nestled in a sylvan hollow. It was only a small, unpretending hamlet at its best, and its rustic inhabitants were hard-working and simple.<br><br>On a wide extent of country, surrounded on all sides as far as tho eye could reach, with its forests, its hills and valleys, its sparkling streams, sat many a noble mansion of ancient or modern architecture, and of more or less note in the county. Farm homesteads might be seen, surrounded by their out-buildings, their barns and substantial hay-ricks. Labourers' cottages were dotted about; and the men themselves toiled at their several occupations.<br><br>Flanking the village, and looking down upon it from its eminence, rose the stately walls of Court Netherleigh: an imposing and beautiful edifice, with which none of the other mansions in the distance could compare. It was built of red brick, curious but bright-looking, and its gables and angles were quaint and picturesque in a high degree. Winding upwards from tho village, you came upon the entranco-gates on the left of the road—great gates of wrought iron, with two smaller gates beside them.