Excerpt: "The fortunes of the House of Egremont had their first great bloom through the agency of a platter of beans; and through a platter of beans more than a hundred years later the elder branch was ousted from one of the greatest estates in England, became wanderers and gentlemen adventurers throughout Europe, fought in quarrels not their own, served sovereigns of foreign countries, knew the dazzling heights of glory, and fell into the mire of penury and disrepute. An Egremont had the ear of kings, and another Egremont mounted the gallows. They mated sometimes with princes and dukes, and sometimes they were thought fit to mate with the daughters of their gaolers. Some of them were great at play, and met and vanquished the best players of Europe on the field of the cloth of green; other Egremonts were ascetics and wore hair shirts next their skins, and fasted and prayed extremely. They seemed the favorite playthings of destiny, which had a showman?s way of exhibiting them in all the ups and downs, the glories and shames, of human vicissitudes."