Page:Court Royal.djvu/151

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This comes very heavy. You cannot put our charities at a less figure than sixty pounds per annum; then that great imposture, Queen Anne’s Bounty, absorbs sixty pounds more, and the rates come to eighty, and the curate gets one hundred and twenty-five. Church expenses amount to ten pounds; the living is worth three hundred and forty pounds—that leaves us just five pounds on which to keep house, pay five servants, and entertain all the neighbourhood, subscribe to every church restoration, and contribute to every bazaar.’

‘My dear Elizabeth, I have my canonry.’

‘Worth eight hundred pounds, which goes into that Goodwin Sand, the Kingsbridge debt. I know it does. Do not pull a face; I know it. I never finger the money.’

‘Then there is my archdeaconry, worth two hundred.’

‘Out of which we pay the servants and keep the carriage. Edward, it is really too bad; you ought to have been a Bishop.’

‘Elizabeth, how is that possible, with the Liberals in power?’

‘I am sure that ought to be no hindrance to your promotion. You have never offered an opinion decidedly on any topic, political or ecclesiastical, that could be objected to by anyone. You have been most tolerant. Your charities have been given indiscriminately to Dissenters and Church people. You never have taken a side. You have been scrupulously via media.’

‘I do not want to be a Bishop. I have not the physical strength.’

‘I do. A bishopric means a good deal more than the four thousand set down in “Whitaker”—it means getting a haul out of Queen Anne, and some pickings, may be, from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.’

‘Let us return to the lists, Elizabeth. We are considering Betty Perkins, not me.’

‘Betty Perkins puts me out of patience,’ said the Venerable the Grey Mare. ‘She has only just paid into the clubs one lump sum. I cannot see the good of clubs and rules, if she is to be allowed to reap the benefit of the former whilst violating the latter. She has sent in four-and-fourpence for the coal club, four-and-fourpence for the clothing club, four-and-fourpence for the shoe club, four-and-fourpence for the blanket club, and twenty-one shillings and eightpence for her five children, who only attend Sunday school now and then—