Joan, I will go into the passage and knock at the door. Then you open and curtsey, and I will represent—I am ashamed to do it—the Duke of Kingsbridge, and you will receive me according as I have instructed you. Let me see if you have taken the lesson to heart. After that I will represent Lord Ronald or Lord Edward. Let me have the satisfaction of knowing that you have apprehended my instructions.’
So Mr. Worthivale rehearsed with Joanna what he had taught her. He was void of all sense of humour, and unconscious of the absurdity of his conduct, and that the girl was laughing in her sleeve.
‘Turn the page again,’ said the steward. ‘You see the marquess. You address him also as “my lord.” You understand?’
‘Yes, sir,’ said Joanna, distractedly. She was looking at the next portrait with interest. ‘Oh, sir! please, sir, who is this beautiful lady?’
‘That lady is as perfect and sweet in mind and soul as she is in feature,’ answered Mr. Worthivale. ‘That is the Lady Grace Eveleigh. And, remember, she is not Lady Grace, but the Lady Grace. A Knight’s wife is a Lady, you know. The makes all the difference in the world. Everyone who knows that lady loves her, she is so good, so kind.’
‘I am sure they do,’ said Joanna, eagerly. ‘I am certain I shall love her, too.’
The steward was pleased; he smiled and nodded. ‘You will address her as “my lady,” you understand?’
‘Turn the page again, and you will see a photograph of Court Royal.’
‘That house?’ inquired the girl; ‘why, it has got pillars before the door just like the Royal Hotel at Plymouth.’
Mr. Worthivale shuddered and drew back.
‘My good girl! For heaven’s sake don’t liken a ducal mansion to—to—an—an inn, however respectable and old established. It is possible that the Royal Hotel may have a portico——'
‘It has two,’ said Joan, eager for the credit of the Plymouth house. ‘Has this place got two? I only see one in the picture.’
Mr. Worthivale was silenced; he coloured, and looked down on the rug, frowning. Court Royal had but one portico. Presently he said in an embarrassed tone, ‘It may be true—I