Page:Court Royal.djvu/155

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‘Will you take anything?’

‘I should not object to a glass of sherry and a biscuit. Nervousness about my daughter has rather shaken me.’

‘Now look here, Rigsby. I will not hear of your staying at the White Hart. You must positively come to my house and stay a fortnight. Under that time I will not let you off; stay over it as long as you like.’

‘Thank you. I do not mind if I accept. If anything has to be done to my dear Dulcina’s jaw, it would be more satisfactory to be in your Rectory than in an inn. One cannot secure all the comforts requisite for an invalid at an hotel. Should the tooth be extracted or the nerve destroyed, my daughter will be so shattered that further travel will be impossible for some days. The people at the White Hart are good and kind; still an inn is not a place for a person with a carious tooth. Dulcina is made uncomfortable by the scream of the engines. Glastonbury is a terminus, and every engine that comes in shrieks to announce its arrival, and every one that leaves shrieks to proclaim its departure. Dulcina’s nerves are in that quivering state of irritation that the least noise upsets her.’

‘She shall come here at once. I will send my carriage.’

‘We will come in the afternoon. I must go and see the dentist myself. I shall be able to judge by his looks whether he is intelligent—as for his experience, of that I cannot form an opinion. Has he studied in America? The Yankees are far ahead of us in dentistry. They transplant teeth as we do trees.’

‘Wait a moment,’ said the Archdeacon; ‘I will fetch Lady Elizabeth.’

He ran out of the room, and found his wife still engaged over the club accounts.

‘My dear Edward,’ said she, ‘I will meet your wishes half-way; I can do no more. Betty Perkins shall have two-and-twopence instead of four-and fourpence in each club.’

‘Elizabeth,’ exclaimed the Archdeacon, ‘come into the drawing-room and see Rigsby. But stay—first give me the telegraph forms; I must send off at once for Saltcombe.’

‘Why so? What has occurred?’

‘My dear Elizabeth, Rigsby has an only daughter, worth ten thousand a year. That represents about two hundred and fifty to three hundred thousand pounds. Oh, Elizabeth, if only some of the Kingsbridge estates might be cleared with this sum, how happy we should all be!’