Page:Court Royal.djvu/156

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In the afternoon Lord and Lady Edward Eveleigh called on the Rigsbys. The Archdeaconess was full of civility. She was a pleasant, fine-looking woman, with grey hair, and very clear eyes. She spoke in a decided manner. She had ruled her house, her husband—almost the Archdeaconry—for many years. She had ruled society—at least clerical society—for a wide radius. This had given decision to her character and a determination to be obeyed which few were strong enough to stand against.

Miss Rigsby was seated on a sofa. She had expected the visit, and was prepared for it. She wore a crude blue shawl thrown over her shoulders, and a mauve handkerchief was tied round her aching jaws. She had bracelets on both arms, and her fingers were encrusted with rings. She was a pale, freckled young lady, not ugly, and not pretty, with very light eyebrows, and hair thick and coarse. She was proud of her red hair, and had it frizzed into a mass. Her grey eyes were dull, but the pain she had endured had perhaps quenched their light.

‘I am going to carry you off to the Rectory,’ said Lady Elizabeth. ‘It is of no use your protesting. What I have made up my mind to I carry out, as the diocese well knows. I restored Sleepy Hollow church myself. I said to the Archdeacon, “It must be done,” and as he would not put his shoulder to the wheel, I begged, got up a bazaar, and did it. I am going to make much of you. You want the quiet and comfort of an English home. We’ll soon set you on your feet again, and screw up the relaxed nerves. I know exactly what you want.’

Mr. Rigsby looked entreatingly at his daughter. He had made up his mind to spend a fortnight at Sleepy Hollow, but he did not dare to accept the invitation without the consent of his spoiled child.

Dulcina answered, in a condescending tone, ‘I am afraid we shall be in your way.’

‘Not at all, or I would not have asked you.’

Mr. Rigsby brightened. His daughter was yielding.