you taken in and pay a fancy price. There is not a glut of country-houses in the market. Leave it to me.’
‘Lady Elizabeth is a most knowing and business-like person, you will find,’ said the Archdeacon. ‘Dear young lady, be persuaded, and spend at least a fortnight with us.’
‘Besides,’ said the Venerable the Archdeaconess, ‘I should like to have Vigurs under my eye. You have no conception what a stimulus it gives to activity and genius when I overlook the workmen. Vigurs, the dentist, has a great respect for me. He would take infinite pains over you, if he knew I was watching him. Vigurs is a good man—still, the best need supervision.’
‘There’s something in that,’ said Mr. Rigsby.
‘Then, again,’ said Lady Elizabeth, ‘I am bent on getting my niece, Lady Grace Eveleigh, to us after Christmas, and I am eager that you, Miss Rigsby, should know her, and see, if that could possibly be contrived, the Duke’s beautiful place, Court Royal, which I assure you is one of the finest residences in the West of England. The Duke would be so interested to hear from your father all about Indian affairs; his Grace is particularly interested in India, and, of course, also Ceylon. It would be a treat to him to talk them over with your father, and you—you will be enraptured with the beauty and comfort of Court Royal. Leave this to me: I am a manager. I will get Lady Grace to visit us, and she will invite you there. You are sure to get on well together.’
Lady Elizabeth played to her husband’s bat, but the Rigsbys did not see her play. Father and daughter were flattered. The invitation was accepted.
As the Archdeacon and his wife drove home in their brougham, Lord Edward said to his better half—
‘What do you think of her? She is not ugly.’
‘Not pronouncedly ugly, certainly. She is simply uninteresting. I do not think that Saltcombe will care for her.’
‘He must take her,’ said the Archdeacon, agitated, putting his hand on that of his wife, and it shook. ‘If he does not, the whole house of Kingsbridge will collapse. My dear Elizabeth, the crash is imminent. I cannot see how it can be averted except by Saltcombe’s marriage.’
‘But he is so inert. He will not realise the state of affairs.’
‘That is true. But I take on myself to make him realise