it, and that excellent young fellow, Beavis Worthivale, who regards him as a brother, will help me.’
Lady Elizabeth shook her head. ‘The time is past when men sacrificed themselves for their families. I do not believe that Saltcombe cares sufficiently for his position, and the family dignity, to saddle himself with a wretched, selfish, inane, pasty-faced East Indian, so that he may redeem the family from ruin and give his position a new lease of splendour.’
‘I will write to him directly I get home,’ said Lord Edward. ‘I have sent a premonitory telegram. He is not so dead to duty as to reject a solemn appeal from me.’
So the Archdeacon, on his return, took up his pen and wrote his nephew the following letter:—
‘My Dear Saltcombe,—I particularly want you to come here at once. Pack your portmanteau and start as soon as you possibly can after the receipt of this letter. There are reasons which make me desire your presence here. My dear fellow, you must allow an old man like me to give you a word of advice. You are supposed to know that the property of your dear father, which will one day be yours, is so involved as to be almost past recovery. I say almost, not altogether. It depends on you whether a grand family of historic renown shall sink and disappear. I have no family, your uncle Ronald lost his wife and children. You are unmarried. If you die a bachelor the Ducal title goes, the family becomes extinct. You are bound to continue a race which has been illustrious and honourable. I cannot bear to think of dear Court Royal passing into other hands. Now, if you marry, you must marry so as to recover the property from its embarrassments. Such an opportunity presents itself. I will speak to you more fully on this when we meet. I pray you, as an old man, your uncle—one who has your welfare, and that of dear Grace, at heart—do not shrug your shoulders and write to say you cannot come. Come at once. Rouse yourself to the emergencies of the case. Rouse yourself to your duty. An Eveleigh has never hitherto wanted goading to perform a duty; never—when required—to commit an act of self-sacrifice.
‘Till we meet—which will be to-morrow,
- ‘Yours most affectionately,
- ‘Edward Eveleigh.
‘P.S.—Elizabeth sends her tenderest love to dear Grace. Kiss her sweet face for me.’