Page:Court Royal.djvu/161

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have supposed that, a moment earlier, he had been a prey to the most mournful recollections.

‘Well, Beavis,’ he exclaimed; ‘what has brought you here?’

‘Have you seen the paper?’

‘No—there can be nothing in it to interest me.’

‘Our member is dead.’

‘What, Woodley! My father will feel this. Does he know it?’

‘I think so. He reads his daily paper. Besides, the telegraph boy was up here last night, and no doubt——'

‘O no, that was with a message for me from Uncle Edward. He wants me immediately at Sleepy Hollow.’

‘Are you going?’

‘I don’t know; I may. I have nothing to detain me here.’

‘Saltcombe, will you not go into Parliament? Now that Woodley is dead, we must have a new election.’

The Marquess made a gesture of impatience.

‘There will be no opposition.’

‘I do not see why I should go into the House. I have no opinions. I have not made up my mind on any question that now agitates the political world, and I do not want the trouble of thinking and studying these questions.’

‘This is unworthy of you.’

‘You shall be our new member.’

‘No, I have no ambition that way. You are the proper person to represent our pocket borough of Kingsbridge. Of course you have principles. You have inherited those of the family. You are Conservative.’

‘I will open my breast to you, dear Beavis. I know that my father’s and uncles’ opinions are all right, but then I have no doubt that the opinions of the other side are all equally right. My father’s views are exaggerated, and the Radicals are exaggerated in their views, and with Aristotle I hold that in equilibrium is safety.’

‘Both cannot be right,’ said young Worthivale.

‘Yes, they can be, and they are. There are two sides to every question, and he who only sees and becomes hot and vehement on one side is a bigot, narrow-minded and purblind. I am sure that in politics, and in religion, and in ethics—in everything, in fact, much is to be said on each side, quite as much on one side as on the other; so I make up my mind to have no fixed opinions on anything, I shrug my shoulders, and let the world go on and muddle its way from one blunder into