do it. Your father—all—look to you, and you take no step proprio motu, but have to be driven on with sharp, perhaps cruel, reproaches. Your father does not know the desperate state of your affairs. You ought to know, but will not face it, though the books have been shown you. Your uncles know it, but you repel them when they offer you advice. Lady Grace suspects it, but is too gentle to speak what may give pain. There is absolutely no hope of salvation anywhere else, except in your marriage. If I urged you into political life, it was in the expectation of your being thrown in the way of choosing for yourself. If you stood alone, I would say, sacrifice the estate, sell Court Royal, and begin life on straitened means, working hard, and working your way upward. Seek a regeneration of your family by work. Work makes happy. But you are not alone, Saltcombe, and love for your family forces you to make some sacrifice to maintain it in its proper position. You have no choice. Be a man, brace your heart, and face the necessity.’
Lord Saltcombe became deadly pale. He stood up, and looked at Beavis, who spoke with flushed brow and sparkling eye. After a moment’s silence he held out his hand and caught that of Beavis.
‘My dear fellow,’ he said, pressing his hand, and speaking in a choking voice, ‘I honour and love you more than ever. I know what it has cost you to speak to me thus. I feel your reproaches. I will not make a promise to—to—’ he looked down. ‘Beavis, ring the bell for Robert. He shall pack my traps at once, and to-night I shall be at Sleepy Hollow. There, give me Uncle Edward’s letter. I will go see my father at once.’
Mr. Worthivale had summoned Lucy from the Court. Beavis was there. A consultation was to be held on family affairs. The fire was lighted in the drawing-room, and father and son were there awaiting the arrival of Lucy.
‘Father,’ said Beavis, ‘I do not like that new maid you have got.’