Page:Court Royal.djvu/166

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‘Why not? She is very respectable and respectful.’

‘She puzzles me. There is a shrewd look about her face that one does not generally meet with in a slavey.’

‘And you dislike her because she is not an unthinking machine?’

‘No, father, that is not it. I expressed myself too strongly when I said that I did not like her; I should rather have said that I mistrusted her.’

‘Why mistrust her?’

‘Because I am continually lighting upon her in the office.’

‘What of that? Is not that the most used room in the house? Because it is so much used, and so many people come in there to see one, it requires more sweeping than any other part of the establishment. Besides, I make a litter there with my papers. No other maid has arranged the papers so well before. Joanna puts everything where I can lay my hand on it at once.’

‘You leave books and papers about, without locking them up, more than I think wise.’

‘My dear Beavis, who is there to read them? Do you suppose a chambermaid cares one farthing for the accounts, and is greedy to know the clauses of a lease? Besides, Joanna cannot read. Here comes Lucy.’

‘I suppose she has heard the news,’ said Beavis.

‘I don’t know. Lady Grace would be told it last of all.’

Lucy entered. She did not look herself that morning. Generally bright and smiling, with a brilliant colour in her cheeks, she was on this occasion dispirited and somewhat pale.

‘Why, Lucy, what is the matter?’ asked her father.

‘I have had a headache,’ she answered. ‘But I am better now. I could not sleep last night.’ She brightened with an effort, came to her father and kissed him tenderly.

‘How are all at the Court?’ asked Mr. Worthivale. (Here be it noted that he asked this question, however often he met his daughter during the day, before he approached affairs of private interest. The health and welfare of the family stood before everything.)

‘The Duke is not so well this morning,’ answered Lucy. ‘He has heard news which has excited him, and excitement always upsets his heart.’