Page:Court Royal.djvu/169

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‘That is what you cried out about, is it?’

‘Yes.’

‘Go upstairs, and thank your stars the Ems Water did spoil your pink silk; you would only have made yourself ridiculous had you appeared in it.’

Then Mr. Worthivale returned to the drawing-room. There was no need for him to repeat the story. The door had been left open, and his son and daughter had heard, and were laughing over, Joanna’s misadventure.

Joanna went to her room, half in wrath, half in sorrow. She opened the window and dashed from it the two remaining bottles, casting them into a large bank of rhododendrons.

‘That is the end of you,’ she said. ‘Now there are but three left at the Golden Balls. I wonder what will become of them.’

‘Sit down,’ said Mr. Worthivale. ‘I have sent for you, Lucy, and you, Beavis, to meet me here, because a crisis has arrived in the affairs of the Kingsbridge house—because an emergency has arisen which we shall have to meet, and I do not see how it can be met—except in one way.’ He paused and looked at his daughter, then at his son. ‘I suppose you know that the Marquess is engaged to be married to a young lady of immense fortune, a lady not in his position, a commoner, but of respectable family. Her father belongs to a Norfolk house; he was a younger son, and sought his fortune in Ceylon, coffee-planting. What he sought he found. He has returned to England worth enough to extinguish some of the charges on the Kingsbridge estate. Now we may look to the Ducal House nourishing and putting forth leaves in old style once more. I am glad. I confess I was despondent at one time. But one should not despair. I have learnt a lesson. There is a special Providence which watches over our great and glorious Aristocracy.’

Mr. Worthivale drew a sigh of relief and touched his breast with his right hand, much as though he were crying ‘Peccavi, I have sinned, in that for a season my faith in the English Aristocracy was shaken. I have now passed through the trial; my faith is restored to me.’

‘There is one thing I must mention,’ continued the steward. ‘I have called you together, not only to announce to you that a turn in the affairs of the House has been reached, but also to impress on you the fact that a supreme effort is needed to