‘She has plenty of money,’ answered the Archdeacon, looking down abashed.
‘But, Edward! money is a very small consideration. I am sorry he has not chosen one in his own position. Still—if she is a lady, and one likely to make him happy, I shall not object. What attracted him to her? Is she very beautiful? Fair, I understand. I cannot get much out of Ronald; he is either unobservant or reticent.’
‘Fair, fair of course,’ answered Lord Edward. ‘I should not call her exactly a beauty, but then men’s tastes differ. I really am no judge of women’s faces, I have other things to look at—the Fathers, and the Diocesan Charity accounts.’
‘But you can surely tell me something more than Ronald. I should like particulars. Are her manners easy and polished?’
‘I should not say exactly polished in the old acceptation of the word. Easy they are, I suppose. She makes herself at home in your house at once, and is rather exacting. But then her father spoils her. She turns him round her finger. It is really a study to see how she manages him. That is good; she will exert herself to direct Saltcombe, and make something of him.’
‘I hope so,’ said the Duke.
‘I am sure of it. I am sanguine that the marriage will be a happy one.’
‘I have seen little of Saltcombe since he returned the day before yesterday. He is shy, as you may understand, of speaking on such a topic to me. He always was a reserved man, and now his reserve is intensified.’
‘I will go and see him myself,’ said Lord Edward. ‘I suppose the Rigsbys will be here to-day.’
‘I expect them by the next train. They will be here for dinner. We have invited no one for to-day, but every other day of their visit is provided for.’
The Archdeacon hurried to his nephew’s apartments. He was a man of business, and before he attended to himself he was determined to have everyone else in order. He found Lord Saltcombe by himself in his sitting-room, pretending to read. He shook him warmly by the hand. ‘Saltcombe,’ he said, ‘remember what is expected of you. I have done all that I can, so has Elizabeth. Upon my word I believe the girl is in love with you, over head and ears. Now, for heaven’s sake, do not spoil everything by faintheartedness at the last. Keep your spirits up. Show a good face before your father. There