Page:Court Royal.djvu/177

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is a great deal in the girl. It only wants drawing out. Her father has spoiled her, and her natural excellence is a little obscured, that is all. I like her, and think she will make a first-rate wife.’ Lord Edward saw everything in rosy light.

A couple of hours later the carriages arrived. Two had been sent to Kingsbridge Road station. Mr. Rigsby, his daughter, and Miss Stokes were in the first, a fine new carriage with splendid appointments; Miss Rigsby’s maid alone in the second with the parcels, and the boxes on the roof. Mr. Rigsby dispensed with a valet.

The evening was fine, the sun cast his last golden rays over the house, and the park looked its best to greet its future mistress.

Lady Grace and Lucy came to the entrance hall; Lord Edward and the Marquess were there as well, to receive the guests. Dulcina looked about her with surprise and admiration which lent vivacity to her face; unfortunately the setting sun sent its saffron rays over her; her complexion was naturally pasty: in the sunlight she looked sallow. Lucy Worthivale stood back, unnoticed, watching Dulcina attentively. Then she hastened to Miss Stokes, and offered to relieve her of some of her wraps.

Dulcina wore a tall hat, boat-shaped, with a great dancing plume in it. She could not have chosen a head-dress less suitable to her style. Colour came into Lady Grace’s cheeks for a moment when she met and saw her future sister-in-law for the first time, but not a muscle of her features moved. She greeted her with gentle cordiality that won Dulcina’s confidence immediately. The Marquess turned pale when he saw the young lady in her hideous hat, standing in the yellow blaze, looking plain, almost vulgar, but he speedily recovered himself and behaved with courtesy and geniality.

‘Upon my word!’ exclaimed Mr. Rigsby, looking round, ‘what a place you have! Why, you English nobles are princes indeed.’

Mr. Rigsby and his daughter were received by the Duke in the drawing-room; the audience was very short. Dulcina was carried off almost before the Duke could make out what she was like, and conveyed by Lady Grace and Lucy to her apartments. She looked about her eagerly; on the stairs, in the corridors; she said little, she was oppressed by the stateliness and splendour about her, to which she was wholly unaccustomed, brought up in a wooden bungalow in the coffee