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They are great folks indeed! Tell me, now, is not everything here magnificent?’

‘Oh, all is very nice.’

‘Nice! Superb! You do not employ proper expressions. You never saw the like in your wildest dreams, because the like is not to be found out of old England.’

‘I suppose there are the courts of the native princes in India——

‘Native fiddlesticks!’ exclaimed Mr. Rigsby.

‘Really, really, James,’ interposed Miss Stokes, ‘would you allow my niece to finish her sentences? She cannot endure interruptions: you shake her nerves. Moreover, the exprestion is burlesque and improper.’

‘I was only about to remark,’ said the abashed Rigsby, ‘that Dulcina has seen no native princes. There are none in Ceylon, and she has not been on a visit to Maharajas on the continent.’

‘If she has not, she has read of their palaces and heard of their state.’

‘They are nothing to the mansions of our nobility. And, Dullie, my dear, the beauty is that you will one day be mistress here. Listen! Don’t it sound well, Dulcina, Duchess of Kingsbridge? Upon my word, I will have you painted in a ducal coronet and red velvet mantle turned up with ermine. My dear, look round here on everything as your own. The old cock can’t last long.’

‘What old cock, papa?’

‘I mean the Duke.’

‘Really, James, really!’ exclaimed Miss Stokes.

CHAPTER XXIV.
CAUGHT NAPPING.

Never within man’s memory had there been such a succession of gaieties at Court Royal as at this Christmas season. The weather was favourable, bright and mild, as is so frequent in these days, when the seasons, as the world of men and manners, are out of joint. The climate of the south coast of Devon, especially of that favoured portion about the Kingsbridge estuary