Page:Court Royal.djvu/198

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have no conception of the strain on one’s powers to keep up the appearance of being a lover.’

‘Good heavens!’ exclaimed Beavis; ‘speak lower, or say nothing on the matter.’

‘I must speak. I have no one but yourself to whom I can give vent to my feelings. This is your doing; you have put me on the rack.’

‘I have advised for the best.’

‘I know you have,’ answered the Marquess with a bitter laugh. ‘I will go through with it now, my honour is engaged, so do not fear. Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes. You must excuse me if, at times, my courage gives way.’

Beavis had never before seen Lord Saltcombe so excited. He was usually composed and cool.

‘The Duke wants a word with you,’ said Beavis. ‘I have come to tell you that he wishes to speak to you in the rose boudoir.’

The Marquess nodded. ‘One moment, Beavis, before I go.’

‘I am at your service.’

‘Tell me, how is it that we are spending money right and left just now, and that there is not the ever-recurring worry of a deficit?’

Beavis hesitated.

‘I insist on knowing,’ said Lord Saltcombe.

‘The necessary sums have been lent.’

‘What! a fresh loan to crush us! At what rate of interest now? Who is the lender? Another Jew?’

‘No Jew,’ answered Beavis. ‘No interest is asked, as all will be repaid as soon as your marriage takes place.’

‘Who is the Good Samaritan that has flown to the rescue?’

‘There is nothing of the Good Samaritan in this. It is but a temporary accommodation.’

‘But who is this most accommodating party?’

‘My father.’

The Marquess stood still and looked at Beavis. He put his hand to his chin; it shook. ‘Good God!’ he exclaimed. ‘You—you dear good friends! You again helping us!’ He was greatly moved. He took Beavis’ hand and held it tightly in his whilst he looked out of the window. ‘Oh, Beavis! how kind, how noble you are! I insist on the whole truth. What is the sum advanced?’

‘Four thousand.’