‘Is that your father’s money?’
‘Whose is it then?’
Beavis did not reply. He looked down.
‘I insist on being told.’
‘What!’ exclaimed the Marquess, colouring; ‘indebted to dear Lucy more deeply still. Oh, Beavis, never, never, can we repay the debt we owe your house. So Lucy finds the money to wreath the ox for the sacrifice.’ He was silent, he let go his friend’s hand and stood before the fire, looking down and kicking the hearth. ‘It shall all be repaid,’ he said at last; ‘I mean the money. The good intent, the self-sacrifice, that can only be treasured in our hearts, a priceless possession. Beavis, do not fear. The marriage will take place, and that speedily. I cannot bear to be indebted so deeply to you.’
‘Your father is awaiting you,’ said Beavis, anxious to cut short a scene painful to both.
The Marquess left the room, and sought his father.
The Duke led a very regular life, regulated to the smallest details. He suffered from sleeplessness, and therefore did not rise till late. He breakfasted at half-past ten, after which he was visited by his son and daughter, and occasionally by Lord Ronald. The General was up at half-past six, and took a constitutional till eight, when he came in and had a cup of coffee. He breakfasted with the rest at nine. The Duke read his letters whilst dressing, and arranged them in three piles; those he must himself reply to, those that might be answered by his daughter or son, and those on business, which he passed over to the steward. Mr. Worthivale called daily—or almost daily—at noon, and sat with him for an hour. The Duke partook of a light luncheon at half-past one, and when the weather permitted he took a drive; if the weather was unfavourable he walked in his conservatories.
He generally dined with the family, and sat with them for a couple of hours after dinner. Then he retired for the night. On Sundays he breakfasted half-an-hour earlier, in order that he might attend church.
Sometimes after dinner he took a hand at whist, or played chess with the Vicar, who was frequently invited to Court Royal. In former years he had spent the season in town, but his health no longer permitted his travelling by rail, and his children had accommodated themselves to a country life.