Page:Court Royal.djvu/232

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hand is full of vessels. Far away to the head of the water rise the peaks of Dartmoor above rolling woods and hills, studded with white houses and grey church towers. Mr. Rigsby was not easily satisfied; he was determined to have a good house, and he got the best, with large gardens sloping down the hill, lawns, tennis-ground enclosed within yew hedges, and terraces with roses.

He had roughed it in Ceylon in old days; the bungalow in which Dulcina had been brought up was plain, and slenderly furnished. In England Mr. Rigsby was exacting. Dulcina would be a duchess, and he must show the world that he had a fortune that allowed him to live like a prince. He bought carriages and horses, and engaged servants, put the men in the Rigsby livery of buff and blue, made his coachman powder his hair and sit on a hammer-cloth. He sent orders to town for pictures, and had the house put into the hands of a decorative adviser.

‘I know nothing about art furniture,’ he said. ‘So long as I have a chair to sit on, it is all one to me what is the shape, but—one must be in fashion, or risk being thought a boor.’

He had his own rooms plainly furnished—a hard bed, and no carpets on the floors. ‘I like to spit,’ he said, ‘and carpets get in the way of spitting.’ He had his Cingalese man-servant, who understood his wants, and none of the other men were allowed near him. He lived very much to himself, smoking and reading Indian papers in his snuggery, and it was with difficulty that he could be drawn from it to entertain guests in the drawing-room.

He was sitting in his room, with a fire in the grate, and his feet against the marble jambs, when he was told that a visitor was desirous of speaking to him on urgent business.

‘Who is it? a gentleman or a lady? A gentleman! Show him in here. Confound it all, can I not be left an hour in peace? In the drawing-room, is he? Has he not given you his card? No! Deuce take it, I suppose I must go in to him. Here, take off my smoking jacket, and help me into my coat. I can’t go in my slippers. Give me my boots. What a life I lead here? I wish I were back in Ceylon!’

As soon as he was presentable Mr. Rigsby went to the drawing-room. He saw there a stoutly built man with grey black hair, and dark eyes like sloes. There was no mistaking his nationality. Nose and eyes and cheek-bones proclaimed it.