‘Stoop! stoop to Dulcina!’ exclaimed Mr. Rigsby. ‘Come into my smoking-room. This matter must not be discussed here. Miss Rigsby, or Miss Stokes, or one of the flunkeys might be dropping in—visitors calling—Heaven knows what. Follow me into my study. I have plenty of time at my disposal. I have nothing to do, and will hear you patiently. Good Heavens! Bankrupt! Ruined! Dulcina snapped at for her money! Thunder and blazes! Follow me.’
He led the way into his smoking-room, which he called his study, though no books were in it.
‘Excuse me,’ he said, ‘I cannot think in this coat. My ideas won’t move in boots. Allow me to put on my smoking jacket and slippers; my time is at your disposal.’
‘I have here,’ said the Jew, taking a chair by the table—‘I have in this little book a précis of the income and expenditure and debts of the family. I have got more; I have here a packet of notes of hand, and a couple of mortgages, one on Court Royal manor and estate, which will convince you that I am not exaggerating when I say that the family is on the verge of ruin. Please cast your eye over these accounts; they were extracted by a confidential agent from the books in the steward’s office, without his knowledge. In love and war and business, everything is fair.’
Mr. Rigsby sat down. His face became mottled, he could not sit comfortably on his chair; he turned it, then turned it again. ‘Good Heavens!’ he said, ‘who would have thought it? It is impossible.’
‘It is true, absolutely true.’
Mr. Rigsby stood up and walked to the window, where he stood for some minutes drumming on the glass with his fingers.
‘I was not told this,’ he said.
‘Of course you were kept in the dark.’
‘I shall tie everything up to my daughter’s sole use.’
‘Then they will not say “Thank you” for your daughter. They only want her because they expect through her to get at your purse.’
Mr. Rigsby came back to the table, and took up the schedule of debts, bills, and mortgages.
‘Some of these are for enormous sums, of old standing, never redeemed.’
‘Never likely to be redeemed, unless you find the money.’
‘But I cannot find the amount. I should sink everything.’
‘This is the state of affairs; I have felt it my duty to in-