‘What is to be done?’ asked Mr. Rigsby.
‘Nothing,’ answered Captain Ottley. ‘Let matters take their course. Things are never as black as they are painted. The Jew exaggerated the financial condition of the family. He does not want to have the mortgage paid because the investment is too profitable for him to care to lose it. Do not excite yourself about the Marquess, either. I have always heard that he is a man of honour, and if he did transgress once, it was for the only and the last time.’
The Captain succeeded in calming Rigsby’s agitation. The planter began to hope that matters had been presented to him in a worse aspect than they really were. He was resolved to question Lord Saltcombe on them, on both, and to hear the truth from him. The Marquess was expected to dinner that evening. Scarce a day passed without his visiting the house, and driving or walking with his betrothed. This day he did not call, nor did he appear at dinner. Mr. Rigsby became uneasy. He rose early from his wine, lit a cigar, and walked into Plymouth to inquire after the Marquess.
He was told that Lord Saltcombe was at home, but not well, and desired that he might not be disturbed. Mr. Rigsby was dissatisfied with the answer. He sent up his name, and asked if he might see the Marquess for a moment. Then only was he shown to his room. He found him seated in his arm-chair, without a light.
‘Shall I bring candles, my lord?’ asked the servant.
‘Thank you.—Sit down, Mr. Rigsby. I am out of sorts.’
When the candles came in, Rigsby saw that his face was deadly pale, his eyes sunken and bright.
‘You desired to see me particularly?’ he asked.
‘Yes; but you seem hardly well enough for what I wish to discuss.’
‘I also wanted to see you. I must speak openly with you,’ said the Marquess.
‘My dear Saltcombe,’ said Mr. Rigsby, ‘I am a blunt man, and I ask questions in a blunt way. You must excuse me.’
The Marquess bowed.
‘You must understand that what I live for is the happiness of my daughter. I have toiled for her. My fortune is hers, and I am desirous that it should be secured to her, to be inalienably hers. Again, I would not have her marry anyone, however high his position in the social scale, unless I were sure that he would love her.’