Page:Court Royal.djvu/252

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such hat and cloak stands out of rosewood, as a present for his nephew on his marriage. Each required twelve knobs for the bristles and four knobs for the feet, and a big knob for the top, seventeen knobs in all; two stands, therefore, demanded thirty-four knobs. Lord Ronald had turned nineteen, which were ranged on the floor in strict order like cannon balls; he was engaged on knob number twenty when he heard a tap at the door, and, before he could answer, in came Mr. Worthivale, hot and frightened looking.

‘What is the matter, Worthivale? Is Court Royal a-fire?’

‘Oh, my Lord, what is to be done? We are in a worse predicament than ever.’

‘It would be difficult to reach that.’

‘Really,’ exclaimed the excited steward, ‘I am driven wild. Has any news come from the Marquess? When will the marriage take place?’

‘I do not think the day is fixed.’

‘Has he written?’

‘He wrote once after reaching Plymouth. I have not seen the Duke this morning, so I cannot say whether his Grace has received a letter to-day. It is all right, don’t alarm yourself. The wedding must not be pressed on too hastily. My niece has had a note or two from Miss Rigsby, but they contained no news.’

‘I wish the wedding were to take place at once. I do not see how we are to hold on much longer without it.’

‘What is the matter now?’

‘The creditors and mortgagees are unreasonable. The Court Royal and Kingsbridge mortgages held by Mr. Emmanuel are called in. He will file a bill against us. We cannot possibly meet the call. It is as much as we can do to meet current expenses. Where are we to raise a penny? Bless my heart,’ said the steward, throwing himself into a chair, ‘here we were so happy and content, with the prospect before us of getting everything squared at our leisure, the Marquess marrying, and the more pressing calls stilled, when down on our heads comes this thunderbolt. File a bill against us in Chancery! Merciful heavens! What is the world coming to, with Radicalism, and democracy, and socialism, and American competition, cutting the throats of our farmers, and Fenian plots, and Nihilist desperadoes—and actually a request from Farmer Thomas to build him a silo that will contain sixty tons of ensilage. Why, my lord, it can’t be done under three