Page:Court Royal.djvu/255

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‘Could not his Grace have gone abroad and shut up the Court?’

‘Gone abroad!—to Boulogne, and herded with all the clipped and pinched wretches who hover there, like the spirits on the banks of Lethe, unable to come over because short of an obolus. No, thank you. There are limits below which we cannot descend.’

‘What is to be done? Nothing can be done now. It is too late. Some years ago—perhaps. Now all is hopeless.’

‘This is rank nonsense. Mr. Rigsby is rolling in money.’

‘But can we be sure of getting him to apply it to our necessity?’

‘Of course we can. I know we can.’

‘What is he worth? We want a very large sum.’

‘I do not know his income. Be at ease. He has plenty.’

Mr. Worthivale put his hands to his head. ‘If it were not wicked and cowardly,’ he said, ‘I would blow out my brains.’

‘If there is immediate pressure,’ said the General, ‘I will write to Edward—to Lord Edward; he is canon and archdeacon, and proctor in Convocation, and enjoys a fat rectory. I have no doubt he will help.’

‘He has helped us already.’

‘When? How?’

‘Over and over again, but he wished me not to mention it to any of the family.’

‘Bless my soul!’ exclaimed Lord Ronald, ‘I had no idea of that. Can I sell my interest in anything—my annuity?’

‘If you sell your annuity, my lord, it must be paid, and now it is not.’

‘I can sell my half-pay of General.’

‘A drop into a bottomless gulf.’

‘Then we must wait in patience for the marriage-bells. Now—not another word. I am going to the Duke.’

The steward sighed and withdrew.

‘Stay a moment,’ called the General as he was passing through the door. ‘I hope, I trust, not a word of this has reached the ears of Lady Grace. I do suppose that you have not spoken of these painful matters to Lucy.’

‘She does know something,’ said Mr. Worthivale.

‘Who? Lucy or Grace?’

‘Lucy has been told that no unnecessary expense must be incurred. Remember she manages the housekeeping, and has the accounts in her charge. But, as she says, it is impossible