Page:Court Royal.djvu/267

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me, I none but you, who can perfectly understand and feel for each other. Tell me everything. You have not been ill in body. You have been ill in mind. Lucy will not be candid with me, and she knows more than I. Beavis only bids me trust him. My uncle Roland is unapproachable. I must come to you. I cannot bear it. I cannot. Dear Herbert! as you love me, tell me everything.’

‘Sit down, Grace.’

‘No, I cannot; I must not stay. I can rest neither here nor anywhere, not on my bed, till the key is put in my hands. I lie awake thinking and puzzling till I fear I shall go mad. Anything is better than this uncertainty. Why are you unhappy? Why have you all made such a point of this marriage? Why is Uncle Roland so upset because it is broken off? What did Beavis see in her to urge you to make her your wife?’

‘I cannot tell you, Grace.’

‘You must, Herbert. I will no longer be left in doubt.’

‘Even the Duke does not know.’

‘So I perceive. He alone has been indifferent.’

‘You must be spared what would give you pain.’

‘I do not ask to be spared. If you have a cross laid on your shoulder which is weighing you down, shift one arm to my shoulder and give me your hand, we will carry it together. I am brave, Herbert. I can bear anything. Only one thing at a time, Herbert: first tell me—did you love Dulcina?’

‘I was determined to do so; I did my best, but I could not. Love will not be forced.’

‘I am glad to hear you say that. Your conduct is made doubly inexplicable now. Why did you propose to her?’

Lord Saltcombe hesitated. After a while, during which she waited with patience, he said, looking down, ‘Very well, Grace, know all. We are ruined. The marriage was arranged in the hopes of saving us from going to pieces. The Rigsbys are very rich.’

‘Is that all?’ asked Lady Grace, with a sigh of relief.

‘All!’ echoed Lord Saltcombe. ‘Ruin—our ruin proclaimed by every newspaper throughout England, the loss of our property, the sale of Court Royal.’

‘It will kill papa.’