Page:Court Royal.djvu/270

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pressing for immediate payment. Probably the bad times, the fall in the value of land, and threatened legislation menacing land, had alarmed the mortgagees. As he went on he became confused, repeated himself, appealed to figures and read them wrong, and involved the case to such an extent that when he sat down none who had heard him were wiser than when he stood up.

Beavis had his chair near his father. He was distressed at the old man’s inability to put clearly what he had to say, due to his inability to think clearly. He listened with patience, and when he had done he said, ‘I have gone most carefully through all the accounts, have drawn up a table of debts, and a list of the mortgages and bills. I know exactly what the expenditure has been in every department during the last three years, also what the assets have been. Everything is here, en précis, on the table, in so simple a form that a child can understand it. The situation is one from which extrication is only possible by having recourse to heroic methods. If the family difficulties had been considered in time, salvation might not have been so difficult as it is now.’

‘Come, come!’ said the Archdeacon, sharply, ‘don’t exaggerate.’

‘I am not exaggerating, my lord. May I pass these papers to you? You can convince yourself that I am speaking within the mark.’

‘What is the amount absolutely necessary?’ asked Lady Grace in a calm, low tone.

‘Oh, Lady Grace,’ said Beavis, hastily, ‘you ought not to be here. You unnerve me.’

‘Let my presence rather brace you to declare the whole truth. Deal plainly with us. The surgeon’s hand must not tremble when he touches the wound.’

‘I need not enumerate all the mortgages,’ continued Beavis. ‘The heaviest is that of four hundred thousand on the Loddiswell property, the annual interest on which is sixteen thousand. That is just six thousand above what we are now drawing from the estates thus charged. This is in the hands of an Insurance Company, and is not called in. Seventy thousand was raised for the building of Court Royal. We have a little mortgage on Charlecombe. Neither of these is notified.’

‘Of course not,’ interrupted the steward.

‘There is a smaller, much smaller mortgage on the manor of Kingsbridge of four thousand five hundred. As you may