Page:Court Royal.djvu/273

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that of Lord Ronald, and remained at his side, holding his hand. Her touch soothed him and allayed his irritation.

‘The Duke will never consent to this,’ said Lord Edward.

‘It will not do even to suggest it to him. So much of the family property has been thrown away by our ancestors, that he is particularly tenacious on this point. Nothing will induce him to part with an acre.’

‘He is talking of buying Revelstoke, not of selling,’ said Lord Ronald.

‘Remember,’ said Beavis, ‘if he will not voluntarily part with Fowelscombe, he will have Court Royal taken from under his feet and over his head. There is a power of sale in all mortgages.’

‘They will not dare to do it,’ exclaimed the General; ‘the whole country would rise up and cry shame.’

‘What do a parcel of Jew money-lenders care about the feelings of the country?’ said Beavis. ‘Besides, you mistake. The country would approve. It would cry shame on the house of Eveleigh for not making a voluntary effort to pay its debts.’

Lord Ronald’s fingers nipped the hand of Lady Grace convulsively, and so sharply as to cause her pain. His face quivered, and he prepared to say an angry word, when she laid her other hand on his lips.

‘Mr, Beavis is quite right,’ she said; ‘I feel that he is. We should do everything in our power to pay our debts, and not lie, curled up in our pride like hedgehogs, for the dogs to worry.’

The General turned to his brother. ‘Edward,’ he said, ‘we look to you for advice. These hot-headed, rash young folk would fire the stack to expel the mice. You are a man of experience, with a business head. What do you propose?’

‘There is nothing like moderation,’ said the Archdeacon. ‘I object to all extremes, doctrinal or practical. Let us be via media in all we do and propose. I agree with you, Mr. Beavis, that something must be done. I think with you, Ronald, that his proposal is too drastic. My suggestion is quite other. Let Mr. Worthivale write to the mortgagees or their agents—I mean those who are pressing, and those likely to be troublesome—and ask for delay. It would not be wise to sell land just now, Mr. Beavis said as much. The present depression cannot last. The wheat-producing area in America is rapidly being taken up, and the soil is becoming exhausted, at the same time that the population of America is increasing, and there-