fore the home consumption is greater. We want nothing but delay. Invite the two or three disagreeable mortgagees to a meeting at the lodge, and we shall see what will be the result. I shall make a point of being there.’
Beavis gathered the papers together. His cheeks were flushed.
‘Saltcombe has not spoken,’ exclaimed Lord Roland, ‘yet he is the one most concerned.’
‘I bow to the superior wisdom of my uncles,’ answered the Marquess, ‘though I agree with Beavis. I do not, however, see any chance of persuading the Duke to a sale.’
‘I think with you, Herbert, in this as in all things,’ said Lady Grace. ‘Let us have amputation before mortification sets in.’
At that moment a tap at the door, and the Duke’s valet entered hastily, looking frightened.
‘My lords,’ he said, ‘his Grace is not well! Something has happened!’
The brothers of the Duke, his son and daughter, hurried to his apartment in alarm. The Worthivales, father and son, remained where they were, anxious to know the cause of alarm, but unwilling to intrude.
The Archdeacon turned faint; he also suffered from the heart, and the Marquess was obliged to lend him an arm. The General and Lady Grace were the first to enter the Duke’s morning sitting-room.
We must explain the cause of the Duke’s excitement.
He had been taking his breakfast when the valet informed him that a lady—a Sister of Mercy—had called and desired very particularly to see his Grace, if he would generously allow her an interview of five minutes.
‘A Sister of Mercy!’ exclaimed the Duke. ‘What—Thompson, in the hall. Kept her waiting?—Excellent people—most certainly I will see her. Some subscription wanted to an orphanage, or a refuge, or a laundry. Show her up at once—of course, of course.’