Page:Court Royal.djvu/297

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and his son from the correspondence of relatives. He had not taken a liking to Mr. Cheek, who was a man of modern ideas, without patience with Conservatives and Churchmen, and held advanced ideas about the land laws and the extension of the franchise, and cried out for Disestablishment and the abolition of the House of Lords. Mr. Worthivale had heard also of young Charles, a careless, extravagant dog, who gave his father much trouble. Mr. Cheek had wished his son to enter the business, and had forced him, when he left school, to occupy a stool in the office, but Charles in an hour threw the accounts into such confusion that it took his father days to unravel them; and although he was tried in various departments of the establishment, he proved such a failure in all that his father was fain to let him go his own way. Charles had desired to enter the army, but Mr. Cheek would not hear of this, and battled against his son’s inclination till the young man was past the age at which he could obtain a commission. Then only did he admit to himself that he had made a mistake. In the army Charles would have had a profession and something to occupy him, and he seemed fit for no other profession, and to care for no other occupation. The father proposed that he should read for the Bar, but the disinclination of Charles for legal studies soon manifested itself. For medicine he was too thoughtless, and Mr. Cheek was forced to let him live as an idler. The father had been so accustomed to work, and to associate work with the first duty of man, even though that work was to throw dust in the eyes of the public, that it was with the utmost reluctance that he consented to find Charles an income of four hundred a year, and to let him live as he liked, associating with officers, losing money to them, entertaining them, and being laughed at by them behind his back. Charles had got into trouble several times, and his father had paid his debts, each time with angry reproaches and threats of disinheritance.

Worthivale had heard that the elder Cheek had amassed a large fortune, which his son’s extravagance might impair but could not exhaust. He had taken it into his head that nothing would be easier for him than to persuade old Mr. Cheek to lend the necessary thousands for the saving of the Duke. This was the new web of fancy spun by his hopes, attached to no probabilities, floating in his brain like the gossamer of autumn; and in this vain hope he was on his way to town.

‘I am going to drop in on your father,’ said Mr. Worthi-