Page:Court Royal.djvu/302

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paying, but it can’t be done. Charlie cares only for officers, and is either at Portsmouth or Plymouth, befooled by them out of his—my money.’

‘Send him to me.’

‘I don’t suppose he would care for the country. Nothing to be done there.’

‘He can see the magnificent grounds. He can boat. He can shoot.’

‘Grounds anywhere. Mount Edgcumbe open to public on Wednesdays. Boating to be had at Plymouth. This is not the time of year for shooting.’

‘True. Let him come to me in the shooting season.’

‘Many months to that. Meantime he may have gone to the bad.’

‘I invited him to-day to visit me, and he did not decline.’

‘Too much of a gent for that,’ said the father. ‘Mischief is he can’t say Nay. He will promise you a call, and never go. I know him. He promises reform every time he comes for money, but never reforms.’

‘He is entangled in a social stratum—a sort of Bohemianism, that will not allow him to reform. Get him out of that, and he will be another man. My Beavis never gives me an hour’s concern, because he associates with the family at Court Royal. The Marquess loves him as a brother. Beavis would do your boy an infinity of good. Beavis is a fine, strong-willed, honourable fellow, with a tender heart and a true conscience.’

‘Charlie, also, is a fine fellow,’ said old Cheek, who could not endure to have another young man contrasted favourably with his own son. ‘The mischief is, I was too busy all my days, and could not see enough of him. Only wants his chance now.’

‘Well,’ said Worthivale, standing up, ‘I must be off now. Good-bye, Cheek. It is a real pleasure to me to meet you again.’

‘Dine with me the day after to-morrow. Seven punctually.’

‘I shall be delighted.’

He left the old man sitting looking before him at the dish of biscuits from which he had exterminated the ratafias. Every now and then he turned over the biscuits with his finger, but his mind was not on the ratafias. He shook his long head at intervals, and said, ‘If that were to happen—if Charlie were to be so weak as that—and he can’t say No—least of all to a woman—he would be done for irretrievably.’