Page:Court Royal.djvu/306

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Charles was moved. ‘My dear father,’ he said, ‘let me explain.’

‘Explain! What can you explain?’

‘The letter is not serious.’

‘Reads deuced like a serious letter.’ Mr. Cheek had no sense of humour. What touched his son as comical in the epistle appeared to him sober earnestness. ‘Answer me a few plain questions, Charles; set my mind at rest, or confirm my worst anticipations. Give me the letter.’

The old tradesman took the note and spread it before him, then deliberately put on his spectacles and read the letter over to himself, marking the points with his silver dessert knife.

‘Who is Joanna Rosevere?’

‘She is a girl I got to know something about; a nice enough sort of a girl, with plenty of brains——

‘That will do. I asked who was Joanna Rosevere. You say a girl. Enough. Now I know she is not a widow. I want none of your lover’s raptures.’

‘I am not aware that there were any raptures.’

‘That will do. I require answers short and to the point. Now, further, is it true that you gave her a pearl necklace and a rose-coloured silk dress?’

‘Yes, I did; the pearls were Roman, and the dress——

‘That will do. You gave this girl a necklace of Roman pearls and a rose-coloured silk gown. Did you further have yourself photographed—I beg pardon, cabineted—hand-in-hand with her?’

‘Yes, father. The fact is that—that——’ Then the recollection of the snail and the bet rushed on his mind, he blushed and did not finish his sentence.

‘Very well—or rather, very ill. You were photographed—to be exact, cabineted with the girl, hand-in-hand; I presume I take her right, she don’t swear you were closeted with her.’

‘Well, I was taken with her. I thought——

‘Never mind what you thought. I want facts, not fancies. Hand-in-hand, cabinet size. I want to know further, did you, as she says, tell her you wished her to be your wife?’

‘It came about like this. The other evening when I was there——

‘I am not asking the time of day, nor the circumstances. I only ask, is this a fact?’

‘I did say that I wished it were possible for me to make