Page:Court Royal.djvu/309

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‘No,’ answered the father, ‘you are too weak. The job must be done by me at once. Let me see—to-morrow: impossible, engaged. Must make arrangements. Day after, yes; and, Charles, you go to Mr. Worthivale at Kingsbridge for a month, or better, six weeks, to be out of the way. He comes here to dinner to-morrow, when I will settle with him. Go.’

When Charles Cheek got into the street he exploded into laughter. ‘The little rogue!’ he exclaimed. ‘Who ever would have thought it? The hundred pounds she promised she gets out of my father. She has cost me a bad quarter of an hour, though.’


Next evening, punctually at seven, Mr. Worthivale arrived. To honour his presence, two additional dishes were added to the dessert—one of dried figs, the other of preserved ginger. Also a bottle of claret was decanted. Mr. Cheek had not settled down into his usual composure; his excitement made him more talkative than usual, and induced him to fill out his sentences, and not present them in a somewhat less truncated shape. His talkativeness, however, did not manifest itself until after the servants had withdrawn. Then his reserve gave way. He pulled an envelope out of his pocket and threw it to his guest.

‘Look at that, Worthivale! Got it this morning. Charles has made a fool of himself. Got entangled with a wench dredged from the social depths. Engaged! Cost something to set him free. However’—he rattled his pocket—‘I’m not like one of your dukes; I’ve money in my own pocket when there’s need. I haven’t to go cap in hand to others.’

The steward winced. Then he said, studying the photograph, ‘I am sure I know that face. It is familiar to me. Where can I have seen it?’

‘Of course. That is Charlie.’

‘Yes; but the other—the girl? She—it must be, yet I can hardly believe it—it must be our servant, Joanna!’

‘Joanna is her name.’

‘The maid left us under somewhat unsatisfactory circumstances—altogether puzzling.’

‘That I can well believe.’