Page:Court Royal.djvu/310

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‘She had been before with a Mrs. Delany.’

‘She is now with a Jew pawnbroker, as maid of all work.’

‘This must be broken off,’ said Mr. Worthivale. ‘I never quite made out the why and wherefore of her leaving my house. She ran away.’

‘I am going to buy her off,’ answered Mr. Cheek; ‘but what comfort is that to me, when my boy may be committing a similar folly again to-morrow?’

Mr. Worthivale was still considering the photograph.

‘Her face is striking,’ he said, ‘and she has eyes that sparkle; they are perfectly effervescing with intelligence. Beavis took against her; he suspected her from the outset, but I cannot say why. This is a very odd story. Your son’s acquaintance with her must be short. She left us at Christmas. She was clever, but unable to read and write.’

‘She wrote me a letter. I have it in my pocket—here it is. Almost ashamed, however, to let you see it.’

Mr. Worthivale looked at the letter. ‘I know about the pink silk dress,’ he said. ‘She had it when she came to us. It was spoiled, as she describes in this letter, by some mineral water getting spilled over it. The Roman pearls also—yes. She sent them to Lady Grace Eveleigh after her disappearance. Lucy told me of it. They came with a letter, but I supposed she had got some one to write it for her. The girl is not lost to good; she showed great respect and attachment to her ladyship. Perhaps this letter was written for her; and yet’—he mused—‘yet there were some odd circumstances about her departure which made Beavis think her ignorance simulated.’

‘Did she steal anything from your house?’

‘No, I cannot say we missed money or plate; in fact, nothing. No, I cannot charge her with that.’

‘Sorry for that,’ said old Cheek. ‘It would have made my course easier. Police case then.’

‘Your son must in no case marry such a person,’ said the steward, gravely. ‘It would be an ugly scandal.’

‘He shall not. I buy her off. Allow the boy to visit you for a month or so till this affair is blown over.’

‘Certainly. I will bring him into good society. The company of Beavis will be profitable. I may find means of introducing him to the Marquess and Lord Ronald. There are nice people in our neighbourhood. There are the Sheepwashes—some fine girls, much admired, and of good family. Who can tell? Charles may form an attachment for one of them, and