Page:Court Royal.djvu/311

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NIBBLING.

so get his foot into society. They have not much of their own except blood, and that is just what you require.’

‘Nothing would please me better.’

‘Yes, we must get Charles into good society, and then he will lose the taste for low associations.’

‘The boy has his points,’ said Mr. Cheek. ‘Can’t help loving him. Admire his gentlemanly ways. Got them from his mother. Your family have always been gentlefolks.’

‘Yes; we were squires once, in Cornwall, but lost our property in the usual way, and went down into business.’

Then Mr. Worthivale turned the conversation to the Kingsbridge estates, and the advantages of lending money on them. He admitted that the Duke was in want of a few thousands, but then the investment was so secure. Turkish Government, Egyptian Khedives, Argentine Republics borrowed and could not pay. They were broken reeds, but an English duke was a pillar of strength. It would not be a bad excuse for introducing Charles to the family, if his father was inclined to accommodate it. At this bold proposition Mr. Cheek grew stiff, congealed, and frowned. The steward went on, now he had begun, unabashed, to show the great securities the duke could offer, the advantages from a pecuniary point of view that would accrue to Mr. Cheek by thus investing his money, Mr. Cheek listened, and said nothing in reply one way or the other.

‘There are a couple of mortgages that have been notified which must be met, amounting to about fifty thousand,’ he said. ‘If you would take these over, it would be a convenience to the family, you would have a safe investment, and you would have conferred on them an obligation which they would not forget.’

‘Fifty thousand!’ said Mr. Cheek. ‘I have more than that to dispose of, thank goodness; the Monokeratic Principle continues to bring in a good profit annually, and I must invest what I make somewhere and somehow.’

‘Really,’ said the steward, ‘a hundred thousand would not come amiss.’

‘Ah!’ exclaimed Cheek senior, ‘go on, hundred and fifty—two hundred—two hundred and fifty——

‘You do not hear me out. A couple of mortgages must be transferred or paid off. The Duke has not the ready money, and he would therefore wish the transfer. The one is on the manor of Kingsbridge, the other on the Court Royal estate. Why, the house itself cost seventy thousand—there is absolutely no risk.’