‘If I were to take these over, it would be merely because I do not see my way at present to a better investment. When I do see one I shall call them up. I don’t care for your four and half and four and three quarters. If I were to take these mortgages, your people would be put in the same box in a few years’ time when I wanted to release my capital.’
‘Oh, in two or three years that can be done without difficulty. The Duke only requires accommodation for the moment.’
‘Whence will the money come?’
‘Don’t trouble your head about that. Money can always be found with such estates. Why, they bring in forty thousand per annum.’
‘Land can always be sold,’ said Cheek. ‘If the money be not forthcoming when I want it, I will sell them up, or they must drop a farm or two into the market.’
‘I’ll tell you what, Cheek. If it ever comes to that, try and secure Bigbury. That is the site for a second Torquay, climate warm as Penzance, and not as rainy; looks south, scenery lovely, Plymouth accessible. He who has capital, and likes to spend it there, can realise in no time an enormous fortune. Come, what do you say to my proposal? You have a friend at court in me, who knows all the advantages.’
Mr. Cheek rubbed his nose with his fork, wherewith he had been eating preserved ginger, and left a trickle of juice upon it.
‘I should like to see the place,’ he said cautiously.
‘Come down, then.’
Suddenly Cheek jerked forwards his arms, and said, ‘I will.’
‘And as I return to-morrow, I can take Charles with me, and got him settled in. I expect to see the agent for the mortgagee on the twenty-third at my place. Suppose you are thereto meet him. Then nothing is more easy than a transfer.’
‘I go down to Plymouth to-morrow to settle this unpleasant matter of the girl. We can travel together.’
‘Then return by way of Kingsbridge.’
‘Cannot. Must be in town by night express, but by Wednesday I’ll be with you.’
Mr. Worthivale was delighted; the fish was nibbling and nigh hooked.
Neither spoke for some minutes, as each was engaged with his own thoughts and with drinking port.
Presently Mr. Cheek said, as he dipped his napkin in his finger-glass and wiped the syrup off his nose, ‘I wish you would tell me what was suspicious about that girl who has