Page:Court Royal.djvu/320

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‘Look here,’ said Lazarus; ‘let us go shares. Your kinsman Worthivale has been deluding you with assurances of solvency. The family never can pay its debts. I will foreclose on Court Royal. Do not help them against me. Others will follow. They are all ready. It is like an avalanche; pop! and it shoots down and buries all below. You lie by and buy the land as we or the Duke soil. Pick it up bit by bit.’

‘I shall go to Kingsbridge, and see the place.’

‘Go, by all means. Then you will be a judge if fortunes are to be made there. Bigbury Bay—that a second Torquay! You must find the site first, and the shelter. Why, the fishermen stand on the cliffs, and angle off them into deep water. Will you dig out a city in the rocks, like Petra? Slate at Kingsbridge! We have slate more accessible to Plymouth than that. Oil shale!—it has been tried. Plenty of shale, but no oil. Or do you want to oust the great family, and settle into its nest? Lend them money, and you will be done. The Marquess will marry an heiress, and wash his debts away. You will get your money back, but you won’t get into Court Royal.’

‘You are eager to keep me off,’ said Mr. Cheek. ‘What is your stake?’

‘Fifty thousand, mine. I lead the way; I am Mr. Emmanuel, with my thumb on Court Royal and Kingsbridge. Others are coming on, till the family is crushed.’

‘Fifty thousand!’

‘Yes. Do not let us fight. Let us share the spoil together.’

Mr. Cheek made no reply. He was considering.

‘You are going to Kingsbridge, eh?’ said Lazarus. Be on your guard against the great people there. They do not regard you as belonging to the same order of creatures as themselves. They hold themselves a long way ahead of the like of us.’

‘The like of us!’ repeated Mr. Cheek, indignantly. ‘Don’t class yourself with me.’

‘They make use of us, squeeze us as lemons, and throw the rind away. If they think they will get money or information out of you they will be gracious enough. Your cousin Worthivale will give them a hint to use you well. They will dazzle you with their magnificence, condescend to you most graciously, stupefy your mind with admiration of their polish and amiability and urbanity, then, when they have made what they wanted out of you, they will slam the door in your face and pass you unnoticed in the street. Be on your guard. I have forewarned you. If you want them to remain amiable and gracious, you must have their thumbs in a vice.’