Page:Court Royal.djvu/322

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that was the only evidence he gave in public that his mind was troubled.

Lord Edward remained at Court Royal, in spite of peremptory recalls from Lady Elizabeth, who insisted on his return to Sleepy Hollow, where cracks had appeared in the walls, and water was percolating through the roof, and the lamb-like curate was beginning to kick like a calf. Lord Edward saw that a crisis had arrived in the fate of the family, and he saw that his duty—the paramount duty—called him to remain at Court Royal. Where duties clashed the superior must be obeyed, and his duty to the family stood above all others.

The Marquess was altered since his return from Plymouth. The alteration was not in appearance only, it was also in manner. He had been hitherto agreeable in society, he was now silent. Nothing roused him out of his depression. Before he had been apathetic, now he was dispirited. He accepted the impending ruin as inevitable, and made no efforts to arrest it.

Beavis noticed the change and regretted it. The change was not for the better, but for the worse.

Only Lady Grace remained herself—cheerful, loving, trustful. She devoted herself more than ever to her brother, and, without appearing to observe his melancholy, combated it with all the weapons of her woman’s wit. She forced him out of himself; she called her uncles and Lucy to her aid. Only when she was alone did the tears come into her eyes, and her brightness fade. Her brother was now her first concern, though she did not understand the occasion of his mood. She attributed it to despair of saving the family, consequent on the failure of his engagement to Dulcina Rigsby. Although she thought chiefly of him, she did not think exclusively of him. She did not even know the main cause of trouble. She had resolved that some of the property must be sold, and that the establishment must be reduced. She dared to broach the subject to her father, in hopes of persuading him to realise the gravity of the occasion, but he refused to listen to her. ‘My dear Grace,’ he said, ‘talk of what you understand. If you want any more gardenias—and the new sorts are very fine—order them. Tell Messrs. Veitch to send you a Lapageria alba; we have only the rosea in the greenhouse. But, my dear, not another word about matters concerning which you know nothing.’

Somehow—it is impossible to say how—the knowledge that the existing order was menaced had reached the servants’ hall, and the greatest consternation prevailed. Mr. Blomfield and