‘Right. Hope you’ll enjoy yourself with the mortgagees. Cheerful company. Pleasant ways, eh? If in distress, and you change your mind, wire. Let the young female give her word of honour that she will take my Charlie, and I am ready with my two hundred thousand. She’s not one to go from her word. Now—portmantle.’
‘Was there ever such a fool—such a confounded fool!’ cried Mr. Worthivale, when Cheek had left the room, as he ran about, holding his head. ‘That I should have lived to hear him talk!’
Half an hour later, the great Cheek of the Monokeros was gone, and the hope that had hung on him had fallen and lay broken with many another shattered hope.
‘Well!’ said the General, entering the dining-room about the hour when the meeting was to take place, ‘what says your kinsman to the mortgages? Will he take them?’
‘He is a fool, an abject, drivelling fool!’ answered the steward. Lord Ronald sighed. He had buoyed himself on the expectation which Worthivale had confided to him, that relief was certain from this quarter.
‘That is not the worst,’ said Worthivale, in a low tone, and he trembled and became white and moist.
‘By this post,’ gasped the steward, ‘the—the Insurance Company have given notice——’
‘My God! not the Loddiswell mortgage for four hundred thousand?’
Worthivale put his hand to his mouth to cover a groan.
Then they heard a carriage drive up to the garden gate, followed by a ring at the bell. A moment after, the maid announced, ‘Mr. Crudge, solicitor,’ and the lawyer entered, followed by Lazarus, dressed respectably.
‘Good afternoon, my lord. Good afternoon, Mr. Worthivale,’ said Crudge, with freshness and confidence. ‘Allow me to introduce Mr. Emmanuel.’ He presented Lazarus; the General bowed stiffly, Worthivale shook hands. They seated themselves, Lazarus with his back to the light, in the window, behind Mr. Crudge. Presently the Marquess arrived, with Lord Edward. They bowed to Crudge and Lazarus, and took chairs by the fire, offered them by the steward. With them entered Beavis.
Conversation began on the weather. Crudge talked of the