his remaining. Even he can do nothing now. If it had been possible, he would have managed it. We have been deceiving ourselves. Disenchantment has come. Herbert, we have been a happy and an united family. We will stand to our arms, and go down in the old ship together, as men. The Duke must know all, and resolve to sell the greater part of the estates. Court Royal itself, if need be.’
‘Yes,’ answered the Marquess, ‘I have foreseen this. As you had hopes, I did not press my view. Now you have come round to my opinion. Loddiswell and Alvington must go. Fowelscombe also. Probably Court Royal. We shall never now be able to maintain the place. Better crawl into a smaller house and there die.’
‘Perhaps Court Royal might be kept during the Duke’s life.’
‘No,’ answered Lord Saltcombe. ‘Let us see the worst over. If we live on here we shall be always tempted to keep up the old state.’
‘But remember what Worthivale has said about the Bigbury property. It is worth comparatively little now, but if a company were formed, and a town begun there, it might rival Torquay, and be a golden-egg-laying goose to us, and then the family would flourish again.’
‘There is no time for forming a company and building a town. If this had been tried three or four years ago we might have been saved; but now it is over. If a fortune is to be found there, it will not be by us.’
‘You are right,’ sighed the General.
‘Beavis,’ said the Marquess, ‘calculated on saving a portion of our lands. Let us keep Bigbury—it is possible that some day it may “render,” as the French say; but more than half our property must go.’
‘And dear old Court Royal,’ said the General, with a quivering voice.
‘Yes, Court Royal must go, or it will drain away what remains in the vain attempt to live up to it. If we do not, what wretchedness to be among abandoned conservatories, neglected grounds, ruinous outhouses, empty stables!’
‘Poor Grace!’ sighed Lord Ronald.
‘Grace has more courage than you, uncle, soldier though you are. Grace will leave her flowers without a sigh, and the pretty rooms that have been her nest without a tear. You will see nothing but smiles on her face, and hear only words of cheer from her lips.’