Page:Court Royal.djvu/341

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‘I ought not to have said that. Papa mentioned it to me as a secret. He had not told Beavis, as it would have made Beavis furious—and he might not have been civil to Charles any more.’

‘Of course if you are bound not to tell, I will not press you. Otherwise, I would be glad to know the conditions.’

‘They were too outrageous to be mentioned,’ said Lucy, partly laughing, partly crying. ‘It makes me very angry, and yet disposed to laugh, whenever they recur to me.’

‘You very angry! you, Lucy! that would be a new experience to me to see my little friend in a passion; and Beavis furious—who looks so gentle and collected.’

‘Enough to make us. If you heard, you would be angry also.’

‘Tell me, and prove me.’

‘I am ashamed. Promise me not to say a word to Lord Saltcombe, or Lord Ronald, or the Duke—not to anyone.’

‘No—I will not repeat what you tell me.’

‘Then you shall hear. That stupid old man, Mr. Cheek, saw how agreeable his son made himself at dinner, and being a blunderhead, he supposed that there was more in his attentions to you than ordinary civility. Well! the dull fellow went home, and told papa he would give two hundred thousand towards clearing the mortgages the day he heard that Charles was accepted by you. Did you ever dream of such audacity? My father had to exercise great self-restraint to keep from knocking the man down. Some minds are not properly balanced.’

The blood rushed through Lady Grace’s veins, crimsoning her pure face and neck and bosom. Next moment she was as white as a snowdrop.

‘I must not keep you up any later, Lucy,’ she said. ‘It is time for both of us to go to bed.’

Lucy looked at her friend with surprise. Not an allusion to what had been said passed her lips. Lucy noticed her paleness, and misinterpreted it. ‘I have offended you, by telling you of this piece of vulgar presumption. Let the remembrance of it die. I am sorry that I allowed myself to blab the impertinent secret.’

‘Not at all,’ answered Lady Grace. ‘I thank you for telling me. Kiss me, and go to bed. I want to be alone.’

Next morning early. Lady Grace entered her brother’s room. He was still asleep on the sofa. The shutters were