Page:Court Royal.djvu/343

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The Archdeacon left without giving advice. He had no advice that he could give. He looked ill. When Micah had his idols stolen by thievish men of Dan, he beat his breast, and tore his beard, and cried, ‘Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and what have I more?’ The belief in his family stability had been the deepest fibre in his soul, and now that conviction was torn up, his mind was in collapse. He had regarded himself as able to assist in every emergency, if not with money, yet with counsel, and now he found himself powerless to avert the impending ruin either with money or with counsel.

The General wrote letters all day, which he tore up and rewrote. He looked greyer and older than before, and was silent at meals. Lord Saltcombe placed no reliance on his sister’s promise of relief. Whence could it come? He knew of no quarter. She had given him no reason for encouragement. He attributed her hopes to a natural disposition to look for the best. He deferred breaking the news to the Duke, from his habitual procrastination, of putting off doing what was unpleasant.

Charles Cheek was still at the Lodge. He could not disobey his father, who had insisted on his remaining there, but he was getting mortally weary of the life. Lady Grace exercised over him the same spell, but the country life, the want of daily variety, the lack of genial companions of his own age, made him wish himself back in Plymouth. He had no resources in himself, and a man without such resources is only happy in a crowd.

‘Beavis, old boy,’ he said one day, ‘I shall give a dinner at the “Duke’s Head,” and break this frightful monotony. Young Sheepwash and I play at billiards when we do not hunt, and there are one or two other fellows at the club, who are not bad, but stupefied by living out of the world. I feel like a comet getting further and further into outer space. This Kingsbridge is one of life’s backwaters where only sticks assemble. I shall give a dinner. I’ll ask the Vicar’s son. He is a good fellow enough. His father wants him to go into the Church, because the Duke can dispose of some livings, but he wants to go on