Page:Court Royal.djvu/344

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the stage, which is absurd; he has no looks and no memory. Can I invite Saltcombe?’

‘You can call him, but will he come? I think not; he is much engaged over unpleasant business, which has put him out of tune.’

‘Out of tune! I should think so; there is no tune in him at all.’

‘You must excuse him. He has heavy anxieties.’

‘I know that—about money. That is no excuse for moping. I am always in trouble about money, but it never spoils my pitch. Beavis! you have not heard of my last escapade, and how I got out of it. I lost a hundred pounds on a snail to Captain Finch. I hadn’t a hundred pence in my pocket, and he was under orders for India. A girl got me out of my hobble. Little monkey! It fills me with laughter whenever I think of her. Beavis! His Grace the Duke of Kingsbridge could not do better than cross the palm of that little witch with silver. She’ll help him, if help be possible.’

‘How did you—or she manage it?’

‘She is a queer piece of goods, very respectable. Not a word against her character. I have had many a joke with her now and then. Well!—will you believe me?—she appealed to my father, and threatened breach of promise.’

‘Had you given her occasion? Did you like her?’

‘Like her! Couldn’t help liking her. Such a rogue! Enough to make one laugh all day. You never knew where to have her. Well, my father was in a tearing rage, and went down to Plymouth to see her, and bought her off with a hundred pounds.’

‘What has that to do with your debt?’

‘Everything. She enclosed the note by next post, with my compliments to Captain Finch, who was surprised and delighted to get the money so expeditiously.’

‘She kept none of the money?’

‘Not a farthing.’

‘Is she well off?’

‘Has not a sixpence.’

‘Why did she do this?’

‘To help me. Because I christened my snail after her. I wish I could go to Plymouth, and see her again to thank her. It seems shabby not to do so, don’t it?’

‘Your father was quite right in insisting that you should stay here.’