Page:Court Royal.djvu/345

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‘I cannot stand it much longer, Beavis. The country was not created for me. Glad I wasn’t born in prehistoric periods before towns were. Your father is most kind and good to receive me, and the people at the Court are very hospitable, but I get tired of the same faces, same scenes, same subjects of conversation, day after day. I do not know how I should live without the club and the billiard-table.’

‘You enjoy your walks with the ladies.’

‘I get a certain distance with Lady Grace, but no further.’

‘Pray how much further do you want to go? Pretty well for you to be received into such a house with courtesy.’

‘Oh, don’t you know? My father and I have settled that she is to become Mrs. Charles—I mean, Lady Grace Cheek.’

‘What an honour!’ exclaimed Beavis, sarcastically. ‘Pray are the Duke and the lady informed of your intentions?’

‘No, I have not had sufficient encouragement.’

‘Then let me advise you to refrain from communicating the flattering proposal to either, till you have received the requisite encouragement.’

‘Of course, of course,’ said the unabashed Charles. ‘My governor is set on it. I should like it well enough. When I am with her, I am over head and ears; when I am away, I am not so sure that she will suit me.’

‘Have done!’ exclaimed Beavis. ‘This is intolerable.’

‘Did you ever hear the story of the North Country collier and his son, who were breeding a dog for fighting? The son went under the table and barked, and the dog flew at him and bit his nose, and held on as a stoat to a rabbit. The lad screamed to his father to call off the dog; but the old fellow said, “Let him bite, lad, let him bite, it’ll be the making o’ the pup.” I think my governor is urging me on in this affair for the same reason. “It’ll be the making of the pup,” he says.’

Beavis’s face flushed. He turned his back and walked away. Charles Cheek ran after him. ‘There, old fellow, don’t take amiss what I have said; it is only a joke.’

‘Then joke on some other subject. Lady Grace Eveleigh is sacred.’

‘By all means,’ said young Cheek, ‘we’ll change the topic. Are you going to the Plymouth ball?’

‘No, I think not.’

‘Nor Lord Saltcombe, nor her ladyship?’

‘They never attend.’

‘Well!—I am off to the Court. We have planned a walk