Page:Court Royal.djvu/349

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

337

CHAPTER XLVIII.
THE FALL OF A PILLAR.

Lord Ronald and the Marquess reached Bridgewater at midnight. There they engaged a fly, and drove across country to Sleepy Hollow. The drive was long. There was no train so late from Highbridge to Glastonbury, consequently they had no choice. When they drew up at the rectory door the hour was early in the morning, and the first streaks of dawn appeared. A light was in an upper window.

Lady Elizabeth appeared. She had expected them, and sat up; she was calm and collected. Lord Edward was no more. He had not recovered from his stroke. The archdeaconry of Wellington, a canonry in Glastonbury, and the rectory of Sleepy Hollow, were open for eager applicants.

A bright fire was burning in the study, and the table was laid near it. The cook was up, and a smell of mutton-chops pervaded the house.

‘Will you have some hot wine and water, or stout?’ asked Lady Elizabeth. ‘Dear old man. He seemed to know me. I held his hand, and he pressed it when I spoke to him. There is Worcester sauce, if you like it. He seemed very unlike himself when he returned from Court Royal. I am afraid he over-exerted his brain. I know you all thought him very clever. I always considered him very good. There is cold rabbit pie, if you prefer it; but I have no doubt you are chilly, and would like what is hot. At this hour there is no choice—chops and mashed potatoes, or cold meat. There was a worry, moreover, about repairs. Nothing has been done to the house for some time—in fact, we have not had the money to execute necessary repairs. Now we shall have a terrible bill for dilapidations. Edward got a builder to go over the roof with him, because the rain came in. I think he caught a chill, and being below par he succumbed. He was a very good man, and so dear to me!’ Lady Elizabeth began to cry. ‘I know the chops are tender,’ she said, after having wiped her eyes. ‘One of our own sheep—we killed on Monday. I do not know why it is that when we buy mutton we give tenpence to tenpence-halfpenny, and when we sell we get only sixpence. We could not eat all the sheep ourselves, so what we did not want