Page:Court Royal.djvu/352

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Edward, whom he had reverenced as a pillar of orthodoxy—a pillar he was, like that of Pompey, supporting Nothing—and an ultimate appeal in all matters of difficulty relating to the farms. Lord Ronald was a man with a very gentle, tender heart, and Edward had been associated with his happy boyish days. They had been at school together; they had been companions in the holidays together. In after life, Ronald had always made of his brother Edward his closest friend and confidant, and adviser. Consequently the death of the Archdeacon shook the old man profoundly. The troubles and difficulties involved in his executorship bewildered and depressed him.

The Duke was shocked to see how altered he was when he returned to Court Royal. He lost his memory now and then, and seemed dazed, and had to hold his hand to his head to recollect himself. His face was more lined, his hair whiter, it looked thinner; he was less carefully dressed, and his hands shook. His back was bent, and his tread had lost its firmness.

The Duke clasped his brother’s hand. ‘You have felt the loss of Edward severely, Ronald. So have I. Dear, good, loving soul, full of honour and charity! And what a brain! clear, sound, well balanced. He ought to have been a bishop. Well! the world of this nineteenth century was not worthy of him. There is one great and good man the less, the like of whom will not be met with again.’

After a pause he continued: ‘I do not know what we are coming to. The spirit of the age has affected our excellent Worthivale. He demurred to my putting all the servants in mourning. He said the expense would be so great, as all the men must have new black liveries, and the women each a pair of black gowns and a bonnet apiece. I overrode his objections. I have no patience with this peddling spirit of retrenchment, whether in the affairs of the nation or of this house. It would be a scandal not to go into mourning for Lord Edward. The expense is unavoidable. I presume he has left a handsome sum behind him. I think you told me in your letter that he had left everything, except a few trifles in charity, to Grace. As for Elizabeth, she is provided for by her marriage settlement.’

‘I am afraid Grace’s chance of getting anything is very small,’ said the General; ‘and we shall be hard put to, to find money for the charities. I don’t quite know what is to be done about the debts—is Elizabeth to pay them? They are