heavy. As for the charities, they amount to sixteen hundred pounds, and this we must find; if we do not find it voluntarily, the Dean and Chapter, and the officers of the Widows and Orphans, and Propagation of Heathens, and Church Missionary can force us. It would be a scandal——’
‘My dear Ronald, everything shall be paid at once. I shall see Worthivale to-day.’
‘Let Saltcombe and me settle that,’ said the General. Do not concern yourself further in this matter. I do not know whether Saltcombe has spoken to you about the mortgages on Court Royal and Kingsbridge. They have to be met very speedily. Indeed, time is flying, and the money must be raised. I have been thinking—what do you say, Duke, to the sale of Kingsbridge House? It is of no manner of use to you now?’
‘Good Heavens!’ The Duke rose in his chair. ‘Do I hear you aright? The sale of Kingsbridge House? Your wits are leaving you, Ronald. How can we sell that? We must have a town house. Why, Saltcombe will be marrying—he may be Duke shortly, and then he must spend the season in London. No, not another word of that. The Duke without a town residence! like a foreign yellow-backed book, published without a cover!’
‘We cannot make bricks without straw,’ murmured the General.
‘How, bricks without straw?’ asked the Duke, testily.
‘We are in a condition in which we do not know where to look for money, and yet we have to pay Edward’s bequests, some at least of his debts, and the mortgages on the very heart of the property.
‘Worthivale will manage it.’
‘Worthivale cannot work miracles. The Alvinston mortgages are also called in, and the Loddiswell threatened.’
‘Send Saltcombe to me. We will arrange for a fresh mortgage, or get these transferred. They have been transferred already—at least some of them.’
‘But more money must be found, and a transfer is not easy in these unsettled times. The property is burdened beyond what it can bear in prosperous times.’
The Duke bit his lips and frowned. ‘We have managed very well hitherto, and we shall manage in the future.’
‘We have managed in the way of the ostrich—the family crest, and not an inappropriate one—by putting our heads into