Page:Court Royal.djvu/354

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a bush, and thinking, because we see no danger, that none menaces.’

‘Really, Ronald, your anxiety as executor to Edward’s will has ruffled your temper.’

‘Not a bit. Something must be done, and I do not know what to do, now Edward is gone. I expected Saltcombe to have told you all—he undertook to do so. As he has failed, I must. Emmanuel’s mortgages must be paid at once—those of Moses and Levi within three months—bills have been called in, which we must meet. Here are our debts to Edward, which must be cancelled within a twelvemonth, and the charitable societies satisfied. It will never do for them to say that the poor and the heathen have been cheated of a few pounds by the noble house of Kingsbridge. Then there is the Loddiswell mortgage—and others that are sure to come.’

‘These things right themselves,’ said the Duke. ‘“Tout vient à celui qui sait attendre.” Let Saltcombe take those troubles off your mind.’

‘Saltcombe is prepared to sell.’

‘To that I will never consent.’

‘If you will not sell voluntarily, the mortgagees will sell from under your feet.’

‘Nonsense. Worthivale will satisfy them all without their coming to extremities; besides, if it did come to that—well—rather be robbed than voluntarily alienate the patrimony of our ancestors.’

‘Look here, Duke. Let us sell those Rubens at Kingsbridge House. Some of them are scarcely decent—fat nude females and satyrs tumbling amid goats, and peaches, and grapes, and cherubs, and red and blue drapery, which is everywhere except where it ought to be. One of them, you know, is covered with a curtain. Of what good to us are these pictures? Let them be sold. They are worth a great deal of money, and we should be thankful to be rid of such voluptuous nightmares.’

‘They were presented to the Field-Marshal by the grateful City of Antwerp. They are heirlooms. They have a history. They have been engraved. We cannot part with them.’

‘There is a quantity of old plate here—I should say tons of it, which is never used. Why should not that be sold?’

‘For the best possible reason, that each piece has a history. Some were presented for services rendered, others are works of high art, some came to us through distinguished marriages. No, the plate cannot be parted with.’