Page:Court Royal.djvu/356

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maintained at all cost. “L’honneur avant la vie.” But I can see no dignity in the lizard, which when pursued slips joint after joint of his tail, and is content if he lives, a maimed and despicable trunk.’

Lord Ronald was trifling with a bronze lizard paper-weight on the table as the Duke spoke, and his Grace’s eyes were on it. ‘There is something to me unspeakably contemptible in attempting to conciliate the masses by dropping privilege after privilege, and selling estate after estate to satisfy Jewish money-lenders—it is all the same.’ He paused, still looking at the lizard. ‘I do not see how it is possible that Edward can have left so little. He had a good income from several quarters, and Elizabeth was not penniless.’

‘He has left nothing but debts.’

‘What sort of debts?’

‘Butcher’s bill, grocer, shoemaker, clerical tailor, fruiterer—I cannot tell you all. There is quite a commotion among the shopkeepers of Glastonbury; they think they will be done out of their money.’

The Duke reddened. ‘Done out of their money! Nonsense, Ronald! With me to fall back on? Write to them at once. I make myself solely responsible for all my brother’s debts. Every man shall be paid, and paid promptly.’

Lord Ronald still stood playing with the bronze lizard.

‘Well!’ said the Duke, looking up, ‘that settles everything, I trust.’

‘But whence is the money to come?’

‘My dear fellow, I cannot attend to such trifles. Worthivale will manage that. Let him have the figures.’

‘And the charities?’

‘All shall be paid—to the fraction of a penny.’

‘But how?’

‘That is not your affair. It can be done, of course. I pledge myself to pay.’

The General sighed. ‘Oh, Edward! Edward!’ he moaned, as he walked away more dispirited than when he entered the room. ‘Only your genius could now disperse the cloud of difficulties! And you are gone. One pillar is fallen, and the whole building will go to pieces.’