longed to George the Second,’ said the General; ‘he gave it to the Duchess Lavinia on her marriage.’
‘Here is my christening cup, out of which I used to drink as a child, and there are the marks of my teeth on it,’ said Lord Saltcombe, with forced gaiety.
‘This cream bowl ought to be valuable,’ remarked Lord Ronald. ‘I never saw anything like the delicacy of the work, the festoons of roses and jessamine, with butterflies perched on them. Fortunately the arms are not on it. I suspect it is unique.’
Tray after tray was filled with silver forks and spoons, soup-ladles, great gravy spoons, enough to furnish a Lord Mayor’s banquet.
When all the silver was packed that had to be sent away, and the rest, that was to be kept, was laid on the floor, the porcelain was collected.
‘Fetch everything from my room, Robert,’ said the Marquess; then with a laugh, ‘I have been disenchanted with some of my prizes, and doubt the value of the rest. I dare swear I have been egregiously taken in. Anyhow, there can be no questioning the value of these Sèvres vases presented by Charles X., and there is abundance of precious Oriental china all over the house.’
The room was now filled with splendid bowls, great standing vases for pot-pourri, old Dresden figures, Chelsea in abundance, majolica dishes, Capo di Monte white groups, superb specimens of Palissy, services of Crown Derby, Swansea, and Wedgwood, of the most choice and exquisite descriptions. Chimney-piece, plate chests, the floor, were encumbered with them.
The Marquess himself went to the jewel chest, and brought in as much as he could carry. He laid on the table a tray of crimson velvet on which sparkled a tiara, necklace, stomacher, and earrings of diamonds.
‘My mother wore these at the coronation of Her Majesty,’ said Lord Saltcombe; ‘she lost one of the diamonds out of the brooch, and never wore the set again. The place of the missing stone was never filled up; perhaps that was the first symptom of difficulty in finding money.’
A beautiful chain of white pearls with pendants of black pearls attracted his notice.
‘How well this would have become Grace,’ he said. Then he brought in more, a complete parure of amethysts. Then rings—diamond, topaz, amethyst and diamond, ruby. These