‘Lady Grace! will you give me a right to fly to your assistance, and prevent this humiliation.’
‘Yes,’ she answered with calmness, ‘I will.’
That night Charles Cheek hastened to town by express that reached Paddington at 4 A.M.
He was at his father’s house before the old man was up, and he awaited him in the breakfast-room. Charles was in a condition of feverish excitement, in spite of his cold night-journey. A servant had taken him to a room where he had washed and changed his clothes.
The old man came in, spruce as ever, in his black cloth frock coat, a white shirtfront, stretching his arms, and then rubbing his hands.
‘Governor!’ exclaimed Charles, ‘I have been waiting to see you these two hours and a half, burning with impatience. I have something of importance to communicate.’
‘Ugh! Want money?’
‘No—that is—not for myself.’
‘Ugh! Still—want it.’
‘That is not my primary reason for coming here.’
The old man puffed himself out and stood by the fire, winking and rubbing his hands, and glowering at his son.
‘I have just returned from Court Royal. I have spoken to Lady Grace, and she has consented——’
The father shook his head doubtfully.
‘It is a fact, governor, I give you my word. She gave me the promise in the presence of Lucy Worthivale. Some time before she all but promised, but yesterday she was explicit.’
The old man rubbed his hands vigorously, thrust his arms forward, flashing his cuffs, then hiding them again.
‘By Ginger!’ he said, ‘what a chap you are!’
‘Do you mistrust me?’
‘Mistrust? No. I didn’t think you equal to it, though. You are a fine fellow, that you are. The girl has sense. Ginger! she’ll make a Lord Charlie of you.’
‘Hardly,’ laughed Charles; ‘the wife does not ennoble the husband.’
‘Don’t she? She should. We’ll change the law. Make it a political question. Don’t tell me she’ll flatten down into Mrs. Charles Cheek!’
‘Not quite that. But never mind. We have not got to that point. I want you, father, to act promptly. I have come by night express, and must return to-day.’