‘By whom? By Lady Grace?’
‘Heaven forbid. She is incapable of falsehood. By your own inordinate vanity, which has deluded you into hearing things that were never said and seeing things that were never done. It is impossible. As soon make me believe the common people here when they tell me they have seen the sun dance on Easter morning.’
Worthivale said no more. He was convinced that the young man had dreamed. It mattered little. The immediate advantage of the dream was great. The precious collections of Court Royal were saved for a time. Time was what he wanted. In time the Marquess would marry and shake old Cheek and all other Old Men of the Mountain off his shoulders who weighed him down and plucked the golden fruit and left him starving. In time Bigbury Bay would become a rival to Torquay, and make the Eveleighs as Torquay had made the Palks. In time the slate quarries would rout all other slates out of the market. In time the shale would distil petroleum. What mattered it, if for a while the young man were left dancing in darkness with bandaged eyes. He would some day see his folly, and blush at his temerity.
Meantime—Providence was interfering for the salvation of the Eveleighs.
Joanna carried her point. She went to the ball. She had set her heart upon it. No dissuasion would turn her from her purpose, no difficulty discourage her. Go she would, and go she did.
The Easter ball was qualified by selectness. If it was nothing else, it was select. On this it prided itself. The most rigid censorship was exercised over the admissions by the committee. No one without blood, or—this was a concession—money was allowed. The committee sat at a table, and the names were passed from one to another. It was like running the gauntlet. Only those that came out unscathed between the lines were allowed to appear. The nobility and the county families patronised and attended it. The Earl and Countess of