Dulcina would become Marchioness. Yonder she is—with her coffee-coloured father. How tastelessly she does dress! I must go over and speak to her. Come with me, Mr. Cheek.’
‘Joe!’ he whispered, as he escorted her across the room, ‘of all wonders this is the most wonderful!’
‘ Am I out of my element—the flying-fish among gulls?’
‘Not a bit.’
‘How do you do, Miss Rigsby?’ said Joanna, extending her hand. ‘I am afraid you do not recollect me; but we met at Court Royal during the winter.’
Dulcina looked at her uncertainly. She could not remember the face; but was that wonderful? She had met so many strangers at the Court. She was glad, however, to be recognised, and to have someone to speak to, as she knew few ladies in Plymouth.
The Hon. Mrs. Yellowleaf nudged her son. ‘John-Conolly,’ she said, ‘you see the plain-faced, gorgeously-dressed girl that Miss Rosevere is speaking to. She is an undoubted heiress. Go and secure her hand for as many dances as you can. Be very civil to her, and bear in mind that you must either work or marry money.’
‘Mother, I’d a thousand times rather dance with that charming girl you brought here.’
‘Dance with both. Try to be struck with both, and let them perceive it; but be cautious with the Rosevere. Il me faut prendre des renseignements.’
‘Who is that very striking young lady yonder?’ asked Mrs. Fothergill, wife of a country squire.
‘That,’ answered Mrs. Yellowleaf, ‘is a Cornish heiress. Between me, you, and the post—money made in mines. However, the Kingsbridge family have taken her up, and put the cachet on her. Lady Grace Eveleigh and the Marquess are unable to be here, owing to the death of their uncle, the Archdeacon. As they could not come with a party, I was asked to bring Miss Rosevere. Very rich and handsome, though somewhat wanting in polish.’
‘Joey,’ said Charles Cheek, when no one was by to hear, ‘this is roaring fun. You are the most audacious little rogue I ever came across. You thrust yourself in here—anywhere that you have a mind. And then—you extort a hundred pounds from my father! Oh, Joe, I have never thanked you for that. It was good of you. But conceive how staggered I was when my father ran up alongside without showing signals, and poured a broadside into me because I had got myself