Page:Court Royal.djvu/382

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have been mortally weary of the life at Court Royal Lodge. Old Worthivale, the steward, is a sort of cousin of mine, and infinitely tedious. Beavis, his son, is too occupied with the family failure to give me much of his company, and he has not that in him to afford me entertainment. I have hunted twice a week, but now the hunting is over. Five days a week I am consumed with ennui. I go to the club in Kingsbridge, and try to find some fellows with whom to play billiards, but sometimes no one is there: the day is fine, and they want to boat; or the day is wet, and they want to read novels at home over the fire. Then they all talk shop—local shop. They seem to me like a cage of animals bred in confinement, who can only think and feel interest and talk of the world within the bars of their cage. If I had not passed my word to my father, I would have run long ago.’

‘Is there no attraction, then?’

‘I allow there is Lady Grace. She is beautiful, sweet as an angel. She is kind to me, but never affectionate, and I cannot conceive it possible that we shall ever stand nearer to each other than we do at present. Of course we can be married, but that will not fuse my soul into hers and hers into mine, because we have so little in common. We have different specific gravities. When we are together, and I see her gentle face and hear her soft tones I am under a charm which holds me—at a distance. The charm draws and repels at once. Can you understand? I feel that I love her, but I feel also that she is unapproachable by such as me. If we do get married, we shall be like a two-volumed book, of which the volumes belong to different editions, and are in different type and of different sizes. We shall belong to each other so far that we shall bear the same label, but she will belong to an édition de luxe, and I to the cheap and popular issue.’

‘Then why did you propose to Lady Grace? Was it merely to obtain position?’

‘No, Joe. My father wished it, urged it, badgered me into it. I liked her, I cannot do other than like her. I pity the family. And then—the Worthivales put me on my metal.’

‘How so?’

‘They scouted the possibility of my winning her. They seemed to regard me as the dirt of the street aspiring to the sun.’

‘Do you think you will not be happy with her?’