Page:Court Royal.djvu/392

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advance, not I. I would not have dared to speak unprovoked by her.’

‘Cousin Charles! you must release her.’

‘What!—and ruin the family?’

Lucy put her hands over her eyes. ‘I must not interfere,’ she said; ‘my thoughts were only for her.’

‘This is how matters stand, Lucy,’ said Charles Cheek. ‘I love and venerate Lady Grace above every woman in the world, but she is not the woman I desire as my wife. I suppose I am deficient in ambition. It may be that she would insist on a higher life, a life of more restraint than that I now lead, and this I do not choose to adopt. I belong to the new era, and declare for liberty. I like comfort, I like enjoyment, and I detest obligation. If I marry Lady Grace I throw myself into moral, social, and mental bondage. No doubt it would do me good, make a high-principled, conscientious English gentleman of me; but I refuse the schooling, and the results are not to my taste. Lucy! I will give her up. I will go to my father and make the best terms I can for the family. It is I who shrink from the engagement, not she, and therefore we are bound to make some compensation.’

‘Will you see her first?’

‘No, I will write.’

Lucy drew a sigh of relief. ‘I am sure your decision is right,’ she said, ’cost what it may to the family.'


CHAPTER LIV.
A NEW LEAP.

Charles Cheek went up to town next day, reached Paddington at six P.M., and in twenty minutes was at his father’s house. We regret the necessity, but it is unavoidable, for the fourth time we must introduce the reader to the elder Cheek at meals. In fact the man was invisible at other times, except about the business of the Monokeratic establishment. This time, however, we see him not eating, but about to eat.

Charles acted on the present occasion with want of tact; he began on the subject uppermost in his mind before his father had eaten, whilst he was hungry and cross. Charles