Page:Court Royal.djvu/45

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rector of a fat Somersetshire living, an archdeacon, and Canon of Glastonbury.’

‘He may be worth some twelve hundred at the outside. He cannot help. Besides, he is already in debt. Lord Ronald, the general, has only his half-pay.’

‘But the family of the late Duchess?’

‘They will do nothing. However, I do not see in what way their fall can concern you, so long as you save your shekels. Whether the survivors of the wreck come to land or sink—that is nothing to you or me.’

‘Nothing to me!’ exclaimed the Jew, jumping off the bed and pacing the room. ‘Nothing to me! It is everything to me. What do I care for money except as a means whereby I may lever them over, and throw them in the dirt under my feet?’ He stopped abruptly, thinking he had said too much, and looked at the solicitor out of the corners of his eyes; but Mr. Crudge was leaning back in the sedan-chair, and Lazarus could see only his profile in shadow through the glass side.

‘You speak as though you entertained a spite against the family,’ he said—‘as though you were moving in this matter, actuated by revenge for some personal wrong. But that is impossible. What can you, the mole that burrows at the root of the social tree, have against the purple emperor butterfly who flutters about its very top on shining wing? The distance between you is too great for you ever to have come in contact.’

‘To be sure, I have expressed myself over-strongly. My feeling is not personal, it is political.’

‘Oh!’ said the lawyer. ‘Now I understand.’

‘Of course you understand. Political feelings fire the passions as surely as personal wrongs.’

‘To be sure they do,’ said Crudge, with indifference.

After a pause, Lazarus got off his bed and said, ‘If five thousand more is necessary, you shall have the sum. I have waded too deep into the morass to think of retreat; I must wade on. Tell me candidly: in your opinion, is there no salvation for them?’

‘That I will not say. There is a desperate resource. The Marquess may marry an heiress, and with her fortune disencumber the property.’

‘He is capable of doing it,’ cried Lazarus in great excitement. ‘He will do it; curses be upon him! Why, any American plutocrat, or Liverpool merchant, or London corn-factor would throw his millions into the Kingsbridge chat-moss