Page:Court Royal.djvu/51

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obligations of domestic service. I cannot see to everything—his Grace’s affairs and the dusting of my drawing-room. I beg your pardon, what was the business on which you wished to consult now?’

‘That mortgage held by the Messrs. Stephens. It must be paid, I understand. It is called up. There is a little difficulty, I am led to suppose, some tightness——

‘Nothing to speak of, nothing at all,’ interrupted the steward airily. ‘Of course we can find the money. We can offer such excellent security, that it can always be got. You are certain you will take nothing? Not some claret?’

‘Excuse me, I should like to settle this matter at once. I believe the interest has been falling in arrear. I have called on Messrs. Stephens. They do not wish any scandal; the sum is, comparatively, not large. All Messrs. Stephens want is their money, and I have a client who will advance it, the mortgage to be transferred to him.’

‘That is exactly what I should propose,’ said the steward, drawing a long breath. ‘All we require to clear off these encumbrances is delay. A calling in of the sums standing on the estates would be inconvenient just at present. The seasons have been bad of late—five detestable years; several farms are thrown on our hands, and we have no tenants offering; others we have had to reduce to keep them occupied. The old-fashioned seasons must return eventually—a matter of time only. Then we shall be afloat again. That little sum about which I wrote——?’

‘Five thousand. That will also be lent by my client on note of hand at five per cent.’

‘Who is this client, may I ask?’

‘A Mr. Emmanuel.’

‘Emmanuel!’ echoed the steward, moving uneasily on his chair. ‘I must say I do not relish the idea of being so deeply indebted to Jews. Unfortunately we are already somewhat teased with them. The Marquess, when he was in the army, was rather reckless. It lasted a few years, and then he learned discretion; but when sowing wild oats he bought his grain of bad seedsmen.’

‘Indeed, are the debts serious?’

‘Oh, no! not at all—not for a marquess, heir to a ducal estate. We only want him to clear these off. Emmanuel! Who is this Emmanuel? He seems to be getting a much tighter grip on us than I like. First one thing, then another, goes to Mr.