Page:Court Royal.djvu/52

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Emmanuel. You see this present mortgage is a very important one, it is on the manor of Kingsbridge. He holds that on Court Royal already. Who is this Emmanuel?’

‘A client who wants safe investinent in land. He is trustee to an orphan, and must put the money where it can be secure. What security better than his Grace’s property?’

Mr. Worthivale considered a moment; then he said, ‘You will allow me to talk the matter over first with the Marquess. You are aware, no doubt, that his Grace is getting on for eighty years, and unable to devote his attention to business—except quite subsidiary matters—partly on account of his advanced age, partly because he suffers from heart complaint, and must be spared excitement. The Marquess looks after things for him—that is, he is supposed to do so, and he does sometimes. I am in his confidence. Indeed, I am his most trusted adviser. I act for the best, always in the interests of the family, but I consult the Marquess in everything, and he does me the honour, sometimes, of listening to me, and quite devoting his mind to what I suggest.’

Crudge nodded, but said nothing.

‘Your time, I think you said, was precious. You will probably be returning to Exeter to-morrow.’

‘To-morrow afternoon.’

‘Then the business will have to be settled as soon as may be. Let me see—— Have you a dress coat with you?’

‘In my portmanteau at the inn.’

Mr. Worthivale drew a sigh of relief. ‘That simplifies matters. If you see no reason against it, I will send a note up to the Marquess’ (really it was down hill all the way to Court Royal, nevertheless with Mr. Worthivale it was up). ‘I will ask if I may take you there to dine to-night, quite en famille, you understand. There are only Lord Ronald, and Lord Edward, and the Vicar, and a neighbour or two there. Half-past seven is the hour. Will you return to Kingsbridge, and get on your evening dress, and drive back? You can come here, pick me up, and we will go on together. You are positive you have a dress suit with you?—I couldn’t, you understand—without——'

‘Set your mind at rest. I have dress clothes with me.’

‘I am so thankful to hear it; I thought it possible you had not. When travelling on business we don’t always care to cumber ourselves with superfluous luggage, you understand. To-day is his Grace’s birthday, and Lord Edward has come