Page:Court Royal.djvu/53

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from Somersetshire to see the Duke and to dine with him. Lord Ronald lives at Court Royal. There are no others, but the Vicar and a neighbouring squire or two. I was invited as a devoted adherent to the family. Very kind. Also my son Beavis, who has the honour of being his Grace’s godchild. My daughter, Lucy, is companion to Lady Grace. They were brought up together, and Lucy lives at the Court. Dear me! Bless my soul! The housemaid has left the duster in the room, stuffed it under the fender, and thinks it out of sight. As I am alive, there are the stove brushes also. Under the circumstances, you understand, if you had been without a dress coat'—he looked down at Mr. Crudge’s feet—'and patent-leather boots?’

‘I have slippers and red silk stockings.’

‘They will do. Quite the thing. I feel so light of heart. You are supplied in every other particular? I should be so proud——?’

‘I always take about with me paper collars, cuffs, and dickies.’

‘Paper! Dickies!’ echoed Mr. Worthivale. ‘You will excuse me, I know—but I hardly like to—that is, I hardly think that—in a word, I would not for the world show any disrespect to his Grace, especially on his birthday. You see a duke stands at the very summit of the social scale—next to Royalty. Archbishops only go before by order of precedence, but that is a relic of pre-Reformation priestcraft which set the Church above the State. An archbishop may be any Jack or Tom. You will not take it amiss if I offer to lend you one of my shirts.’

‘Not at all; not at all.’

‘And you will not fail to be here at seven.’

‘I will not fail.’

Mr. Crudge, as a lawyer, was punctual. Precisely at seven his fly drew up at Mr. Worthivale’s door, and the steward joined him.

‘Do you see,’ asked the steward, as a woman in a scarlet cloak opened the gates of the drive, ‘all the females who appear in the grounds are expected to wear old-fashioned red cloth cloaks and hoods? His Grace supplies them at Christmas. The effect is charming among the green shrubs and on the shaven lawns. Do look about you at the trees. Are not these araucarias superb? I believe these were the first planted in England. The mildness of the climate and the fertility of the