Page:Court Royal.djvu/55

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sun, you must have a firmament to contain it. Even the dome of St. Paul’s would be ridiculous. You understand.’

The fly drew up under the Doric portico, and the steward and his companion were received into the house by men in the ducal livery of buff and scarlet.

An expression of humility and of piety diffused itself over the face of Mr. Worthivale as he ascended the broad marble staircase, thickly carpeted, towards the drawing-room. Crudge was not oppressed nor surprised at what he saw. He looked round him with curiosity. The entrance-hall was stately, with polished marble pillars and pilasters. It was lighted by a chandelier. Beautiful paintings adorned the walls. Footmen in buff and scarlet flitted about like moths on a hot day.

Mr. Worthivale whispered, ‘Yonder is a Gainsborough, of Lady Selena Eveleigh, afterwards Countess of Grampound. This is a Rubens—splendid colouring. But you should see those at Kingsbridge House, Piccadilly. Pity they are so fleshy that really a curtain over them is needed. The subject of this I do not understand. It is allegorical. Hush! here we are.’

They were conducted through the state drawing-room, which was lighted, but empty, into a smaller room, whence they heard the sound of voices. This was a charming boudoir, white and gold, with rose silk curtains and rose satin coverings to the sofas and chairs. In a large easy-chair by the fire sat his Grace the Duke of Kingsbridge, a tall, white-haired, noble-looking man, with a high ivory forehead, a pale transparent complexion, caused by the disease from which he suffered, his eyes dark and piercing. His face was oval, his features finely modelled, the nose aquiline, but not so much as to give the idea of strength to his face. The face was refined, dignified, and cold. It wanted vigour, but was modelled with inflexible obstinacy.

Lord Ronald, the general, was like him, but richer in colour, and his features were bolder. He was erect, decided in his movements, and looked what he was, a soldier. His hair was grey, and he wore grey whiskers and moustache. Lord Edward, the Archdeacon of Wellington, was a smaller man than his brother, grey headed, with a sallow complexion, much wrinkled. His eyes were wanting in brilliancy, and his face bore an expression of nervous timidity. He had lost his front teeth, and this had altered the shape of his mouth, and given him a look less aristocratic than his brothers.