Page:Court Royal.djvu/57

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‘Let me introduce you to my dearest friend, my almost sister, Miss Lucy Worthivale,’ said Lady Grace; ‘and perhaps you will take her in to dinner?’

Miss Worthivale was a pretty young lady, with bright colour and large, soft, dark eyes. Her face brimmed with good-nature. It was, perhaps, a little flat and moon-shaped, but its effect was sunny. Her eyes were everywhere. Mr. Crudge saw that she was made useful in the house in many ways to relieve Lady Grace of irksome duties, and stand between her and annoyances.

Crudge observed that her attention was generally directed to Lady Grace, whom she evidently admired and loved with her whole soul. Lady Grace occasionally caught her friend’s eye during dinner, smiled, and then a flush of pleasure kindled the honest face of Lucy. Because his companion looked so much towards the end of the table, the solicitor found his eyes also wandering in the same direction. Lady Grace was clearly not very young. Mr. Crudge conjectured that her age was about five-and-twenty; but though not a girl, her pure face was luminous with the light of a child’s innocence. The complexion was transparently white, with a little colour that came and went as a flicker in her cheek, and yet it was so faint and doubtful that it was difficult to say whether what flickered there was colour or a smile. There was something almost sad and appealing to pity in her eye and mouth; yet Lady Grace had known no sorrow, had met with no contradiction. Her life had been unclouded and unvexed. Her mouth was flexible, fine, and tremulous; her voice soft, low, and sweet.

Mr. Crudge was a man utterly without idealism. He could read no poetry except Crabbe. Yet he could hardly withdraw his eyes from her face. She fascinated even the commonplace man of business. She puzzled him. He thought within his mind how he should get on with her if he had business transactions with her. Women’s minds, as he believed, were made up of so much care about servants, so much about dress, so much solicitude about the goings on of their neighbours, a screwyness about money, a pinch of good nature, and a spice of spite, all stirred up together till well mixed. But there was nothing of this in the face before him. He shook his head; it was like the dish before him, made up of unknown ingredients.

Beside her on one side sat the Vicar, an elderly and gentlemanly man, with views like a rose of wax, to be moulded by