Page:Court Royal.djvu/58

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any man who put his hand to it and thumbed it. He was so much of a gentleman that he would differ with no one. Next him sat a young man who was speaking to no one, and was only occasionally addressed by Lady Grace, who, with ready tact, saw that he was out of the conversation.

‘That is my brother,’ said Lucy, in answer to a query of the solicitor. ‘There was no lady for him to take in to dinner. He has been in a lawyer’s office. Papa thought it a good training for him. Of course he will be steward after papa. His Grace did us the favour of standing as his godfather. I fancy he would rather not have been here this evening, though he is quite at home in Court Royal, but my father pressed him to come.’

Crudge looked across at him with interest. Here, at all events, was a man who belonged to his world—who felt uncomfortable, out of place, in the sphere in which he found himself.

When the ladies withdrew, he moved his glass, so as to be opposite him and enter into conversation, but found the steward come up beside him and engage him.

‘The Lady Grace,’ said Mr. Worthivale, ‘is very lovely. Do you not think so? We are all her worshippers here—from a distance, looking up at her as an unapproachable star.’

‘A little passée, eh?’

‘Not at all, not at all,’ said Worthivale, colouring. ‘She is a most charming person.’

‘I should suppose so,’ answered the solicitor.

‘And the Duke? You have had some conversation with him. I heard the weather and the branch spoken of. A commanding intellect. A most charming person; wonderful man for his age. Seventy-six to-day, and in full command of his faculties.’

‘Obstinate, eh?’

‘Not at all—firm,’ said Worthivale with a frown. ‘When he says a thing he sticks to it. You see that Lord Edward is a delicate man. He had not the physique of the rest, that was why he was put into the Church. Yet it was a pity, as his intellectual powers are considerable, and he might have done well in the diplomatic service. A most charming man. Lord Ronald is a fine old soldier; was in the Crimean war, where he distinguished himself. A man full of information on all military matters—perfectly charming. You have, I believe, had a chat or two with the Marquess; he is now talking to my son. They have known each other since boyhood, and there