door to take him to his inn—‘I really think, as it is dry underfoot, that I will walk to Kingsbridge. The night is lovely, the moon is full, and I have a pair of goloshes in my greatcoat pocket.’
‘I will accompany you, if you have no objection,’ said Beavis Worthivale. ‘I also would enjoy the walk. My father can return in your fly. He is without an overcoat, and he will not lock up till I reappear.’
‘Is Miss Worthivale coming?’
‘Lucy? Oh, no! She lives at the Court, and only visits at the Lodge,’ answered Mr. Worthivale. ‘We see little of her. She is always with the Lady Grace.’
‘If you are ready,’ said Mr. Crudge to the young man, ‘I am at your service.’
The night was indeed lovely. The moon hung unclouded over the sea, which gleamed in vistas opened among the trees of the park. Myrtles, magnolia, geraniums luxuriated in the warm, equable climate of the south coast, uncut by east winds, unchecked by late frosts. Above, the silver moon, walking in brightness; below, Mr. Crudge, walking in his goloshes. Mr. Crudge turned and looked back at Court Royal. The moon was on the front of the mansion. It was a noble pile of buildings, worthy of the residence of a duke. Behind rose hills covered with oak and beech woods, interspersed with Scottish fir and silver pines. In the moonlight, with the lighted windows, and the bank of park trees behind, it resembled a beautiful ivory sculpture, studded with golden points, reposing in a bed of black velvet.
But Mr. Crudge had no thought of the loveliness of the scene. ‘To live in a place like this,’ said he, ‘and in this style, a man should have forty or fifty thousand, and the family have not that—clear. It is the poorest ducal house in England. You seem to me down here to go by contraries. You have an estuary without a river, a Kingsbridge without a bridge, a ducal state kept up without a ducal estate on which to keep it up.’
Beavis did not reply. Crudge turned and looked at him. The moon was full on the young man’s face; it was clouded, and his eyes were on the ground.
‘You and I belong to the law alike,’ said Crudge; ‘you are peeling your potato and I am eating at the floury ball, that is the difference. Hope you’ll soon get your teeth in.’