Page:Court Royal.djvu/65

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


tide. Before this flood it may do wonders. The Marquess may make a marriage which will save the property.’

‘He may do so,’ answered Beavis, ‘but then he must go about the country heiress-hunting, and this he will not do. He is too proud. Heiresses will not come in troops to be marched past him, as were maidens in the days of Ahasuerus the king. The Marquess postpones marriage to the Greek Kalends. He reads, smokes, hunts, fishes, yachts, shoots, plants rare pines, believes in his family, and is glued to Court Royal.’

‘But has not your father done something to rouse them to a sense of their danger?’

‘My father sees with their eyes, hears with their ears, thinks with their brains. To him, the ruin of the Kingsbridge family is impossible; Providence cannot allow it, and reign above the spheres as a moral power.’ He turned sharply round to Mr. Crudge, and said, in a voice that trembled with emotion, ‘Why are you here? No doubt you have not come here for change of scene, and air, and society?’

‘Oh dear, no,’ answered Mr. Crudge; ‘I cannot afford that. I am here on business—Kingsbridge business. Here we are at my inn. Good-night.’

‘May I come in? I will detain you from your bed only a few minutes longer; but I cannot return till I am satisfied.’

‘Satisfied!’ echoed Mr. Crudge. ‘What satisfaction can I give you? However, come in, and take a glass of something.’

‘You must excuse me that,’ said Beavis, entering the coffee-room with the solicitor. ‘You understand my position, my relation to the family. I hope I am committing no indiscretion when I ask you for light on your object in coming here. You say that the end is not so near at hand as I anticipate. You speak, then, with some authority. You know the circumstances. I am warmly attached to the whole family. I have been reared in the tradition and reverence for it. My father and grandfather have been stewards for more years than I can tell. If the Kingsbridge family goes to pieces, some of the blame will attach to my father. Is it not possible that something can be done to save them? I have no right to appeal to your sympathy, but I cannot bring myself to believe that you desire the ruin of one of the grandest names among the English aristocracy.’

‘I really care little or nothing about them; the name of Eveleigh has no more merit with me than that of Smith,’