Page:Court Royal.djvu/69

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the land has depreciated one-half. In some places there is no sale at all for it.’

‘Guess.’

‘Let me see—no, hang it, I can’t tell. We only value for succession duty, and, thank God, the Duke is still alive.’

‘What are the annual receipts?’

‘There I can meet you. In good years forty thousand; now about thirty, perhaps not as much—but this is temporary, temporary depression, only. The seasons have been against us, and American competition. Farmers, again, will not now put up with the outbuildings and the dwelling-houses that contented their fathers. Everything must be new. I assure you we have been forced, literally forced, to spend some thirteen or fourteen thousand on the property of late.’

‘What are the debts?’

‘You know that the old Duke was an extravagant man. He spent a great deal on the turf—more on the green baize. When the present Duke came of age, he consented to a mortgage on the Loddiswell estate and on the Awton property, to relieve his father from pressing difficulties, to the tune of four hundred thousand pounds. I know we have to pay sixteen thousand per annum on it, which is an awful pull. Then there was the house, which was begun by Duke Frederick Augustus. ’Pon my word, what with building, and new furniture, and ornamental laying out of the grounds, I believe seventy thousand would be under the mark. Then, when the Duke’s three sisters were married, they were given fifteen thousand each, which was little enough. That had to be raised by a mortgage on the Kingsbridge manor. The Marquess got among a wild set when he was in the army, and was thrown on the Jews. I wish we could clear off his embarrassments. The sum is not, in itself, much; say ten thousand, but the interest is extortionate.’

‘Stay,’ said Beavis; ‘the items you have mentioned come to nigh on five hundred thousand.’

‘Yes,’ said his father, ‘you won’t be under the mark when you say six hundred thousand. There is the mortgage on Court Royal to Mr. Emmanuel, and there are other matters. You understate at six hundred thousand.’

‘Why, that makes an outleak of twenty-four thousand per annum on a nominal income of forty thousand.’

‘I dare say. Then the charities of the Duke—subscriptions, pensions, and the like—come to something under twelve