Page:Court Royal.djvu/70

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hundred. And Lady Grace has her pin-money, and the Marquess his allowance, and both the General and the Archdeacon have something—no, I wrong Lord Edward, he has abandoned his claim.’

‘What is the expenditure on the house and grounds, the household expenses, wages, and the like?’

‘I cannot tell you, offhand, the items are so many.’

‘Now, father, if, as you say, thirty thousand be nearer the present income of the Duke than forty thousand, and twenty-four thousand goes out in mortgages, that leaves but six thousand for everything.’

‘These are exceptionally bad times; forty thousand is the true income.’

‘The rate at which they are living is beyond even sixteen thousand. You have deducted nothing for all the outs that bleed a property in land. For five or six years the income has not been forty thousand, but there has been no reduction in the style of expenditure. Whence comes the money? Not a burden has been shaken off, fresh are annually heaped on. Let but one of the larger mortgages be called up, and the crisis has arrived.’

His father put his hands to his head. ‘You exaggerate. Things are not as bad as you represent them.’

‘They are as bad as they well can be. Is there a single estate that is not mortgaged? There must be a sale of some of the property. On the death of the Duke it will not be possible.’

‘Sell!’ exclaimed the steward, ‘sell the estates! Impossible. Neither the Duke nor the Marquess will consent. One would not dare to make the suggestion to his Grace, it would kill him.’

‘If not done voluntarily, it will be done compulsorily.’

‘The Marquess will marry an heiress, and clear the property with her money. That is simple enough. How can you be so pig-headed, Beavis? Do you not see that all we want is time. With time everything will come right.’

Beavis sighed.

‘What have you to say to this?’ asked his father triumphantly. ‘Have I the last trump?’

‘I have nothing, nothing more to say,’ answered the young man; ‘I will trouble you no further, father.’