Page:Court Royal.djvu/71

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Next morning Beavis Worthivale walked to Court Royal. He had access to the house at all times. His sister was there permanently, and he had been about it since he was a boy.

The house was large, forming a quadrangle, with the state rooms on the garden side. The Duke had his own suite of apartments; so had the Marquess, so also Lady Grace, and so also Lord Ronald. Indeed, the Archdeacon had his own rooms there kept for him, to which he could come when he liked, and be at home. He was a married man without a family, and he found life dull at his Somersetshire parsonage, with only three hundred people to instruct in honour and obedience to the powers that be. He had an admirable, managing wife, and a safe curate, very ladylike, absolutely transparent, whom he could trust to do nothing to surprise or shock anyone, so perfectly good and colourless was he. The Archdeacon’s health suffered in Somersetshire, and he was nowhere so well as at Court Royal, where the sea air and the society and good entertainment agreed with him. Moreover, he was the man whom the whole family consulted in every difficulty, and he was thought and believed himself indispensable to his brothers.

The Marquess had his own valet and groom, and sitting-room, and bed-room, and smoking cabinet. He was a man of considerable taste, and he and his sister had amused themselves in fitting up his apartments in the most perfect modern style. The walls of the sitting-room were gilt, with peacocks’ plumes, spread, painted on the gold. The curtains were peacock blue, sprinkled with forget-me-nots.

The carpet was an unfigured olive drugget with blue, green, and gold-coloured mats and rugs cast about it. He had a fancy for old Chelsea figures, and for Plymouth ware, and his cabinets and chimney piece were crowded with specimens bought at a time when Chelsea was run up by the dealers, and fetched fancy prices. His sister kept his room gay with flowers. That was her special care, and she fulfilled her self-imposed task well. The Marquess always pretended to distinguish between her bouquets and those arranged by other hands during Lady Grace’s absence. He told her so privately, that he might not