Page:Court Royal.djvu/75

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self, and find a wife. Lady Grace also, in her sweet, fondling manner, approached the subject and endeavoured to arouse him to the duty of marrying. Lord Saltcombe listened with a smile, turned aside the advice of his uncles with a jest, the entreaty of his sister with a compliment and a kiss, and his father’s injunction with a promise to lay it to heart. There it ended. He took no step to find a wife, and though Lady Grace invited friends to Court Royal with the hope that one of them might arrest the attention of her brother, the heart of Lord Saltcombe remained invulnerable.

He saw through his sister’s schemes and laughed at them. He was warmly attached to her, indeed she was his closest companion. She loved him with equal sincerity and with even greater tenderness. When his foot paced the terrace garden she heard it, came down, linked her hand in his arm, and walked up and down with him as he smoked.

They had plenty to say to each other, but he never allowed her to sound the depths of his soul. The conversation between them concerned the outer life, the events and interests of every day. This association with his sister had a refining and a purifying effect on Lord Saltcombe. She was ignorant of what had occurred during his brief career in the army, and did not inquire. Whatever it was, it had troubled and stained his mind and conscience, and daily intercourse with his sister restored the purity to the mind and the sensitiveness of the conscience, but it did not give him energy and ambition.

Beavis Worthivale was very little younger than the Marquess; they had known each other from childhood, and had always been on familiar and friendly terms. Beavis, as a boy, had shared tutors with Lord Saltcombe, and had been his companion in play. Of late, the friendship had been interrupted; Beavis had been from home, and Saltcombe in the army. Since the illness of the Marquess, Beavis had been unable to recover his place in the intimacy of the young nobleman that he had occupied as a boy.

Mr. Worthivale, in his devotion to the Kingsbridge family, had readily given up his daughter to be the companion of Lady Grace, without considering whether it was to his, her, and his son’s advantage. By surrendering Lucy he had deprived his widowed old age of its chief comfort, his house of its proper mistress, and his son of his best companion. Lucy, moreover, was reared in the lap of luxury, which she could not expect elsewhere; she was not likely to marry anyone of rank, and