‘Would you?’ Sir Felix did not at all mean to doubt his friend’s assertion, but felt it hard to answer so very strange a statement.
’But then she don’t want me, and I ain’t quite sure that I want her. Where the devil would a fellow find himself if the money wasn’t all there?’ Lord Nidderdale then sauntered away, leaving the baronet in a deep study of thought as to such a condition of things as that which his lordship had suggested. Where the mischief would he, Sir Felix Carbury, be, if he were to marry the girl, and then to find that the money was not all there?
On the following Friday, which was the Board day, Nidderdale went to the great man’s offices in Abchurch Lane, and so contrived that he walked with the great man to the Board meeting. Melmotte was always very gracious in his manner to Lord Nidderdale, but had never, up to this moment, had any speech with his proposed son-in-law about business. ‘I wanted just to ask you something,’ said the lord, hanging on the chairman’s arm.
‘Anything you please, my lord.’
’Don’t you think that Carbury and I ought to have some shares to sell?’
‘No, I don’t,—if you ask me.’
‘Oh;—I didn’t know. But why shouldn’t we as well as the others?’
‘Have you and Sir Felix put any money into it?’
’Well, if you come to that, I don’t suppose we have. How much has Lord Alfred put into it?’
‘I have taken shares for Lord Alfred,’ said Melmotte, putting very heavy emphasis on the personal pronoun. ’If it suits me to advance money to Lord Alfred Grendall, I suppose I may do so without asking your lordship’s consent, or that of Sir Felix Carbury.’
’Oh, certainly. I don’t want to make inquiry as to what you do with your money.’
’I’m sure you don’t, and, therefore, we won’t say anything more about it. You wait awhile, Lord Nidderdale, and you’ll find it will come all right. If you’ve got a few thousand pounds loose, and will put them into the concern, why, of course you can sell; and, if the shares are up, can sell at a profit. It’s presumed just at present that, at some early day, you’ll qualify for your directorship by doing so, and till that is done, the shares are allocated to you, but cannot be transferred to you.’
‘That’s it, is it?’ said Lord Nidderdale, pretending to understand all about it.
’If things go on as we hope they will between you and Marie, you can have pretty nearly any number of shares that you please;—that is, if your father consents to a proper settlement.’
‘I hope it’ll all go smooth, I’m sure,’ said Nidderdale. ’Thank you; I’m ever so much obliged to you, and I’ll explain it all to Carbury.’
How eager Lady Carbury was that her son should at once go in form to Marie’s father and make his proposition may be easily understood. ’My dear Felix,’ she said, standing over his bedside a little before noon, ’pray don’t put it off; you don’t know how many slips there may be between the cup and the lip.’