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woman knew not how to break, and after a few moments he continued thus :
'My time is short, love, very short for all I have to do; and I have much to say while power of speech is granted me. My words come thick and with difficulty now, Helen, but you can comprehend my meaning, however confusedly it may be conveyed to you. Many obstacles will lie in your path, and years may possibly elapse before your work is over; but let no difficulties deter you, and no opposition frighten you from your duty. In no other soul that lives would I repose a confidence so sacred and so entire; and on the disinterestedness of no other friend could I so truly rely as on yours. When, therefore, the innocence (for the proofs of which you will diligently seek) is firmly established, and in the opinion of the good, and even in that of the world, the stain on her reputation is removed; if my wife be proved to be falsely accused, and if her honour comes out brightly from the ordeal it will undergo, then by you, and you alone, must restitution be made, and full amends be offered to her and to her children.'
By me! Surely, Philip, you cannot mean this? The whole world will cry out “Shame” upon you, if such an one as I be made the judge of a woman's conduct and the arbitress of her fate.
* And think you, Nellie, that I owe no reparation to you, who have suffered injuries at my hands, so deep and lasting ? If in your humility you have forgotten claims so strong, it the more becomes the offender to remember them, and to show to the world how entirely you are trusted and honoured. To you then, dearest, whose love has never failed me, to you who have suffered reproach, and endured deep insult at the hands of the worst enemy that ever woman had, I have bequeathed both riches and power, knowing that in your hands they will not be abused.'
*I am very grieved began Helen.
· Nay, hear me to the end, and mark well my words. My will is in my lawyer's hands,
and by its provisions you become possessed (with the exception of the small proportion that is entailed with the Abbey) of the whole property I leave behind me at my death. This shocks you; I see it, and am not surprised, but I will hear of no refusal, and listen to no thanks. To whom do I owe so deep a debt of gratitude and affection ? For you, my Helen, have never deceived me;' and there was unspeakable tenderness in the feeble voice that testified to the constancy of her true woman's love.
But Helen could not be silent. · Philip,' she exclaimed, pardon me if I seem to disregard your wishes, but indeed this must not be; nor can I allow you to do this unjust thing. It is not by me that your wife and children shall be wronged; and Oh, believe that I never coveted your wealth, nor tried to supplant them in your affections.'
'Indeed, I know it, dear Helen, for have not the proofs of your unselfish devotion been without number, nor is it the least among them that you accept this last charge, and this most grave responsibility. The fortune you will inherit is but left to you conditionally, to pass from your hands under the circumstances I have explained, but under these only. I am rich, Helen. I have money enough and to spare, while they (for aught I know) may be destitute of the comforts which habit has made necessary to them. She may be crushed by shame and poverty, may be sick even, or in prison, and yet I say to you that such retribution (if she be guilty) is not equal to her deserts; and that I would let her die, aye, let her rot, and her children with her, if she have brought this shame upon her head and this humiliation on my name.'
‘Hush, Philip, cried the dismayed woman. *Hush, for I will not listen to such words; you are carrying your angry feelings with you to the grave, and heaping misery on the head of her who, if she have wronged you, will pine to hear that with your latest breath you pronounced her pardon.'
· It will be pardon for my offences that will be needed, if, as I earnestly hope, your efforts be rewarded with success. But enough-. you cannot change my resolution, and do but waste your words—all my possessions become yours to-morrow, Helen, with the understanding that should her fame be cleared, and her son, my boy, be permitted yet to hold up his head without shame, save for him who insulted the mother that bore him, then it will be for my noble-hearted Helen to restore to them the blessing of wealth, and with it the respect and consideration of society; and for you, dear one,' he added, feelingly and most sadly, “what can I say, and what can I offer that you will accept? At least may I not hope that you will retain enough from my abundance to keep you safe, and (when time has effaced my image) happy in your independence of the world that has so buffeted you? You are mine, Helen, still; mine only, and for ever;' and he looked inquiringly, and almost beseechingly in her face.