صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

minute had elapsed, she found herself in the presence of a stranger, by whom she was addressed respectfully

nay, even with some degree of obsequiousness.

"I have the honour, I presume, to address myself to Mrs. Vaughan?" asked the visitor, who had the outward semblance and bearing of that ill-defined thing called a “gentleman.??

Helen bowed her assent to the question. s 12)

"I am here, madam," he continued; Hon the part of Messrs. Tonkin and Davis, solicitors to the late Sir Philip Thornleigh, to acquaint you with the contents of the last testament made by that gentleman." ..7 litorg

Helen was silent, for she had no objection to make;. and a feeling beginning to dawn upon her that she was personally interested in the conversation, she listened with greater attention!

«:“Sir Philip,” continued the visitor, who seemed in- , flated with important intelligence, “Sir Philip has made a most extraordinary will., Passing over his lady, on whom it appears that no settlement beyond that of her own small fortune was made, the late baronet has named another lady as the inheritress (if I may so call it) of his fortune. Only the Abbey with its demésne is entailed. A bare six hundred pounds per annum to support a dignity so ancient and respected. The lady yourself, madam? he added, with a bow, more to the golden idol than to her “has now a. clear twelve thousand pounds a year, and Sir Edgar, the present baronet, is almost a beggar!”.

1. It was not a very business-like way of conveying the intelligence; but for once a lawyer's impulses had burst their red tape and parchment bonds, and had spoken as though dictated by the nature of other men.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The fact was, that Messrs. Tonkin and Davis had been too long in the possession of metal cases bearing on their smooth outsides the name and title of the baronets of Thornleigh, not to feel considerably indignant at the provisions of the will, made, and duly witnessed and signed by the deceased gentleman ikusleather be THE

Fully aware of the nature of that testament (for it had been drawn up by themselves) the firm of Tonkin and Davis had always indulged in a hope that something would arise to change the dispositions of the testator. He was in the prime of life, strong and hale,!' ? and there was a son who must inherit the title, leven though his father (ishould alienate the estates. The lady in whose favour he had made so extraordinary a! testament, was not his wife, and was said to have unbounded influence over him; but, on the other hand, there was the chance that she might be caught fftripping, and then farewell to her inheritance of yearly thousands. She might die, too, before Sir Philip, and happily, she had no child, at least, as far as the firm knew, to inherit after her. But all these speculations were" at an end when the news of Philip's death was spread abroad. i The contents of the will were then made public, and it being pronounced valid, all that remained was to make known to the fortunate testatrix that she, and only she, was the legatee whose name : appeared as interested in these parchment sheets.

As it has been shown, it was not by letter, but through the means of an ambassador (as is the case when an important communication is to be made to a first-rate power), that the accession of wealth was made known to Helen. The intelligence was received by her with perfect composure, she merely saying:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

14 determina

You seem more surprised than I am by this disposition of Sir Philip Thornleigh's property. It is one that I deeply regret, but which is surely not out of my power to remedy.”:,{"tis jui...

4. "Pardon me," replied the man of law, “Sir Philip has deprived you of the power of changing his intentions, so far, at least, as the giving over this property to others is concerned. In the event of your declining to accept of this rich inheritance, it reverts to charitable institutions named in the will.??? 1. 36. "This may increase the difficulty of doing justice to others,' said Helen; "but I can see no insuperable obstacles to the performance of what is so clearly a duty. I thank you for your visit, and shall communicate by letter with the gentlemen whose address you have given me.":1}* magnoda trong taksit soort Hirs, "34. Never was hint for the closing of an audience more clearly given. So pointed, also, were the words for a dismissal, both by voice and manner, that the envoy of Messrs. Tonkin and Davis could do no other than take up his hat and go...? is He did not leave Helen alone, for who is alone whose whereabout is peopled with busy thoughts, and who, in life's arduous duties; - finds

theme so engrossing that it bars out the sense of solitude? Who is alone when he has a problem to solve, or & resolution to arrive at? Not even a woman is-solitary, when her tions, founded on honourable principles; and when (avoiding an indulgence in tender and enervating imagining) she braces her mind to endurance and to self-sacrificing deeds.

The sudden death of Sir Philip Thornleigh would

have been soon forgotten but for the unrighteous testament which kept alive the memory of the man. We are longer remembered for our evil deeds than for our good; for how short is the list of those who, by purely disinterested love for their fellow-creatures, have obtained a name that is beyond praise? The powerful, the ambitious, the cruel, and the rich are in their deeds handed down to posterity by hundreds; but let us name the few who, beyond the paler of private charity, stand out as the doers of good to those that are in sorrow, sickness, and adversity, and the record will soon be closed. In the prisons and among the captives, a Howard and a Fry have worked and ministered. 1. The Man of Ross! is cited for benevolence, and Florence Nightingale for her devotion to the sick and wounded; but among the thousands who, since the world began, might, if they would have done deeds like theirs, the recorded names seem a scanty few indeed.

Sir Philip Thornleigh's unjustifiable crime against society was something more than a nine days' wonder. He had turned his wealth into a channel where, in his county at least, it could benefit no one. The timehonoured abode of his fathers would be no longer open to receive its former guests, nor would his son (the Sir Edgar pointed out by nature as the husband of one of their fair daughters) be in a position to fulfil the duties of his calling

Sir Edgar had only his empty title to recommend him to their notice; what he had not was registered against him, while what the son of their old acquaintance was, few thought it worth their while to inquire.


[ocr errors]

"Quicquid sub terris est, in Apricum proferet ætas;

Defodiat condetque nitentia.". HORACE.

[ocr errors]

11 which

V.1. AND now,' waiving the eustomary"apology for conducting the reader suddenly to another scene, we will take a glance at Philip's condemned wife, who, with her sister, still resided in the little château in Lower Brittanyo They were not reduced to what could be called, in their rank of life, poverty though Gertrude had refused the allowance which Thornleigh through his solicitors --- had pressed upon her, for they had the interest of their own small fortunes , amounted to about three hundred pounds a-year; and as the little: Edgar had been adopted by his grandmother, who paid libérally for his education, this income was amply sufficient for their wants.

In outward appearance Gertrude was greatly changed, her auburn hair was 'streaked with grey, and the lines on her brow had become deeper and more numerous; for the possession of a secret is to many women a serious charge, even though that secret be not such a

ne las preyed upon the heart and conscience of Philip's wife. ti?

Let us look at her now, as, in the deepest mourning, with low-bent head and eyes swollen with weeping, she creeps along beneath the trees 'that shade their dwelling. Alice is by her side, and is supporting her feeble footsteps with an arm that seems scarcely strong enough for the task. ***

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »