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from among us," spoke the honest old lawyer who could not be got to say much in Petworth's favour. “Perhaps, Ray, my dear, you'd be glad to have the matter for which we are intruding upon you, settled as quickly as possibly? You are already aware of your father's disposal of his property.”
“I know nothing about it,” said Rachel, indifferently. She was not yet aroused into interest for anything, and if she had ever cherished any curiosity regarding those monetary affairs which her father held a secret from her, it was all buried now with the dear ones whom money could affect no more.
“With your permission, Mrs. Boome," said Jarvis, “I will read this through at once."
“ Certainly," assented Mrs. Boome, arranging herself comfortably in her chair, folding her hands, and closing her eyes, that no outward objects should distract her attention. Miss Tyler crept a little nearer to her friend's voluminous skirts, feeling vaguely that the reading was a very formidable affair. Rachel leaned her cheek pensively against her hand, and then the last will and testament of the drowned man was read aloud. It was received with almost an oath from Jarvis, & cry of surprise from Mrs. Boome, a "Mercy me !" from Jane Tyler, in absolute silence by Rachel.
Mr. Jarvis, walking to the daughter's side, flung the document into her lap.
"If your father warn't a madman, my dear, he was a scoundrel," he said, sitting down near her and taking her hand in his. “But thank God the man is dead—I cannot help saying so—and, therefore, the wrong
becomes invalid. You cannot suffer from it." " I don't understand how that can be, Mr. Jarvis," returned Rachel calmly, perhaps the pink color deepening a little in her face, being the only sign of distress she evinced. “Would you kindly tell me in plain words what you mean?"
Jarvis then explained to her that, evidently in a fit of pique or temporary insanity, her father, Petworth Deane, had willed the whole amount of his property (ninety thousand pounds Consols) to the oysterdredger, Thomas Ryly, alleging that this man was the sole living human being who had any just claim to his consideration, his daughter having wilfully, with full knowledge of the consequences, chosen to separate herself from him by a marriage he had refused, and ever would refuse, to sanction. But that, in the event of this man's death, nothing having been stated about his wife, it reverted to her, so that she could now duly claim the entire possession of the ninety thousand pounds by the interposition of a fortuitous accident.
“No accident at all," sharply uttered Mrs. Boome, " 'tis a dispensa.
tion of Providence. Doesn't the psalm say, 'I will not see the fatherless forsaken, nor the widow begging her bread ? Come to me, my dear, and kiss me. You're a rich woman, as I always felt you one day would be." Jane Tyler, who, like Cowper's Cottager,
Just knew, and knew no more, her Biblo true, was somewhat startled by her friend's rendering of the consolatory utterance of David, and sat by, desperately striving to recall the right version of the misquoted passage, whilst Rachel, disregarding her aunt's invitation to be kissed, laid her hand, with a decided gesture, upon the will.
She had been very quiet hitherto, and had offered no remark. Now she spoke with earnestness that was positive :
“This man Ryly," she said, looking straight into the face of her adviser, Mr. Jarvis, “ lost his life for me, and through me. His widow, by his death, forfeits all that the law, according to my father's wishes, would have given him, and which she would have shared”
“My dear Rachel," interrupted Mrs. Boome, "you won't be such a fool as to give up the property to a woman who keeps an oyster table in the village ?”
"I shall try and do no really foolish thing," continued Rachel Deane, colouring; “ but I think it only right to tell Mrs. Ryly how the case stands, and to make over to her at once whatever sum Mr. Jarvis considers will keep her, and all belonging to her, in comfortable independence, suitable to their condition, for the rest of their lives."
“ Stuff !” ejaculated Mrs. Boome, loudly and angrily.
“I would gladly give it all,” cried Rachel, “to this poor woman, if money would make up to her the woful loss she owes to me."
“ My dear," remonstrated Mrs. Boome, “ these people haven't much feeling."
“Mr. Jarvis," appealed Rachel, “ you agree with me?”
“ Also," added Rachel, blushing much now, and stammering slightly, “ I should like to treat you fairly, Aunt. My father could never have reasonably intended to have allowed his only living relative no place in his will. I shall transfer a third of such sum as may remain to me, after I have arranged for the Rylys, to you. Then my conscience will be clear, and, perhaps," with a faltering voice and lowered eyes, “I shall have done a little towards removing the blame which you must all attach to my dear father's memory."
“ Well done, poor cinder-tip's daughter," thought Mrs. Boome, silenced by an odd sensation in her throat.
"Good girl, nice little woman !” mentally subscribed Mr. Jarvis, rubbing his spectacles, and turning aside his head.
“I should like to speak to Sarah Ryly in your presence," said Rachel, presently; "she has lived with me since that night, and is in the house now."
Her lip trembled again, that night was the one which had widowed her.
* Very well, my dear.” Mr. Jarvis rang the bell, and shortly Mrs. Ryly came in, nervously regarding the strange faces. Rachel beckoned her to a chair beside her, and the fish-girl sat down confusedly plaiting up her apron.
“Sarah," spoke Rachel, gently, “we have been reading my father's will. You know he owed much to your husband for having saved his life. You know I crossed his wishes by marrying Mr. Deane. He has punished me for my disobedience by leaving all his money away from me. He left it all to your husband, Thomas Ryly."
And with admirable patience, it taking a long time to make Mrs. Ryly comprehend the facts of the case, the strange good fortune that would have been hers, the strange course of events which snatched it from her, giving it to Rachel, the final decision that awarded her competency for the remainder of her life, the wronged daughter went over and over again the relation of her father's eccentricity, until the whole truth was forcibly ingrained in Mrs. Ryly's mind.
Mr. Jarvis waited with visible annoyance until Rachel had finished; after which he took up the thread of explanation, stating to the bewildered widow of the dredger, in plain language, considerable asperity in the tone he adopted, that had this whim of Mr. Petworth Deane been carried out, as must have happened had Ryly's life been spared, it would have been an act of gross injustice to Rachel, who, in such a case, would have been left utterly unprovided for. When she did at length understand, Mrs. Ryly rose from her seat, and stood tall, gaunt, and erect, in the midst of the little group, wearing the dignity of sorrow in her face.
“Sir," she said, honest indignation pumping force into her simple words, “ I do not want the young lady's money. There's no money will bring my poor lad back to life. No, Mrs. Deane," turning to the younger widow, into whose countenance she looked with loving eyes ; " keep your money, dear. My Tom 'ould not have touched it, and no more will I; though thank you truly, all the same."
And she dropped a courtsey after those few words, and went out of the room, hurriedly, with her mouth puckered up to keep back the gathering sobs. She wore no mourning, only a bit of black ribbon twisted round her neck, but she mourned faithfully, in her heart, to the end.
Now, that's a woman with some sense in her head," said Mrs. Boome. “Rachel, you see, get's carried away by her feelings, and forgets how improper 'twould be to take this poor thing out of her sphere. Why, she'd be wretched if she had enough to live upon all her life !”
“I intend she shall try it," spoke Rachel determinately, tying the will and handing it to Mr. Jarvis. “I think, Mr. Jarvis, you will help me to carry out my wishes fairly ?”
"I shall be proud to do so, my dear," he said, affecting to turn towards his fair client, but in reality addressing himself to Mrs. Boome, whom he regarded with hostility; "your desires shall be attended to, even as concerns the division of property in favour of your aunt. Fuz-z-ah, fuzzah, fuzz-ah-ha-ha;” which, I must explain, was Mr. Jarvis's usual mode of putting a full stop to conversation of a legal character.
Mrs. Boome snapped her reticule and rose to depart. She kissed Rachel affectionately. “I suppose you are pretty well aware, Sir," wheeling round and facing the lawyer preparatory to quitting the council-room, " that I don't want a penny and I won't have it. I'll be obliged to you to talk her into sense ; it's sheer nonsense giving anything to me. I'm not one to rob the fatherless. Let her enjoy her life, poor child, and marry again."
Mrs. Boome's wish proved prophetic. Rachel Deane did, as was perfectly natural, marry again, though not until some years after. But no man ever wooed with success the widow of Ryly, the dredger. She remained voluntarily a fixture in Rachel's household, busying actively her useful hands and head for all, equally loving and beloved. Often, to this time, she will, when the sun has set, accompanied by Rachel, thread the cliff-side to Bracelet Bay, and there, thinking of the days that might have been, stand awhile, looking out towards the Mixen Sands, whence the blue waters widen to the sea, wherein,
“Without a grave, unknelled, uncoflined, and unknown," lie some of England's bravest sons, as dear to many hearts as the lost loves of these “ Two Women.”
A SMALL, brisk woman, capped with many a bow;
“Yes," so she says, “and younger, too, than some," Who bids me, bustling, “ God speed," when I go,
And gives me rustling “Welcome” when I come.
“Ay, Sir, 'tis cold,--and freezing hard,--they say ;
I'd like to give that hulking brute a hit, Beating his horse in such a shameful way!
Step here, Sir, till your fire's blazed up a bit."
A musky haunt of lavender and shells,
Quaint-figured Chinese monsters, toys, and traysA life's collection—where each object tells
Of fashions gone and half-forgotten ways:
A glossy screen, where wide-mouth dragons ramp;
A vexed inscription in a sampler frame; A shade of beads upon a red-capped lamp;
A child's mug graven with a golden name;
A pictured ship, with full-blown canvas set;
A card, with sea-weed twisted to a wreath, Circling a silky curl as black as jet,
With yellow writing faded underneath.
Looking, I sink within the shrouded chair,
And tell the objects slowly, one by one, And light at last upon a portrait there,
Wide-collared, raven-haired. “Yes, 'tis my son!”
" Where is he?" "Ah, Sir, he is dead-my boy!
Nigh ten long years ago—in 'sixty-threeHe's always living in my head-my boy!
He was left drowning in the Southern Sea.