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Before that last burst of mine I made my will."

"You had a will made before that."

"Yes, I had. That will is destroyed. I burnt it with my own hand, so
that there should be no mistake about it. In that will I had named
two executors, you and Jackson. I was then partner with Jackson in
the York and Yeovil Grand Central. I thought a deal of Jackson then.
He's not worth a shilling now."

"Well, I'm exactly in the same category."

"No, you're not. Jackson is nothing without money; but money'll never
make you."

"No, nor I shan't make money," said the doctor.

"No, you never will. Nevertheless, there's my other will, there,
under that desk there; and I've put you in as sole executor."

"You must alter that, Scatcherd; you must indeed; with three hundred
thousand pounds to be disposed of, the trust is far too much for any
one man: besides you must name a younger man; you and I are of the
same age, and I may die the first."

"Now, doctor, doctor, no humbug; let's have no humbug from you.
Remember this; if you're not true, you're nothing."

"Well, but, Scatcherd - "

"Well, but doctor, there's the will, it's already made. I don't want
to consult you about that. You are named as executor, and if you have
the heart to refuse to act when I'm dead, why, of course, you can do
so."

The doctor was no lawyer, and hardly knew whether he had any means
of extricating himself from this position in which his friend was
determined to place him.

"You'll have to see that will carried out, Thorne. Now I'll tell you
what I have done."

"You're not going to tell me how you have disposed of your property?"

"Not exactly; at least not all of it. One hundred thousand I've left
in legacies, including, you know, what Lady Scatcherd will have."

"Have you not left the house to Lady Scatcherd?"

"No; what the devil would she do with a house like this? She doesn't
know how to live in it now she has got it. I have provided for her;
it matters not how. The house and the estate, and the remainder of my
money, I have left to Louis Philippe."

"What! two hundred thousand pounds?" said the doctor.

"And why shouldn't I leave two hundred thousand pounds to my son,
even to my eldest son if I had more than one? Does not Mr Gresham
leave all his property to his heir? Why should not I make an eldest
son as well as Lord de Courcy or the Duke of Omnium? I suppose a
railway contractor ought not to be allowed an eldest son by Act of
Parliament! Won't my son have a title to keep up? And that's more
than the Greshams have among them."

The doctor explained away what he said as well as he could. He could
not explain that what he had really meant was this, that Sir Roger
Scatcherd's son was not a man fit to be trusted with the entire
control of an enormous fortune.

Sir Roger Scatcherd had but one child; that child which had been born
in the days of his early troubles, and had been dismissed from his
mother's breast in order that the mother's milk might nourish the
young heir of Greshamsbury. The boy had grown up, but had become
strong neither in mind nor body. His father had determined to make
a gentleman of him, and had sent to Eton and to Cambridge. But
even this receipt, generally as it is recognised, will not make a
gentleman. It is hard, indeed, to define what receipt will do so,
though people do have in their own minds some certain undefined, but
yet tolerably correct ideas on the subject. Be that as it may, two
years at Eton, and three terms at Cambridge, did not make a gentleman
of Louis Philippe Scatcherd.

Yes; he was christened Louis Philippe, after the King of the French.
If one wishes to look out in the world for royal nomenclature, to
find children who have been christened after kings and queens, or
the uncles and aunts of kings and queens, the search should be made
in the families of democrats. None have so servile a deference for
the very nail-parings of royalty; none feel so wondering an awe at
the exaltation of a crowned head; none are so anxious to secure
themselves some shred or fragment that has been consecrated by the
royal touch. It is the distance which they feel to exist between
themselves and the throne which makes them covet the crumbs of
majesty, the odds and ends and chance splinters of royalty.

There was nothing royal about Louis Philippe Scatcherd but his
name. He had now come to man's estate, and his father, finding the
Cambridge receipt to be inefficacious, had sent him abroad to travel
with a tutor. The doctor had from time to time heard tidings of this
youth; he knew that he had already shown symptoms of his father's
vices, but no symptoms of his father's talents; he knew that he had
begun life by being dissipated, without being generous; and that at
the age of twenty-one he had already suffered from delirium tremens.

It was on this account that he had expressed disapprobation, rather
than surprise, when he heard that his father intended to bequeath
the bulk of his large fortune to the uncontrolled will of this
unfortunate boy.

"I have toiled for my money hard, and I have a right to do as I like
with it. What other satisfaction can it give me?"

The doctor assured him that he did not at all mean to dispute this.

"Louis Philippe will do well enough, you'll find," continued the
baronet, understanding what was passing within his companion's
breast. "Let a young fellow sow his wild oats while he is young, and
he'll be steady enough when he grows old."

"But what if he never lives to get through the sowing?" thought the
doctor to himself. "What if the wild-oats operation is carried on
in so violent a manner as to leave no strength in the soil for the
product of a more valuable crop?" It was of no use saying this,
however, so he allowed Scatcherd to continue.

"If I'd had a free fling when I was a youngster, I shouldn't have
been so fond of the brandy bottle now. But any way, my son shall be
my heir. I've had the gumption to make the money, but I haven't the
gumption to spend it. My son, however, shall be able to ruffle it
with the best of them. I'll go bail he shall hold his head higher
than ever young Gresham will be able to hold his. They are much of
the same age, as well I have cause to remember; - and so has her
ladyship there."

Now the fact was, that Sir Roger Scatcherd felt in his heart no
special love for young Gresham; but with her ladyship it might almost
be a question whether she did not love the youth whom she had nursed
almost as well as that other one who was her own proper offspring.

"And will you not put any check on thoughtless expenditure? If
you live ten or twenty years, as we hope you may, it will become
unnecessary; but in making a will, a man should always remember he
may go off suddenly."

"Especially if he goes to bed with a brandy bottle under his head;
eh, doctor? But, mind, that's a medical secret, you know; not a word
of that out of the bedroom."

Dr Thorne could but sigh. What could he say on such a subject to such
a man as this?

"Yes, I have put a check on his expenditure. I will not let his daily
bread depend on any man; I have therefore left him five hundred a
year at his own disposal, from the day of my death. Let him make what
ducks and drakes of that he can."

"Five hundred a year certainly is not much," said the doctor.

"No; nor do I want to keep him to that. Let him have whatever he
wants if he sets about spending it properly. But the bulk of the
property - this estate of Boxall Hill, and the Greshamsbury mortgage,
and those other mortgages - I have tied up in this way: they shall be
all his at twenty-five; and up to that age it shall be in your power
to give him what he wants. If he shall die without children before
he shall be twenty-five years of age, they are all to go to Mary's
eldest child."

Now Mary was Sir Roger's sister, the mother, therefore, of Miss
Thorne, and, consequently, the wife of the respectable ironmonger who
went to America, and the mother of a family there.

"Mary's eldest child!" said the doctor, feeling that the perspiration
had nearly broken out on his forehead, and that he could hardly
control his feelings. "Mary's eldest child! Scatcherd, you should
be more particular in your description, or you will leave your best
legacy to the lawyers."

"I don't know, and never heard the name of one of them."

"But do you mean a boy or a girl?"

"They may be all girls for what I know, or all boys; besides, I
don't care which it is. A girl would probably do best with it. Only
you'd have to see that she married some decent fellow; you'd be her
guardian."

"Pooh, nonsense," said the doctor. "Louis will be five-and-twenty in
a year or two."

"In about four years."

"And for all that's come and gone yet, Scatcherd, you are not going
to leave us yourself quite so soon as all that."

"Not if I can help it, doctor; but that's as may be."

"The chances are ten to one that such a clause in your will will
never come to bear."

"Quite so, quite so. If I die, Louis Philippe won't; but I thought it
right to put in something to prevent his squandering it all before he
comes to his senses."

"Oh! quite right, quite right. I think I would have named a later age
than twenty-five."

"So would not I. Louis Philippe will be all right by that time.
That's my lookout. And now, doctor, you know my will; and if I die
to-morrow, you will know what I want you to do for me."

"You have merely said the eldest child, Scatcherd?"

"That's all; give it here, and I'll read it to you."

"No, no; never mind. The eldest child! You should be more particular,
Scatcherd; you should, indeed. Consider what an enormous interest may
have to depend on those words."

"Why, what the devil could I say? I don't know their names; never
even heard them. But the eldest is the eldest, all the world over.
Perhaps I ought to say the youngest, seeing that I am only a railway
contractor."

Scatcherd began to think that the doctor might now as well go away
and leave him to the society of Winterbones and the brandy; but, much
as our friend had before expressed himself in a hurry, he now seemed
inclined to move very leisurely. He sat there by the bedside, resting
his hands on his knees and gazing unconsciously at the counterpane.
At last he gave a deep sigh, and then he said, "Scatcherd, you must
be more particular in this. If I am to have anything to do with it,
you must, indeed, be more explicit."

"Why, how the deuce can I be more explicit? Isn't her eldest living
child plain enough, whether he be Jack, or she be Gill?"

"What did your lawyer say to this, Scatcherd?"

"Lawyer! You don't suppose I let my lawyer know what I was putting.
No; I got the form and the paper, and all that from him, and had him
here, in one room, while Winterbones and I did it in another. It's
all right enough. Though Winterbones wrote it, he did it in such a
way he did not know what he was writing."

The doctor sat a while longer, still looking at the counterpane,
and then got up to depart. "I'll see you again soon," said he;
"to-morrow, probably."

"To-morrow!" said Sir Roger, not at all understanding why Dr Thorne
should talk of returning so soon. "To-morrow! why I ain't so bad as
that, man, am I? If you come so often as that you'll ruin me."

"Oh, not as a medical man; not as that; but about this will,
Scatcherd. I must think if over; I must, indeed."

"You need not give yourself the least trouble in the world about my
will till I'm dead; not the least. And who knows - maybe, I may be
settling your affairs yet; eh, doctor? looking after your niece when
you're dead and gone, and getting a husband for her, eh? Ha! ha! ha!"

And then, without further speech, the doctor went his way.




CHAPTER XI

The Doctor Drinks His Tea


The doctor got on his cob and went his way, returning duly to
Greshamsbury. But, in truth, as he went he hardly knew whither he was
going, or what he was doing. Sir Roger had hinted that the cob would
be compelled to make up for lost time by extra exertion on the road;
but the cob had never been permitted to have his own way as to pace
more satisfactorily than on the present occasion. The doctor, indeed,
hardly knew that he was on horseback, so completely was he enveloped
in the cloud of his own thoughts.

In the first place, that alternative which it had become him to put
before the baronet as one unlikely to occur - that of the speedy death
of both father and son - was one which he felt in his heart of hearts
might very probably come to pass.

"The chances are ten to one that such a clause will never be brought
to bear." This he had said partly to himself, so as to ease the
thoughts which came crowding on his brain; partly, also, in pity for
the patient and the father. But now that he thought the matter over,
he felt that there were no such odds. Were not the odds the other
way? Was it not almost probable that both these men might be gathered
to their long account within the next four years? One, the elder, was
a strong man, indeed; one who might yet live for years to come if he
would but give himself fair play. But then, he himself protested,
and protested with a truth too surely grounded, that fair play to
himself was beyond his own power to give. The other, the younger,
had everything against him. Not only was he a poor, puny creature,
without physical strength, one of whose life a friend could never
feel sure under any circumstances, but he also was already addicted
to his father's vices; he also was already killing himself with
alcohol.

And then, if these two men did die within the prescribed period, if
this clause in Sir Roger's will were brought to bear, if it should
become his, Dr Thorne's, duty to see that clause carried out, how
would he be bound to act? That woman's eldest child was his own
niece, his adopted bairn, his darling, the pride of his heart, the
cynosure of his eye, his child also, his own Mary. Of all his duties
on this earth, next to that one great duty to his God and conscience,
was his duty to her. What, under these circumstances, did his duty to
her require of him?

But then, that one great duty, that duty which she would be the first
to expect from him; what did that demand of him? Had Scatcherd made
his will without saying what its clauses were, it seemed to Thorne
that Mary must have been the heiress, should that clause become
necessarily operative. Whether she were so or not would at any rate
be for lawyers to decide. But now the case was very different.
This rich man had confided in him, and would it not be a breach of
confidence, an act of absolute dishonesty - an act of dishonesty both
to Scatcherd and to that far-distant American family, to that father,
who, in former days, had behaved so nobly, and to that eldest child
of his, would it not be gross dishonesty to them all if he allowed
this man to leave a will by which his property might go to a person
never intended to be his heir?

Long before he had arrived at Greshamsbury his mind on this point
had been made up. Indeed, it had been made up while sitting there by
Scatcherd's bedside. It had not been difficult to make up his mind to
so much; but then, his way out of this dishonesty was not so easy for
him to find. How should he set this matter right so as to inflict no
injury on his niece, and no sorrow to himself - if that indeed could
be avoided?

And then other thoughts crowded on his brain. He had always
professed - professed at any rate to himself and to her - that of all
the vile objects of a man's ambition, wealth, wealth merely for its
own sake, was the vilest. They, in their joint school of inherent
philosophy, had progressed to ideas which they might find it not easy
to carry out, should they be called on by events to do so. And if
this would have been difficult to either when acting on behalf of
self alone, how much more difficult when one might have to act for
the other! This difficulty had now come to the uncle. Should he, in
this emergency, take upon himself to fling away the golden chance
which might accrue to his niece if Scatcherd should be encouraged to
make her partly his heir?

"He'd want her to go and live there - to live with him and his wife.
All the money in the Bank of England would not pay her for such
misery," said the doctor to himself, as he slowly rode into is own
yard.

On one point, and one only, had he definitely made up his mind. On
the following day he would go over again to Boxall Hill, and would
tell Scatcherd the whole truth. Come what might, the truth must be
the best. And so, with some gleam of comfort, he went into the house,
and found his niece in the drawing-room with Patience Oriel.

"Mary and I have been quarrelling," said Patience. "She says the
doctor is the greatest man in a village; and I say the parson is, of
course."

"I only say that the doctor is the most looked after," said Mary.
"There's another horrid message for you to go to Silverbridge, uncle.
Why can't that Dr Century manage his own people?"

"She says," continued Miss Oriel, "that if a parson was away for a
month, no one would miss him; but that a doctor is so precious that
his very minutes are counted."

"I am sure uncle's are. They begrudge him his meals. Mr Oriel never
gets called away to Silverbridge."

"No; we in the Church manage our parish arrangements better than you
do. We don't let strange practitioners in among our flocks because
the sheep may chance to fancy them. Our sheep have to put up with our
spiritual doses whether they like them or not. In that respect we are
much the best off. I advise you, Mary, to marry a clergyman, by all
means."

"I will when you marry a doctor," said she.

"I am sure nothing on earth would give me greater pleasure," said
Miss Oriel, getting up and curtseying very low to Dr Thorne; "but I
am not quite prepared for the agitation of an offer this morning, so
I'll run away."

And so she went; and the doctor, getting on his other horse, started
again for Silverbridge, wearily enough. "She's happy now where she
is," said he to himself, as he rode along. "They all treat her there
as an equal at Greshamsbury. What though she be no cousin to the
Thornes of Ullathorne. She has found her place there among them all,
and keeps it on equal terms with the best of them. There is Miss
Oriel; her family is high; she is rich, fashionable, a beauty,
courted by every one; but yet she does not look down on Mary. They
are equal friends together. But how would it be if she were taken to
Boxall Hill, even as a recognised niece of the rich man there? Would
Patience Oriel and Beatrice Gresham go there after her? Could she be
happy there as she is in my house here, poor though it be? It would
kill her to pass a month with Lady Scatcherd and put up with that
man's humours, to see his mode of life, to be dependent on him, to
belong to him." And then the doctor, hurrying on to Silverbridge,
again met Dr Century at the old lady's bedside, and having made his
endeavours to stave off the inexorable coming of the grim visitor,
again returned to his own niece and his own drawing-room.

"You must be dead, uncle," said Mary, as she poured out his tea for
him, and prepared the comforts of that most comfortable meal - tea,
dinner, and supper, all in one. "I wish Silverbridge was fifty miles
off."

"That would only make the journey worse; but I am not dead yet, and,
what is more to the purpose, neither is my patient." And as he spoke
he contrived to swallow a jorum of scalding tea, containing in
measure somewhat near a pint. Mary, not a whit amazed at this feat,
merely refilled the jorum without any observation; and the doctor
went on stirring the mixture with his spoon, evidently oblivious that
any ceremony had been performed by either of them since the first
supply had been administered to him.

When the clatter of knives and forks was over, the doctor turned
himself to the hearthrug, and putting one leg over the other, he
began to nurse it as he looked with complacency at his third cup of
tea, which stood untasted beside him. The fragments of the solid
banquet had been removed, but no sacrilegious hand had been laid on
the teapot and the cream-jug.

"Mary," said he, "suppose you were to find out to-morrow morning
that, by some accident, you had become a great heiress, would you be
able to suppress your exultation?"

"The first thing I'd do, would be to pronounce a positive edict that
you should never go to Silverbridge again; at least without a day's
notice."

"Well, and what next? what would you do next?"

"The next thing - the next thing would be to send to Paris for a
French bonnet exactly like the one Patience Oriel had on. Did you see
it?"

"Well I can't say I did; bonnets are invisible now; besides I never
remark anybody's clothes, except yours."

"Oh! do look at Miss Oriel's bonnet the next time you see her. I
cannot understand why it should be so, but I am sure of this - no
English fingers could put together such a bonnet as that; and I am
nearly sure that no French fingers could do it in England."

"But you don't care so much about bonnets, Mary!" This the doctor
said as an assertion; but there was, nevertheless, somewhat of a
question involved in it.

"Don't I, though?" said she. "I do care very much about bonnets;
especially since I saw Patience this morning. I asked how much it
cost - guess."

"Oh! I don't know - a pound?"

"A pound, uncle!"

"What! a great deal more? Ten pounds?"

"Oh, uncle."

"What! more than ten pounds? Then I don't think even Patience Oriel
ought to give it."

"No, of course she would not; but, uncle, it really cost a hundred
francs!"

"Oh! a hundred francs; that's four pounds, isn't it? Well, and how
much did your last new bonnet cost?"

"Mine! oh, nothing - five and ninepence, perhaps; I trimmed it myself.
If I were left a great fortune, I'd send to Paris to-morrow; no,
I'd go myself to Paris to buy a bonnet, and I'd take you with me to
choose it."

The doctor sat silent for a while meditating about this, during
which he unconsciously absorbed the tea beside him; and Mary again
replenished his cup.

"Come, Mary," said he at last, "I'm in a generous mood; and as I am
rather more rich than usual, we'll send to Paris for a French bonnet.
The going for it must wait a while longer I am afraid."

"You're joking."

"No, indeed. If you know the way to send - that I must confess would
puzzle me; but if you'll manage the sending, I'll manage the paying;
and you shall have a French bonnet."

"Uncle!" said she, looking up at him.

"Oh, I'm not joking; I owe you a present, and I'll give you that."

"And if you do, I'll tell you what I'll do with it. I'll cut it into
fragments, and burn them before your face. Why, uncle, what do you
take me for? You're not a bit nice to-night to make such an offer as
that to me; not a bit, not a bit." And then she came over from her
seat at the tea-tray and sat down on a foot-stool close at his knee.
"Because I'd have a French bonnet if I had a large fortune, is that a
reason why I should like one now? if you were to pay four pounds for
a bonnet for me, it would scorch my head every time I put it on."

"I don't see that: four pounds would not ruin me. However, I don't
think you'd look a bit better if you had it; and, certainly, I should
not like to scorch these locks," and putting his hand upon her
shoulders, he played with her hair.

"Patience has a pony-phaeton, and I'd have one if I were rich; and
I'd have all my books bound as she does; and, perhaps, I'd give fifty
guineas for a dressing-case."

"Fifty guineas!"

"Patience did not tell me; but so Beatrice says. Patience showed it
to me once, and it is a darling. I think I'd have the dressing-case
before the bonnet. But, uncle - "

"Well?"

"You don't suppose I want such things?"

"Not improperly. I am sure you do not."

"Not properly, or improperly; not much, or little. I covet many
things; but nothing of that sort. You know, or should know, that I do
not. Why did you talk of buying a French bonnet for me?"

Dr Thorne did not answer this question, but went on nursing his leg.

"After all," said he, "money is a fine thing."

"Very fine, when it is well come by," she answered; "that is, without
detriment to the heart or soul."

"I should be a happier man if you were provided for as is Miss Oriel.
Suppose, now, I could give you up to a rich man who would be able to
insure you against all wants?"

"Insure me against all wants! Oh, that would be a man. That would be
selling me, wouldn't it, uncle? Yes, selling me; and the price you



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