George MacDonald.

Mary Marston. A novel online

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Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldMary Marston. A novel → online text (page 33 of 40)
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see. For ten days or so, she could form no idea of what she
was likely or would like to do next. But, when we are in such
perplexity, may not the fact be accepted as showing that deci-
sion is not required of us — perhaps just because our way is at
the moment being made straight for us ?

Joseph called once or twice, but, for Letty's sake, they had
no music. As they met so seldom now, Mary, anxious to serve
him as she could, offered him the loan of some of her favorite
books. He accepted it with a gladness that surprised her, for
she did not know how much he had of late been reading.

One day she received an unexpected visit — from Mr. Brett,
her lawyer. He had been searching into the affairs of the shop,
and had discovered enough to make him uneasy, and indeed
fill him with self-reproach that he had not done so with more
thoroughness immediately on her father's death. He had come


to tell her all he knew, and talk the matter over with her, that
they might agree what proceedings should he taken.

I will not weary myself or my readers with husiness detail,
for which kind of thing I have no great aptitude, and a good
deal of incapacitating ignorance ; but content myself with the
briefest statement of the condition in which Mr. Brett found
the affairs of Mr. Turnbull.

lie had been speculating in several companies, making haste
to be rich, and had periled and lost what he had saved of the
profits of the business, and all of Mary's as well that had not
been elsewhere secured. lie had even trenched on tlie original
ca])ital of the liim, by postponing the payment of moneys due,
and allowing the stock to run down and to deteriorate, and
things out of fashion to accumulate, so that the business had
perceptibly fallen off. But what displeased Mary more than
anything was, that lie had used money of her father's to specu-
late witli in more than one |)ublie-house ; and she knew that, if
in lier father's lifetime he had so used even his own, it would
have been enough to make him insist on dissolving partner-

It wa.s impossible to allow her money to remain any longer
in the })Ower of such a man, and she gave authority to Mr.
Brett to make tlic necessary arrangements for i)utting an end
to business relations between them.

It was a somewhat comi)licated, therefore tedious business ;
and things looked worse the further they were searelud into.
Unable to varnish the facts to the experience of a professional
eye, Mr. Turn])ull wrote ^lary a letter almost cringing in its
tone, begging her to remember the years her father and he ha«l
been as brothers ; how she had grown uj) in the shop, and had
been to him, until misunderstandings arose, into the causes of
which he could not now enter, in the place of a daughter ; and
insisting that her withdrawal from it had had no small share
in the ruin of the business. For these considerations, and,
more than all, for the memory of her father, he entreated her
to leave things as they were, to trust him to see after the in-
terests of the daughter of his old friend, and not insist upon
measures which must end in a forced sale, in the shutting up


of the sliop of Tnrnbull and Marston, and the disgracing of her
father's name along with his.

Mary replied that she was acting by the advice of her fa-
ther's lawyer, and with the regard she owed her father's mem-
ory, in severing all connection with a man in whom she no
longer had confidence ; and insisted that the business must be
wound up as soon as possible.

She instructed Mr. Brett, at the same time, that, if it could
be managed, she would prefer getting the shop, even at con-
siderable loss, into her own hands, with what stock might be
in it, when she would attempt to conduct the business on prin-
ciples her father would have approved, whereby she did not
doubt of soon restoring it to repute. While she had no inten-
tion, she said, of selling so luell as Mr. Turnbull would fain
have done, she believed she would soon be able to buy to just
as good advantage as he. It would be necessary, however, to
keep her desire a secret, else Mr. Turnbull would be certain to
frustrate it.

Mr. Brett approved of her plan, for he knew she was much
respected, and had many friends. Mr. Turnbull vv^ould be
glad, he said, to give up the whole to escape prosecution — that
at least was how Mary interpreted his somewhat technical state-
ment of affairs between them.

The swindler wrote again, begging for an interview — which
she declined, except in the presence of her lawyer.

She made up her mind that she would not go near Test-
briclge till everything was settled, and the keys of tiie shop in
Mr. Brett's hands ; and remained, therefore, where she was —
with Letty, who to keep her company delayed her departure
as long as she could without giving offense at Thornwick.

A few days before Letty was at last compelled to leave, Jas-
per called, and heard about as much as they knew themselves
of their plans. When Mary said to him she would miss her
pupil, he smiled in a sort of abstracted wa}^, as if not quite
apprehending what she said, which seemed to Mary a little
odd, his manners in essentials being those of a gentleman, as
judged by one a little more than a lady ; for there is an un-
named degree higher than the ordinary lady.


So Mary was left alone — more alone tlian she had ever been
in her life. But she did not feel lonely, for tlie best of reasons
— that she never fancied herself alone, but knew that she was
not. Also she had books at her command, being one of the
few who can read ; and there were picture-galleries to go to,
and music-lessons to be had. Of these last she crowded in as
many as her master could be persuaded to give her — for it
would be long, she knew, before she was able to liave sucli again.

Joseph Jasper never came near her. She could not im-
agine wliy, and was disappointed and puzzled.

To know that Ann Byrom was in the house was not a great
comfort to her — she regarded so much that Mary loved as of
earth and not of heaven. (Jod's world even she desi)ised, l)e-
causc men called it nature, and spoke of its influences. But
Mary did go up to see her now and then. Very different she
seemed from the time when first they were at work together
over Ilesper's twilight dress ! Ever since Mary had made the

Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldMary Marston. A novel → online text (page 33 of 40)