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Judge Havisham's will online

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Judge HaYis tian/s Will,







The Havisham Place ................. 7

The Dandelion Link ............. 16


Holding On ~ 25

The Postman's Ring ................. 33

Vivian 41

A Grind at the Mill 49

The Judge's Promise ................ 56

Thorns in the Pillow 64



A Broken Bow 74

The Mysterious Words 85


The " Last Will " 94


The Battle Begun 101


Vivian's Return ; 107


Who Shall be Right? 113

The Right Key 119


Keeping Up the Fight 124

Is there a Chance? 136


What is the Matter with the Will? 147


No More Havisham House ____..__ 155


Off to the Country Seat. 163


How do you Like It? -... 171



Shouldering Up . 180


A Hundred Miles Below Level 187


Hard Questions 194


The Thick of the Fight aoi


Battling for Lee._ 208


Trouble for Cyp ... 220


Temptation, and a Score to Pay 226


A Blow for Bent _ 234


Hand-to-Hand Fighting 241


At the Last Moment . 250


Hold? or Let Go? 262


Turned into Day 271


Reparation _. 279



Joy Cometh in the Morning :. ......... 291


All Right at Last 299

A White Day, and More to Follow 305




THE old "Havisham Place" seemed to be
centre, focus, beginning, and end with the town
and the people of Edinburgh Heights. If a
stranger asked direction, the reply was sure to
be, "Keep on till you reach the Havisham House,
and then turn." If the young people wanted a
rallying point, it was, "Meet by the Havisham
Place ;' ' or if they came in glowing from a frosty
walk, or dreamy from a moonlight one, they were
almost sure to have been "as far as the Havi-
sham House and back.'*

The town had doubled and trebled since the
Havisham House was young, but the growth had
stretched so evenly about it that its relative posi-
tion did not seem changed, while the pride of the
Edinburghers increased as one touch of modern
improvement after another added charm to the
solid respectability it always had. The short
sloping lawn was a faultless carpet of green, a


bit of conservatory sheltered itself in a cornei
against a wing, and the pillars of the broad,
rounded piazza, had just been connected by a
simple design of arches that broke the view of
river and hills into separate bits of landscape, set
as in picture-frames.

Altogether the house had quite as much of
to-day as of yesterday about it ; and as for its
owners, Bentley, or "Bent," the old butler, was
the only member of the household who could
claim the dignity of years. "Mr. Thorpe," as
he still persisted in calling Judge Havisham, the
master of the house, though perhaps on the wa-
ning side of middle life, was in the full strength
and vigor of it still, and never thought of himself
as a day older than twenty years ago ; while it
was only since "Mr. Wynthrop's" sixteenth
birthday that Bent had laid a cover for him at
ceremonious dinners; and as for "Mr. Cyp,"
Bent still gave him a chair a trifle higher than
the other two.

Ceremonious or every-day as the dinner might
be, the laying of the table was a grave and
important form in the old butler's eyes, and he
had an unfailing habit of going backward a few
steps, taking a slow, critical look at his work,
and returning for some slight change in the posi-
tion of a piece of silver or glass. Then he* would
retreat again, and come as quietly back for an-
other improving touch.


But even after criticism could be defied, some-
thing seemed unsatisfactory still to Bent, and a
deprecating shake of the head was very apt to
say so as he cast his last lingering look.

"There's no balance nor consistency nor
considerate effect to a three-sided table,'* he
would murmur as he vanished through the door.
"No, nor Providence either, in this case; for it
can never be of His pleasure that Miss Vivian
shouldn't stay with her father, and two boys of
an age like that! It was quite right she should
marry, no doubt ; but it 's well enough known
she 's free to live where she chooses, for all that.
The old home isn't gay enough for her, they
say; but can't she bring what she likes with her
and make it so? There's no restriction upon
any wish of hers, the land knows, while Mr.
Thorpe lives. No, no ; there 's another reason
than that, another reason and a worse one,
more 's the pity ! though I hope there 's no eye
but mine keen-sighted enough to make it out"

Bent had but one confidant in all these half-
whispered reflections the inside of his butler's
pantry; and it was receiving them for the twen-
tieth time one soft spring afternoon as the judge's
quick, firm step was heard nearing the dining-
room door.

Bent started. It was an old servant's right
to be interested, but to criticise was quite another
thing; and how could he be sure which u Mr.


Thorpe" might consider him to be about if he
happened to overhear ?

But no; the step was only passing, not com-
ing in, and the pantry door was only open a
crack. It was impossible the judge should have
heard. He was at the threshold of the front door
now, lingering a moment, and then out upon the
hard old porch. Bent drew a sigh of relief ; Mr.
Thorpe was only going to his favorite piazza-
chair to read.

"Not that it is in nature," Bent began again,
but silently this time, as he gave his silver tray
a polish it did not need; " not that it is in nature
for a man to feel those he loves best gone against,
and never let his tongue say so to himself ; but
when he's done that he's been far enough, and
walls have ears, if the old saying is true."

Whoever might be u gone against," however,
Bent's master did not seem to be troubling him-
self about the fact as he luxuriated in the first
touch of summer, in spite of the book before his
eyes. It was a knotty question in law he was
working at, but its cobwebs could not keep off
the delicious air, the breath of flowers, or the
song of an oriole building in the swing of an elm
bough on the lawn.

The book was laid down, now and then, on
the judge's knee, and his hand passed hastily
through his handsome hair. These first spring
days always did bring back the very same old


feeling he had when he was d boy ! And what
was the use of being anything but a boy, after
all ? He had a great mind to let some other law-
yer take this case, and What was Cyp doing
down there in the grass? if grass it Could be
called, shaven and shorn like that. What times
he could remember in the yard-high rank grass of
the old mowing lot, where ground-sparrow eggs
and strawberries were found side by side ! The
book went down at last with a toss; he would
know what that youngster was after out there.


A head, with a straw hat pushed back and
a pair of eager eyes, popped up.

"What are you hunting there, you young ras-
cal ? If it 's a diamond mine, why don't you call
me to go shares?"

A gay laugh was the answer, and a hand held
up a bunch of violets, blue as the sky. "Just
these, that's all. It's to hang a May basket on
Mab's door. When Bent goes home he '11 find it,
don't you see?"

The whole figure was up now, and coming
towards Judge Havisham's seat, the tiny basket
in one hand and the flowers in the other; but
there was some perplexity after all; that waS
plain; Cyp's step was hesitating, and there was a
wrinkle of heavy thought between his yes.

"I can't you see, I can't tell what I can
hang it with," he said, in divisions, as he mounted


one after another of the piazza, steps. "I can
get plenty of strings, but Mab is too good for a

"Too good for a string?" laughed the judge.
"You're a cavalier worth having, Cyprian.
How would a chain of gold meet your views?
There it grows; not on our side of the street, but
on the other, where that marauding old lawn-
mower of Waite's can't reach. Take yourself
over there and bring back a handful, and you
have the thing."

Cyp's eyes flew across the street to a bit of
roadside banked with great dandelion heads, yel-
low as the sun, and in another instant he had fol-
lowed with a flying step.

' ' It does n' t take that youngster long to catch
an idea," said "Mr. Thorpe," as he watched him
go. "Heigho ! I wish I could get hold of one
for myself and settle that case," and he glanced
reluctantly at his book where it lay. But no; it
might lie there. Cyp was back again now, and
the dandelion chain should come next.

"Now, sir," said the judge, as the links went
together and the chain grew, "the same misera-
ble question that tries every man's work is going
to level at this. Will it hold? It's an unpleas-
ant question, true enough, but you'll have to
stand it. Hang it on your own door-knob and
see what you 've got."

There was a moment of suspense, breathless


on Cyp's part, as the Havisham door-handle had
the weight of Mab's basket slowly and cautiously
left upon it by an excited little hand.

The chain stretched, the links lengthened,
the position of the whole was changed, but it

Cyp drew back the hand that had kept guard
under it, ready to save a fall, with a cry of delight
11 It will ! It will ! And it 's the little one that 's
doing it, too, after all !" and he pointed to the
smallest link of the chain.

Slenderest stem of all, least in circumference
by half, it lay against the polished brass of the
old knob just where the sharpest strain seemed to
come. Its curve was doubled into a sharp corner
at one point, but it never flinched.

"Bravo!" said the judge. "Sticks like a
brave fellow, doesn't it? Now take yourself off.
You make a youngster of me, instead of the poor
drudge I am;" and he took up his book with a wry
face that always delighted Cyp. At this moment
the clatter of hoofs was heard, and a finely groomed
horse, with a rider firm in his seat, came whirling
into the yard. u There ! there comes the boy that
is half way between us. He has nothing to do,
I'll warrant Take him for your mate. Idling is
bad business for an unlucky fellow like me. ' '

A man stepped from the stable at the sound of
the horse's feet, and Wynthrop threw him the
rein. "Blackwing will need a good rubbing,


Waite; I've given him a great run," he said as
he sprang to the ground.

"Yes, sir," answered Waite respectfully, and
Wynt turned to enter the house.

Waite looked after him silently a moment as
he went, his dark, almost olive-skinned face
shaded by his riding-cap and his black eyes cast
quietly upon the ground. Then Waite gave a
little shake of his head.

"It passes me," he ejaculated mentally; "a
young gentleman with all that one has in him,
and the quiet way he has with it all. It 's there,
though, we all know, and folks will find it out
some day the rest of it, I mean."

He faced about to lead the horse away, and so
missed seeing that Wynt's eyes lifted just in time
to catch a glimpse of the group on the piazza, and
that he turned instantly in that direction and
went up the steps with a spring.

"Yes!" shouted Cyp, dragging him towards
the door. "See; it's the little one that's doing
it, I tell you, the smallest one of all !"

"The little one is doing it, eh? How is
that?" asked Wynt absently, his thoughts not
yet finding the situation altogether clear.

"I don't know. I suppose it thought it
would hold on tighter the harder things pulled,"
answered Cyp, excitement still shining out of his

Wynt laughed pleasantly, but a low, quiet


laugh that just changed the expression of his
handsome mouth, and that Waite would have
felt gave emphasis to his reflections of a moment
ago. u Not much thinking done in dandelion
stems, I reckon, Cyp," he said, as he pushed
back his riding-cap, freeing his thick dark hair.

"I say, Uncle Thorpe, isn't there?" contest-
ed Cyp; and Judge Havisham turned from his

"Eh? What is it?" he asked absently.
"Take yourself off, as I told you. Ask Wynt,
there; he's first-rate authority. Argue your case
before him."

Wynt drew Cyp gently away, got him to the
opposite corner of the porch, and threw him into
a hammock that swung under a curtain of vines.

"I say it did! it does!" began Cyp again
gleefully, striking a defensive attitude as well as
he could and preparing for sport. " It thought it
would hold on tighter the harder things pulled.
Isn't that a good way?"

But before Wynt could answer Bent's full
dignity stood in the door. When " dinner was
ready" was the moment for Bent to feel that he
had brought the fuH importance of his day to the




BENT'S eye, trained to see and consider every
inch of his territory in the Havisham House,
caught sight of his door-knob instantly, first with
a look of alarm for his precious brass, and then
with an instant's gleam of understanding towards
the two boys, as his equally quick ear caught
Cyp's words and the ownership of chain and
basket was explained.

But the gleam vanished and Bent was sustain-
ing the dignity of the moment again.

"Dinner is served, if you please, Mr. Thorpe,
Mr. Wynt, Mr. Cyp," and with a grave bow he
was withdrawing as noiselessly as he came, but
Cyp began scrambling out of his net.

"I say, Bent, look out for your own door-
handle when you go home to-night Mab's door-
handle, I mean. Don't forget it or we'll come
to grief."

No one would have suspected from Bent's face
that he had any thought beyond the service he
was doing as he gravely passed one course after
another, serving each faultlessly and forgetting
no possible wish or want. But the words he had
caught from Cyp seemed to echo with a strangtf


persistency in his mind, and a good many
thoughts followed in their train.

"'Hold on tighter the harder things pull!'
That wasn't a bad thing Mr. Cyp happened to
say." And then would follow another reflection
as his eyes rested first on one and then on another
of the group he served. "I hope Mr. Thorpe
will do the same if there comes any working
upon him before long. Miss Vivian will be sure
to be coming home, with the weather going on
like this. There '11 be some fine company or
other she'll want to show the old place to in
June. And I didn't like the way the wind blew
the last time she was here. Straws showed it!
Straws showed it!" And so on, till Bent took an
unnecessary turn into the china-closet to shake
himself up. Thoughts that must be kept secret
seemed like treason, and he would rather re-
serve them for a time when he need not mask his

The meal was over at last a late dinner
always at the Havisham House, as the judge did
not like his day's work broken in upon at an ear-
lier hour and Cyp left the table in haste.

" Where now, youngster?" asked his uncle, as
he went flying from the piazza steps. "Do n't
you know your day and dinner come to an end to-

"Oh, only to Mab's with this," answered Cyp,
bringing his basket into sight; and his uncle

Jade* BTtobun- Will. 2


turned away satisfied; a run to Mab's and back
need hardly take two minutes? time.

The Havisham Place, though in front covered
only by the lawn, at the foot of which Cyp had
crossed the street to his dandelion bank, in the
rear sloped gently away over a much longer
stretch. The carriage drive that entered at the
front rounded the house and curved down the
slope, passing a pet little grove with its fish-pond,
and emerging on a narrow street that crossed the
place at its rear. On each side of the driveway,
but a trifle removed from it and really fronting
the street, stood a little lodge or cottage, simple
but tasteful, and graceful with flowers and vines.
One of these had been built for u Nurse Barbie,"
and a life lease of it had been given her when,
after fostering every child in the family for more
than one generation, her services were needed no
more. The other should properly have been
Waite's, but as he had u no belongings," to use
his own expression, Bent's invalid daughter had
been installed in it and Bent privileged to call it
home as far as his duties would allow.

Cyp had made the distance often in a minute's
time, but he was slower to-night, with the safety
of chain and basket to consider. They were
brought all right to the door at last, and Cyp
tested his work again with noiseless and nervous
hands. Yes, the " little one " and all the rest were
true as steel once more. What would Mab say !


An hour later Cyp's day was done indeed, and
Bent, making his last pilgrimage about the house,
saw him curled up against the sofa cushion, too
sound asleep even for dreams.

Bent nodded imperceptibly to himself. There
was a specimen, now, of the very things he had
talked too much about to the pantry door that
afternoon. What did two men know about taking
care of a child like that? If Miss Vivian were
here now (as she might be), she would know that
a bed was the only thing for him at this time
of night Or if even Barbie were about The
Lord had chosen to take Mrs. Thorpe to himself
the saddest day the Havisham House had ever
seen but he left Miss Vivian. He left one, in
his pity, that knew well how to make a home if
she would.

Bent went noiselessly out The last shade
was drawn, the last gas jet regulated, and the last
key turned, so far as they came under his care;
there were a few little matters yet to delay him in
the dining-room, and then he would be off to Mab.

Wynt and his uncle looked comfortable
enough, certainly, and not altogether objects of
pity, as Bent closed the door. Wynt was buried
in a book that apparently delighted him and
Judge Havisham was as evidently ready for a rest
His opinion was made up as to that troublesome
case at last. There was no hobgoblin in it for
him any more.


His glance fixed itself upon Wynt as, with
elbow on the table, his finely shaped head rested
on his hand and his dark grave face, forgetful of
everything near, bent over his book.

"Wynt," he exclaimed suddenly, "do you
know, I like you better than any boy I ever
knew !"

Wynt started and looked up, his dark eyes be-
wildered for a moment with the suddenness of the
recall, and then in another instant a smile and a
look of pleasure answered, though the quiet of his
manner still remained. "Do you, uncle? I
thought better of your judgment, but it is all the
luckier for me."

"Now don't give yourself any trouble about
my judgment, young man. I 've seen a good deal
of everything, boys included, in my day; Cyp,
there, is all right in his way, just the pet for the
old house; a good deal like one of these spring
days a luxury for just now and a promise of bet-
ter things by-and-by. But I tell you I like that
quiet way of yours that doesn't stir till the time
comes, but is ready for it with the grip of a lion
when it does."

Wynt laughed. ' ' The grip of a lion's nephew,
I rather think, if there's any grip about it at

"Not a bit of it You 've got your own way,
and that's half the reason I like it, good as it is.
It was one of the best days the old house ever


marked when you and Cyp came into it. I gave
up Vivian to that fine-enough fellow she fancied,
on the promise I should be richer instead of poorer
by the move. They would make their home to-
gether in the old nest, they said. But they seem
to spread wings everywhere else instead, and I
should be a lonely old fellow enough, if it were
not for you."

"Do you think Vivian likes it?" asked Wynt,
his face impenetrably quiet again and his eyes
returning to his book.

His uncle started and looked keenly at him
with a quick glance. " Vivian? Do I think she
likes what?"

Wynt hesitated, and then, "Our being here,"
he answered gravely, lifting his eyes for a mo-
ment to his uncle's face.

The judge half rose excitedly, and then con-
trolled himself to a quietness almost equalling
Wynt's. "Why shouldn't she like it? She
never knew your mother, it is true. Wyut, your
mother the only sister I ever had was the pet
of my whole soul. When I was young I was way
ahead of her in years; there was twice the dis-
tance between us that there is between you and
Cyp; but I cherished her all the more for that.
She was the golden light of the house to me, and
she seldom left it till she went out as Vivian did
two years ago. It lost her then, but my heart
held on to her just the same. I always dreamed


and dreamed 1 should have her back some day;
but I never saw her again. The climate where
they took her and kpt her the climate that
gave you that berry-colored skin of yours faded
her like a flower, and the very day after I let
Vivian go my dream vanished. * The Lord had
led her feet to a new home, fairer than our
thoughts could conceive,' the letter said. I hope
so, but there has been an aching void in the old
one ever since. And it's not for us to judge of
the Lord's reasons, but I never thought a man
had a right to keep such a girl in a heathenish
climate like that! What was a little money-
making to her comfort and life?"

Dark as Wynt's skin might be, a flush crept
quickly up under it and his eyes shone. The
sound of his mother's name always brought that;
he could not speak it at all himself yet, although
two years had gone by; but his father! Why
should his father's faults or follies be brought up
against him now?

"I beg your pardon, Wynt," said the judge
suddenly. "It's all past and gone now and he
is gone with it; one month from the first news
brought the second, and another two months
brought you and Cyp, and let us be happy to-
gether. But I want you to understand about all
this. I want you to know how much you and
Cyp are to me, and why it is so. And I want
you to know what your footing is in this house.


It is your mother's share of it; and whatever hap-
pens to me we can't tell what that may be or
how soon it may come, remember, young as I
feel I want you to know that whatever I might
have given her I give to you. There is no beam
or rafter in the old house that she should not
have called home, and as long as you and Cyp
want it here it is. There, that is the end of
that. Why don't you take that young rascal off
to his bed? He'll grow old before his time,
hanging about here at such hours."

Wynt rose and went to him. "Cyp!'* he
said; but there was no answer.


Not a quiver in the long eyelashes, and the
hand that had dropped over the side of the lounge
hung as motionless as before.

"That's a way to sleep, now!" said the
judge, coming towards him. "You and I are
past that, Wynt. Here, let me have him."

For an instant he stooped over him with a
long, slow look. Yes, it was his sister's face
again, girl as she had been and boy as this little
fellow was. Then he lifted him quickly and was
gone with him, over the polished stairs, past the
square landing with the old clock, and on to the
hall above.

" Here he is, then," he said, as he passed him
over to Wynt. "Take care of him now, and
bless you, boy!"


He turned and was half way down again be-
fore Wynt could answer, but Wynt's pulses were
throbbing with all that he had said. Half, a
quarter, of that would have been almost more
than he could bear.

He clasped Cyp for a moment with a quick,
strong pressure. "I'll hold on to you tighter
the harder things pull," he said, and then drop-

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Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 1 of 16)