I. T. Hopkins.

Judge Havisham's will online

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question of it a fortune, and a handsome one.


Ease and independence if I get at it, and debt
and dishonor if I do not; for I call debt and dis-
honor the same thing when it comes to saying
that your debts can't be paid."

There was just one consideration that eased
the matter: the thing need not be decided
quite yet. A month or so later would be in
time, and something might turn up in the mean-

And in that meantime he must keep mind and
thoughts clear and free for other people and their
affairs, and Wynt and Cyp were not forgotten
among them. He met Wynt not unfrequently
near the foot of his stairs and stopped for a few

" Not ready to give up yet, Wynt?" he asked
once or twice.

"Not yet," Wynt always answered; "I
have n't done much ' holding on ' yet"

"I'm not sure but you have," Mr. Wilkie
returned, looking scrutinizingly into his face.
"And I don't want too much of it, either. Too
much is never good, you know. How's Cyp
doing with his share?"

The look Mr. Wilkie had been sure he de-
tected, as if some pressure were being silently
carried, deepened suddenly in Wynt's face.

"He's sticking to it all right," he answered,
"but I'm not sure it's good for him, all the


"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Wilkie

"I think he pines for old times a good deal;
but I don't see any way to bring them back for
all that."

Mr. Wilkie looked thoughtful. "You could
bring back part of them if you would go into the
old house, Wynt," he said.

Wynt felt himself almost draw back, away
from the words. How could Mr. Wilkie torture
him so? Go back into the house? The one
thing he could do, and yet the one thing he could
not do, for Cyp.

' ' If you will show me that that would be
right, I'll go there, Mr. Wilkie. In the mean-
time I would stand out in the street for him, if it
would do any good."

"Well, send him up to see me in a day or
two," said Mr. Wilkie, waiving the subject
hastily. "I'd like to see what I can make out
of him for myself. By the way, is anything
heard of Mrs. Adriance planning to return at

" I can 't tell you. Bent has a letter now and
then, with some orders or other, but she has not
spoken of coming as far as I know."

"Not before April, I presume. There are
better things than an Edinburgh winter in life,
you know."

"Those youngsters are both feeling their


fight, I don't doubt," the lawyer continued to
himself as he watched Wynt out of sight * * They
stand up to it bravely, for there 's not an inch of
white feather in either of them; but Cyp at least
mustn't get too much of it Yet I can't put
them into that great empty house alone in the
dead of winter. They're better off with Barbie
than there. Somehow the judge did manage to
make an uncomfortable jumble of things."

Wynt sent Cyp up; but he came in so fresh
from the cold and put on such a boastful little
air whenever the subject of u keeping bachelor's
hall," as Mr. Wilkie called it, was approached,
that Mr. Wilkie could not help laughing, and
concluded that the boy was all right and that he
could settle the question of lead-mines before he
troubled himself very much about him.

That question seemed hard to settle though.
A few thousand dollars the lead-mine must have
or it would yield him nothing. Given the few
thousand, a hundred thousand, to all human cer-
tainty, would come back. But where were these
few thousand coming from ?

He turned to other people's papers and tried
to leave his own affairs behind; but they faced
him in spite of himself with a miserable sicken-
ing sensation that increased the longer it hung

At last he took up hastily some papers relating
to some "trust funds" that had been placed in


his hands, and a suggestion came as hastily into
his mind. Why not borrow these funds ? They
were exactly what he needed to save him from
this great distress.

Why not! For every reason. Among the
first, the same that would prevent him from bor-
rowing the amount anywhere else. He himself
felt sure it would be safe. Other people would
call it a great risk.

But safe or not safe, there was disgrace and
wrong legally, if not socially speaking, in such
use of a trust; and he pushed the papers away
almost as if they had stung him. To betray a
trust ! The very thought was detestable.

Another month came and went. February
had come in and was almost gone, and April was
not so very far away. April might bring the
Adriances, and Wynt rejoiced from his very heart
at the thought.

Cyp might get over his notion about keeping
shy of the house and go up there more freely
again. In any case, Tom would get hold of him
and chirk him up a great deal almost without his
knowing it The horses had been wintering on
a farm. They would be back and Cyp was sure
to have rides. Poor little rascal! He had not
had one, outside of Christmas week, since his last
with Tom.

To counterbalance this, Lee was fulfilling
Warnock's prophecy and " filling sail" again a


good deal the last two or three weeks. He
seemed shy of Wynt, was careless of duties, went
no one knew exactly -where in the evenings, and
the old forced recklessness was coming back into
his face.

Wynt could not shake off the consciousness of
all this, and yet what could he do ? There cer-
tainly was nothing left to say that he had not said.

Mr. Brainerd came to much the same con-
clusion; but there were things he had not said
to Wynt that he could say! Mr. Warnock's ef-
forts had not been unsuccessful, and Mr. Brainerd
was almost positively convinced that Wynt was
in some way " aiding and abetting," if not
worse, in all this. A little more positive proof,
or the proof of something more positive, was all
he needed to put the two boys as far apart as
possible, and to put Wynt at least out of his own
sight. If he could be as sure where it was best
to put Lee, he should be thankful and glad.

Warnock, in the meantime, rather suddenly
ceased his open "persecution," and adopted even
a smooth, almost patronizing tone towards WynL

"What trick is he trying now?" asked Lee,
whose quick observation this could not escape.
"You may be sure you don't get such smiles for
nothing, Wynt. There'll be a score to pay
somewhere before long."

"I don't know but there will," Wynt an-
swered in his usual quiet tone.


Lee looked quickly at him, but Wynt's
thoughts were not easily read. He had been
wondering lately if it were possible that War-
nock had managed to transfer some of his preju-
dice to the head of the firm.

Wynt turned away and walked quickly towards
home. It was his hour for getting off at noon,
and he was always impatient to get back to Cyp.
As he entered the yard he met Bent just by his
own door with a letter in his hand.

"From Mrs. Adriance?" asked Wynt, recog-
nizing the "air" of the missive though he had
not even a glimpse at the address.

" Yes, sir. I 've but just got it and have not
broken the seal."

"Well, if there's any news let me know;"
and Wynt turned into the house. Vivian could
not be coming home yet, he was sure, glad as he
should be if she were.

Cyp was in before him, and at work, as usual,
with pen and ink, at the one entertainment
where all questions of woe seemed forgotten;
dashing off sketches or shading delicate outlines,
throwing them into the waste-basket the next
moment to do more, and leaving the forgotten
ones for Barbie to rescue and treasure up.

As Wynt sat at dinner he watched Cyp keen-
ly, first with feelings of pleasure and then of
pain. Bent's letter made him realize that Vivian
would be coming some time, and he looked at Cyp


thinking how his face would brighten and the
old glow come back when Tom got him behind
the horses again. But that very reflection made
the contrast of the little face as it was now all
the more trying to observe.

' ' It sharpens down with every month that
goes by, I believe," Wynt thought bitterly.
"And those hands of his are nothing but a set of
pipe-stems. I don't know but I ought to get
Dr. McPherson to take a look at him."

And that thought again brought another sug-
gestion that was most painful of all. "What
good can a doctor do him, though? There's
just one prescription that would hit Cyp, and
that's one I'm not able to get for him; nor ever
shall be, I'm afraid, what is far worse."

As he went out he looked towards Bent's cot-
tage, sure he would be on the watch for him to
tell him the news.

No Bent was in sight at window or door, and
Wynt cut across a little path that brought him
under the window where Mab always sat. But a
gauzy curtain, that screened the lower half when
she wished it, was drawn across its wire, and he
passed on.

"Queer, though," he thought "I'm sure
Bent would have told me if Mab was under the
weather; and I don't know that I ever saw that
curtain drawn close in broad daylight before."




MAB was not ill ; on the contrary, for the first
time in three years she had been just daring to
hope that she was a trifle " on the gain." Wynt,
after his last talk with Jem, had got Dr. McPher-
son to go and see her. Since that no one felt
sure as to exactly what had happened, except
that the pain certainly was better and Mab had
doubled her moving about the room.

"I do positively believe it is full half in his
telling me I was going to do it," Mab had said
laughingly to Barbie more than once. "There *s
nothing like setting one's spirits up a bit to drive
pain away."

"And there's nothing easier than laughing
at that time, either," Barbie had replied. "But
if the Lord's time has come for the pain to lift a
little, the doctor will give you the right prescrip-
tion, whatever it may be."

So when Bent came in Mab had met him with
one of her brightest smiles, and the warm little
spot of comfort he had felt growing into his heart
lately about her crowded the "house troubles"
a trifle farther out


He held up the letter to Mab, and she knew
at a glance whom it was from.

u I brought it down thinking I 'd read it here
first, and give you the bit of amusement of having
it fresh."

"Yes, do, father," she said, settling herself
comfortably in her chair to listen. "We don't
get the treat of a letter every day."

Bent broke the seal, got the smooth, elegant
bit of paper out, and began to read, managing
the square, high-topped English chirography as
well as his old-fashioned eyes might do.

There were one or two trifling instructions as
to some indifferent matters at the house, then a
word of graceful remembrance to Mab, with the
hope that she was improving and that Bent was
quite well, and then

But Bent had stopped reading and his face
had blanched. He was looking at the paper with
fixed eyes, and seemed to have forgotten Mab and
all the world beside.

Suddenly he remembered her again, and
thrust the letter into its envelope hastily. " That
that's about all," he said, and rose from his
chair to get away.

But Mab had laid her hand upon his arm and
was holding him fast " Father," she said, "sit
still. Tell me what it is. You may just as well.
You said you felt there was more trouble coming.
It has come now. Tell me what it is."


"No, it's not come yet; not altogether yet,"
Bent stammered helplessly. He knew Mab would
not let him go.

"Then it's close upon us. Tell me, father
dear. You need not be afraid I'm stronger
now. Don't you know I am? Tell me. It
can't be that a Havisham could ever be cruel to
you !"

( * Cruel ?' ' repeated Bent vacantly. ' ( I do n' t
know. Oh, no, not cruel, I am sure. No, no, no,
not cruel. It's all right. I am an old man, of
course. It 's not strange Miss Vivian thinks of
that, not strange. It is quite right to bring a
new butler when she comes."

Mab had let go his arm now and was leaning
back in her chair, her face almost whiter than his.

Suddenly a bright red spot came round and
burning into each cheek. " Not cruel ?" she ex-
claimed. ' ' Not cruel, when you have given the
best of all you were to her father and the rest of
the house !"

" Yes, I know. But she speaks of that. She
says that is remembered; that I'm not to think
the contrary; and though she'll not be here till
April, she tells me now, that I may be looking
about I'm a valuable man yet, she says, and
there's many that would like my services."

An almost imperceptible tone of satire crept
into Bent's repetition of these last words. "Many
who would like his services." His services


were not the thing, by any means, for Vivian,
but good enough, quite, for some other Edinburgh

And how many houses were there in Edin-
burgh where the services of a butler were in de-
mand at all?

" And to leave the Havisham House means,"
began Mab slowly at last.

"Yes," said Bent, without looking up, admit-
ting all the suggestions of her unfinished sen-

It was not necessary to elaborate. They both
knew without words. It was all standing clear
and distinct before their eyes.

It meant, probably, almost certainly, leaving
the gate. It meant Bent's income stopping; and
that meant drawing upon his little savings and
the precious legacy from the judge, and using
them up, instead of leaving them safe for Mab,
which had been the one treasured hope of his
heart. And it meant feeling old and abandoned,
and being sure of it, while he had thought he had
ten or fifteen good years of work left in him yet
And what it would mean after the little savings
should be used up neither he nor Mab liked to
ask themselves, even in thought.

Bent sat still, hardly seeming to see things
that stood really before him, when he felt Mab's
hand laid on his arm again.

"Father dear!" she said, shaking his arm


gently, as if to rouse him and bring him back,
" what are we going to do now ?"

Bent shook his head. " I don't know, really,
Mab. It can't be true altogether, as it seems to

"Yes; it is true. I never knew Miss Vivian
fail of anything she set her hand to. But I know
what we must do. I can tell you, if you can't
think. We must do what you told me the night
Jem went away. We must just 'hold on the
tighter the harder things pull.' There's love
and comfort and help when we need it, all there !
It was enough for me then, and 'twill be enough
for us now; you need never fear. I know this is
bitterer, some ways, than that. I 'd rather trouble
touched me a thousand times than you. I 'm
young yet, and I'm getting better, don't you
know? But whatever it is, the Hand's there to
help us. And there 's nothing dealt out that it
doesn't guard us through it all, nothing, father
dear. It will be all right better than any other
way, when we once find it out"

Bent listened silently. u Yes, Mab, you're
quite right Somehow I can't seem to get hold
of it all just yet; all that Miss Vivian says, I
mean. Did you know I was so very old, Mab?
I wonder they did n't tell me before. Mr. Thorpe
couldn't bring his mind to it, I suppose. I ought
to have thought of it myself."

<( It's nothing to think of!" exclaimed Mab,


rousing to her spirited tone. "The rest of us can
count years, and see ways and actions, as well as
Miss Vivian can. You're no different these ten
years past, and didn't Mr. Thorpe always say "
She stopped suddenly. Mr. Thorpe used to say
Bent would be good for work longer than he him-
self ; but that was only a sorrowful thing to be
bringing up now.

"Well, it's hard saying who's right," said
Bent slowly, rising and making another effort to
go. "We know the good Lord is, and that's
about all we can say. I '11 go and think it over
a while. She 's not coming till April, and I 'm to
have time to look about She took that reason
for writing me in advance, she says."

"But you'll not take it very hard, father
dear," pursued Mab, holding him back still.
" Promise me you '11 not take it very hard."

"No, I'll not, Mab; I'll get my comfort
where there 's enough for me, when I get settled
to the suddenness of it a little while. But, Mab "
he remembered at that moment that Wynt had
asked to be told if the letter brought any news
"if Mr. Wynt should be looking in while I am
gone, I 'd say nothing to him of what has come.
He 'd take it to heart for us, I know, and his own
burdens are load enough for his shoulders just
now. It's as hard a thing, almost, being too
young as too old. It will be time enough talking
of it when April is almost here."


u Yes; and when April comes something else
may come with it that we 're not dreaming of
yet We'll just 'hold on tighter' while we're
waiting, wont we? and 'twill be all right."
And Mab gave him a smile almost as bright as
the one that had welcomed him in.

"Bless, you child!" said Bent hastily, look-
ing almost wonderingly into her face. "It's a
strange thing, I will say, to see a delicate flower
of a thing like you putting heart into a strong
man like me."

"Well, I'm glad you're remembering that
you're a strong man after all," answered Mab
almost gayly. "We'll say nothing about it,
then, to Mr. Wynt, or even Barbie or any of
them yet. We '11 just talk to the dear Lord of it
and see what he has to say. He has secrets to
tell people such times, if they listen, there are
those that think."

"Yes; we'll say nothing, Mab. We '11 just
keep it between us; that's the best way. But
we'll have keen eyes watching us. Even Mr.
Cyp makes his conclusions when you don't think
you've thrown him a crumb. And I must be
looking about too, as still as I can, to see if there's
an oar to be put out, or an anchor to windward,
anywhere in the town."




THAT was exactly what Mr. Wilkie was look-
ing in every direction to find, but neither an oar
nor an anchor that would keep him out of his
trouble was to be found. In a few days more he
must say yea or nay as to the lead-mine going on,
and there would be but just time for success at
the mine to help him before the embarrassments
closing so darkly upon him would face squarely
for settlement

Then up rose the thought he had put from
him so indignantly not long before, the thought
of the trust funds. He had plenty of them in his
hands, for his name was among the most honored,
and his judgment and integrity among the most
relied upon, in many a mile around.

Yes; he had heard of men whom every one
had felt sure of disappointing the public and dis-
gracing themselves before now.

But, after all, there are different ideas about
disgrace. Suppose he knew, absolutely, that a
sum he might thus borrow he could safely and
with interest return. What was the use of argu-
ing squeamishly about such a thing?

Jod(* Hrlhnr WIU. J 5


Whose funds should he take, then? The
Havisham boys' ?

He started up as if in recoil from the very

Well, then, if not the Havisham boys', why
any one's else? And did not that start also con-
fess to himself that he did not feel absolutely sure
it would be safe ?

Once more he thrust the thought away from
him and plunged into business and important
work that more than filled his hands.

It was a busy time for Wynt also; for Brainerd
and Gray were making the "trial balance" of their
books, and it was new if not perplexing work to
Wynt, though his share in it was small and prin-
cipally an initiation by the book-keeper in chief.
The every-day outside writing was, however,
entirely turned over to him, and his stool was his
station pretty closely, bringing the advantage, at
least, that he was spared the numerous annoying
interruptions Warnock had found for him in the

But the trial balance would not come out
right. There was a hitch somewhere; something
was wrong.

There was nothing for it but to search for the
error, if error it was, till it could be found; and
meanwhile Warnock saw another opportunity to
whisper insinuations into Mr. Brainerd' s ear.

Those books had been trusted a great deal out


of the book-keeper's care. It was a heavy test
of an untried boy to put so much under his eye
and hand, and possibly a temptation as well as
a test.

Wynt felt that the unexplained coldness had
suddenly increased. What could it mean ? The
blunder, whatever it might be, was far more prob-
ably the book-keeper's than his; he had had al-
most no difficult work to do. And it would be
found in a day or two. He was almost certain of
that. And if Mr. Brainerd's manner continued
the same after that, he thought he should certain-
ly do what he had thought could not be done:
walk up and ask if he did not like him. There
were other stores in Edinburgh where he could
get work. This would be another Havisham
House to him if he thought he was not wanted
by the head of the firm.

The day closed with a feeling that things
were not exactly comfortable at a good many

Never mind ! He had only to hold on the
tighter; that was all; to stick to the right and get
his comfort out of that, out of the Lord who had
shown him how. He had never come to earth
and spent all those sorrowful years to trace out
the path for us, and borne shame and death for us
too, if His friendship had n't been one to hold on
to us through thick and thin. As long as the
Saviour and Leader was Brother and Prince as


well, there wasn't much room to be down-hearted
or to drag behind. It was all right

The day had closed, but the store had not
altogether. Wynt and the book-keeper had
returned in the evening and were working away,
hours after every one else had gone, and the prob-
lem was not solved. Wynt was dismissed at
last; the book-keeper might work a little longer,
but Wynt had better go.

He went hastily along the business street with
figures, Cyp, the store, Vivian, Lee, and every-
thing else chasing through his thoughts. He did
not like the idea of leaving Brainerd's. He was
afraid people would call him a rolling stone.

Suddenly a light at the foot of a flight of stairs
attracted his attention, he hardly knew why. He
had seen it often enough before. It was so in-
closed in colored glass as to offer a sort of illumi-
nation, which marked to the initiated the entrance
to an upper room where certain so-called enter-
tainments, he did not care to ask what, were
supposed to go on. The room had been recently
opened. He had heard the words "faro" and
billiards used in connection with it, and that had
been enough.

Something prompted him to glance up at the
window. A face appeared at it for a single in-
stant and vanished away. It was Lee's !

Lee's? Wynt stopped without knowing that
he did so, and for one more instant the face ap-


peared again, as if anxious for some one's coming
and daring a hasty outlook.

In that one moment Wynt beckoned to him
and then ran up the stairs. He stopped on the
landing, doubting whether Lee would answer;
but he did not wait long; Lee opened the door
with a hot, irritated look on his face.

"Yes, of course!" he said. "I gave myself
away getting near that window, and I deserve to
get caught. I 'd rather it was you than any one
else, though, and now don't worry me. It's no
use saying a word."

"Then I'll say it without any use. Come
along, Lee. Come home with me. You can't be
doing worse than ever. I wont believe it What
do you want in this horrid place, whatever it is?
Come off among people that are fit for you."

Lee's face relented. "You're so awfully
kind, Wynt, it's a shame to push you off.
Thanks, a hundred times. But I 'd rather you 'd
take some other time to dress me down. Some-
body will come upon us directly, and I don't
care to have it said I am tagged after. How do
you know people here are not fit for me?
There's more than one Hal Ericson in Edin-
burgh, if you knew it all."

"Then there are so many more to be sorry
for. Come, Lee! I've got enough to think of
without leaving you here."

"I can't, Wynt I never was here before,


really, and perhaps I never will be again. But I
have an engagement to meet some one to-night.
There! They're coming!" and Lee stepped
hastily back into the room.

Wynt let him go and stood aside till the
"some one" had come up and passed him; it

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Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 12 of 16)