Copyright
I. T. Hopkins.

Judge Havisham's will online

. (page 13 of 16)
Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 13 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


was of no use, he saw that plainly enough, and
he would not " tag."

The door opened and shut for the new-comer,
and then Wynt ran down the stairs feeling as if
there was something above to escape from in
haste. He reached the sidewalk with a spring
and raised his eyes just in time to avoid running
precipitately against a well-overcoated figure just
abreast.

The two looked at each other, and Mr.
Brainerd's voice said, " Ah !"

Wynt was already touching his cap with "I
beg your pardon," and in an instant they had
passed, each going on his way with reflections, to
say the least, very suddenly disturbed.

There was nothing for Wynt to do now,
though, but to hurry back to Cyp. Poor little
youngster ! He would be tired enough of pen
and ink before now, Wynt was afraid.

As he neared the cottages he saw a figure hov-
ering near the front of Bent's, and on his coming
closer it slipped away towards Mab's window and
then got lost behind some evergreen-trees.

"That looks like Jem!" exclaimed Wynt,




"GYP'S OUTDOING HIMSELF I" Page 247.



HAND-TO-HAND FIGHTING. 047

halting a second where he stood. " I declare on
my word, I believe it was!" as the figure went
out of sight

But it evidently wished to be out of sight, so
Wynt went quickly on and found Cyp curled up
in one of the bamboo chairs, his head nearly
dropped off into the corner of it, fast asleep, and
the table strewed with the everlasting bits of
sketching paper that Barbie would be ready to
seize.

Wynt went softly up to them and took one
after another into his hand. "Cyp's outdoing
himself every time," he thought "He is a
genius and no mistake. It 's time he was having
some lessons. And it's time to begin saving
some of these things. That boat lying off that
bridge, now ! I've seen plenty of wood engra-
vings where the effect was no better than that
I wont let him throw them all away."

He did not like to shake Cyp up, so he took
another chair himself, and then began to realize
that he was pretty well tired out The day had
been a hard one and the evening harder; the old
headache was on again, and somehow there was a
feeling that things were getting pretty "thick"
all around.

There was trouble coming with Mr. Brainerd,
he was sure of that He had been almost sure of
it before, but there was something in the tone of
that " Ah !" that told a tale.



248 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

However, bad as that was and might be, he
could stand under it and anything else that
touched only himself. But that little face of
Cyp's over there ! It never had looked so sharp
or so patient as it did just now, huddled down in
what ought to be the forgetfulness of sleep.
What was he ever going to do with him ? How
was he ever going to do what he ought ?

He passed his hand over his forehead and
wondered if he were growing old. This fight of
life held a fellow down a good deal harder than
he had supposed.

" I don't mind hand-to-hand fighting though,
if there's only the least chance. But I must not
fail with Cyp, and yet I seem to be doing it.
And Lee 's almost like a brother and there 's no
one to keep any hold on him but me. If Brainerd
and Gray turn me off that may fix me with
everybody else, and where is Cyp then ? And
now Jem " He could not help breaking into a
little laugh then in spite of himself. "I don't
suppose I have exactly to carry Jem; but I believe
he needs just a little more bracing up to knock at
that door of Mab's."

But the laugh was a short one. He was too
tired. " If I only had some one to talk to about
it all! But there's only Mr. Wilkie, and he's
no use. There 's just one thing there the same
every time, and that I can't do."

Suddenly he roused himself. "And there's



HAND-TO-HAND FIGHTING. 249

just one thing here, and that is to hold on tighter
ever}* time; and that I can do and will. And I
have some One to talk to, some One who sees
through the whole business as I can't and is al-
ways there. If I couldn't get my comfort going
over it all with Him, there would n't be as much
holding out as there ought to be, to say nothing
of holding on. "



250 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILI*

CHAPTER XXXI.

AT THE LAST MOMENT.

THE next day was as busy as the one before,
and Wynt only saw Lee in the distance now and
then. Mr. Brainerd had been called out of town
and would not return until evening, and the
book-keeper was still hunting his error in the
books. The hours were nearly over when Mr.
Brainerd returned, and Wynt only wished as he
saw him coming that he could go to him and
settle matters at once. If it were not for that un-
lucky meeting last evening he would; it would
not do to look as if he were frightened by that

But he had not much time for wishes or de-
cisions of his own. Warnock put his head into
the office, with an expression sublimated upon his
usual one, to say that Mr. Brainerd would see
Wynt in his private room.

Wynt went quickly. He was glad to have
things find their climax and get over it as soon as
possible, and Mr. Brainerd evidently was equally
ready on his part. There was a little uncomfort-
able look about the matter to the senior partner,
for he did not forget who the Havishams were,
and he had originally felt a strong sympathy for
Wynt; but his suspicions seemed to have reached



AT THE LAST MOMENT. 25!

certainty at last and he was thoroughly angry,
both on his own account and on Lee's. He had
anxiety enough about Lee without cherishing a
young fellow who was egging him on.

"You will excuse ine, Mr. Havisham, but I
wish to ask you, are you fond of games? billiards,
for example?"

"Not of billiards, certainly. I do not play
the game."

"Ah, you do not? Faro then, possibly, in-
stead?"

" I know nothing whatever of that"

"And what amusements do you go out for
when evening comes ?' '

"None, sir. I had no need when I was in
my uncle's home; and I certainly have no time
now, if I wished anything of the kind."

"Will you be good enough, then, to tell me
what occasion you had to go up a certain flight of
stairs near which I met you last night?"

Wynt was staggered. He had never thought
of inquiry taking this form. Any questions bear-
ing on his own actions he could meet and answer
fearlessly; but this meant Lee.

A peculiar expression came into Mr. Brain-
erd's face as he watched Wynt's and waited for
the silence to break.

Wynt wished he would break it himself, by
almost anything else he could say; but evidently
he would not



252 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

There was nothing for it. He must answer.
But what could he say ? If he told the truth and
said he went to drag some one else away, the next
question was sure to be, who was that some one
else? U I went there for no wrong purpose, Mr.
Brainerd. That is all I can say."

The look in Mr. Brainerd' s face deepened.
"Ah! That's pleasant to hear, but it hardly
answers my question, I am sorry to say. Per-
haps you will explain what that purpose, right or
wrong, may have been."

Wynt was silent again. Then he lifted hia
eyes quickly and steadily to the senior partner's
face. "That I must ask you to excuse my doing,
Mr. Brainerd, if you please. I had hoped you
had confidence enough in me to take my word.
But since you have not, and if in other points
you are not satisfied, I should be glad if you
would put some one else into my place."

"Would you?" And there was a sneering
insinuation in the tone that cut Wynt to the
quick. "It would be better for appearances if
you should wait until that little trouble at the
office is cleared up. It might look like running
before the enemy, you know. No, I am not sat-
isfied in other points, several of them. But if
you can explain yourself as to your position last
evening, and as to stolen conversations with Lee
that are much disturbed by being intruded upon,
I shall be glad to let minor points go. Perhaps



AT THE LAST MOMENT. 253

you will be ready to do so before to-morrow
night."

That evening Wynt hardly knew what he was
doing or saying to entertain Cyp. The first two
or three hours must be given up to him always,
and must be as much like the old happy times at
home as was possible with the changes that had
come.

A confused feeling and a dull, heavy weight
that seemed pressing like lead and the burning
sense of outraged self-respect piled together upon
him were almost too much.

What was he going to do for Cyp now ? And
had he, Wynt Havisham, to stand before a charge
of wrong and not defend himself?

It seemed to him the evening would never
wear away. If it ever would ! if he could get
Cyp off, and give up this strain of talking and
listening when he did not know what either Cyp
or himself was talking about I

But it was over at last, and Cyp, who had been
in an unusually fine flow of spirits, gave some
drawings that the day had produced a whirl
into the waste-basket, preparatory to going up
stairs.

"Stop, Cyp! I'm going to save those,'*
Wynt said mechanically, remembering he had
made that resolution the night before. "I'm
going to fill a portfolio."

Cyp laughed merrily. "Yes! Great treas-



254 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

ures wouldn't they be? All right Where 's
your portfolio, then?"

"I don't know that I have any," Wynt an-
swered, forcing himself once more; he was sorry
he had brought up a fresh subject just now.

"Yes, you have." And Cyp ran to an odd
East Indian structure, half desk, half writing-
table, that stood at the end of the room. " Here !
Don't you remember this?" and he produced the
red, purple, and yellow portfolio that Wynt had
reclaimed from Vivian.

Wynt said that would do, and held out his
hand for it, hoping to bring things to a close.

"It's empty," pursued Cyp, holding it open
and swinging the two halves apart, "empty and
all ready. Unless," and he dropped on one knee
and placed the portfolio on the other for a rum-
mage, "unless there's something in this pocket
right here."

1 * Pocket ! There is n' t any pocket in it, Cyp. ' *

"Isn't there!" returned Cyp triumphantly.
" I guess I know ! I hunted it out one day long
ago. It's a kind of secret, you see, right under
this little slit. And there's something in it this
time, too. How did it get there? I should like
to know. There didn't use to be anything when
I found it before."

"Give it to me, Cyp," said Wynt listlessly;
he did not care about portfolios if he could once
get Cyp off to bed.



AT THE LAST MOMENT. 255

He took it and looked curiously at the ingen-
ious bit of deception that had kept the pocket from
his notice all this time. Yes, there was a paper
in it He wondered if it were something that
Mr. Wilkie had been missing all this time and
should have had.

He drew it out; Cyp was waiting impatiently
to get the portfolio back. He handed it to him;
Cyp flourished over to the waste-basket with it,
and Wynt unfolded the paper and glanced inside.

His uncle's handwriting ! He started at the
dear familiar look, but in another instant every
vein seemed to be on fire with the thrill that
was sweeping through him.

That was for one instant The next he found
himself stupidly, heavily, going over the first few
lines. It seemed as. if he could not read them.
Was he sure he was right ?

"What is it?" asked Cyp, coming back. "Is
it any good?"

" I do n't know. It 's something for Mr. Wil-
kie. I '11 take it to him to-inorrow. Come, Cyp,
I 'm very tired. I 'd really like it if you '11 come
up stairs."

Cyp followed him instantly. It was hardly
fifteen minutes before he was in the land of
dreams, but it seemed weeks to Wynt He went
down stairs repeating to himself, " This time they
cannot say it is not plain. This time they cannot
say it is not written out and signed. This is the



256 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

'last will' that he 'did not wish carried out.'
Oh, why had he not told us where it was !"

He sat down at Cyp's table and spread open
the paper, trying confusedly to make mind and
thoughts take in what his eyes saw clearly before
them.

"I knew I was right! I knew the changes
were about one part of the thing. This gives
everything to Vivian, everything except the leg-
acies to Bent and the rest, of course. I thought
that was it. But I did not think, ' ' and he gave
an involuntary little shudder, "I did not think
he would leave us to her Cyp and me ! This
is to make her our guardian, trusting her to ' con-
sider our best interests ' until we are of age."

He scarcely stirred as the next five, ten, fifteen
minutes passed. Brainerd and Gray's, Cyp, Viv-
ian, that miserable flight of stairs, all seemed press-
ing in one confused crowd together. What was
it he was to try and do with them all ? Was this
going to bring anything new ?

No, he did not see that it was. It would not
put Cyp and himself back into the house, for Viv-
ian, with the decision left to her, certainly would
not place them there. And if she considered that
their "best interests" lay elsewhere than at the
gate cottage and the store, she would have said so
before to-day.

So it was all the same. He must show this to
Mr. Wilkie, of course, but Brainerd and Gray



AT THE LAST MOMENT. 257

were what really concerned him. He should
have to leave there to-morrow; he could never
implicate Lee. But was it possible he was to
leave their employment, or any one's else, with
the possibility of any reflection being cast upon
his name !

He felt the blood rush burning hot into his
face. How was he going to bear this, even for
Lee ? And what could he do for Cyp after that ?

He looked idly down at the paper again, and
started violently as he saw what had been blank
before. How could he have been so blind ? This
did make a difference. This was the last will,
dated only a few days before Judge Havisham
was taken ill. And it was the "last will" that
his uncle wished set aside ! He had made it to
keep a promise to Vivian; he regretted it; he
struggled to his utmost to retract it when he
felt that right had stronger claims than Vivian's
wish.

It was all plain now. He did wish the first
one to stand. He did wish the old house to be
their home, and every generous provision to be
made for them, as he would have made it had he
lived.

Then they might go back to the house!
Brainerd and Gray need be nothing to Wynt.
He could go on with his studies and make him-
self what he wished, and Cyp's heart and eyes
could grow bright together once more. The

JadC* fUTtehUDf WIIL I ~



258 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

fight need not be "hand to hand." There would
be enough always without defrauding any one's
right and without begging or borrowing on any
hand.

A great whirling reaction rushed over Wynt
and he leaned his head upon his hand. Cyp!
Was Cyp to be all right ?

It was for one moment, however, and the mo-
ment was short. The next brought a sudden
sweep of awakening that dashed the cobwebs
of this joyful dream away. He laughed an un-
natural, excited little laugh.

' ' I should not like any one to tell me I was
such a dunce!" he said, starting from his chair
as if he wished to shake himself into his right
mind. "I thought I had learned, once for all,
that what a man wishes is not his will. The
other had to stand, whether he said so or not;
then so must this. This is written clearly, from
beginning to end, and signed with his dear old
name. No one can dispute that, if they wish.
So Vivian will have her own way even more
fully than now. That is, she will have the
money Mr. Wilkie has taken in trust. But there
is no danger of her wishing to change anything
with us. We shall go on just the same of
course.

"Only," and Wynt felt a sudden cry rising
up in his heart, "the one single solid comfort
and blessedness will be gone. I thought I was



AT THE LAST MOMENT. 259

doing right. I was so sure I was doing what
uncle wished. Now I know I am not I must
fight along simply because I must, not for his
sake.

"Well," he added, after a little time, "then
the fight is the only question to meet I 've got
it before me, sharp, and I wont forget that I can
say it is for Cyp's sake, if no more. Now, then,
it couldn't be much thicker, I'm sure. I don't
see exactly which end to take hold of first If
there were to be one straw more "

The words were hardly formed before he
found that the "more" was there; not a straw,
either, but a staggering, crushing temptation
such as he had not thought could ever come to
him. This will, that every one would say must
stand, his uncle did not wish carried out Then
why should he take it to Mr. Wilkie? Why
might it not lie for ever where it had been left ?
If he let it do so, he could take his inheritance
left him by his uncle's heart and soul and very
last true words, and life would be life to Cyp and
himself the more. If he took it to Mr. Wilkie,
things would be as the law said was right, but in
every other way so bitterly wrong !

He stood gazing at the paper a moment,
scarcely knowing what he saw. He put his
hand to his forehead; he was so tired! Why
should not he put the thing out of the way for
ever and tell Mr. Wilkie he had changed his



260 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

mind he would take what the acknowledged
will gave him, for Cyp's sake and his own ?

But that moment was shorter than the joyful
one had been. He made a sudden gesture as if
spurning something from him, and began to pace
the floor. "Oh, where did that thought come
from? It never could have been mine. It can't
be that I could call wrong right, as Mr. Brainerd
thinks I can. Life would be life, would it? It
would be worse than death, you mean, Wynt
Havisham, with a stain always to look at on your
hands."

He stretched them out suddenly before him as
if to some one whom he could reach. " Oh, my
Lord Christ ! Let me hold fast to thee ! Hold
me to thyself till I take a little rest. Life will
be life always, with the right and my Lord held
fast. Poor as I am, it has been richer to me
lately than ever before. I shall be strong again
to-morrow; only to-night I cannot seem to see !"

He turned to the table, took up the paper,
folded it, and quietly returned it to the pocket
where it had been found.

"Yes, I shall be all right to-morrow," he re-
peated, "if I only hold on. I don't see what
makes me so tired to-night. I wouldn't go back
and lose all my soul has learned out of these last
six months for all a hundred wills could give me.
I should think I was no older than Cyp. I shall
be rich and strong and happy again when I've



AT THE LAST MOMENT. 26l

had a night's sleep, ready to work like a man,
and like more of a man than I was yesterday for
the very fight.

"And I'll worry no more about Cyp nor
about anything else. I am ashamed of myself. I
know it 's all right and will be right The love
Vivian tried to turn away from us was true as
steel underneath all the time; but our Christ's is
stronger even than that No one can persuade
him away from us for a single hour.

"Cyp's drawings will have to find something
else to hold them. This portfolio must go down
town the very first thing I attend to when to-
morrow conies. Then Brainerd and Gray will
have to be squared up to next"



262 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S



CHAPTER XXXII.

HOLD? OR LET GO?

THE "night's sleep " came quietly and refresh-
ingly to Wynt; his mind was made up. But it
came late and went early with Mr. Wilkie, for
his was in a tempest of torturing indecision and
strain.

To-morrow he must meet definitely and once
for all the question of working the lead-mine or
letting it go. The decision must be made and
sent to the point where it was waited for, and by
it his own fortunes must stand or fall. His own
faith was as strong as ever that through it might
come relief, and relief not only from the trying
position in which losses had placed him, but also
from the rapid approach of a day when, through
no fault of his own, heavy demands that he had
no power to meet would be at the door.

The arguments he had met and battled with
before arrayed themselves in full force, and the
onset was stronger and stronger as the still hours
of the night placed his own danger in blackest
coloring before him.

The risk, if he were to meddle with money
entrusted to him, was virtually, he might almost
say absolutely, nothing. There could not be any



KuLD? OR LET GO? 263

;Iok ! A year, perhaps a few months even, would
return it all with interest. It would be simply
changing an investment A trustee always had
discretion to do that.

Then suddenly the whole question would re-
verse itself in his mind. Had not many another
man done this very thing: handled money that
he had no right to touch, feeling as sure as he did
that all could be made right, and then found him-
self overwhelmed in worse than ruin by the dis-
covery that his hopes had proved false? And
was it not a thing he must do secretly, afraid even
to let his right hand know what his left hand
did ? And was Hugh Wilkie a man to do what
he dared not let the whole world see spread be-
fore their eyes ?

But and then came rushing back all the old
torture and despair; and he rose in the morning
haggard and worn. "It is a desperate thing,"
he said. " No one can judge a desperate man by
common rules. I will do no one any harm. Who
then can say that any man is wronged?" And
he walked to his office with a contracted brow
and a quick, determined step.

Wynt left the cottage a few moments later,
with the portfolio and its replaced contents in his
hand. He wondered how he could have felt so
tempest-tossed about it He had only to go on now
exactly as he had been going on before, except for
the loss of his assurance that he was following his



264 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

uncle's wish. That was a blow, it was true, and
it was a blow to find Mr. Brainerd could suspect
him of a wrong; but with his own heart and con-
science clear he should be all right. If worst
came to worst, he could tell Mr. Wilkie in con-
fidence why he was on those horrid stairs. He
would never betray Lee. And so long as Mr.
Wilkie trusted him it was little matter what Mr.
Brainerd thought. Life was open to him just as
much for all that a manly, honorable, straight-
forward life, working for Cyp, respecting himself,
useful to other people, and enjoying everything
and everybody as he went, so far as they could be
enjoyed.

"And holding fast to my Leader at the same
time; that's the best of it," he added mentally.
" It 's a pleasant feeling that you 're in the hands
of a Prince like him. ' A man 's a man ' when
he can feel that, though he knows he 's the small-
est soldier in the list. And as for 'blows,' it's a
poor soldier that can't take a few as his campaign
goes."

He closed the cottage door and passed out into
the driveway, when he saw Bent just ahead,
standing as if waiting for him. He would almost
rather not be detained just now, but he turned
towards him with a kindly word.

" I 've scarcely had a ' how d' ye ' with you for
a month, Bent," he said. "And you did not tell
me any news after that letter either, the other



HOLD? OR LET GO? 265

day. I don't seem to have many spare minutes,
between the store and Cyp. Is Mab all right?"

" Yes, Mr. Wynt, she always is, I believe, but
she's doing even a little extra lately, strange as it
may seem ever since Dr. McPherson has been
coming to see her, thanks to you. I thought at
first it was partly his raising her spirits; but it
couldn't have been that, since she seems to be
keeping it up steady, and her spirits have had a
hard pull to take them down of late."

"What do you mean, Bent?" asked Wynt
hastily. ( ' Have you been keeping back any
trouble from me?"

"Well, sir, I thought I wouldn't speak of it
till I must. I thought maybe some way out of it
would appear. But it doesn't seem so, and I
thought I 'd better let you know that Miss Vivian
thinks to come in April, and " Bent hesitated.

"What is it, Bent? You mustn't keep
things back things that trouble you, I mean.
Suppose she does come? You '11 like having the
house full again, of course,"

"I might, sir, if it were to make any differ-
ence to me. But I believe my day is done in the
old house. Miss Vivian will bring a new butler
with her, she says."

Wynt started as if he had been shot " A new
butler ! Are you in your senses, or am I out of
mine? What are you talking about? You 're a
part of the house itself."



266 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S

"That's just the trouble, as I'm sure she
looks at it, Mr. Wynt. An old house can be fur-
bished up, but an old man can't. A younger but-
ler will bring more style with him for her, you
know."

Wynt did not know whether it was a little
groan or an outcry of indignation that escaped


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16

Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 13 of 16)