I. T. Hopkins.

Judge Havisham's will online

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him as he looked at Bent and felt in a moment
that it must be true. Bent had not made a mis-
take; it was too like Vivian. And yet he would
not have thought this, even of her.
"And how long have you known this, Bent?"
he asked.

"Since the letter you saw with me the other
day. I thought you were pressed upon enough,
and too much by far, for that matter, and I would
not be bringing my troubles to you so long as I
could keep them off. I hoped to find some one
who would want an old man; but Miss Vivian
doesn't seem altogether by herself. She's quite
right about it, as I'm beginning to see."

"Right !" exclaimed Wynt between his teeth.
"And April is almost here !"

" Yes, sir. That's why I thought it time to
speak of it, so that you might be expecting her.
We shall have to leave the cottage, there's no
doubt, and it will be hard to see less of you. It 's
your coming past and in and out, and Mr. Cyp's,
that keeps the breath of the old days alive."

" It can't be ! She would not take the cottage


from you and Mab ! If she does, Cyp and I will
stampede from Barbie's and leave you there.
That will leave Mab all right. No one can take
Barbie's house away from her while she lives,
you know, and I think she's good for a long
stretch yet. But how have you been standing it

Bent smiled quietly, but the smile went to
Wynt's heart "Well, sir, there 's only one way,
you know. Mab 's had her lessons in it and
learned them well, but it took me longer to get
quite settled in my mind. You can't break Mab
down any way, you know; she wont let go.
She was nearer to it, for a little time, in that
matter of Jem than I 've seen her before or since;
but her courage is strong this time. She's got
fast hold. It pains her sharp for me that I got
such a wound; but she's sure our Lord has it
all at heart And I can't be less sure with her
before me; so we're all right"

Wynt got Bent's hand between both his with
a grip. "Bent, you'll never be an old man to
me. I '11 have a house of my own some day, and
the moment I do you 're in it, if it *s only twenty
feet square."

He went on with the consciousness of a keen
new pain that put the questions pressing a mo-
ment before quite out of sight "Bring a new
butler with her! Bent hasn't lost an inch in the
last ten years; I've heard uncle say so many a


time. And I believe he would have turned
round and waited upon the old fellow, himself,
rather than send him adrift like this. He trusted
him to Vivian, as he did us. I believe he will
know it in heaven if she really does this thing. ' '

But hot feeling makes quick walking, and he
was soon nearing the block which held the store
and the law-office at once.

What was Jem hovering about the store door
for ? It looked as if he were another one waiting
for a talk. He was fidgeting a little about some
freight; but Wynt could see there was nothing in

He came up with him in a moment and found
himself right. Jem stepped forward and met
him, with a lift of his cap.

"I was waiting to speak with you, sir, if I
could have a word. I wont keep you a moment,
but there 's something I 'd like to say."

"All right, Jem," answered Wynt, although
inwardly wondering if this was to be another
"stolen interview" laid up by the senior partner
to his score.

"I just want to say, sir, that I can't get along
with it another day not with the feeling that
I'm standing out against a girl like Mab, I
mean. I wouldn't give in to it when you first
pointed it out; not a peg. She'd wounded me
sore, I thought, though I 've seen plain enough
since that it was I had the whole wrong of it,


after all. But I couldn't bring myself to give
in, the more shame, and I kept repeating 'twould
be no use if I did; she could never make up."

" But you 're ready now, Jem ?" asked Wynt

"Yes, sir; I've watched you in the mean-
time, and I 've seen and knowed more than you
thought, and it 's broken me down altogether at
last, noting your going on. I've seen how you
could take a wrong, and a mean one too, many a
time, and how you just kept yourself true as a
man, whatever any other might say or do. I 've
knowed you far above me always, as a gentle-
man, and been content to let it be so as we were
born; but it's as open to me as to you to be a
man, and a true one, and I couldn't rest I'm
driven to follow on, though it'll be long enough
before I overtake.

"So I'm just going to Mab to tell her so.
She never did me any wrong, nor couldn't, and
I'm not fit for her; but I'll make myself nearer
to it as time goes on. So if she'll stoop to take
me back, as lover or friend, it 's all I ask. And
if there 's anything worth her taking she owes it
to you, and that 's all I have to say."

"And a great deal too much, Jem. I don't
know what you 're talking about, as far as I 'm
concerned. Of course you can be as much of a
man as I am, and more; for you can keep your
place in the world, and I 'm not sure that I can.


But as for Mab, I'm thankful you've come to
the right of it at last. And you couldn't have
brought light into a much darker sky this morn-
ing. Fly off to her, Jem! Don't let the grass
grow under your feet Do you know they're in
a peck of trouble up there? You'll find chance
enough to make up for the past."

V/hat was Mr. Wynt saying ? Mab and Bent
weie in trouble? Jem sprang upon the wagon
and shook the reins over the horse's back. He
had an errand for the store in the direction of
Havisham gate, and had been planning to save
out a few minutes for Mab by haste. He could
not make haste enough now!




WYNT went quickly up the office stairs, for
he had time to make up as well as Jem. But his
step was as light as it was quick; there was one
big ray of light coming in, at least. Bent and
Mab would get some comfort in their trouble
after all.

He opened the door quietly; there was no one
inside. Mr. Wilkie must be in his private room.
He was almost sure to be in at this hour in the

Wynt went on to the next door, which was
closed, and knocked. There was an instant's
hesitation, a sound of closing and locking a
drawer, and then a quick " Come in."

Wynt opened the door and stepped inside.
Mr. Wilkie sat at his desk with a look that struck
Wynt as not quite his own excited and a little

"Oh, I'm sure I'm interrupting you," he
said. "Let me come in again. There are so
many more important things. Mine can wait
I can leave it here."

"No, no," said Mr. Wilkie, with an uncon-
scious glance towards the locked drawer. "I'm


glad to see you. Pleasant subjects exchanged for
unpleasant ones, you know;" and he laughed a
little, but, as Wynt thought once more, in not
quite his natural way.

In another moment, however, he had collected
himself and was turning to Wynt with almost
his own easy friendliness. " You 're an early
bird this morning," he said. "You ought to
catch something worth having. What are you
doing with that portfolio? It's the one you
cleared the papers out offer me once, is it not?"

"It is the one I thought I cleared out, Mr.
Wilkie. But it has its secrets, it seems, like
some other things, and Cyp hunted this out for
us, this thin little pocket that I never once
noticed before."

"And there is something in it?"

"Yes," answered Wynt quietly; and he drew
out the paper and handed it to the lawyer.

Mr. Wilkie took it, glanced at it, and uttered
an exclamation sudden and strong. It was no
trouble for him to take in the whole thing as it
had been for Wynt. He saw it all in an instant,
and in the signature as well as the whole hand-
writing there lay no possibility of doubt. The
judge seemed risen before him in the clear,
peculiar characters that almost spoke.

He looked quickly and keenly into Wynt's
face, then for an instant at the paper again.
"Well, Wynt," he said, fixing his eyes on his


visitor, "this tells a tale. We know now what
was the * last will ' your uncle wanted to knock
over at the eleventh hour. What do you think
of this?"

"To tell the truth, Mr. Wilkie, on one
account I'd rather it had not been found."

"You would, upon my word! May I ask

" Because it takes away the great satisfaction
I had in knocking along where I am. I thought
it was where he wanted us to be; or that he did
not want us where the other will would have put
us, at least But now that 's all upset and gone.
He wanted us in the old home and with all that
his generous love could provide for us. We shall
go along just the same of course, Cyp and I, but
I shall not have the comfort of thinking that I
am true to him."

"Ah! That is the 'one account' on which
you wish it were not found. Are there others
on which you, on the other hand, congratulate

"There is one other that almost balances the
first No one can ever say now that he was
not true to us to the very last Vivian had per-
suaded him into a mistake for a few days, but
that was all. The moment he saw it, it was
undone. ' '

"Ah !" said Mr. Wilkie again, with his eye
fastened upon the paper now and not seeming to

JiulW* HtvUbMo'l Will. I 8


see Wynt. "And may I ask again, why is it 'of
course ' that you and Cyp ' will go along just the

Wynt began to grow almost impatient He
was not sure he cared to be catechised to this ex-
tent, and Mr. Wilkie surely had drilled him into
recognizing the fact that a will duly written and
signed must rule by law.

" Because," he said, "by your own teaching,
Mr. Wilkie, my uncle's wish to set aside his will
is nothing. The will itself must stand. This one
leaves everything to Vivian and to her considera-
tion, and she considers that we are very suitably
settled where we are."

A slight gleam of a smile showed itself about
Mr. Wilkie' s mouth, but it was gone again.
" You are a good law student, Wynt. You have
learned all I taught you and I hope to teach you
more. But now just one question that is to say,
if I'm not keeping you too long. Are you in

Wynt hesitated. " Only that I should be late
at the store."

" Well, I '11 only detain you a moment. This
will, we see plainly, is the one your uncle regret-
ted and wished to destroy. Has it occurred to
you that if you were, accordingly, to destroy it, or
simply let it lie where it is, you could accept your
full inheritance from the other with no wrong
done to the testator, but the contrary in fact?"


Wynt flushed violently. "Oh,- why 'do you
ask ine such a question? I don't even know
that you have a right to ask it. Yes ! The
thought did 'occur' to me ! That 's exactly what
it did. It was none of my seeking. I hated it
when it came and got rid of it as fast as possible.''

"Ah ! And did it take you long?"

" No, it did not I knew this paper to be a
matter that belongs to the law and to Vivian. I
had no business to meddle with it What do you
take me for ? Mr. Brainerd does not half believe
in me. What right have people to talk to me in
such a way?"

Mr. Wilkie drew his mouth in form for a whis-
tle, but it could scarcely be heard. "Well, then,
Wynt, I suppose you see, of course, that if you
are settled down under this thing there can be no
change. As things were before you had only to
face about, any day, and say you had had

" I see it, of course."

" But it seems to me you are carrying a pretty
heavy load for a man of your age. There are
some things that press quite a little, if I don't

" Yes. One of them is that Mr. Brainerd has
put a test matter before me where I can't yield,
and the alternative is he will request me to walk
out I think I ought to mention it to you."

The whistle came now, clear and strong, but


Mr. Wilkie only looked at the paper on the desk.
' ' That might make it troublesome for you to get
in anywhere else."


There was a moment's silence.

"And Cyp? McPherson tells me he thinks
Cyp does not take to his new life in a way exactly
for his health."

Wynt started. Oh, why did Mr. Wilkie bring
that up ? Why must he torture him at that one
tenderest point of all? "I'd lay down my life
for Cyp, Mr. Wilkie, as I think you very well
know, but I think he would lay down his rather
than have his brother build it up for him on a
wrong. It would not be worth much to either of
us after that"

Silence again.

" And what do you propose to do then?"

Wynt hesitated once more. Why should he
feel annoyance at questions Mr. Wilkie had
thought best to ask? He had his reasons, no
doubt. They had stirred him up horridly just
after he had got the whole thing off his mind,
but still and he looked back at Mr. Wilkie with
one of his old quick, gleaming smiles.

"There's only one thing I can do, Mr. Wil-
kie. I must just ' hold on the tighter the harder
things pull.' That's a saying Cyp got off by
accident one day and it seems to stick in the
family conscience."


"Ah! And what do you propose to hold
on to?"

"To the right, and by His help to the one
Friend who never urges me to let go of it I
don't quite understand you, Mr. Wilkie, to-day.
Why do you talk to me about doing a wicked

In an instant Mr. Wilkie had sprung to his
feet and was grasping Wynt by the hand. "I
beg your pardon, Wynt. I owe you that, but
you have not understood me, it is true. I wanted
to probe you to the depth, that was all, and find
what was there, for your sake and mine at once.
I have found it, and I am satisfied. I thought it
would do me good, and it has. I owe you more
than to beg your pardon, and I will pay it if I
ever can. God forbid that I should talk to you
in earnest about a wrong.

" Now, then, we are ready. Let me have the
happiness of blotting out even the memory of all
this. You 're a good law student, as I told you,
Wynt; but, as I promised, let me teach you one
thing more. This will is good for nothing, and
simply leaves you free to consider the other as
the expression of your uncle's true desire. You
forgot, perhaps, that the testator's signature,
even, is valueless in a case like this without wit-
nesses and seals. Judge Havisham knew that,
and I doubt not left the paper thus unfinished be-
cause he could not up to that time quite bring his


heart to validate it. His last words to you were,
unquestionably, to assure you, when this will
should be found, that his love and faithfulness
to you and Cyp had proved stronger than a
promise wrung from him in an unguarded hour.
He had fulfilled his promise; he had made an-
other will. But he had as true a right to revoke
the second as the first, if a later choice outbal-
anced it.

" You can take your inheritance freely, Wynt,
without fear that you do any man wrong, and
without the pain of feeling your uncle did one,
to you or any one on earth. You can take care
of Cyp put him into the old house to-morrow
and you can march down and mention to Brain-
nerd and Gray that you want nothing more on
that floor. I am going to move you up one flight
and keep you with me."




WYNT left Mr. Wilkie much more quietly
than Mr. Wilkie passed the next half-hour by

The first ten minutes were spent in pacing the
floor of his inner office excitedly, the door tightly
closed. Occasionally he glanced towards the
locked drawer with an expression of horror and
triumph strangely mixed.

"That boy has saved me from more than he
will ever know! That man, I might rather say,
but seventeen though he is. I begin to think
following that * Lord Christ ' of his makes a man
out of any age. * Holding on to the right ' and
to that unseen Leader and Friend, was he?
'Holding on tighter the harder things pulled.*
It must have taken all that to keep him where
he's been. And I " he glanced towards the
desk again "I was mightily near to letting go!
I wouldn't have answered for myself an hour
longer; and what then? Was Hugh Wilkie to
have gone about 'building on a wrong,' and
that wrong tumbling over on his head some day,
possibly, beside? Thank God, and thank Wynt
Havisham, that temptation is past for ever! It


can have no more power than ashes over me

He unlocked the drawer, took out the papers
that had been so near helping him towards a
stained integrity, and carried them back to the
safe, the look of triumph even stronger in his
face. He was Hugh Wilkie again now, but
Hugh Wilkie knowing himself better than he
had before known him.

His stern love of uprightness, his honor, his
self-respect, he had thought they never could be
touched. But they had been touched, and they
had bent almost far enough to consent that wrong
was right! And if they had done so once, could
he assure himself for all time that danger would
not come again ? Should he not rather reach out
to that unseen Hand Wynt anchored to and try
" holding on" there? And had Hugh Wilkie,
after all, ever been the true man he had thought
himself, refusing allegiance to the Leader who
had lived and died for him ?

Wynt meanwhile had walked quietly into his
place again and gone to work, pen in hand.
The book-keeper was even later than himself this
morning, and Wynt would not speak a word to
Mr. Brainerd, if he could help it, until that error
had been found.

It must be found very soon now, he was sure.
Almost everything had been looked over. It
could not take much more time.


After that, however, he did not care what
came. Brainerd and Gray? If they wished
questions answered that he chose to decline,
what then ?

He was not sure going into Mr. Wilkie's
office was the best thing. He was young for
that yet. Work was not hurting him. Why
should he not stay where he was, if the firm
wanted him? If they did not, all right He
knew himself too well for their opinion to trouble
him. Mr. Wilkie had evidently scorned any im-
putation they could bring.

These thoughts only passed through his mind
disjointedly among a crowd of others that came
sweeping in, while under them and through
them and over them thrilled his strange, great

How was it possible everything had come
right at once ?

He need never even ask himself what his
uncle's love had been. Cyp was all right! He,
Wynt, could choose his own work now and go
about it steadily, without being torn every way
with questions as to whether it was all right for
Cyp. And they had a share in the old home,
"every beam and rafter of it," as his uncle had
said. Vivian might feel as she pleased; he could
walk through it, every floor of it, feeling like a

And Jem had been to Mab! And Bent? He


started suddenly. Possibly, if he and Cyp went
into the house, there might be a difference about

The figures lay before him and his eye kept
close upon them, but his work did not go on very
fast. That would not do. He must steady
things down better than that.

The book-keeper came in and the morning
moved almost silently on. Warnock passed the
office now and then, and Wynt could feel, without
raising his eyes, that a very meaning look was
upon his face.

"It will be a relief if I leave here," Wynt
thought, "not to see him any more. Somehow
the sight of that man makes my soul sick."

Warnock, meanwhile, upon his part, was in-
dulging in some reflections equally pleasing to
himself. His plans in Wynt's direction seemed
nearing their climax at last It would not take
more than this day, he felt sure, to reward him
for all he had so patiently tried to work out. In
his elation he forgot that it is not wise to let
approaching triumph throw one off his guard.

"Where's Havisham?" Lee asked, from an-
other part of the store where he had been kept
that day. ' { Has he come in ?' '

"Yes, I believe he has," answered Warnock,
unable to restrain himself and with an expres-
sion that he tried to conceal. " It is to be hoped
he 's making good use of his time while he stays."


"What do you mean?" asked Lee, facing
about suddenly.

"Oh, not much. Only," and the sneer deep-
ened visibly, " perfection 's not perfection always,
and the firm are getting a few things against the
young man's score, I think."

In an instant he saw that he had gone too far.
He had overreached himself; he had "given him-
self away."

" If they are, it 's a false score, then," retorted
Lee almost fiercely; "and more than that, I
know who has been working it up for him, too."

He stopped for one withering look, and then,
almost before Warnock knew what had happened,
had left him behind and was at the private office

"Come in," said Mr. Brainerd's voice, and
Lee stepped before him with an excited face.

"I beg your pardon! I hear there has been
a ' score running up ' against Havisham."

Mr. Brainerd's look of surprise was followed
by a peculiar smile. "He told you so him-
self, probably. He thought you could help him

"No; he did not. It was told me by some
one who knows more than he should about it,
I 'm very sure. Are you willing to tell me what
the charges are? They are false as darkness,
whoever brought them on."

Mr. Brainerd's face darkened. " You are get-


ting too warm, young man. Perhaps I am a bet-
ter judge of sources of information than you.
And in this case the special 'score,' as you are
pleased to call it, is not marked by any l charge,'
but by something that I saw, fortunately or un-
fortunately, myself."

u Do you mean to say that you ever saw Havi-
sham in any wrong?"

Mr. Brainerd hesitated. He was accustomed
to sit as questioner, not as questioned, in his room.
And yet was there not an opportunity here to
give Lee a very desirable warning that he might
otherwise miss? If Havisham should by any
possibility come round with a fair explanation,
and chose to keep silent about the affair towards
Lee, he would not hear of it

"You ask altogether too much explanation,
sir; you forget yourself, as I reminded you before.
But I will tell you one thing for your good.
When I see a young man coming down a very
questionable flight of stairs, with entertainment
at the top of them that is kept scrupulously in the
shade, and if he declines most positively to tell
me what interest took him there, I have no more
use for him in my employ. Our relations end
then and there."

Lee stood for one moment looking fixedly at
him without a word. His father had seen Wynt
coming down that night ? Wynt had declined to
tell him what he went there for ? Had that been


going on all this time, with no suspicion of it
coming to him ?

U I see you understand me," Mr. Brainerd
added, gratified to perceive that an impression
had evidently been made. "That is all that is
necessary to be said upon the subject then."

Lee started and seemed to know where he
was again suddenly. "I beg your pardon, sir.
There is something further, if you please. If
Wynt will not tell you what ' interest ' took him
up those stairs, I will. Why has all this been
kept back from me? It was my interest. And
yours too, so far as you care what becomes of me.
He went there, as far as the top step at least, be-
cause he caught my face at the window, like the
idiot I am. He went to drag me away and get
me to make a man of myself again. He did not
succeed; but he put himself on ground he despised
and hated, to try for it And that is what he was
trying when Warnock caught us together, and has
tried ever since he came into the store. If I'd
been worth the tenth of his little finger, he'd
have conquered me long ago. But he's broken
me all up now. I '11 try to make myself worth
that tenth, if no more. You will have no further
trouble with me, sir, if I see myself turning to
mummy, stock, and stone in this store."

Mr. Brainerd listened to this excited harangue,
more bewildered, if possible, than Lee had been a
few moments before. What was the boy saying ?


It was to shield him that Wynt had kept silence,
at the risk of disgrace to himself? And he had
been trying to reclaim Lee all the time, working
at him as if the task belonged to him? And
could a boy like this was it likely that any
other of Warnock's insinuations against him
could have had fair ground ?

At this moment there was a tap at the door,
and the book-keeper looked in. " I beg pardon.
I'd like just to say that I 've come on that error

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Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 14 of 16)