Copyright
I. T. Hopkins.

Judge Havisham's will online

. (page 6 of 16)
Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 6 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


pose it is some one; and whoever it is, I wish he
would allow me to go. I wish it were you, Mr.
Wilkie. Can it not be you ?"

"Since you ask me, Wynt, Judge Havisham
told me he wished I would take the guardianship,
though it is hardly arranged yet"

"Then I will ask you."

"And then I shall have to say no. You do n't
want to do anything, Wynt, that would open
family secrets, by even a hint, to the eyes of the
world outside. I am sorry you've got this feel-
ing, and I hope it is a mistake. I'll have a talk
with you about it soon. But whatever the fact
may be, you had better put pride in your pocket
a few weeks than let strangers pick up crumbs
at the door. And now we have talked business
enough for one day. Let us turn round here by
the cascade and enjoy ourselves. ' '

The subject was dropped instantly, but long
after Mr. Wilkie reached home he found his mind
recurring to it and trying to make one point or
another form a clew to the real meaning of the
judge's unsigned words.

" If the boy is right," he went on, "and he 's
got a pretty level head of his own, if he 's right,
and Vivian doesn't want them in the house, she



io6 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

doesn't want them in the business anywhere, I'll
take my risk. Now that 'promise' that he was
trying, to write about may have been a promise
that he wanted made to him, or it may have
meant a promise he had made some one else.
That will provides for the boys. If she doesn't
want them provided for or doesn't like the way
in which it is done, she may have got a promise
out of her father that he would make a change.
A promise was a sacred thing with the judge.
He would keep it if it took his last breath, as this
almost seemed to do."

Mr. Wilkie walked back and forth in his
room, sat down, tried to do some work, and then
rose and walked about again.

"I'm half inclined to think I've hit it," he
began once more. "It seems rather a hard con-
clusion for Vivian; but the truth is, I never did
feel quite sure of her. There is a velvet touch
that has something sharp behind it; and I don't
believe there's much heart under that beauty of
hers. Well, we've just got to wait for her lady-
ship to appear. But if she undertakes to fight
these boys, she '11 find she 's got me to tackle, at
least"



VIVIAN'S RETURN. 107

CHAPTER XIII.

VIVIAN'S RETURN.

THE most impatiently waited for come at
last, and the carriage was ordered to meet Vivian
at the train before another ten days had passed.
Wynt put Waite and Cyp on the front seat and
got in behind them himself. His face was still
and no one could have read anything but a little
overstraining of his usual quiet in it, but it was
only by the greatest tension of self-control that he
kept his composure.

It seemed to him, at one moment, that his
heart had turned to stone with the dead, dazing
weight that settled there, and at the next that he
should fly to the ends of the earth rather than do
this thing that he had to do.

So few weeks ago, such a few short weeks,
and clear as yesterday stood that day when he
had driven his uncle to meet Vivian just every
inch of the same ground that was to be gone over
again. How radiant his uncle's face was, that
handsome, manly face!

They waited a few moments for the train.
Would it never come and get this thing over
with?

Yes, there was the shriek of the whistle. It



io8 JUDGE HA vis HAM'S WILL.

was coming now, thundering in over the track.
There was the drawing-room car, and there yes,
it must be could it be that tall figure swathed
in black, could that be Vivian ?

Yes, and she had recognized him. Mr. Adri-
ance was behind her, and she was holding out
her hand to Wynt with that same peculiar grace.
He would have known her in India if he had
seen her hold out that hand!

Then, to his amazement, she what was she
doing? She had stooped and kissed him. She
had never done that to any one but Cyp before.

"My dear Wynt !" was all she said; and then
Mr. Adriance gave him a quick grasp, and they
got out of the crowd as hastily as possible and
found Waite holding the carriage-door.

The drive to the house was alike to all of
them, inasmuch as there was the same crowd of
memories rushing in and the same covered effort
to avoid speaking of what was uppermost in their
thoughts. Beyond or beneath that one subject
there was room for each to have a little wonder-
ment that they kept instinctively to themselves;
and Wynt, while asking with real interest the
ordinary questions about the voyage, had time to
read some changes in his cousin's face.

It was brilliant still; it could not help being
that But the vivacity was gone; it was quiet
and shaded ; was it really sorrowful ?

The next moment he was abusing himself for



VIVIAN'S RETURN.

having asked the question. Certainly it was.
Vivian had lost what had been everything to her
from the time she had been of Cyp's age until,
at least, two years ago.

But there was another look that he was sure
he did not mistake. As if Vivian's home-coming
were as much because of a new life to be entered
upon as lest it should not look well to the world
if she stayed away. And of course it must be so.
As Judge Havisham's heir it must be. There
was nothing for Wynt, or any one else, to criti-
cise in that

And just for one flash he caught a look fixed
upon himself that he was sure he did not mis-
take. Only one flash, that betrayed for half an
instant the wondering whether and then it was
gone without really finishing itself. It was not
often that Vivian let her graceful external veil
slip away as far as that

"Yes, Wynt," she was saying, u we were so
very glad to get in yesterday. It looked at one
time as if we should not, and another day's delay
would have been so very trying. We were just
able to get the early train to-day. Tom dear,
suppose you bring Cyp over here with us. We
have more room, I am sure."

''I did not feel like driving to-day," said
Wynt hurriedly, feeling that the carriage was too
full with Waite; and the next moment he would
have given anything if he had not said it



no JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

But what else could he have done ? It would
have been worse to say he did not like to leave
Cyp at home alone.

" Oh, but I want him with us," answered
Vivian. "Tom, don't you think he has grown
since we went away ?' '

Mr. Adriance, meanwhile, had been having
his own thoughts about the boys.] "If any
one were to ask me," he said to himself, as he
gave Cyp a lift and put him at Vivian's side;
"if any one were to ask me, I should say these
two youngsters were the best inheritance out of
the whole thing. They belong to us now, I sup-
pose."

Bent met them at the^door, and Barbie stood
behind. Bent's face might have been a study
again, if any one had looked closely into it. The
first time he had ever opened the door to receive
his young mistress when "Mr. Thorpe" had] not
brought her in ! And the first time he had ever
done it with any feeling which he wished to keep
out of sight !

That last visit, two months ago, had left recol-
lections that were like thorns in the old butler's
heart just now. One among them was of the
troubled look on the judge's face; and another
was of those few words about the "promise" that
he had so unwillingly caught

"I think two things, Mab," he had said more
than once, as they sat together in the summer



VIVIAN'S RETURN. Ill

.wilight, sometimes silently thinking of the great
grief, sometimes talking it over and over, for
what relief that could bring; " I think two
things; may the Lord pity us more that they're
true! I think part of the trouble that has come
to the old house need not have come; and I think
we shall see more of it before it's all past"

But Vivian only lifted her eyes for an instant
to Bent's face and to Barbie's, passing from one
to the other with a kindly greeting.

u This has been very hard for you all," she
said. "Are you pretty well, Bent? Barbie, are
you pretty well?"

Then she turned to go into the library, but
she faltered suddenly. u Wynt !" she exclaimed,
turning swiftly towards him with a little gesture,
"is it true? Are all the rooms quite empty?

Tom, how can I go in there ?"

u Come to your own room then, will you not?
It will be easier for you there, and you need rest
before dinner comes on."

"No, I think wait for me a moment, then.

1 must come in here first"

She stepped in and passed slowly through the
room, then out to the little nook in the piazza,
then back to the door of the judge's private study,
drawing the curtain back a little way and glan-
cing in.

Then she turned to her husband again. " Oh,
take me away, Tom ! I will go up now. These



112 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

rooms are desolate. Wynt, you wont mind if I
go up a little while?"

"I must go out," said Wynt; "I promised
Mr. Wilkie to let him know when you arrived.
I will take Cyp down there, and be back before
dinner comes in."



WHO SHALL BE RIGHT? 113

CHAPTER XIV.

WHO SHALL BE RIGHT?

MR. WILKIE had not recurred, as he had
promised, to the question of Wynt's leaving the
house.

"It will have to come up," he said to him-
self, "for he's a youngster that knows his own
mind and is not apt to alter it But I think
I '11 put him off till Mrs. Adriance gets fairly
home. With this great change in circumstan-
ces, any little manner of hers that has troubled
him will very likely change also. Trouble is apt
to draw people together, and I hope she'll take
to petting the boys and make Wynt all right
again."

But he saw, the moment Wynt came in, that
there was not much encouragement as yet The
quiet reserve in his manner as he spoke of " Mrs.
Adriance" did not look as if much ice had been
melted yet

" So she has arrived," he said. " I am very
glad of that; it is better to get things settled.
Then, Wynt, I will come up to-morrow. It is
late to-night, of course; I will come to-morrow
morning and bring the will. Will you be kind
enough to tell her that her father left some mat-

Jndf BcTtobun'i WllL 8



114 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S

ters in my charge, and, if convenient, I will see
her at that time?"

"I will tell her, certainly."

" And be there yourself, Wynt Mrs. Lewyn,
I understand, left this morning. Well, it's just
as well. Now then, Wynt, as to that last paper
of your uncle's; I may as well tell you frankly
that, hard as it may seem, we shall not be able
to regard that in settling the estate."

Wynt colored violently. "Do you mean to
say that my uncle's will, his very last wish, is
not to be called his will?"

" We will call it so, Wynt, you and I, in our
hearts, but have you a little time to spare ?' '

"A little, but I left Cyp with Lee Brainerd
down below. I can't stay long."

"That will do. Those last words of your
uncle's, then, you and I would consider sacredly
if we could. But we cannot prove, to the law,
that they really were his will. If accepted they
would annul and set aside the will now lying in
the safe, signed, sealed, and witnessed."

"Of course. That is just what he wished
them to do."

"Apparently. But, unfortunately, the law
cannot accept any expression of a testator's wish
or will that is not signed by himself, and by a
certain number of witnesses as well."

"But I know, and Barbie and the nurse know,
that he wrote it"



WHO SHALL BE RIGHT? 115

u Do they? Could they testify upon oath
that that particular piece of paper is the one
they saw him write ? You can ; but can they ?
How do they know it is not something substi-
tuted for it?"

Wynt's eyes flashed.

"They don't, Wynt, and they can't. They
would believe you against fire and water; but
they can't testify to what they only believe, and
that fact the law has to recognize. Don't you
see that, in any number of cases, an unsigned
paper may be presented by persons who cannot
be believed? The law cannot distinguish be-
tween them and those who can. It must simply
put on the strongest guard legislation can invent,
and let things go at that."

" And do a bitter wrong!"

" In very rare and peculiar cases it is possible;
but a general law, I suppose, must take its chance
of that"

"But what has the law got to do with it?"
Wynt broke out excitedly. " You say you would
consider his last expression of his wishes sacred,
if you could. They are sacred, and I will never
consider them in any other way. No one can
have any right to ask me to."

Mr. Wilkie was silent a moment "Wynt,"
he said quietly then, "there is one more point to
be considered. Suppose time to have been suffi-
cient for your uncle to have signed that paper,



n6 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

incoherent and incomplete as it was, and for wit-
nesses, as was equally necessary, to have added
their names. If any claimant were disposed to
contest it, do you not see how easily it might be
assumed that his mind was weakened by the
approaching change, that it was incapable of
acting rationally and as in health?"

"It would not be true. They might say it,
but it is not true. As I told you before, you
would know it if you had only been there. But
I understand all you say. I see that if the will
he did not wish carried out gives everything to
his worst enemy or to his best friend, I cannot
help it. But I will never agree to it. I loved
him too much, and he trusted me too much, to
do such a wrong ; for a wrong is a wrong always,
and always will be, whatever the law may say.
And he taught me, and his whole life taught me,
and my Lord's life taught me, to hate a wrong.
How can you expect me to do such a thing as
that?"

Mr. Wilkie met his eyes with another little
inward exclamation. u Upon my word, I did n't
know the boy would hold quite so hard. He 's
got the Havisham stuff of two or three genera-
tions in him. I'd like to try touching him on
just one point, though. I don't believe he'll
stir, but he '11 be one out of a big host if he
wont."

"I think you are hardly 'expected to do'



WHO SHALL BE RIGHT? 117

anything in the case, Wynt," he said quietly,
but watching him keenly as he spoke. " The
matter will settle itself, in spite of any objection
or regret on your part or mine. And it may be
better for you that it is so. To set the will
aside would give Vivian everything, as she is the
only direct heir. But carried out, it may make
generous provision for you and Cyp."

"We would never accept it!" cried Wynt,
springing up. " What do you think of us, Mr,
Wilkie ? If the will does make such provision,
that 's undoubtedly the very point he wanted
changed. Else why should he have sent for me?
He sent for me, you know. It was I that he tried
to tell. He would have explained it if he could
have gone on. But I am glad it is to be all done
with to-morrow, and then I hope you wont object
to our going away very soon."

"And where would you go, Wynt?"

"I don't know. It will have to be some-
where where I can go to work, as it would have
been if I had never come here at all. We are
not beggars. There is something belonging to
us, I believe; but I know it will take work
besides to keep us both. I will give Mrs.
Adriance your message, Mr. Wilkie, and I must
bid you good-by now."

Mr. Wilkie looked after him as he closed the
door with a very unreserved little "Whew!"
shaping his lips. "What am I going to do with



Il8 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S

a boy like that ?" lie said. u He 's going to have
a fortune thrown at him, undoubtedly, and he
wants to throw it back again, for an idea that
he 's got ! If he were sure of his ground it would
be different, but it's more than three-quarters
surmise what the judge meant It 's worth all
the fortunes in the universe, though, a moral
backbone like that. I wish that boy belonged to
me. I can't do anything with him, though, till
I'm fully appointed guardian, and then I'll try
to make him hear reason.

" It 's an unlucky mess the judge got us into,
though, trying to do a thing too late. Why in
the name of sense did n't a man like him alter
his will in time if he wanted to do it at all ? It
wasn't like him, not like him in the least. I
do n't believe he had the thing at heart, whatever
it was, even if he had it in mind; and I wish I
knew whom he made that promise to."



THE RIGHT KEY. 119



CHAPTER XV

THE RIGHT KEY.

VIVIAN was more than willing to see Mr.
Wilkie, and he felt that he should be equally
glad to bring matters to a conclusion, so far as
his own responsibility was concerned. The busi-
ness seemed a trifle awkward, somehow, taken
just as things stood.

Vivian met him, however, with so much of
her own peculiar manner that he was scarcely
seated before he found the old fascination return-
ing and shaming him for having had even a half
suspicion that she could do anything else but
charm.

"So extremely kind of you, Mr. Wilkie, to let
our affairs burden you in any way," she was say-
ing. "But it does not surprise me. So true a
friend of dear papa's while he was with us would
not fail us now, I was quite sure."

And the word "now" carried so much mean-
ing as she spoke it, uttered hesitatingly, and yet
with a half-faltering dwelling upon it when it
came.

Judge Havisham's will was short, and it was
soon read. It made his daughter, Vivian Havi-



i2o JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

sham Adriance, sole heiress of his estates, beyond
certain provisions for his two nephews, Wynthrop
and Cyprian DeKay Havisham, and p. few minor
legacies to the other relatives and to old servants
of the house.

The house was to be maintained as at present,
and considered as the home of the two nephews,
in fair and equal share with his daughter Vivian,
until the younger of the two should have com-
pleted his educational pursuits. The expenses of
a college course were to be met from the estate, if
such a course should be chosen by either or both
in preference to a business career, and each was
to receive at his majority a sum to be held in trust
until that time by the guardian whom the will
proceeded to appoint.

Short as it was, and occupied as Mr. Wilkie
appeared to be in reading it, he found opportunity
to catch some changes in Vivian's face. Through
the first few paragraphs a restrained gleam of satis-
faction, almost of triumph, as if something desired
and aimed at had been successfully brought to
pass; then, as the provision for the nephews was
made specific, there was for one instant an un-
conscious betrayal of intense feeling of a very dif-
ferent kind. It was covered almost as quickly
again, but neither expression had been too tran-
sient for Mr. Wilkie' s well-trained eye.

"I believe I had the right key after all," he
exclaimed mentally; but in another instant he



THE RIGHT KEY. 121

had brought his mind again to close holding of
the work in hand.

That miserable paper ! That, and the inevit-
able discussion it would bring, must come up.

Wynt knew that it must, and had stipulated
that he might disappear as soon as the will was
read. He had said all he had to say to Mr. Wil-
kie. He could not endure hearing it all over again.

"Another paper has come into my hands,
Mrs. Adriance, and one which I feel it my duty
to present just now, as it expresses a wish on your
father's part to change, if not to annul, the will
just read."

"To change it? To annul it?" exclaimed
Vivian, lifting her eyes to his with a swift flash
and then dropping them to the floor.

" Ah ! You were expecting it," was Mr. Wil-
kie's reply mentally, but he went quietly on to
his account of Wynt's last interview with his
uncle.

Vivian's color came and went with a swiftness
that showed intense effort at self-control; for once
the graceful woman found it hard to keep her
secrets to herself; but she looked at the lawyer
with only her usual quiet earnestness at last.

"And this paper that means so much it has
no signature, you say ? But it was given to dear
Wynt ? Poor boy, it was hard for him, but for-
tunate for us. We hardly need a signature, if it
came through Wynt's hands direct"



122 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S WILL.

Mr. Wilkie himself almost needed an instant,
this time, to disguise thought. What did a
speech like that mean from a woman who knew
as much as Vivian did of life ?

"We do not need it to satisfy our own cre-
dence, Mrs. Adriance, but unfortunately, both sig-
nature and witnesses being wanting, the will that
would otherwise be set aside must stand."

Once more there was a flash in Vivian's eyes.
u And you call that right? Surely your interest
in my cousins, warm as it is, would not lead you
to call that right, true to my father? I cannot
doubt it had been his full intention to replace the
will you have read by a new one. In fact he in-
timated such intention to me before I left. I sup-
posed "

"You forget, Vivian," interrupted Mr. Adri-
ance, "that in this case Mr. Wilkie is only at*
liberty to consider what Judge Havisham had, or
had not, legally arranged; he is speaking of noth-
ing farther than that"

" You are quite right, Tom. I seemed to for-
get for the moment. Papa's poor half-expressed
wish seems so dear."

"If it could be allowed to govern us," said
Mr. Wilkie quietly, as he took his hat to leave,
"it would simply leave everything in your hands
and trust the boys to you."

Vivian hesitated. " It would have been a
great satisfaction to be so trusted," she said.



THE RIGHT KEY. 123

"And I think it was his wish. I think he felt he
had made some mistakes, especially in regard to
keeping them so much at home."

"Now," said Mr. Wilkie to himself as he
walked back to his office, "I think I have got
pretty nearly her whole secret out of that charm-
ing Vivian. Her father 'intimated' to her, she
says; 'promised,' I think she means; and that is
the very promise that unlucky piece of paper tries
to grapple with. She wanted everything left,
4 trusted, ' in her hands, and she did not want the
boys in the house, and she got a promise from
him that it should be so. That promise he had
delayed fulfilling, and was trying to do it for
honor's sake when too late. The fact that it was
too late upsets her plans.

"Well, a woman like that is past my under-
standing. Why can't she give two such boys a
welcome in that house? But she doesn't want
them there, that is plain. Wynt is right, and
upon my word, I begin to feel with the fellow
when he vows he wont stay. It makes me hot!
A mistake to keep boys at home, indeed ! If they
were packed off to boarding-school, to be ruined, it
would leaves the house clear for her gay visitors,
of course, and they 'd be no trouble to any one."



124 JUDGE HAVISHAM'S



CHAPTER XVI.

KEEPING UP THE FIGHT.

WHEN Wynt left the room lie walked quietly
out of the house, down the driveway, past the
fish-pond, and past Mab's door, towards Barbie's,
on the side of the drive.

Mab nodded to him as he passed her window.
How bright and sweet her face was ! It cheered
him, and he gratefully answered the look it gave
him. It seemed full of things it would like to
say, and he could guess what some of them were.
On the whole, he couldn't lose them all; and he
stepped back and reached a hand in at the win-
dow.

Mab met it with one of her smiles. " How
brave you are looking, Mr. Wynt," she said. " I
knew you wouldn't fail. I knew you'd 'hold
on tighter the harder things pull.' "

Wynt looked at her in surprise. "Where did
you get that?" he asked.

u Oh, I heard of it roundabout from Mr. Cyp.
Did you hear it too?"

"Yes, I heard it, but I did not think it had
got as far as this. As to being brave, Mab, I
don't know. I feel determined to-day, if you
call that brave."



KEEPING UP THE FIGHT. 125

"Of course I do, if you 're determined on the
right, and I 'm sure you are."

Wynt's eyes flashed. " Yes, Mab, it is right.
Mr. Wilkie does not think so, but he'll change
his mind some day. And I can't determine on
the wrong, whatever he thinks !"

Mab looked a little anxiously at him. Mr.
Wilkie was a wise man, she thought

"Well, Mr. Wynt," she said, "I'm sure
you're 'holding on,' at least, or you'd never
keep up as you do not if you hadn't fast hold
of the Hand that's out of sight not when
' things pull ' as they do now."

"No, I couldn't, Mab. Though sometimes
it seems as though I didn't know what I think
or feel."

"You do all the same though, Mr. Wynt,"
said Mab hastily, as he turned to go. "It's no
wonder it seems so just now; but it wont last.
You '11 get the Hand in yours, plainer and plainer,
and then there's such rest; when we once feel it
is holding us and shaping out everything, we go
over the worst places like floating; and we can't
stumble or faint, least of all when we know he 's
marked it all out for us in love, the path leading


1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Online LibraryI. T. HopkinsJudge Havisham's will → online text (page 6 of 16)