"You say true, Master Harry," rejoined Rue, composedly; "it's always run in the blood, and heated it more than was good for it, many a time. Yet, now and then, there has been a Bergan who has learned how to keep it under, and been all the better for doing it. You surely must recollect what a mild, kind gentleman your father was, young as you were when he died; and I've heard say that there never was a truer Bergan, or one more respected all the country through."
"Certainly, sir," replied Rue, simply. "He is Miss Eleanor's son, you know."As the friends stood thus silent, each busy with her own impressions (for they were of much too thin a consistency to be called thoughts), certain sounds from below, coming up to the window, attracted their notice. A horse was brought round to the side door, and, soon after, Bergan's voice was distinctly heard, speaking to Mr. Youle.
Chapter 3 "PATTERN OF OLD FIDELITY."The "Rat-Hole" wore an appearance of exceeding quietness, in the sunny autumn afternoon. A half tipsy vagabond or two lounged about the stoop, but the greater part of its frequenters were of the owl species, careful not to show their heads in the daytime.Alas! no. The image evoked by that "voice in the air," had followed her across the threshold, and still faced her with sad, upbraiding eyes. Instinctively, she threw herself upon her knees to exorcise it by the spell of prayer. Though no intelligible word might come to her trembling lips, though not a coherent thought might shape itself in her dizzy brain, she was, nevertheless, prostrate at the foot of the cross, and the Saviour would understand!
"Admirably," replied the Major. "I have had one attack since you were here,—a tolerably severe one, too,—but the second powder acted like a charm.""De puerta cerrada el diablo se torna,—From a locked door, the devil turns away," he muttered, settling himself in his hiding place, with the intention of remaining there until the anticipated departure.
"You see," said Doctor Remy, "that it comes back to what I said first,—we must wait. That is, until we can consult with the dead man's brother and nephew. At what hour this afternoon will it be convenient for you to meet them, and me, here?""Yes, massa."
As he stood upright, his ear caught the faint jar of a closing door, followed by the sound of slow footsteps, and a cracked voice humming a song. Apparently, the spot which he had chosen, lonely as it seemed, was not far from some human dwelling. He and his companion exchanged startled glances, plunged into the underbrush, and fled silently and swiftly.
Carice remained, trying her best to reduce the confusion of her mind to order, and, especially, to discover some clue to the mystery of Bergan's doings and intentions. She gave up the difficult task, at last, with a weary little shake of the head, and a smile of pity at her own helplessness.This threat effectually silenced Doctor Remy. It was essential that the matter should not be taken out of his hands, till he had satisfied himself that it could in nowise be turned to his account. "If it comes to the worst," said he to himself, "it is something to have the document in my own handwriting. That gives me a better chance to furnish a substitute, at need."
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"Yes, father!" was the instant answer, in a voice of peculiar richness and melody; and the next moment a young girl stood in the window, with a light shawl wrapped round her slender figure, and her hands filled with autumn flowers, just gathered. The light was too dim to show her features clearly; but a certain indefinable freshness and sweetness seemed to enter the room with her and diffuse itself through the atmosphere not less perceptibly than the scent of the flowers. At sight of a stranger, imperfectly seen in the twilight obscurity of the room, she stopped abruptly."And Mr. Islay, and Judge and Mrs. Morris, and—"
Bergan meditated. Though he had long known that his uncle's habits would be likely to bring him, sooner or later, to a drunkard's most miserable end, he could not but think it somewhat suspicious that the seizure should have followed so closely upon the completion of the fraudulent will."Miss Ferrars was here last evening, and she told me—in confidence, you know—that she had no doubt of it whatever. Her window overlooks Astra's studio, and she says that she often sees him there, helping Astra about her work, or watching her with the most absorbing interest, or talking to her with a very tell-tale earnestness."详情
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