At first George Stevens was inclined to oppose the execution of the will, but he was finally prevailed upon by his advisers to make no difficulty respecting it, and quietly resign what he must inevitably sooner or later relinquish. Lizzie Stevens, on the contrary, seemed rather glad that an opportunity was afforded to do justice to her old playmates, and won the good opinion of all parties by her gentleness and evident anxiety to atone for the wrong done them by her father. Even after the demands of the executors of Mr. Garie were fully satisfied, such had been the thrift of her father that there still remained a comfortable support for her and her brother.
To poor Clarence this accession of fortune brought no new pleasure; he already had sufficient for his modest wants; and now that his greatest hope in life had been blighted, this addition of wealth became to him rather a burden than a pleasure.
He was now completely excluded from the society in which he had so long been accustomed to move; the secret of his birth had become widely known, and he was avoided by his former friends and sneered at as a “nigger.” His large fortune kept some two or three whites about him, but he knew they were leeches seeking to bleed his purse, and he wisely avoided their society.
He was very wretched and lonely: he felt ashamed to seek the society of coloured men now that the whites despised and rejected him, so he lived apart from both classes of society, and grew moody and misanthropic.
Mr. Balch endeavoured to persuade him to go abroad—to visit Europe: he would not. He did not confess it, but the truth was, he could not tear himself away from the city where little Birdie dwelt, where he now and then could catch a glimpse of her to solace him in his loneliness. He was growing paler and more fragile-looking each day, and the doctor at last frankly told him that, if he desired to live, he must seek some warmer climate for the winter.
Reluctantly Clarence obeyed; in the fall he left New York, and during the cold months wandered through the West India islands. For a while his health improved, but when the novelty produced by change of scene began to decline he grew worse again, and brooded more deeply than ever over his bitter disappointment, and consequently derived but little benefit from the change; the spirit was too much broken for the body to mend—his heart was too sore to beat healthily or happily.
He wrote often now to Emily and her husband, and seemed desirous to atone for his past neglect. Emily had written to him first; she had learned of his disappointment, and gave him a sister’s sympathy in his loneliness and sorrow.