Hubert did not answer. At the end of a long silence he said,—
‘Did you hear anything about the last night’s?’
‘No,’ she said; ‘I heard nothing of that.’
‘Ford appeared quite satisfied then?’
‘Yes, quite,’ she answered, with difficulty; for his eyes were fixed on her, and she felt he knew she was not telling the truth. The conversation paused again, and to turn it into another channel she said, ’Why, you have not opened your letter!’
’I can see it is a lawyer’s letter, on account of some unpaid bill. If I could pay it, I would; but as I can’t——’
‘You are afraid to open it,’ said Rose.
Ashamed of his weakness, Hubert opened the letter, and began to read. Rose saw that the letter was not such an one as he had expected, and a moment after his face told her that fortunate news had come to him. The signs of the tumult within were represented by the passing of the hand across the brow, as if to brush aside some strange hallucination, and the sudden coming of a vague look of surprise and fear into the eyes. He said,—
‘Read it! Read it!’
Relieved of much detail and much cumbersome legal circumlocution, it was to the following effect:—That about three months ago Mr. Burnett had come up from his place in Sussex, and at the offices of Messrs. Grandly & Co. had made a will, in which he had disinherited his adopted daughter, Miss Emily Watson, and left everything to Mr. Hubert Price. There was no question as to the validity of the will; but Messrs. Grandly deemed it their duty to inform Mr. Hubert Price of the circumstances under which it had been made, and also of the fact that a few weeks before his death Mr. Burnett had told Mr. John Grandly, who was then staying with Mr. Burnett at Ashwood, that he intended adding a codicil, leaving some two or three hundred a year to Miss Watson. It was unfortunate that Mr. Burnett had not had time to do this; for Miss Watson was an orphan, eighteen years of age, and entirely unprovided for. Messrs. Grandly begged to submit these facts to the consideration of Mr. Hubert Price. Miss Watson was now residing at Ashwood. She was there with a friend of hers, Mrs. Bentley; and should Mr. Hubert Price feel inclined to do what Mr. Burnett had left undone, Messrs. Grandly would have very great pleasure in carrying his wishes into effect.
‘I’m not dreaming, am I?’
’No, you are not. It is quite true. Your uncle has left his money to you. I am so glad; indeed I am. You will be able to finish your play, and take a theatre and produce it yourself if you like. I hope you won’t forget me. I do want to play that part. You can’t quite know what I shall do with it. One can’t explain oneself in a scene here and there.... What are you thinking of?’
’I’m thinking of that poor girl, Emily Watson. It comes very hard upon her.’
‘Who is she?’
‘The girl my uncle disinherited.’