An hour afterward, Falk came in for orders—and withdrew.
Bedient had merely nodded to him from the depths of contemplation.... At last, he heard the weeping of the house-servants. And there was one low wailing tone that startled him with the memory of the Sikh woman who had wept for old Gobind.
THE MAN FROM THE PLEIAD
Bedient drew from Falk a few days afterward that the Captain had planned almost exactly as it happened. Since the beginnings of unrest in Equatoria, he had transferred his banking to New York; so that in the event of defeat in war, only the lands and hacienda would revert, upon the fall of the present government. Falk could not remember (and his services dated back fifteen years, at which time he left Surrey with the Captain) when the master did not speak of Bedient’s coming.
“But for your letters, sir, Leadley and I would have come to think of you as—as just one of the master’s ways, Mister Andrew.”
Falk was a middle-aged serving-class Englishman, highly trained and without humor. Leadley, the cook, and a power in his department, dated also from Surrey, which was his county. These men had learned to handle the natives to a degree, and the entire responsibility of the establishment had fallen upon them during the absences of the Captain. As chief of house-servants and as cook, these two at their best were faultless, but the life was very easy, and they were given altogether too many hands to help. Moreover, Falk and Leadley belonged to that queer human type which proceeds to burn itself out with alcohol if left alone. The latter years of such servants become a steady battle to keep sober enough for service. Each man naturally believed himself an admirable drinker.
Natives came from the entire Island to smoke and drink and weep for the Captain. Dictator Jaffier sent his “abject bereavement” by pony pack-train, which, having formed in a sort of hollow square, received the thanks of Bedient, and assurances that his policy would continue in the delightful groove worn by the late best of men. The reply of Jaffier was the offer of a public funeral in Coral City, but Bedient declined this, and the body of his friend was turned toward the East upon the shoulder of his highest hill....
Presently Bedient read the Captain’s documents. Falk and Leadley were bountifully cared for; scores of natives were remembered; the policy toward Jaffier outlined according to the best experience; and the bulk, name, lands, bonds, capital and all—“to my beloved young friend, Andrew Bedient."... At the request and expense of the latter, the New York bankers sent down an agent to verify the transfer of this great fortune. A month passed—a foretaste of what was to come. Bedient, prepared for greater work than this, was lonely in the sunlight.