“You are very good. I am anxious to go back to the Grange as quickly as possible.”
Gilbert left soon after this. He felt that his presence was of no use in the sick-room, and that he had no right to intrude upon Marian at such a time.
FATHER AND DAUGHTER.
Almost immediately after Gilbert’s departure, another visitor appeared in the dimly lighted shop, where Luke Tulliver was poring over a newspaper at one end of the counter under a solitary gas-burner.
The new-comer was Percival Nowell, who had not been to the house since his daughter’s arrival.
“Well,” said this gentleman, in his usual off-hand manner, “how’s the governor?”
“Very ill; going fast, the doctor says.”
“Eh? As bad as that? Then there’s been a change since I was here last.”
“Yes; Mr. Nowell was taken much worse yesterday morning. He had a kind of fit, I fancy, and couldn’t get his speech for some time afterwards. But he got over that, and has talked well enough since then,” Mr. Tulliver concluded ruefully, remembering his master’s candid remarks that morning.
“I’ll step upstairs and have a look at the old gentleman,” said Percival.
“There’s a young lady with him,” Mr. Tulliver remarked, in a somewhat mysterious tone.
“A young lady!” the other cried. “What young lady?”
“Yes; she came up from the country yesterday evening, and she’s been sitting with him ever since. He seems to have taken to her very much. You’d think she’d been about him all her life; and she’s to have all his money, he says. I wonder what his only son will say to that,” added Mr. Tulliver, looking very curiously at Percival Nowell, “supposing him to be alive? Rather hard upon him, isn’t it?”
“Uncommonly,” the other answered coolly. He saw that the shopman suspected his identity, though he had carefully avoided all reference to the relationship between himself and the old man in Luke Tulliver’s presence, and had begged his father to say nothing about him.
“I should like to see this young lady before I go up to Mr. Nowell’s room,” he said presently. “Will you step upstairs and ask her to come down to me?”
“I can go if you wish, but I don’t suppose she’ll leave the old gentleman.”
“Never mind what you suppose. Tell her that I wish to say a few words to her upon particular business.”
Luke Tulliver departed upon his errand, while Percival Nowell went into the parlour, and seated himself before the dull neglected fire in the lumbering old arm-chair in which his father had sat through the long lonely evenings for so many years. Mr. Nowell the younger was not disturbed by any sentimental reflections upon this subject, however; he was thinking of his father’s will, and the wrong which was inflicted upon him thereby.