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Fenton's Quest eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 514 pages of information about Fenton's Quest.

The bailiff was puzzled, and showed Mr. Pivott to the door with a moody countenance.

“I thought there was some devil’s work,” he muttered to himself, as he watched the lawyer mount his stiff brown cob and ride away into the night; “but what does it all mean? and what has Stephen Whitelaw done with his money?  We shall know that pretty soon, anyhow.  He can’t last long.”

CHAPTER XLVI.

ELLEN REGAINS HER LIBERTY.

Stephen Whitelaw lingered for two days and two nights, and at the expiration of that time departed this life, making a very decent end of it, and troubled by no thought that his existence had been an unworthy one.

Before he died, he told his wife something of how he had been tempted into the doing of that foul deed whereof Marian Saltram had been the victim.  Those two were alone together the day before he died, when Stephen, of his own free will, made the following statement:——­

“It was Mrs. Holbrook’s father, you see,” he said, in a plausible tone, “that put it to me, how he might want his daughter taken care of for a time—­it might be a short time, or it might be rather a longish time, according to how circumstances should work out.  We’d met once before at the King’s Arms at Malsham, where Mr. Nowell was staying, and where I went in of an evening, once in a way, after market; and he’d made pretty free with me, and asked me a good many questions about myself, and told me a good bit about himself, in a friendly way.  He told me how his daughter had gone against him, and was likely to go against him, and how some property that ought in common justice to have been left to him, had been left to her.  He was going to give her a fair chance, he said, if she liked to leave her husband, who was a scheming scoundrel, and obey him.  She might have a happy home with him, if she was reasonable.  If not, he should use his authority as a father.

“He came to see me at Wyncomb next day—­dropped in unawares like, when mother Tadman was out of the way—­not that I had asked him, you see.  He seemed to be quite taken with the place, and made me show him all over the house; and then he took a glass of something, and sat and talked a bit, and went away, without having said a word about his daughter.  But before he went he made me promise that I’d go and see him at the King’s Arms that night.

“Well, you see, Nell, as he seemed to have taken a fancy to me, as you may say, and had told me he could put me up to making more of my money, and had altogether been uncommonly pleasant, I didn’t care to say no, and I went.  I was rather taken aback at the King’s Arms when they showed me to a private room, because I’d met Mr. Nowell before in the Commercial; however, there he was, sitting in front of a blazing fire, and with a couple of decanters of wine upon the table.

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