Mr. Carley’s expression of opinion after hearing this will read need not be recorded here. It was forcible, to say the least of it; and Mr. Pivott, the Malsham solicitor, protested against such language as an outrage upon the finer feelings of our nature.
“Some degree of disappointment is perhaps excusable upon your part, my dear sir,” said the lawyer, who wished to keep the widow for his client, and had therefore no desire to offend her father; “but I am sure that in your calmer moments you will admit that the work to which your son-in-law has devoted the bulk of his accumulations is a noble one. For ages to come the sick and the suffering among our townsfolk will bless the name of Whitelaw. There is a touching reflection for you, Mr. Carley! And really now, your amiable daughter, with an income of two hundred per annum—to say nothing of that reversion which must fall in to her by-and-by on Mrs. Tadman’s decease—is left in a very fair position. I should not have consented to draw up that will, sir, if I had considered it an unjust one.”
“Then there’s a wide difference between your notion of justice and mine,” growled the bailiff; who thereupon relapsed into grim silence, feeling that complaint was useless. He could no more alter the conditions of Mr. Whitelaw’s will than he could bring Mr. Whitelaw back to life—and that last operation was one which he was by no means eager to perform.
Ellen herself felt no disappointment; she fancied, indeed, that her husband, whom she had never deceived by any pretence of affection, had behaved with sufficient generosity towards her. Two hundred a year seemed a large income to her. It would give her perfect independence, and the power to help others, if need were.
It was not until the day of her husband’s funeral that Ellen Whitelaw wrote to Mr. Fenton to tell him what had happened. She knew that her letter was likely to bring him post-haste to the Grange, and she wished his coming to be deferred until that last dismal day was over. Nor was she sorry that there should be some little pause—a brief interval of ignorance and tranquillity—in Marian’s life before she heard of her husband’s useless voyage across the Atlantic. She was in sad need of rest of mind and body, and even in those few days gained considerable strength, by the aid of Mrs. Whitelaw’s tender nursing. She had not left her room during the time that death was in the darkened house, and it was only on the morning after the funeral that she came downstairs for the first time. Her appearance had improved wonderfully in that interval of little more than a week. Her eyes had lost their dim weary look, the deathly pallor of her complexion had given place to a faint bloom. But grateful as she was for her own deliverance, she was full of anxiety about her husband. Ellen Whitelaw’s vague assurances that all would be well, that he would soon be restored to her, were not enough to set her mind at ease.