“Then you fancy there is a good bit of money in question?” he said, when Gilbert told him everything.
“I fancy so. But I have no actual ground for the belief. The place in which the old man lives is poor enough, and he has carefully abstained from any hint as to what he might leave his granddaughter. Whatever it is, Marian ought to have it; and there is very little chance of that, unless she comes forward in response to Mr. Nowell’s advertisements.”
“It is a pity she should lose the chance of this inheritance, certainly,” said Mr. Saltram.
And then the conversation changed, and they talked of other subjects until it was time for them to part.
John Saltram walked back to the Temple in a very sombre mood, meditating upon his friend’s trouble.
“Poor old Gilbert,” he said to himself, “this business has touched him more deeply than I could have thought possible. I wish things had happened otherwise. What is it Lady Macbeth says? ’Naught’s had, all’s spent, when our desire is got without content.’ I wonder whether the fulfilment of one’s heart’s desire ever does bring perfect contentment? I think not. There is always something wanting. And if a man comes by his wish basely, there is a taint of poison in the wine of life that neutralizes all its sweetness.”
MRS. PALLINSON HAS VIEWS.
At seven o’clock on Sunday evening, as the neighbouring church bells were just sounding their last peal, Mr. Fenton found himself on the threshold of Mrs. Branston’s house in Cavendish-square. It was rather a gloomy mansion, pervaded throughout with evidences of its late owner’s oriental career; old Indian cabinets; ponderous chairs of elaborately-carved ebony, clumsy in form and barbaric in design; curious old china and lacquered ware of every kind, from gigantic vases to the tiniest cups and saucers; ivory temples, and gods in silver and clay, crowded the drawing-rooms and the broad landings on the staircase. The curtains and chair-covers were of Indian embroidery; the carpets of oriental manufacture. Everything had a gaudy semi-barbarous aspect.
Mrs. Branston received her guests in the back drawing-room, a smaller and somewhat snugger apartment than the spacious chamber in front, which was dimly visible in the light of a single moderator lamp and the red glow of a fire through the wide-open archway between the two rooms. In the inner room the lamps were brighter, and the fire burned cheerily; and here Mrs. Branston had established for herself a comfortable nook in a deep velvet-cushioned arm-chair, very low and capacious, sheltered luxuriously from possible draughts by a high seven-leaved Japanese screen. The fair Adela was a chilly personage, and liked to bask in her easy-chair before the fire. She looked very pretty this evening, in her dense black dress, with the airiest pretence of a widow’s cap perched