Master Skyffington desired her to look over the papers, ere she signed the formal receipt for them, but she waved them gently aside:
“Quite unnecessary, kind master,” she said decisively, “since I receive them at your hands.”
She bent over the document which the lawyer now placed before her, and took the pen from him.
“Where shall I sign?” she asked.
Sir Marmaduke and Editha de Chavasse watched her keenly, as with a bold stroke of the pen she wrote her name across the receipt.
“Now the papers, please, master,” said Lady Sue peremptorily.
But the prudent lawyer had still a word of protest to enter here.
“My dear young lady,” he said tentatively, awed in spite of himself by the self-possessed behavior of a maid whom up to now he had regarded as a mere child, “let me, as a man of vast experience in such matters, repeat to you the well-meant advice which Sir Marmaduke ...”
But she checked him decisively, though kindly.
“You said, Master Skyffington, did you not,” she said, “that after to-day no one had the slightest control over my actions or over my fortune?”
“That is so, certainly,” he rejoined, “but ...”
“Well, then, kind master, I pray you,” she said authoritatively, “to hand me over all those securities, grants and moneys, for which I have just signed a receipt.”
There was naught to do for a punctilious lawyer, as was Master Skyffington, but to obey forthwith. This he did, without another word, collecting the various bundles of paper and placing them one by one in the brown leather wallet which he had brought for the purpose. Sue watched him quietly, and when the last of the important documents had been deposited in the wallet, she held out her hand for it.
With a grave bow, and an unconsciously pompous gesture, Master Skyffington, attorney-at-law, handed over that wallet which now contained a fortune to Lady Susannah Aldmarshe.
She took it, and graciously bowed her head to him in acknowledgment. Then, after a slight, distinctly haughty nod to Sir Marmaduke and to Editha, she turned and walked silently out of the room.
HUSBAND AND WIFE
Mistress Martha Lambert was a dignified old woman, on whose wrinkled face stern virtues, sedulously practiced, had left their lasting imprint. Among these virtues which she had thus somewhat ruthlessly exercised throughout her long life, cleanliness and orderliness stood out pre-eminently. They undoubtedly had brought some of the deepest furrows round her eyes and mouth, as indeed they had done round those of Adam Lambert, who having lived with her all his life, had had to suffer from her passion of scrubbing and tidying more than anyone else.
But her cottage was resplendent: her chief virtues being apparent in every nook and corner of the orderly little rooms which formed her home and that of the two lads whom a dying friend had entrusted to her care.