Fated to Be Free eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 460 pages of information about Fated to Be Free.

“Reasonable and cool,” thought Brandon.  “Have I any right to say more?  He will do just what he says.  No one was ever more free from superstition; and he is of age, as he reminds me.”

“Very well,” he then said aloud; “you have a right to do as you please.  Still, I must remind you of your father’s distinct assertion, that in this case he has set you an example.  He would not have the land.”

“Does he mean,” said Valentine, confused between his surprise at the letter, his own recollections, and his secret wishes—­“Does he, can he mean, that his old mother positively asked him to be her heir, and he refused?”

“I cannot tell; how is the will worded?”

“My great-grandfather left his estate to his only son, and if he died childless, to his eldest grandson; both these were mere boys at the time, and if neither lived to marry, then the old man left his estate to his only daughter.  That was my grandmother, you know, and she had it for many years.”

“And she had power to will it away, as is evident.”

“Yes, she might leave it to any one of her sons, or his representative; but she was not to divide it into shares.  And in case of the branch she favoured dying out, the estate was to revert to his heir-at-law—­the old man’s heir-at-law, you know, his nearest of kin.  That would have been my father, if he had lived a year or two longer, he was the second son.  It is a most complicated and voluminous will.”

Brandon asked one more question.  “But its provisions come to an end with you, is it not so?  It is not entailed, and you can do with it exactly as you please.”

Valentine’s countenance fell a little when his brother said this; he perceived that he chanced to be more free than most heirs, he had more freedom than he cared for.

“Yes,” he replied, “that is so.”

CHAPTER XXII.

SOPHISTRY.

“’As he has not trusted me, he will never know how I should scorn to be a thief,’ quoth the school boy yesterday, when his master’s orchard gate was locked; but, ‘It’s all his own fault,’ quoth the same boy to-day while he was stealing his master’s plums, ’why did he leave the gate ajar?’”

“Val,” said Brandon, “I do hope you will give yourself time to consider this thing in all its bearings before you decide.  I am afraid if you make a mistake, it will prove a momentous one.”

He spoke with a certain feeling of restraint, his advice had not been asked; and the two brothers began to perceive by this time that it was hard to keep up an air of easy familiarity when neither felt really at ease.  Each was thinking of the lovely young wife down-stairs.  One felt that he could hardly preach to the man whose folly had been his own opportunity, the other felt that nothing would be more sweet than to let her see that, after all, she had married a man not half so rich nor in so good a position as

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Fated to Be Free from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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