To cut short for the present this extraordinary part of our story, Lewis Carruthers, alias Leonard Monckton, entered a fine house and took possession of eleven thousand acres of hilly pasture, and the undivided moiety of a lake brimful of fish. He accounted for his change of name by the favors Carruthers, deceased, had shown him. Therein he did his best to lie, but his present vein of luck turned it into the truth. Old Carruthers had become so peevish that all his relations disliked him, and he disliked them. So he left his personal estate to his heir-at-law simply because he had never seen him. The personality was very large. The house was full of pictures, and China, and cabinets, etc. There was a large balance at the banker’s, a heavy fall of timber not paid for, rents due, and as many as two thousand four hundred sheep upon that hill, which the old fellow had kept in his own hands. So, when the new proprietor took possession as Carruthers, nobody was surprised, though many were furious. Lucy installed him in a grand suite of apartments as an invalid, and let nobody come near him. Waddy was dismissed with a munificent present, and could be trusted to hold his tongue. By the advice of Middleton, not a single servant was dismissed, and so no enemies were made. The family lawyer and steward were also retained, and, in short, all conversation was avoided. In a month or two the new proprietor began to improve in health, and drive about his own grounds, or be rowed on his lake, lying on soft beds.
But in the fifth month of his residence local pains seized him, and he began to waste. For some time the precise nature of the disorder was obscure; but at last a rising surgeon declared it to be an abscess in the intestines (caused, no doubt, by external violence).
By degrees the patient became unable to take solid food, and the drain upon his system was too great for a mere mucilaginous diet to sustain him. Wasted to the bone, and yellow as a guinea, he presented a pitiable spectacle, and would gladly have exchanged his fine house and pictures, his heathery hills dotted with sheep, and his glassy lake full of spotted trout, for a ragged Irishman’s bowl of potatoes and his mug of buttermilk—and his stomach.
Striking incidents will draw the writer; but we know that our readers would rather hear about the characters they can respect. It seems, however, to be a rule in life, and in fiction, that interest flags when trouble ceases. Now the troubles of our good people were pretty well over, and we will put it to the reader whether they had not enough.
Grace Clifford made an earnest request to Colonel Clifford and her father never to tell Walter he had been suspected of bigamy. “Let others say that circumstances are always to be believed and character not to be trusted; but I, at least, had no right to believe certificates and things against my Walter’s honor and his love. Hide my fault from him, not for my sake but for his; perhaps when we are both old people I may tell him.”