“Thees weel and tes_tam_ent as thus dictated too me by sayed testator and wheech was wreeten by me notarie by my h-own han’ jus’ as dictated, was thane by me not-arie rade to sayed Mr. [Englishman] in an au_dib_le voice and in the presence of dthe aforesayed three witnesses, and dthe sayed Mr. [Englishman] diclar-ed that he well awnder-stood me not-arie and per_sev_er-ed een diclaring the same too be his laz weel; all of wheech was don’ at one time and place weethout in_ter_’uption and weethout turningue aside to other acts.
“Thus done and pass-ed,” etc.
The notary rose, a wet pen in one hand and the will—with his portfolio under it for a tablet—in the other. Attalie hurried to the bedside and stood ready to assist. The patient took the pen with a trembling hand. The writing was laid before him, and Attalie with a knee on the bed thrust her arm under the pillows behind him to make a firmer support.
The patient seemed to summon all his power to poise and steady the pen, but his hand shook, his fingers loosened, and it fell upon the document, making two or three blots there and another on the bed-covering, whither it rolled. He groped faintly for it, moaned, and then relaxed.
“He cannot sign!” whispered Attalie, piteously.
“Yes,” gasped the patient.
The notary once more handed him the pen, but the same thing happened again.
The butcher cleared his throat in a way to draw attention. Attalie looked towards him and he drawled, half rising from his chair:
“I t’ink—a li’l more cognac”—
“Yass,” murmured the baker. The candlestick-maker did not speak, but unconsciously wet his lips with his tongue and wiped them with the back of his forefinger. But every eye turned to the patient, who said:
“I cannot write—my hand—shakes so.”
The notary asked a formal question or two, to which the patient answered “yes” and “no.” The official sat again at the desk, wrote a proper statement of the patient’s incapacity to make his signature, and then read it aloud. The patient gave assent, and the three witnesses stepped forward and signed. Then the notary signed.
As the four men approached the door to depart the baker said, lingeringly, to Attalie, smiling diffidently as he spoke:
“Dat settin’ still make a man mighty dry, yass.”
“Yass, da’s true,” said Attalie.
“Yass,” he added, “same time he dawn’t better drink much water dat hot weader, no.” The butcher turned and smiled concurrence; but Attalie, though she again said “yass,” only added good-day, and the maid led them and the notary down stairs and let them out.
MEN CAN BE BETTER THAN THEIR LAWS.
An hour later, when the black maid returned from an errand, she found her mistress at the head of the stairs near the Englishman’s door, talking in suppressed tones to Camille Ducour, who, hat in hand, seemed to have just dropped in and to be just going out again. He went, and Attalie said to her maid that he was “so good” and was going to come and sit up all night with the sick man.