“It’s a queer turn up onyway. I juist hope it’s a’ richt. But I would see it afore ye spend it. I wis readin’ a bit in the papers the ither day aboot a wumman who got word o’ a fortune sent her, and went and got a’ sorts o’ braw claes and things ower the heid o’t, and here it wis a’ a begunk. And a freend o’ mine hed a husband oot aboot Canada somewhere, and she got word o’ his death, and she claimed the insurance, and got verra braw blacks, and here wha should turn up but his lordship, as leevin’ as you or me! Eh, puir thing, she wis awfu’ annoyed.... You be carefu’, Miss Jean, and see the colour o’ yer money afore ye begin giein’ awa’ hauf-croons instead o’ pennies.”
“O, I wad like to ken—to the beggar-wife says I— Why chops are guid to brander and nane sae guid to fry, An’ siller, that’s sae braw to get, is brawer still to gie. —It’s gey an’ easy speirin’, says the beggar-wife to me.”
It is always easier for poor human nature to weep with those who weep than to rejoice with those who rejoice. Into our congratulations to our more fortunate neighbour we often manage to squeeze something of the “hateful rind of resentment,” forgetting that the cup of life is none too sweet for any of us, and needs nothing of our bitterness added.
Jean had not an enemy in the world, almost everyone wished her well, but in very few cases was there any marked enthusiasm about her inheritance. “Ridiculous,” was the most frequent comment: or “Fancy that little thing!” It seemed absurd that such an unimportant person should have had such a large thing happen to her.
Pamela was frankly disgusted with the turn things had taken. She had intended giving Jean such a good time; she had meant to dress her and amuse her and settle her in life. Peter Reid had destroyed all her plans, and Jean would never now be dependent on her for the pleasures of life.
She wrote to her brother:
“Jean seems to be one of the people that all sorts of odd things happen to, and now fortune has played one of her impish tricks and Jean has become a very considerable heiress. And I was there, oddly enough, when the god in the car alighted, so to speak, at The Rigs.
“One afternoon, just after I came to Priorsford, I went in after tea and found the Jardines entertaining a shabby-looking elderly man. They were all so very nice to him that I thought he must be some old family friend, but it turned out that none of them had seen him before that afternoon. He had asked to look over the house, and told Jean that he had lived in it as a boy, and Jean, remarking his rather shabby clothes and frail appearance, jumped to the conclusion that he had failed in life and—you know Jean—was at once full of tenderness and compassion. At his request she sang to him a song he had heard his mother sing, and finished by presenting him with the song-book containing it—a somewhat rare collection which she valued.