“And,” said Henry, “by that line of argument, we are to find an excuse for robbing your uncle; in the fact, that we are robbing you likewise.”
“No, no; indeed, you do not view the matter rightly.”
“Well, all I can say is, Charles, that while I feel, and while we all feel, the deepest debt of gratitude towards your uncle, it is our duty to do something. In a box which we have brought with us from the Hall, and which has not been opened since our father’s death, I have stumbled over some articles of ancient jewellery and plate, which, at all events, will produce something.”
“But which you must not part with.”
“Nay, but, Charles, these are things I knew not we possessed, and most ill-suited do they happen to be to our fallen fortunes. It is money we want, not the gewgaws of a former state, to which we can have now no sort of pretension.”
“Nay, I know you have all the argument; but still is there something sad and uncomfortable to one’s feelings in parting with such things as those which have been in families for many years.”
“But we knew not that we had them; remember that, Charles. Come and look at them. Those relics of a bygone age may amuse you, and, as regards myself, there are no circumstances whatever associated with them that give them any extrinsic value; so laugh at them or admire them, as you please, I shall most likely be able to join with you in either feeling.”
“Well, be it so—I will come and look at them; but you must think better of what you say concerning my uncle, for I happen to know—which you ought likewise by this time—how seriously the old man would feel any rejection on your part of the good he fancies he is doing you. I tell you, Henry, it is completely his hobby, and let him have earned his money with ten times the danger he has, he could not spend it with anything like the satisfaction that he does, unless he were allowed to dispose of it in this way.”
“Well, well; be it so for a time.”
“The fact is, his attachment to Flora is so great—which is a most fortunate circumstance for me—that I should not be at all surprised that she cuts me out of one half my estate, when the old man dies. But come, we will look at your ancient bijouterie.”
Henry led Charles into an apartment of the cottage where some of the few things had been placed that were brought from Bannerworth Hall, which were not likely to be in constant and daily use.
Among these things happened to be the box which Henry had mentioned, and from which he had taken a miscellaneous assortment of things of an antique and singular character.
There were old dresses of a season and of a taste long gone by; ancient articles of defence; some curiously wrought daggers; and a few ornaments, pretty, but valueless, along with others of more sterling pretensions, which Henry pointed out to Charles.
“I am almost inclined to think,” said the latter, “that some of these things are really of considerable value; but I do not I profess to be an accurate judge, and, perhaps, I am more taken with the beauty of an article, than the intrinsic worth. What is that which you have just taken from the box?”