‘Wat good man is your father!’
’Very—the kindest darling. I don’t know why it is, Madame, I am so afraid of him, and never could tell him how much I love him.’
This confidential talking with Madame, strange to say, implied no confidence; it resulted from fear—it was deprecatory. I treated her as if she had human sympathies, in the hope that they might be generated somehow.
’Was there not a doctor from London with him a few months ago? Dr. Bryerly, I think they call him.’
’Yes, a Doctor Bryerly, who remained a few days. Shall we begin to walk towards home, Madame? Do, pray.’
‘Immediately, cheaile; and does your father suffer much?’
‘No—I think not.’
‘And what then is his disease?’
’Disease! he has no disease. Have you heard anything about his health, Madame?’ I said, anxiously.
’Oh no, ma foi—I have heard nothing; but if the doctor came, it was not because he was quite well.’
’But that doctor is a doctor in theology, I fancy. I know he is a Swedenborgian; and papa is so well, he could not have come as a physician.’
’I am very glad, ma chere, to hear; but still you know your father is old man to have so young cheaile as you. Oh, yes—he is old man, and so uncertain life is. ’As he made his will, my dear? Every man so rich as he, especially so old, aught to ‘av made his will.’
’There is no need of haste, Madame; it is quite time enough when his health begins to fail.’
‘But has he really compose no will?’
‘I really don’t know, Madame.’
’Ah, little rogue! you will not tell—but you are not such fool as you feign yourself. No, no; you know everything. Come, tell me all about—it is for your advantage, you know. What is in his will, and when he wrote?’
’But, Madame, I really know nothing of it. I can’t say whether there is a will or not. Let us talk of something else.’
’But, cheaile, it will not kill Monsieur Ruthyn to make his will; he will not come to lie here a day sooner by cause of that; but if he make no will, you may lose a great deal of the property. Would not that be pity?’
’I really don’t know anything of his will. If papa has made one, he has never spoken of it to me. I know he loves me—that is enough.’
’Ah! you are not such little goose—you do know everything, of course. Come tell me, little obstinate, otherwise I will break your little finger. Tell me everything.’
’I know nothing of papa’s will. You don’t know, Madame, how you hurt me. Let us speak of something else.’
’You do know, and you must tell, petite dure-tete, or I will break a your little finger.’
With which words she seized that joint, and laughing spitefully, she twisted it suddenly back. I screamed while she continued to laugh.
‘Will you tell?’
‘Yes, yes! let me go,’ I shrieked.