’Oh, but he told you so much as relates to you and your uncle, Mr. Silas Ruthyn, of Bartram-Haugh?’
‘No, indeed, sir.’
‘Ha! I wish he had.’
And with these words Doctor Bryerly’s countenance darkened.
‘Mr. Silas Ruthyn is a religious man?’
‘Oh, very!’ said I.
‘You’ve seen a good deal of him?’
‘No, I never saw him,’ I answered.
‘H’m? Odder and odder! But he’s a good man, isn’t he?’
‘Very good, indeed, sir—a very religious man.’
Doctor Bryerly was watching my countenance as I spoke, with a sharp and anxious eye; and then he looked down, and read the pattern of the carpet like bad news, for a while, and looking again in my face, askance, he said—
’He was very near joining us—on the point. He got into correspondence with Henry Voerst, one of our best men. They call us Swedenborgians, you know; but I dare say that won’t go much further, now. I suppose, Miss Ruthyn, one o’clock would be a good hour, and I am sure, under the circumstances, the gentlemen will make a point of attending.’
’Yes, Dr. Bryerly, the notes shall be sent, and my cousin, Lady Knollys, would I am sure attend with me while the will is being read—there would be no objection to her presence?’
’None in the world. I can’t be quite sure who are joined with me as executors. I’m almost sorry I did not decline; but it is too late regretting. One thing you must believe Miss Ruthyn: in framing the provisions of the will I was never consulted—although I expostulated against the only very unusual one it contains when I heard it. I did so strenuously, but in vain. There was one other against which I protested—having a right to do so—with better effect. In no other way does the will in any respect owe anything to my advice or dissuasion. You will please believe this; also that I am your friend. Yes, indeed, it is my duty.’
The latter words he spoke looking down again, as it were in soliloquy; and thanking him, I withdrew.
When I reached the hall, I regretted that I had not asked him to state distinctly what arrangements the will made so nearly affecting, as it seemed, my relations with my uncle Silas, and for a moment I thought of returning and requesting an explanation. But then, I bethought me, it was not very long to wait till one o’clock—so he, at least, would think. I went up-stairs, therefore, to the ‘school-room,’ which we used at present as a sitting-room, and there I found Cousin Monica awaiting me.
‘Are you quite well, dear?’ asked Lady Knollys, as she came to meet and kiss me.
‘Quite well, Cousin Monica.’
’No nonsense, Maud! you’re as white as that handkerchief—what’s the matter? Are you ill—are you frightened? Yes, you’re trembling—you’re terrified, child.’
’I believe I am afraid. There is something in poor papa’s will about Uncle Silas—about me. I don’t know—Doctor Bryerly says, and he seems so uncomfortable and frightened himself, I am sure it is something very bad. I am very much frightened—I am—I am. Oh, Cousin Monica! you won’t leave me?’