All was ready. The whistle sounded, and the guard had one foot on his van-step, when a shouting and commotion was heard. “Stop! Stop!” Lionel, like others, looked out, and beheld the long legs of his brother Jan come flying along the platform. Before Lionel had well known what was the matter, or had gathered in the hasty news, Jan had pulled him out of the carriage, and the train went shrieking on without him.
“There goes my luggage, and here am I and my ticket!” cried Lionel. “You have done a pretty thing, Jan. What do you say?”
“It’s all true, Lionel. She was crying over the letters when I got there. And pretty well I have raced back to stop your journey. Of course you will not go away now. He’s dead.”
“I don’t understand yet,” gasped Lionel, feeling, however, that he did understand.
“Not understand,” repeated Jan. “It’s easy enough. Fred Massingbird’s dead, poor fellow; he died of fever three weeks after they landed; and you are master of Verner’s Pride.”
NEWS FROM AUSTRALIA.
Lionel Verner could scarcely believe in his own identity. The train, which was to have contained him, was whirling towards London; he, a poor aspirant for future fortune, ought to have been in it; he had counted most certainly to be in it; but here was he, while the steam of that train yet snorted in his ears, walking out of the station, a wealthy man, come into a proud inheritance, the inheritance of his fathers. In the first moment of tumultuous thought, Lionel almost felt as if some fairy must have been at work with a magic wand.
It was all true. He linked his arm within Jan’s, and listened to the recital in detail. Jan had found Mrs. Verner, on his arrival at Verner’s Pride, weeping over letters from Australia; one from a Captain Cannonby, one from Sibylla. They contained the tidings that Frederick Massingbird had died of fever, and that Sibylla was anxious to come home again.
“Who is Captain Cannonby?” asked Lionel of Jan.
“Have you forgotten the name?” returned Jan. “That friend of Fred Massingbird’s who sold out, and was knocking about London; Fred went up once or twice to see him. He went to the diggings last autumn, and it seems Fred and Sibylla lighted on him at Melbourne. He had laid poor Fred in the grave the day before he wrote, he says.”
“I can scarcely believe it all now, Jan,” said Lionel. “What a change!”
“Ay. You won’t believe it for a day or two. I say, Lionel, Uncle Stephen need not have left Verner’s Pride to the Massingbirds; they have not lived to enjoy it. Neither need there have been all that bother about the codicil. I know what.”
“What?” asked Lionel, looking at him; for Jan spoke significantly.
“That Madam Sibylla would give her two ears now to have married you, instead of Fred Massingbird.”