Lucy laughed and drew away her hand, her radiant countenance falling before the gaze of Lionel.
“So you will be troubled with me yet, you see, Miss Lucy,” he added, in a lighter tone, as he left her and strode off with a step that might have matched Jan’s, on his way to ask the bells whether they were not ashamed of themselves.
ROY EATING HUMBLE PIE.
And so the laws of right and justice had eventually triumphed, and Lionel Verner took possession of his own. Mrs. Verner took possession of her own—her chamber; all she was ever again likely to take possession of at Verner’s Pride. She had no particular ailment, unless heaviness could be called an ailment, and steadily refused any suggestion of Jan’s.
“You’ll go off in a fit,” said plain Jan to her.
“Then I must go,” replied Mrs. Verner. “I can’t submit to be made wretched with your medical and surgical remedies, Mr. Jan. Old people should be let alone, to doze away their days in peace.”
“As good give some old people poison outright, as let them always doze,” remonstrated Jan.
“You’d like me to live sparingly—to starve myself, in short—and you’d like me to take exercise!” returned Mrs. Verner. “Wouldn’t you, now?”
“It would add ten years to your life,” said Jan.
“I dare say! It’s of no use your coming preaching to me, Mr. Jan. Go and try your eloquence upon others. I always have had enough to eat, and I hope I always shall. And as to my getting about, or walking, I can’t. When folks come to be my size, it’s cruel to want them to do it.”
Mrs. Verner was nodding before she had well spoken the last words, and Jan said no more. You may have met with some such case in your own experience.
When the news of Lionel Verner’s succession fell upon Roy, the bailiff, he could have gnashed his teeth in very vexation. Had he foreseen what was to happen he would have played his cards so differently. It had not entered into the head-piece of Roy to reflect that Frederick Massingbird might die. Scarcely had it that he could die. A man, young and strong, what was likely to take him off? John had died, it was true; but John’s death had been a violent one. Had Roy argued the point at all—which he did not, for it had never occurred to his mind—he might have assumed that because John had died, Fred was the more likely to live. It is a somewhat rare case for two brothers to be cut down in their youth and prime, one closely following upon the other.
Roy lived in a cottage standing by itself, a little beyond Clay Lane, but not so far off as the gamekeeper’s. On the morning when the bells had rung out—to the surprise and vexation of Lionel—Roy happened to be at home. Roy never grudged himself holiday when it could be devoted to the benefit of his wife. A negative benefit she may have thought it, since it invariably consisted in what Roy called a “blowing of her up.”