“I say, Lionel, why did old Verner leave the place away from you? Have you ever wondered?”
Lionel glanced up at him in surprise.
“Have I ever ceased wondering, you might have said. I don’t know why he did.”
“Did he never give you a reason—or an explanation?”
“Nothing of the sort. Except—yes, except a trifle. Some time after his death, Mrs. Tynn discovered a formidable-looking packet in one of his drawers, sealed and directed to me. She thought it was the missing codicil; so did I, until I opened it. It proved to contain nothing but a glove; one of my old gloves, and a few lines from my uncle. They were to the effect that when I received the glove I should know why he disinherited me.”
“And did you know?” asked John Massingbird, applying a light to his pipe.
“Not in the least. It left the affair more obscure, if possible, than it had been before. I suppose I never shall know now.”
“Never’s a long day,” cried John Massingbird. “But you told me about this glove affair before.”
“Did I? Oh, I remember. When you first returned. That is all the explanation I have ever had.”
“It was not much,” said John. “Dickens take this pipe! It won’t draw. Where’s my knife?”
Not finding his knife about him, he went off to look for it, dragging his slippers along the hall in his usual lazy fashion. Lionel, glad of the respite, applied himself to his work.
RECOLLECTIONS OF A NIGHT GONE BY.
One was dying in Deerham, but not of ague, and that was old Matthew Frost. Matthew was dying of old age, to which we must all succumb, if we live long enough.
April was in, and the fever and ague were getting better. News was brought to Lionel one morning that old Matthew was not expected to last through the day. Jan entered the breakfast-room at Deerham Court and told him so. Lionel had been starting to Verner’s Pride; but he changed his course towards Clay Lane.
“Jan,” said he, as he was turning away, “I wish you’d go up and see Sibylla. I am sure she is very ill.”
“I’ll go if you like,” said Jan. “But there’s no use in it. She won’t listen to a word I say, or attend to a single direction that I give. Hayes told me, when he came over last week, that it was the same with him. She persists to him, as she does to me, that she has no need of medicine or care; that she is quite well.”
“I am aware she persists in it,” replied Lionel, “but I feel sure she is very ill.”
“I know she is,” said Jan, “She’s worse than folks think for. Perhaps you amongst them, Lionel. I’ll go up to her.” He turned back to the house as he spoke, and Lionel went on to Clay Lane.
Old Matthew was lying on his bed, very peaceful—peaceful as to his inward and his outward state. Though exceedingly weak, gradually sinking, he retained both speech and intellect: he was passing away without pain, and with his faculties about him. What a happy death-bed, when all is peace within! His dim eyes lighted up with pleasure when he saw Mr. Verner.