“Let it go for now,” returned John. “I may tell you some time, perhaps. When shall you take up your abode here?”
Lionel smiled. “I will not invade you without warning. You and I will take counsel together, John, and discuss plans and expediencies.”
“I suppose you’ll be for setting about your improvements now?”
“Yes,” answered Lionel, his tone changing to one of deep seriousness, not to say reverence. “Without loss of time.”
“I told you they could wait until you came into the estate. It has not been long first, you see.”
“No; but I never looked for it,” said Lionel.
“Ah! Things turn up that we don’t look for,” concluded John Massingbird, smoking on as serenely as though he had come into an estate, instead of having lost one. “There’ll be bonfires all over the place to-night, Lionel—left-handed compliment to me. Here comes Luke Roy. I told him to be here this morning. What nuts this will be for old Roy to crack! He has been fit to stick me, ever since I refused him the management of Verner’s Pride.”
LIGHT THROWN ON OBSCURITY.
And so, the trouble and the uncertainty, the ups and the downs, the turnings out and changes were at an end, and Lionel Verner was at rest—at rest so far as rest can be, in this lower world. He was reinstalled at Verner’s Pride, its undisputed master; never again to be sent forth from it during life.
He had not done as John Massingbird did—gone right in, the first day, and taken up his place, sans ceremonie, without word and without apology, at the table’s head, leaving John to take his at the side or the foot, or where he could. Quite the contrary. Lionel’s refinement of mind, his almost sensitive consideration for the feelings of others, clung to him now, as it always had done, as it always would do, and he was chary of disturbing John Massingbird too early in his sway of the internal economy of Verner’s Pride. It had to be done, however; and John Massingbird remained on with him, his guest.
All that had passed; and the spring of the year was growing late. The codicil had been proved; the neighbourhood had tendered their congratulations to the new master, come into his own at last; the improvements, in which Lionel’s conscience held so deep a score, were begun and in good progress; and John Massingbird’s return to Australia was decided upon, and the day of his departure fixed. People surmised that Lionel would be glad to get rid of him, if only for the sake of his drawing-rooms. John Massingbird still lounged at full length on the amber satin couches, in dropping-off slippers or in dirty boots, as the case might be, still filled them with clouds of tobacco-smoke, so that you could not see across them. Mrs. Tynn declared, to as many people as she dared, that she prayed every night on her bended knees for Mr. Massingbird’s departure, before the furniture should be quite ruined, or they burned in their beds.