“Do not go out of the world committing an act of injustice; an act, too, that is irreparable, and of which the injustice must last for ever. Stephen, I will not leave you until you consent to repair what you have done.”
“It has been upon my mind to do it since I was taken worse yesterday,” murmured Stephen Verner. “Our Saviour taught us to forgive. Had it been against me only that he sinned, I would have forgiven him long ago.”
“You will forgive him now?”
“Forgiveness does not lie with me. It was not against me, I say, that he sinned. Let him ask forgiveness of God and of his own conscience. But he shall have Verner’s Pride.”
“Better that you should see it in its proper light at the eleventh hour, than not at all, Stephen,” said Mr. Bitterworth. “By every law of right and justice, Verner’s Pride, after you, belongs to Lionel.”
“You speak well, Bitterworth, when you call it the eleventh hour,” observed Mr. Verner. “If I am to make this change you must get Matiss here without an instant’s delay. See him yourself, and bring him back. Tell him what the necessity is. He will make more haste for you than he might for one of my servants.”
“Does he know of the bequest to the Massingbirds?”
“Of course he knows of it. He made the will. I have never employed anybody but Matiss since I came into the estate.”
Mr. Bitterworth, feeling there was little time to be lost, quitted the room without more delay. He was anxious that Lionel should have his own. Not so much because he liked and esteemed Lionel, as that he possessed a strong sense of justice within himself. Lionel heard him leaving the sick-room, and came to him, but Mr. Bitterworth would not stop.
“I cannot wait,” he said. “I am bound on an errand for your uncle.”
AN ALTERED WILL.
Mr. Bitterworth was bound to the house of the lawyer, Mr. Matiss, who lived and had his office in the new part of Deerham, down by Dr. West’s. People wondered that he managed to make a living in so small a place; but he evidently did make one. Most of the gentry in the vicinity employed him for trifling things, and he held one or two good agencies. He kept no clerk. He was at home when Mr. Bitterworth entered, writing at a desk in his small office, which had maps hung round it. A quick-speaking man, with dark hair and a good-natured face.
“Are you busy, Matiss?” began Mr. Bitterworth, when he entered; and the lawyer looked at him through the railings of his desk.
“Not particularly, Mr. Bitterworth. Do you want me?”
“Mr. Verner wants you. He has sent me to bring you to him without delay. You have heard that there’s a change in him?”
“Oh, yes, I have heard it,” replied the lawyer. “I am at his service, Mr. Bitterworth.”
“He wants his last will altered. Remedied, I should say,” continued Mr. Bitterworth, looking the lawyer full in the face, and nodding confidentially.