“Will you like to sign it, sir?” he asked, as he laid it down.
“When I have read it for myself,” replied Mr. Verner.
The lawyer smiled as he handed it to him. All his clients were not so cautious. Some might have said, “so mistrustful.”
Mr. Verner found the codicil all right, and the bell was rung for Tynn. Mrs. Tynn happened to come in at the same moment. She was retreating when she saw business a-gate, but her master spoke to her.
“You need not go, Mrs. Tynn. Bring a pen and ink here.”
So the housekeeper remained present while the deed was executed. Mr. Verner signed it, proclaiming it his last will and testament, and Dr. West and Tynn affixed their signatures. The lawyer and Mrs. Tynn stood looking on.
Mr. Verner folded it up with his own hands, and sealed it.
“Bring me my desk,” he said, looking at Mrs. Tynn.
The desk was kept in a closet in the room, and she brought it forth. Mr. Verner locked the parchment within it.
“You will remember where it is,” he said, touching the desk, and looking at the lawyer. “The will is also here.”
Mrs. Tynn carried the desk back again; and Dr. West and the lawyer left the house together.
Later, when Mr. Verner was in bed, he spoke to Lionel, who was sitting with him.
“You will give heed to carry out my directions, Lionel, so far as I have left directions, after you come into power.”
“I will, sir,” replied Lionel, never having had the faintest suspicion that he had been near losing his inheritance.
“And be more active abroad than I have been. I have left too much to Roy and others. You are young and strong; don’t you leave it to them. Look into things with your own eyes.”
“Indeed I will. My dear uncle,” he added, bending over the bed, and speaking in an earnest tone, “I will endeavour to act in all things as though in your sight, accountable to God and my own conscience. Verner’s Pride shall have no unworthy master.”
“Try to live so as to redeem the past.”
“Yes,” said Lionel. He did not see what precise part of it he had to redeem, but he was earnestly anxious to defer to the words of a dying man. “Uncle, may I dare to say that I hope you will live yet?” he gently said.
“It is of no use, Lionel. The world is closing for me.”
It was closing for him even then, as he spoke—closing rapidly. Before another afternoon had come round, the master of Verner’s Pride had quitted that, and all other pride, for ever.
Sweeping down from Verner’s Pride towards the church at Deerham came the long funeral train—mutes with their plumes and batons, relays of bearers, the bier. It had been Mr. Verner’s express desire that he should be carried to the grave, that no hearse or coaches should be used.