“They are in the usual place, on your desk,” answered the youth, re-commencing his work. The Attorney moved away and entered his private office, and seating himself in his old leathern chair, commenced in a methodical way to open and peruse his letters.
Ralph Coleman commenced life with very fair prospects. He came of a good old family and had received a University education, and studied for the Bar very assiduously for three or four years, but on the death of his father he came in for five thousand pounds. He then neglected his profession, and, for a time, led a very fast life in London. When he had run through about half of his money he went abroad, and while there married a lady who had a tolerable fortune. They travelled together over the European Continent, and for several years enjoyed what is termed life.
An accident happened to Mrs. Coleman in Switzerland which resulted in her death. Ralph being again alone in the world, as it were, entered into all the wild dissipations of Vienna and Paris, which ended in his ruin; and he returned to England with only a five pound note between him and beggary. As the cousin and only male relative of Sir Jasper Coleman, he was heir to the Baronetcy but not to the property. This was unentailed, and at the will of the Baronet; but should he die intestate the whole would fall to Ralph.
But the hope of succeeding to the estate banished, or was at least, to a considerable extent, quashed, when he learned that Miss Effingham had been adopted by her uncle, and that likewise he had made a protege of the son of his old friend Eustace Carlton, and would no doubt eventually make a will in their favor; but so far as he could learn, up to the present time no will had been made. There was a degree of consolation in this; but in the meantime he must live; he therefore resumed his profession, and by energy, and the aid of his aristocratic friends, succeeded in obtaining a tolerable practice.
He was on pretty good terms with his cousin, and usually went down to Devonshire for a few days during the shooting season, and on more than one occasion had Sir Jasper spoken to him of the future career of young Arthur; but the lawyer generally managed to evade the subject by saying there was plenty of time to think about that when the youngster should leave College, and appeared to interest himself very little in the matter, because he did not see in what way the youth’s future career could affect him; that Sir Jasper might assist Arthur with his interest, at the outset, and perhaps give him a couple of hundred pounds to help him on in his profession or calling, he did not at all doubt; but beyond this Ralph did not believe the Baronet would assist him.