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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 406 pages of information about Jerome, A Poor Man.

He looked as if he listened again for a moment, and then stood up.  “Well,” he said, “it is true, if a man gives his all he can do no more, and no more can be asked of him.  What I have said I will do, I will do, and I will save neither myself nor mine by a lie which I must lie to—­my own soul!”

Jerome went down the path to the road, but stopped suddenly, as if he had got a blow.  “Oh, my God!” he cried, “Lucina!” All at once a consideration had struck him which had never fully done so before.  All at once he grasped the possibility that Lucina might suffer from his sacrifice as much as he.  “I can bear it—­myself,” he groaned, “but Lucina, Lucina; suppose—­it should kill her—­suppose it should—­break her heart.  I am stronger to suffer than she.  If I could bear hers and mine, if I could bear it all.  Oh, Lucina, I cannot hurt you—­I cannot, I cannot!  It is too much to ask.  God, I cannot!

Jerome stood still, in an involuntary attitude of defiance.  His arm was raised, his fist clinched, as if for a blow; his face uplifted with stern reprisal; then his arm dropped, his tense muscles relaxed.  “I could not marry her if I did not give it up,” he said.  “I should not be worthy of her; there is no other way.”

Chapter XXXVIII

Jerome went to Lawyer Means’s that night.  Means, himself, answered his knock, and Jerome opened abruptly upon the subject in his mind.  “I want to give away that money, as I said I would,” he declared.

The lawyer peered above a flaring candle into the darkness.  “Oh, it is you, is it!  Come in.”

“No, I can’t come in.  It isn’t necessary.  I have nothing to say but that.  I want to give away the money, according to that paper you drew up, and I want you to arrange it.”

“You’ve made up your mind to keep that fool’s promise, have you?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Look here, young man, have you thought this over?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You know what you’re going to lose.  You remember that your own family—­your father and mother and sister—­can’t profit by the gift?”

“Yes, sir; I have thought it all over.”

“Do you realize that if you stick to your part of the bargain, it does not follow that the doctor and Basset will stick to theirs?”

Jerome stared at him.  “Didn’t they sign that document before witnesses?”

The lawyer laughed.  “That document isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.  It was all horse-play.  Didn’t you know that, Jerome?”

“Did the doctor and Basset know it?”

“The doctor did.  He wouldn’t have signed, otherwise.  As for Basset—­well, I don’t know, but if he comes and asks me, as he will before he unties his purse strings, I shall tell him the truth about it, as I’m bound to, and not a dollar will he part with after he finds out that he hasn’t got to.  You can judge for yourself whether Doctor Seth Prescott is likely to fling away a fourth of his property in any such fool fashion as this.”

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