She allowed herself to be got to bed rather earlier than usual; before Clementina dropped asleep she heard her breathing with long, easy, quiet respirations, and she lost the fear of the landlord’s dish which had haunted her through the evening. She was awakened in the morning by a touch on her shoulder. Maddalena hung over her with a frightened face, and implored her to come and look at the signora, who seemed not at all well. Clementina ran into her room, and found her dead. She must have died some hours before without a struggle, for the face was that of sleep, and it had a dignity and beauty which it had not worn in her life of self-indulgent wilfulness for so many years that the girl had never seen it look so before.
The vice-consul was not sure how far his powers went in the situation with which Mrs. Lander had finally embarrassed him. But he met the new difficulties with patience, and he agreed with Clementina that they ought to see if Mrs. Lander had left any written expression of her wishes concerning the event. She had never spoken of such a chance, but had always looked forward to getting well and going home, so far as the girl knew, and the most careful search now brought to light nothing that bore upon it. In the absence of instructions to the contrary, they did what they must, and the body, emptied of its life of senseless worry and greedy care, was laid to rest in the island cemetery of Venice.
When all was over, the vice-consul ventured an observation which he had hitherto delicately withheld. The question of Mrs. Lander’s kindred had already been discussed between him and Clementina, and he now felt that another question had duly presented itself. “You didn’t notice,” he suggested, “anything like a will when we went over the papers?” He had looked carefully for it, expecting that there might have been some expression of Mrs. Lander’s wishes in it. “Because,” he added, “I happen to know that Mr. Milray drew one up for her; I witnessed it.”
“No,” said Clementina, “I didn’t see anything of it. She told me she had made a will; but she didn’t quite like it, and sometimes she thought she would change it. She spoke of getting you to do it; I didn’t know but she had.”
The vice-consul shook his head. “No. And these relations of her husband’s up in Michigan; you don’t know where they live, exactly?”
“No. She neva told me; she wouldn’t; she didn’t like to talk about them; I don’t even know their names.”
The vice-consul thoughtfully scratched a corner of his chin through his beard. “If there isn’t any will, they’re the heirs. I used to be a sort of wild-cat lawyer, and I know that much law.”
“Yes,” said Clementina. “She left them five thousand dollas apiece. She said she wished she had made it ten.”
“I guess she’s made it a good deal more, if she’s made it anything. Miss Claxon, don’t you understand that if no will turns up, they come in for all her money.