And Mr. Sigglesfield looks at him out of his ferret eyes, and says very quietly, ‘I think the will had better be read, Mr. Alderton.’
‘So I think,’ says Mrs. Blake, tossing her head and rubbing her red eyes with her handkerchief at the same minute almost.
And read it was, and all us people sat still as mice, listening to the wonderful tale of it. For wonderful it was, though folded up very curious and careful in a pack of lawyer’s talk. And when it was finished, Master Harry stood up on his feet, and he said—
’I don’t understand your cursed lawyer’s lingo. Does this mean that my father has left me fifty pounds, and has left the rest, stock, lock and barrel, to his wife Martha. Who in hell,’ he says, ’is his wife Martha?’
And at that Mrs. Blake stood up and fetched a curtsy to the company.
‘That’s me,’ she said, ’by your leave; married two months come Tuesday, and here’s my lines.’
And there they were. There was no getting over them. Married at St. Mary Woolnoth, in London, by special licence.
‘O you wicked old Jezebel!’ says Master Harry, shaking his fist at her; ‘here’s a fine end for a young man’s hopes! Is it true?’ says he, turning to the lawyer. And Mr. Sigglesfield shakes his head and says—
‘I am afraid so, my poor fellow.’
‘Jezebel, indeed!’ cries Mrs. Blake. ’Out of my house, my young gamecock! Get out and crow on your own dunghill, if you can find one.’
And Harry turned and went without a word. Then I slipped out too, and I snatched my old bonnet and shawl off their peg in the kitchen, and I ran down the lane after him.
‘Harry,’ says I, and he turned and looked at me like something that’s hunted looks when it gets in a corner and turns on you. Then I got up with him and caught hold of his arm with both my hands. ‘Never mind the dirty money,’ says I. ‘What’s a bit of money,’ I says—’what is it, my dear, compared with true love? I’ll work my fingers to the bone for you,’ says I, ’and we’re better off than her when all’s said and done.’
‘So we are, my girl,’ says he; and the savage look went out of his face, and he kissed me for the second time.
Then we went home, arm-under-arm, to my mother’s, and we told father and mother all about it; and mother made Harry up a bit of a bed on the settle, and he stayed with us till he could pull himself together and see what was best to be done.
Of course, our first thought was, ‘Was she really married?’ And it was settled betwixt us that Harry should go up to London to the church named in her marriage lines and see if it was a real marriage or a make-up, like what you read of in the weekly papers. And Harry went up, I settling to go the same day to fetch my clothes from Charleston.
So as soon as I had seen him off by the train, I walked up to Charleston, and father with me, to fetch my things.