Now, I may be a heartless woman, and I suppose I am, or how account for it? But when I saw my young master go to his father’s coffin like that, and begin to serve his own interest and his own curiosity, every spark of love I had ever had for the boy died out, and I cared no more for him than if he had been the first comer.
If he had kissed his father, or so much as looked kindly at the dead face in the coffin, it would have been different. But he hadn’t a look or a thought to spare for him as gave him life, and had humoured and spoiled and petted and made much of him all his twenty years. Not a thought for his father; all his thoughts was to find out what his father hadn’t wished him to know.
Now I was feeling set that Master Jasper should never know what was in that green leather case, and I cared no more for what he thought or what he felt than I should have done if he had been a common thief as, God forgive me, he was in my eyes at that hour. So I crept behind him softly, softly, an inch at a time, till I got to where I could see the coffin; and if you’ll believe a foolish old woman, I kept looking at that dead face till I nigh forgot what I was there for. And while I was standing mazed like and stupid, young Master Jasper had got out the green case, and was turning over what was in it in his hands.
I got him by the two elbows behind, and he started like a horse that has never felt even the whip will do at the spur’s touch. Almost at the same time my heart came leaping into my mouth, and if ever a woman nearly died of fright, I was that woman, for some one behind me put a hand on my shoulder and said, ‘What’s all this?’
Young Sir Jasper and I both turned sharp. It was the doctor. His ears were as quick as mine, and he had heard the key too, I suppose. Anyhow, there he was, and he picked up the papers young Sir Jasper had let fall, and says he, ’I will deal with these, young gentleman. Go you to your room.’ And Sir Jasper, like a kicked hound, went. Then I began to tell my share in that night’s work. But the doctor stopped me, for he had seen me and watched me all along. Then he stood by the coffin, and went through what was in the little leather case.
‘I must keep these now,’ he said, ’but you shall keep your promise and put them beside him before he is buried.’
And the next day, before the funeral, I went alone and saw my master again, and gave him his little case back, and I thought I should have liked him to know that I had done my best for him, but he could not have known that without knowing of what young Sir Jasper had done, and that would have broken his heart; so when all’s said and done, perhaps it’s as well the dead know nothing.
And after the funeral we was all in the library to hear the will read, and the lawyer he read out that the personal property went to Robert the gamekeeper, and the entailed property would of course be young Sir Jasper’s.