And young Sir Jasper, oh that ever I should have called him my boy!—he rose up in his place and said that his father was a doting old fool and out of his mind, and he would have the law of them, anyhow, and my late dear master not yet turned of fifty! And then the doctor got up and he said—
‘Stop a bit, young man; I have a word or two to say here.’
And he up and told before all the folks there straight out what had passed last night, and how young Sir Jasper had willed to rob his father’s coffin.
’Now, you’ll want to know what was in the little green leather case,’ he says at the end. ’And it was this,—a lock of hair and a wedding ring, and a marriage certificate, and a baptism certificate; and you, Jasper, are but the son by a second marriage; and Sir Robert, I congratulate you, for you are come to your own.’
‘Do I get nothing, then?’ shrieked young Sir Jasper, trembling like a woman, and with the devil looking out of his eyes.
’Your father intended you to have the entailed estates, right or wrong; that was his choice. But you chose to know what he wished to hide from you, and now you know that the entailed estates belong to your brother.’
‘But the personalty?’
‘You forget,’ said the doctor, rubbing his hands, with a sour smile, ’that your father provided for that in the will to which you so much objected.’
‘Then, curse his memory and curse you,’ cried Jasper, and flung out of the house; nor have I ever seen him again, though he did set lawyer folk to work in London to drive Sir Robert out of his own place. But to no purpose.
And Sir Robert, he lives in the old house, and is loved as his father was before him by all he says a kind word to, and his kind words are many.
And to me he is all that I used to wish the boy Jasper might be, and he has a reason for loving me which Jasper never had.
For he said to me when he first spoke to me after his father’s funeral—
‘My mother was a farmer’s girl,’ he said, ’and your father was a farmer, so I feel we come, as it were, of one blood; and besides that, I know who my father’s friends were. I never forget those things.’
I still live on as a housekeeper at the Hall. My master left me no money, but he bade his heir keep me on in my old place. I am glad to think that he did not choose to leave me money, but instead the great picture of himself that hung in the Hall. It hangs in my room now, and looks down on me as I write.
You don’t believe in coincidences, which is only another way of saying that all things work together for good to them that love God—or them that don’t, for that matter, if they are honestly trying to do what they think right. Now I do.