The squire was humorous over my legacy. It amounted to about seventeen hundred pounds invested in Government Stock, and he asked me what I meant to do with it; proposed a Charity to be established on behalf of decayed half-castes, insisting that servants’ money could never be appropriated to the uses of gentlemen. All the while he was muttering, ’Turncoat! eh? turncoat?’—proof that the word had struck where it was aimed. For me, after thinking on it, I had a superstitious respect for the legacy, so I determined, in spite of the squire’s laughter over ’Sixty pounds per annum!’ to let it rest in my name: I saw for the first time the possibility that I might not have my grandfather’s wealth to depend upon. He warned me of growing miserly. With my father in London, living freely on my property, I had not much fear of that. However, I said discreetly, ‘I don’t mind spending when I see my way.’
‘Oh! see your way,’ said he. ’Better a niggard than a chuckfist. Only, there ’s my girl: she ’s good at accounts. One ’ll do for them, Harry?—ha’n’t been long enough at home yet?’
Few were the occasions when our conversation did not diverge to this sort of interrogation. Temple and Heriot, with whom I took counsel, advised me to wait until the idea of the princess had worn its way into his understanding, and leave the work to Janet. ‘Though,’ said Heriot to me aside, ‘upon my soul, it’s slaughter.’ He believed that Janet felt keenly. But then, she admired him, and so they repaid one another.
I won my grandfather’s confidence in practical matters on a trip we took into Wales. But it was not enough for me to be a man of business, he affirmed; he wanted me to have some ambition; why not stand for our county at the next general election? He offered me his Welsh borough if I thought fit to decline a contest. This was to speak as mightily as a German prince. Virtually, in wealth and power, he was a prince; but of how queer a kind! He was immensely gratified by my refraining to look out for my father on our return journey through London, and remarked, that I had not seen him for some time, he supposed. To which I said, no, I had not, He advised me to let the fellow run his length. Suggesting that he held it likely I contributed to ‘the fellow’s’ support: he said generously, ’Keep clear of him, Hal: I add you a thousand a year to your allowance,’ and damned me for being so thoughtful over it. I found myself shuddering at a breath of anger from him. Could he not with a word dash my hopes for ever? The warning I had taken from old Sewis transformed me to something like a hypocrite, and I dare say I gave the squire to understand, that I had not seen my father for a very long period and knew nothing of his recent doings.
‘Been infernally quiet these last two or three years,’ the squire muttered of the object of his aversion. ’I heard of a City widow last, sick as a Dover packet-boat ’bout the fellow! Well, the women are ninnies, but you’re a man, Harry; you’re not to be taken in any longer, eh?’