“But if anyone can get her out of Perrault’s hands, it is Francis,” poor Joel said; and he went on to talk of his poor boy, about whom he was very anxious, having no trust in any of Hester’s intimates, and begging Fulk to throw a good word to him now and then.
“He thinks much of you,” he said. “I heard him tell Miss Deerhurst that it was no use for anyone to try to be such an out-and-out gentleman as his uncle, for they couldn’t do it, and he had rather be like you than anyone else. I don’t care for gentlemen, and all that foolery, as you know. I wish I could leave him to my old mate, Eli Potter; but you are true and honest, Fulk Torwood, and I think not so far from the kingdom—”
Then he asked Fulk to read a chapter to him. No one else would do so, except little Trevor, when now and then left alone with him; but Hester would not believe him seriously ill, and thought the Bible wearied him and made him low spirited; and as to his friend the Dissenter, she would never admit him.
Fulk was so indignant that he wanted to drive to Shinglebay and fetch Mr. Ball, but Lea thanked him and half smiled at his superstition of thinking that a minister was needed to speed his soul; but he was pleased that Fulk came to him on each of the four or five remaining days of his life, and read to him whatever he wished.
He sank suddenly at last, while Hester was at church on Sunday morning, and died when alone with Fulk.
Somehow the intense reality of that man and the true comfort his faith was to him made an immense impression on my brother, and seemed, as it were, to give the communication between his religious belief and his feelings, which had somehow not been in force before. He thought and borrowed books from Mr. Cradock, and there came a deepening and softening over him, which one saw in many ways, that made him dearer than ever. He looked more at peace, even though one felt that each passing sight of Emily was a sting.
Hester was dreadfully stricken down at first, and her anguish of lamentation and self-reproach was terrible to witness; but she would not hear of Fulk’s fetching either of us—indeed, I fancy that was the fault of my dry, cold looks—nor would she allow him to do anything for her.
Mrs. Deerhurst came to be with her, and Perrault managed everything.
They had a magnificent funeral—much grander than my father’s—and laid him in the family vault.
Perrault took the opportunity of insulting Fulk by pairing him with old Hall, the ex-agent; but Hall found it out in time, and refused to go, and when the moment came everybody fell back, and Fulk found himself close to poor little Trevor, who tried to get his hand out of Perrault’s and cling to him; but Perrault held him tight till, at the moment when they moved to the mouth of the vault and were to go down the steps, terror completely seized the poor child, and he began to shriek so fearfully that Fulk had to snatch him up and carry him out of the church, trembling from head to foot.