These quarrels had got to the ears of the neighbours, and it was being calculated that, in the end, Barry would get the best of the battle; when, one morning, the war was brought to an end by a fit of apoplexy, and the old man was found dead in his chair. And then a terrible blow fell upon the son; for a recent will was found in the old man’s desk, dividing his property equally, and without any other specification, between Barry and Anty.
This was a dreadful blow to Barry. He consulted with his friend Molloy, the attorney of Tuam, as to the validity of the document and the power of breaking it; but in vain. It was properly attested, though drawn up in the old man’s own hand-writing; and his sister, whom he looked upon but as little better than a head main-servant, had not only an equal right to all the property, but was equally mistress of the house, the money at the bank, the wine in the cellar, and the very horses in the stable.
This was a hard blow; but Barry was obliged to bear it. At first, he showed his ill-humour plainly enough in his treatment of his sister; but he soon saw that this was folly, and that, though her quiet disposition prevented her from resenting it, such conduct would drive her to marry some needy man. Then he began, with an ill grace, to try what coaxing would do. He kept, however, a sharp watch on all her actions; and on once hearing that, in his absence, the two Kelly girls from the hotel had been seen walking with her, he gave her a long lecture on what was due to her own dignity, and the memory of her departed parents.
He made many overtures to her as to the division of the property; but, easy and humble as Anty was, she was careful enough to put her name to nothing that could injure her rights. They had divided the money at the banker’s, and she had once rather startled Barry by asking him for his moiety towards paying the butcher’s bill; and his dismay was completed shortly afterwards by being informed, by a steady old gentleman in Dunmore, whom he did not like a bit too well, that he had been appointed by Miss Lynch to manage her business and receive her rents.
As soon as it could be decently done, after his father’s burial, Barry took himself off to Dublin, to consult his friends there as to what he should do; but he soon returned, determined to put a bold face on it, and come to some understanding with his sister.
He first proposed to her to go and live in Dublin, but she said she preferred Dunmore. He then talked of selling the house, and to this she agreed. He next tried to borrow money for the payment of his debts; on which she referred him to the steady old man. Though apparently docile and obedient, she would not put herself in his hands, nor would her agent allow him to take any unfair advantage of her.