The old man really seemed to be in a dying state. A hospital nurse had taken charge of him, but there was not a dependent about the place, from Mr. Richards downwards, who was not under notice to quit, and most were staying on without his knowledge on the advice of the London solicitor, to whom the agent had written. There was even more excitement on the intelligence that Mr. Barnes had sent for Farmer Gould.
On this there was no doubt, for Mr. Gould, always delicately honourable towards Mrs. Brownlow, came himself to tell her about the interview. It seemed to have been the outcome of a yearning of the dying man towards the sole survivor of the companions of his early days. He had talked in a feeble wandering way of old times, but had said nothing about the child, and was plainly incapable of sustained attention.
He had asked Mr. Gould to come again, but on this second visit he was too far gone for recognition, and had returned to his moody instinctive aversion to visitors, and in three days more he was dead.
CHAPTER XV. THE BELFOREST MAGNUM BONUM.
Where is his golden heap?
Mrs. Robert Brownlow was churched with all the expedition possible, in order that she might not lose the sight of the funeral procession, which would be fully visible from the studio in the top of the tower.
The excitement was increased by invitations to attend the funeral being sent to the Colonel and to his two eldest nephews, who were just come home for the holidays, also to their mother to be present at the subsequent reading of the will.
A carriage was sent for her, and she entered it, not knowing or caring to find out what she wished, and haunted by the line, “Die and endow a college or a cat.”
Allen met her at the front door, whispering-"Did you see, mother, he has still got his ears?” And the thought crossed her-"Will those ears cost us dear?”
She was the only woman present in the library-a large room, but with an atmosphere as if the open air had not been admitted for thirty years, and with an enormous fire, close to which was the arm-chair whither she was marshalled, being introduced to the two solicitors, Mr. Rowse and Mr. Wakefield, who, with Farmer Gould, the agent, Richards, the Colonel, and the two boys, made up the audience.
The lawyers explained that the will had been sent home ten years ago from Yucatan, and had ever since been in their hands. Search had been made for a later one, but none had been found, nor did they believe that one could exist.
It was very short. The executors were Charles Rowse and Peter Ball, and the whole property was devised to them, and to Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Brownlow, as trustees for the testator’s great-niece, Mrs. Caroline Otway Brownlow, daughter of John and Caroline Allen, and wife of Joseph Brownlow, Esq., M.D., F.R.C.S., the income and use thereof to be enjoyed by her during her lifetime; and the property, after her death, to be divided among her children in such proportions as she should direct.