“You are much better, mother! You will be able to see Jock before he goes-”
“Fetch them all, Babie; I have something to tell you-”
“Writs issued for a domestic parliament,” said Allen, presently entering. “To vote for the grant to the Princess Royal on her marriage? Do it handsomely, I say, the Athenian is better than might be expected, and will become prosperity better than adversity.”
“Being capable of taking others in besides Janet,” said the opposition in the person of Bobus. “He seemed so well satisfied with the Gracious Lady house-mother that I am afraid she has been making him too many promises.”
“That was impossible. It was not about Janet that I sent for you, boys. It was to think what we are to do ourselves. You know I always thought there must be another will. Look there!”
She laid it on the table, and the young men stood gazing as if it were a venomous reptile which each hesitated to touch.
“Is it legal, Bobus?” she presently asked.
“It looks-rather so-” he said in an odd, stunned voice.
“Elvira, by all that’s lucky!” exclaimed Jock. “Well done, Allen, you are still the Lady Clare!”
“Not till she is of age,” said Allen, rather gloomily.
“Pity you didn’t marry her at Algiers,” said Jock.
“Where did this come from?” said Bobus, who had been examining it intently.
“Out of the old bureau.”
“Mother!” cried out Barbara, in a tone of horror, which perhaps was a revelation to Bobus, for he exclaimed-
“You don’t mean that Janet had had it, and brought it out to threaten you?”
“Oh, no, no! it was not so dreadful. She found it long ago, but did not think it valid, and only kept it out of sight because she thought it would make me unhappy.”
“It is a pity she did not go a step further,” observed Bobus. “Why did she produce it now?”
“I found it. Boys, you must know the whole truth, and consider how best to screen your sister. Remember she was very young, and fancied a thing on a common sheet of paper, and shut up in an unfastened table drawer could not be of force, and that she was doing no harm.” Then she told of her loss and recovery of what she called some medical memoranda of their father, which she knew Janet wanted, concluding-"It will surely be enough to say I found it in his old bureau.”
“That will hardly go down with Wakefield,” said Bobus; “but as I see he stands here as trustee for that wretched child, as well as being yours, there is no fear but that he will be conformable. Shall I take it up and show it to him at once, so that if by any happy chance this should turn out waste paper, no one may get on the scent?”
“Your uncle! I was so amazed and stupefied yesterday that I don’t know whether I told him, and if I did, I don’t think he believed me.”
“Here he comes,” said Barbara, as the wheels of his dog-cart were heard below the window.