“Lord love you!” said he at last, seeing me thus “hipped”—“don’t be downhearted—don’t be dashed afore you begin; we can’t all be gen’uses—it aren’t to be expected, but some on us is a good deal better than most and that’s something arter all. As for your book, wot you have to do is to give ’em a little blood now and then with plenty of love and you can’t go far wrong!”
Now whether the Tinker’s theory for the writing of a good novel be right or wrong, I will not presume to say. But in this book that lies before you, though you shall read, if you choose, of country things and ways and people, yet, because that part of my life herein recorded was a something hard, rough life, you shall read also of blood; and, because I came, in the end, to love very greatly, so shall you read of love.
Wherefore, then, I am emboldened to hope that when you shall have turned the last page and closed this book, you shall do so with a sigh.
CHIEFLY CONCERNING MY UNCLE’S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
“’And to my nephew, Maurice Vibart, I bequeath the sum of twenty thousand pounds in the fervent hope that it may help him to the devil within the year, or as soon after as may be.’”
Here Mr. Grainger paused in his reading to glance up over the rim of his spectacles, while Sir Richard lay back in his chair and laughed loudly. “Gad!” he exclaimed, still chuckling, “I’d give a hundred pounds if he could have been present to hear that,” and the baronet went off into another roar of merriment.
Mr. Grainger, on the other hand, dignified and solemn, coughed a short, dry cough behind his hand.
“Help him to the devil within the year,” repeated Sir Richard, still chuckling.
“Pray proceed, sir,” said I, motioning towards the will.... But instead of complying, Mr. Grainger laid down the parchment, and removing his spectacles, began to polish them with a large silk handkerchief.
“You are, I believe, unacquainted with your cousin, Sir Maurice Vibart?” he inquired.
“I have never seen him,” said I; “all my life has been passed either at school or the university, but I have frequently heard mention of him, nevertheless.”
“Egad!” cried Sir Richard, “who hasn’t heard of Buck Vibart—beat Ted Jarraway of Swansea in five rounds—drove coach and four down Whitehall—on sidewalk—ran away with a French marquise while but a boy of twenty, and shot her husband into the bargain. Devilish celebrated figure in ‘sporting circles,’ friend of the Prince Regent—”
“So I understand,” said I.
“Altogether as complete a young blackguard as ever swaggered down St. James’s.” Having said which, Sir Richard crossed his legs and inhaled a pinch of snuff.
“Twenty thousand pounds is a very handsome sum,” remarked Mr. Grainger ponderously and as though more with the intention of saying something rather than remain silent just then.