Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XXV

Sir Roger Dies

That night the doctor stayed at Boxall Hill, and the next night; so that it became a customary thing for him to sleep there during the latter part of Sir Roger’s illness. He returned home to Greshamsbury; for he had his patients there, to whom he was as necessary as to Sir Roger, the foremost of whom was Lady Arabella. He had, therefore, no slight work on his hands, seeing that his nights were by no means wholly devoted to rest.

Mr Rerechild had not been much wrong as to the remaining space of life which he had allotted to the dying man. Once or twice Dr Thorne had thought that the great original strength of his patient would have enabled him to fight against death for a somewhat longer period; but Sir Roger would give himself no chance. Whenever he was strong enough to have a will of his own, he insisted on having his very medicine mixed with brandy; and in the hours of the doctor’s absence, he was too often successful in his attempts.

‘It does not much matter,’ Dr Thorne had said to Lady Scatcherd. ‘Do what you can to keep down the quantity, but do not irritate him by refusing to obey. It does not much signify now.’ So Lady Scatcherd still administered the alcohol, and he from day to day invented little schemes for increasing the amount, over which he chuckled with ghastly laughter.

Two or three times these days Sir Roger essayed to speak seriously to his son; but Louis always frustrated him. He either got out of the room on some excuse, or made his mother interfere on the score that so much talking would be bad for his father. He already knew with tolerable accuracy what was the purport of his father’s will, and by no means approved of it; but as he could not now hope to induce his father to alter it so as to make it more favourable to himself, he conceived that no conversation on matters of business could be of use to him.

‘Louis,’ said Sir Roger, one afternoon to his son; ‘Louis, I have not done by you as I ought to have done — I know that now.’

‘Nonsense, governor; never mind about it now; I shall do well enough I dare say. Besides, it isn’t too late; you can make it twenty-three years instead of twenty-five.’

‘I do not mean as to money, Louis. There are things besides money which a father ought to look to.’

‘Now, father, don’t fret yourself — I’m all right; you may be sure of that.’

‘Louis, it’s that accursed brandy — it’s that that I’m afraid of: you see me here, my boy, I’m lying here now.’

‘Don’t you be annoying yourself, governor; I’m all right — quite right; and as for you, why, you’ll be up and about yourself in another month or so.’

‘I shall never be off this bed, my boy, till I’m carried into my coffin, on those chairs there. But I’m not thinking of myself, Louis, but you; think what you may have before you if you can’t avoid that accursed bottle.’

‘I’m all right, governor; right as a trivet. It’s very little I take, except at an odd time or two.’

‘Oh, Louis! Louis!’

‘Come, father, cheer up; this sort of thing isn’t the thing for you at all. I wonder where mother is: she ought to be here with the broth; just let me go, and I’ll see for her.’

The father understood it all. He saw that it was now much beyond his faded powers to touch the heart or conscience of such a youth as his son had become. What now could he do for his boy except die? What else, what other benefit, did his son require of him but to die; to die so that his means of dissipation might be unbounded? He let go the unresisting hand which he held, and, as the young man crept out of the room, he turned his face to the wall. He turned his face to the wall, and held bitter commune with his own heart. To what had he brought himself? To what had he brought his son? Oh, how happy would it have been for him could he have remained all his days a working stone-mason in Barchester! How happy could he have died as such, years ago! Such tears as those which wet the pillow are the bitterest which human eyes can shed.

But while they were dropping, the memoir of his life was in quick course of preparation. It was, indeed, nearly completed, with considerable detail. He had lingered on four days longer than might have been expected, and the author had thus had more than usual time for the work. In these days a man is nobody unless his biography is kept so far posted up that it may be ready for the national breakfast-table on the morning after his demise. When it chances that the dead hero is one who is taken in his prime of life, of whose departure from among us the most far-seeing, biographical scribe can have no prophetic inkling, this must be difficult. Of great men, full of years, who are ripe of the sickle, who in the course of Nature must soon fall, it is of course comparatively easy for an active compiler to have his complete memoir ready in his desk. But in order that the idea of omnipresent and omniscient information may be kept up, the young must be chronicled as quickly as the old. In some cases this task must, one would say, be difficult. Nevertheless it is done.

The memoir of Sir Roger Scatcherd was progressing favourably. In this it was told how fortunate had been his life; now, in his case, industry and genius combined had triumphed over the difficulties which humble birth and deficient education had thrown in his way; how he had made a name among England’s great men; how the Queen had delighted to honour him, and nobles had been proud to have him as a guest at their mansions. Then followed a list of all the great works which he had achieved, of the railroads, canals, docks, harbours, jails, and hospitals which he had constructed. His name was held up as an example to the labouring classes of his countrymen, and he was pointed at as one who had lived and died happy — ever happy, said the biographer, because ever industrious. And so a great moral question was inculcated. A short paragraph was devoted to his appearance in Parliament; and unfortunate Mr Romer was again held up for disgrace, for the thirtieth time, as having been the means of depriving our legislative councils of the great assistance of Sir Roger’s experience.

‘Sir Roger,’ said the biographer in his concluding passage, ‘was possessed of an iron frame; but even iron will yield to the repeated blows of the hammer. In the latter years of his life he was known to overtask himself; and at length the body gave way, though the mind remained firm to the last. The subject of this memoir was only fifty-nine when he was taken from us.’

And thus Sir Roger’s life was written, while the tears were yet falling on his pillow at Boxall Hill. It was a pity that a proof-sheet could not have been sent to him. No man was vainer of his reputation, and it would have greatly gratified him to know that posterity was about to speak of him in such terms — to speak of him with a voice that would be audible for twenty-four hours.

Sir Roger made no further attempt to give counsel to his son. It was too evidently useless. The old dying lion felt that the lion’s power had already passed from him, and that he was helpless in the hands of the young cub who was so soon to inherit the wealth of the forest. But Dr Thorne was more kind to him. He had something yet to say as to his worldly hopes and worldly cares; and his old friend did not turn a deaf ear to him.

It was during the night that Sir Roger was most anxious to talk, and most capable of talking. He would lie through the day in a state half-comatose; but towards evening would rouse himself, and by midnight he would be full of fitful energy. One night, as he lay wakeful and full of thought, he thus poured forth his whole heart to Dr Thorne.

‘Thorne,’ said he, ‘I told you about my will, you know.’

‘Yes,’ said the other; ‘and I have blamed myself greatly that I have not again urged you to alter it. Your illness came too suddenly, Scatcherd; and then I was averse to speak of it.’

‘Why should I alter it? It is a good will; as good as I can make. Not but that I have altered it since I spoke to you. I did it that day after you left me.’

‘Have you definitely named your heir in default of Louis?’

‘No — that is — yes — I had done that before; I have said Mary’s eldest child: I have not altered that.’

‘But, Scatcherd, you must alter it.’

‘Must! well then, I won’t; but I’ll tell you what I have done. I have added a postscript — a codicil they call it — saying that you, and you only, know who is her eldest child. Winterbones and Jack Martin have witnessed that.’

Dr Thorne was going to explain how very injudicious such an arrangement appeared to be; but Sir Roger would not listen to him. It was not about that that he wished to speak to him. To him it was a matter of but minor interest who might inherit his money if his son should die early; his care was solely for his son’s welfare. At twenty-five the heir might make his own will — might bequeath all this wealth according to his own fancy. Sir Roger would not bring himself to believe that his son could follow him to the grave in so short a time.

‘Never mind that, doctor, now; but about Louis; you will be his guardian, you know.’

‘Not his guardian. He is more than of age.’

‘Ah! but doctor, you will be his guardian. The property will not be his till he be twenty-five. You will not desert him?’

‘I will not desert him; but I doubt whether I can do much for him — what can I do, Scatcherd?’

‘Use the power that a strong man has over a weak one. Use the power that my will will give you. Do for him as you would for a son of your own if you saw him going in bad courses. Do as a friend should do for a friend that is dead and gone. I would do so for you, doctor, if our places were changed.’

‘What can I do, that I will do,’ said Thorne, solemnly, taking as he spoke the contractor’s own in his own with a tight grasp.

‘I know you will; I know you will. Oh! doctor, may you never feel as I do now! May you on your death-bed have no dread as I have, as to the fate of those you will leave behind you!’

Doctor Thorne felt that he could not say much in answer to this. The future fate of Louis Scatcherd was, he could not but own to himself, greatly to be dreaded. What good, what happiness, could be presaged for such a one as he was? What comfort could he offer to the father? And then he was called on to compare, as it were, the prospects of this unfortunate with those of his own darling; to contrast all that was murky, foul, and disheartening, with all that was perfect — for to him she was all but perfect; to liken Louis Scatcherd to the angel who brightened his own hearthstone. How could he answer to such an appeal?

He said nothing; but merely tightened his grasp of the other’s hand, to signify that he would do, as best he could, all that was asked of him. Sir Roger looked up sadly into the doctor’s face, as though expecting some word of consolation. There was no comfort, no consolation.

‘For three or four years, he must greatly depend on you,’ continued Sir Roger.

‘I will do what I can,’ said the doctor. ‘What I can do I will do. But he is not a child, Scatcherd: at his age he must stand or fall mainly by his own conduct. The best thing for him will be to marry.’

‘Exactly; that’s just it, Thorne: I was coming to that. If he would marry, I think he would do well yet, for all that has come and gone. If he married, of course you would let him have the command of his own income.’

‘I will be governed entirely by your wishes: under any circumstances his income will, as I understand, be quite sufficient for him, married or single.’

‘Ah! — but, Thorne, I should like to think he should shine with the best of them. For what I have made the money for if not for that? Now if he marries — decently, that is — some woman you know that can assist him in the world, let him have what he wants. It is not to save the money that I have put it into your hands.’

‘No, Scatcherd; not to save the money, but to save him. I think that while you are yet with him you should advise him to marry.’

‘He does not care a straw for what I advise, not one straw. Why should he? How can I tell him to be sober when I have been a beast all my life? How can I advise him? That’s where it is! It is that that now kills me. Advise! Why, when I speak to him he treats me like a child.’

‘He fears that you are too weak, you know: he thinks that you should not be allowed to talk.’

‘Nonsense! he knows better; you know better. Too weak! what signifies? Would I not give all that I have of strength at one blow if I could open his eyes to see as I see but for one minute?’ And the sick man raised himself in his bed as though he were actually going to expend all that remained to him of vigour in the energy of the moment.

‘Gently, Scatcherd; gently. He will listen to you yet; but do not be so unruly.’

‘Thorne, you see that bottle there? Give me half a glass of brandy.’

The doctor turned round in his chair; but he hesitated in doing as he was desired.

‘Do as I ask you, doctor. It can do no harm now; you know that well enough. Why torture me now?’

‘No, I will not torture you; but you will have water with it?’

‘Water! No; the brandy by itself. I tell you I cannot speak without it. What’s the use of canting now? You know it can make no difference.’

Sir Roger was right. It could make no difference; and Dr Thorne gave him the half glass of brandy.

‘Ah, well; you’ve a stingy hand, doctor; confounded stingy. You don’t measure your medicines out in such light doses.’

‘You will be wanting more before morning, you know.’

‘Before morning! indeed I shall; a pint or two before that. I remember the time, doctor, when I have drunk to my own cheek above two quarts between dinner and breakfast! aye, and worked all day after it!’

‘You have been a wonderful man, Scatcherd, very wonderful.’

‘Aye, wonderful! well, never mind. It’s over now. But what was I saying? — about Louis, doctor; you’ll not desert him?’

‘Certainly not.’

‘He’s not strong; I know that. How should he be strong, living as he has done? Not that it seemed to hurt me when I was his age.’

‘You had the advantage of hard work.’

‘That’s it. Sometimes I wish that Louis had not a shilling in the world; that he had to trudge about with an apron round his waist as I did. But it’s too late now to think of that. If he would marry, doctor.’

Dr Thorne again expressed an opinion that no step would be so likely to reform the habits of the young heir as marriage; and repeated his advice to the father to implore his son to take a wife.

‘I’ll tell you what, Thorne,’ said he. And then, after a pause, he went on. ‘I have not half told you as yet what is on my mind; and I’m nearly afraid to tell it; though, indeed, I don’t know what I should be.’

‘I never knew you afraid of anything yet,’ said the doctor, smiling gently.

‘Well, then, I’ll not end by turning coward. Now, doctor, tell the truth to me; what do you expect me to do for that girl of yours that we were talking of — Mary’s child?’

There was a pause for a moment, for Thorne was slow to answer him.

‘You would not let me see her, you know, though she is my niece as truly as yours.’

‘Nothing,’ at last said the doctor, slowly. ‘I expect nothing. I would not let you see her, and therefore, I expect nothing.’

‘She will have it all if poor Louis should die,’ said Sir Roger.

‘If you intend it so you should put her name into the will,’ said the other. ‘Not that I ask you or wish you to do so. Mary, thank God, can do without wealth.’

‘Thorne, on one condition I will put her name into it. I will alter it on one condition. Let the two cousins be man and wife — let Louis marry poor Mary’s child.’

The proposition for a moment took away the doctor’s breath, and he was unable to answer. Not for all the wealth of India would he have given up his lamb to that young wolf, even though he had had the power to do so. But that lamb — lamb though she was — had, as he well knew, a will of her own on such a matter. What alliance could be more impossible, thought he to himself, than one between Mary Thorne and Louis Scatcherd?

‘I will alter it all if you will give me your hand upon it that you will do your best to bring about this marriage. Everything shall be his on the day he marries her; and should he die unmarried, it shall all then be hers by name. Say the word, Thorne, and she shall come here at once. I shall yet have time to see her.’

But Dr Thorne did not say the word; just at the moment he said nothing, but he slowly shook his head.

‘Why not, Thorne?’

‘My friend, it is impossible.’

‘Why impossible?’

‘Her hand is not mine to dispose of, nor is her heart.’

‘Then let her come over herself.’

‘What! Scatcherd, that the son might make love to her while the father is so dangerously ill! Bid her come to look for a rich husband! That would not be seemly, would it?’

‘No; not for that: let her come merely that I may see her; that we may all know her. I will leave the matter then in your hands if you will promise me to do your best.’

‘But, my friend, in this matter I cannot do my best. I can do nothing. And, indeed, I may say at once, that it is altogether out of the question. I know —’

‘What do you know?’ said the baronet, turning on him almost angrily. ‘What can you know to make you say that it is impossible? Is she a pearl of such price that a man may not win her?’

‘She is a pearl of great price.’

‘Believe me, doctor, money goes far in winning such pearls.’

‘Perhaps so; I know little about it. But this I do know, that money will not win her. Let us talk of something else; believe me, it is useless for us to think of this.’

‘Yes; if you set your face against it obstinately. You must think very poorly of Louis if you suppose that no girl can fancy him.’

‘I have not said so, Scatcherd.’

‘To have the spending of ten thousand a year, and be a baronet’s lady! Why, doctor, what is it you expect for this girl?’

‘Not much, indeed; not much. A quiet heart and a quiet home; not much more.’

‘Thorne, if you will be ruled by me in this, she shall be the most topping woman in this county.’

‘My friend, my friend, why thus grieve me? Why should you thus harass yourself? I tell you it is impossible. They have never seen each other; they have nothing, and can have nothing in common; their tastes, and wishes, and pursuits are different. Besides, Scatcherd, marriages never answer that are so made; believe me, it is impossible.’

The contractor threw himself back on his bed, and lay for some ten minutes perfectly quiet; so much so that the doctor began to think that he was sleeping. So thinking, and wearied by the watching, Dr Thorne was beginning to creep quietly from the room, when his companion again roused himself, almost with vehemence.

‘You won’t do this thing for me, then?’ said he.

‘Do it! It is not for you or me to do such things as that. Such things must be left to those concerned themselves.’

‘You will not even help me?’

‘Not in this thing, Sir Roger.’

‘Then by — she shall not under any circumstances ever have a shilling of mine. Give me some of that stuff there,’ and he again pointed to the brandy bottle which stood ever within his sight.’

The doctor poured out and handed to him another small modicum of spirit.

‘Nonsense, man; fill the glass. I’ll stand no nonsense now. I’ll be master of my own house to the last. Give it here, I tell you. Ten thousand devils are tearing me within. You — you could have comforted me; but you would not. Fill the glass I tell you.’

‘I should be killing you were I to do it.’

‘Killing me! killing me! you are always talking of killing me. Do you suppose that I am afraid to die? Do not I know how soon it is coming? Give me the brandy, I say, or I will be out across the room to fetch it.’

‘No, Scatcherd. I cannot give it to you; not while I am here. Do you remember how you were engaged this morning?’— he had that morning taken the sacrament from the parish clergyman —‘you would not wish to make me guilty of murder, would you?’

‘Nonsense! You are talking nonsense; habit is second nature. I tell you I shall sink without it. Why, you know, I always get it directly your back it turned. Come, I will not be bullied in my own house; give me that bottle, I say!’— and Sir Roger essayed, vainly enough, to raise himself from the bed.

‘Stop, Scatcherd; I will give it to you — I will help you. It may be that habit is second nature.’ Sir Roger in his determined energy had swallowed, without thinking of it, the small quantity which the doctor had before poured out for him, and still held the empty glass within his hand. This the doctor now took and filled nearly to the brim.

‘Come, Thorne, a bumper; a bumper for this once. “Whatever the drink, it a bumper must be.” You stingy fellow! I would not treat you so. Well — well.’

‘It’s about as full as you can hold it, Scatcherd.’

‘Try me; try me! my hand is a rock; at least at holding liquor.’ And then he drained the contents of the glass, which were in sufficient quantity to have taken away the breath of any ordinary man.

‘Ah, I’m better now. But, Thorne, I do love a full glass, ha! ha! ha!’

There was something frightful, almost sickening, in the peculiar hoarse guttural tone of his voice. The sounds came from him as though steeped in brandy, and told, all too plainly, the havoc which the alcohol had made. There was a fire too about his eyes which contrasted with his sunken cheeks: his hanging jaw, unshorn beard, and haggard face were terrible to look at. His hands and arms were hot and clammy, but so thin and wasted! Of his lower limbs the lost use had not returned to him, so that in all his efforts at vehemence he was controlled by his own want of vitality. When he supported himself, half-sitting against the pillows, he was in a continual tremor; and yet, as he boasted, he could still lift his glass steadily to his mouth. Such now was the hero of whom that ready compiler of memoirs had just finished his correct and succinct account.

After he had had his brandy, he sat glaring a while at vacancy, as though he was dead to all around him, and was thinking — thinking — thinking of things in the infinite distance of the past.

‘Shall I go now,’ said the doctor, ‘and send Lady Scatcherd to you?’

‘Wait a while, doctor; just one minute longer. So you will do nothing for Louis, then?’

‘I will do everything for him that I can do.’

‘Ah, yes! everything but the one thing that will save him. Well, I will not ask you again. But remember, Thorne, I shall alter my will tomorrow.’

‘Do so, by all means; you may well alter it for the better. If I may advise you, you will have down your own business attorney from London. If you will let me send he will be here before tomorrow night.’

‘Thank you for nothing, Thorne: I can manage that matter myself. Now leave me; but remember, you have ruined that girl’s fortune.’

The doctor did leave him, and went not altogether happy to his room. He could not but confess to himself that he had, despite himself as it were, fed himself with hope that Mary’s future might be made more secure, aye, and brighter too, by some small unheeded fraction broken off from the huge mass of her uncle’s wealth. Such hope, if it had amounted to hope, was now all gone. But this was not all, nor was this the worst of it. That he had done right in utterly repudiating all idea of a marriage between Mary and her cousin — of that he was certain enough; that no earthly consideration would have induced Mary to plight her troth to such a man — that, with him, was as certain as doom. But how far had he done right in keeping her from the sight of her uncle? How could he justify it to himself if he had thus robbed her of her inheritance, seeing that he had done so from a selfish fear lest she, who was now all his own, should be known to the world as belonging to others rather than to him? He had taken upon him on her behalf to reject wealth as valueless; and yet he had no sooner done so than he began to consume his hours with reflecting how great to her would be the value of wealth. And thus, when Sir Roger told him, as he left the room, that he had ruined Mary’s fortune, he was hardly able to bear the taunt with equanimity.

On the next morning, after paying his professional visit to his patient, and satisfying himself that the end was now drawing near with steps terribly quickened, he went down to Greshamsbury.

‘How long is this to last, uncle?’ said his niece, with sad voice, as he again prepared to return to Boxall Hill.

‘Not long, Mary; do not begrudge him a few more hours of life.’

‘No, I do not, uncle. I will say nothing more about it. Is his son with him?’ And then, perversely enough, she persisted in asking numerous questions about Louis Scatcherd.

‘Is he likely to marry, uncle?’

‘I hope so, my dear.’

‘Will he be so very rich?’

‘Yes; ultimately he will be very rich.’

‘He will be a baronet, will he not?’

‘Yes, my dear.’

‘What is he like, uncle?’

‘Like — I never know what a young man is like. He is like a man with red hair.’

‘Uncle, you are the worst hand in describing I ever knew. If I’d seen him for five minutes, I’d be bound to make a portrait of him; and you, if you were describing a dog, you’d only say what colour his hair was.’

‘Well, he’s a little man.’

‘Exactly, just as I should say that Mrs Umbleby had a red-haired little dog. I wish I had known these Scatcherds, uncle. I do admire people that can push themselves in the world. I wish I had known Sir Roger.’

‘You will never know him, Mary.’

‘I suppose not. I am so sorry for him. Is Lady Scatcherd nice?’

‘She is an excellent woman.’

‘I hope I may know her some day. You are so much there now, uncle; I wonder whether you ever mention me to them. If you do, tell her from me how much I grieve for her.’

That same night, Dr Thorne again found himself alone with Sir Roger. The sick man was much more tranquil, and apparently more at ease than he had been on the preceding night. He said nothing about his will, and not a word about Mary Thorne; but the doctor knew that Winterbones and a notary’s clerk from Barchester had been in the bedroom a great part of the day; and, as he knew also that the great man of business was accustomed to do his most important work by the hands of such tools as these, he did not doubt but that the will had been altered and remodelled. Indeed, he thought it more than probable, that when it was opened it would be found to be wholly different in its provisions from that which Sir Roger had already described.

‘Louis is clever enough,’ he said, ‘sharp enough, I mean. He won’t squander the property.’

‘He has good natural abilities,’ said the doctor.

‘Excellent, excellent,’ said the father. ‘He may do well, very well, if he can only be kept from this;’ and Sir Roger held up the empty wine-glass which stood by his bedside. ‘What a life he may have before him! — and to throw it away for this!’ and as he spoke he took the glass and tossed it across the room. ‘Oh, doctor! would that it were all to begin again!’

‘We all wish that, I dare say, Scatcherd.’

‘No, you don’t wish it. You ain’t worth a shilling, and yet you regret nothing. I am worth half a million in one way or another, and I regret everything-everything — everything!’

‘You should not think that way, Scatcherd; you need not think so. Yesterday you told Mr Clarke that you were comfortable in your mind.’ Mr Clarke was the clergyman who had visited him.

‘Of course I did. What else could I say when he asked me? It wouldn’t have been civil to have told him that his time and words were all thrown away. But, Thorne, believe me, when a man’s heart is sad — sad — sad to the core, a few words from a parson at the last moment will never make it right.’

‘May He have mercy on you, my friend! — if you will think of Him, and look to Him, He will have mercy on you.’

‘Well — I will try, doctor; but would that it were all to do again. You’ll see to the old woman for my sake, won’t you?’

‘What, Lady Scatcherd?’

‘Lady Devil! If anything angers me now it is that “ladyship”— her to be my lady! Why, when I came out of jail that time, the poor creature had hardly a shoe to her foot. But it wasn’t her fault, Thorne; it was none of her doing. She never asked for such nonsense.’

‘She has been an excellent wife, Scatcherd; and what is more, she is an excellent woman. She is, and ever will be, one of my dearest friends.’

‘Thank’ee, doctor, thank’ee. Yes; she has been a good wife — better for a poor man than a rich one; but then, that was what she was born to. You won’t let her be knocked about by them, will you, Thorne?’

Dr Thorne again assured him, that as long as he lived Lady Scatcherd should never want one true friend; in making this promise, however, he managed to drop all allusion to the obnoxious title.

‘You’ll be with him as much as possible, won’t you?’ again asked the baronet, after lying quite silent for a quarter of an hour.

‘With whom?’ said the doctor, who was then all but asleep.

‘With my poor boy, Louis.’

‘If he will let me, I will,’ said the doctor.

‘And, doctor, when you see a glass at his mouth, dash it down; thrust it down, though you thrust out the teeth with it. When you see that, Thorne, tell him of his father — tell him what his father might have been but for that; tell him how his father died like a beast, because he could not keep himself from drink.’

These, reader, were the last words spoken by Sir Roger Scatcherd. As he uttered them he rose up in bed with the same vehemence which he had shown on the former evening. But in the very act of doing so he was again struck by paralysis, and before nine on the following morning all was over.

‘Oh, my man — my own, own man!’ exclaimed the widow, remembering in the paroxysm of her grief nothing but the loves of their early days; ‘the best, the brightest, the cleverest of them all!’

Some weeks after this Sir Roger was buried, with much pomp and ceremony, within the precincts of Barchester Cathedral; and a monument was put up to him soon after, in which he was portrayed, as smoothing a block of granite with a mallet and chisel; while his eagle eye, disdaining such humble work, was fixed upon some intricate mathematical instrument above him. Could Sir Roger have seen it himself, he would probably have declared, that no workman was ever worth his salt who looked one way while he rowed another.

Immediately after the funeral the will was opened, and Dr Thorne discovered that the clauses of it were exactly identical with those his friend had described to him some months back. Nothing had been altered; nor had the document been unfolded since that strange codicil had been added, in which it was declared that Dr Thorne knew — and only Dr Thorne — who was the eldest child of the testator’s only sister. At the same time, however, a joint executor with Dr Thorne had been named — one Mr Stock, a man of railway fame — and Dr Thorne himself was made a legatee to the humble extent of a thousand pounds. A life income of a thousand pounds a year was left to Lady Scatcherd.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43