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thoughts wandered away into the bright region of day-dreams after this, and she fancied what their lives might be without that dull sordid trouble of pecuniary embarrassments. She fancied her husband, with all the fetters removed that had hampered his footsteps hitherto, winning a name and a place in the world. It is so natural for a romantic inexperienced girl to believe that the man she loves was born to achieve greatness; and that if he misses distinction, it is from the perversity of his surroundings or from his own carelessness, never from the fact of his being only a very small creature after all.
It was broad daylight when Marian rose after an hour of sleeplessness and thought, and refreshed herself with the contents of the cracked water-jug upon the rickety little washstand. The old man was still asleep when she went back to his room; but his breathing was more troubled than it had been the night before, and the widow, who was experienced in sickness and death, told Marian that he would not last very long. The shopman, Luke Tulliver, had come upstairs to see his master, and was hovering over the bed with a ghoulish aspect. This young man looked very sharply at Marian as she came into the room, seemed indeed hardly able to take his eyes from her face, and there was not much favour in his look. He knew who she was, and had been told how kindly the old man had taken to her in those last moments of his life; and he hated her with all his heart and soul, having devoted all the force of his mind for the last ten years to the cultivation of his employer's good graces, hoping that Mr. Nowell, having no one else to whom to leave his money, would end by leaving it all to him. And here was a granddaughter, sprung from goodness knows where, to cheat him out of all his chances. He had always suspected Gilbert Fenton of being a dangerous sort of person, and it was no doubt he who had brought about this introduction, to the annihilation of Mr. Tulliver's hopes. This young man took his place in a vacant chair by the fire, as if determined to stop; while Marian seated herself quietly by the sleeper's pillow, thinking only of that one occupant of the room, and supposing that Mr. Tulliver's presence was a mark of fidelity.
The old man woke with a start presently, and looked about him in a slow bewildered way for some moments.
• Who's that ?' he asked presently, pointing to the figure by the hearth.
• It's only Mr. Tulliver, sir,' the widow answered. • He's so anxious about you, poor young man.'
'I don't want him,' said Jacob Nowell impatiently. “I don't want his anxiety; I want to be alone with my granddaughter.'
Don't send me away, sir,' Mr. Tulliver pleaded in a piteous tone. 'I don't deserve to be sent away like a stranger, after serving you faithfully for the last ten years—'
It made you
* And being well paid for your services,' gasped the old man. I tell you I don't want you. Go downstairs and mind the shop.'
'It's not open yet, sir,' remonstrated Mr. Tulliver.
Then it ought to be. I'll have no idling and shirking because I'm ill. Go down and take down the shutters directly. Let the business go on just as if I was there to watch it.'
'I'm going, sir,' whimpered the young man ; but it does seem rather a poor return after having served you as I have, and loved you as if you'd been my own father.'
* Very much men love their fathers nowadays! I didn't ask you to love me, did I? or hire you for that, or pay you for it? Pshaw, man, I know you. You wanted my money like the rest of them, and I didn't mind your thinking there was a chance of your getting it. I've rather encouraged the notion at odd times. a better servant, and kept you honest. But now that I'm dying, I can afford to tell the truth. This young lady will have all my money, every sixpence of it, except five-and-twenty pounds to Mrs. Mitchin yonder. And now you can go. You'd have got something perhaps in a small way, if you'd been less of a sneak and a listener; but you've played your cards a trifle too well.'
The old man had raised himself up in his bed, and rallied considerably while he made this speech. He seemed to take a malicious pleasure in his shopman's disappointment. But when Luke Tulliver had slowly withdrawn from the room, with a last venomous look at Marian, Jacob Nowell sank back upon his pillow exhausted by his unwonted animation.
• You don't know what a deep schemer that young man has been, Marian,' he said, 'and how I have laughed in my sleeve at his manoeuvres.'
The dull November day dragged itself slowly through, Marian never leaving her post by the sick-bed. Jacob Nowell spent those slow hours in fitful sleep and frequent intervals of wakefulness, in which he would talk to Marian, however she might urge him to remember the doctor's injunctions that he should be kept perfectly quiet. It seemed indeed to matter very little whether he obeyed the doctor or not, since the end was inevitable.
One of the curates of the parish came in the course of the day, and read and prayed beside the old man's bed, Jacob Nowell joining in the prayers in a half mechanical way. For many years of his life he had neglected all religious duties. It was years since he had been inside a church ; perhaps he had not been once since the death of his wife, who had persuaded him to go with her sometimes to the evening service, when he had generally scandalised her by falling asleep during the delivery of the sermon. All that the curate told him now about the necessity that he should make his peace with his
God, and prepare himself for a world to come, had a far-off sound to him. He thought more about the silver downstairs, and what it was likely to realise in the auction-room. Even in this supreme hour his conscience did not trouble him much about the doubtful modes by which some of the plate he had dealt in had reached his hands. If he had not bought the things, some other dealer would have bought them. That is the easy-going way in which he would have argued the question, had he been called upon it at all.
Mr. Fenton came in the evening to see the old man, and stood for a little time by the bedside watching him as he slept, and talking in a low voice to Marian. He asked her how long she was going to remain in Queen-Anne-court, and found her ideas very vague upon that subject.
• If the end is so near as the doctor says, it would be cruel to leave my grandfather till all is over,' she said.
'I wonder that your husband has not come to you, if he is in London,' Gilbert remarked to her presently. He found himself very often wondering about her husband's proceedings, in no indulgent mood.
‘He may not be in London,' she answered, seeming a little vexed by the observation. 'I am quite sure that he will do whatever is best.'
* But if he should not come to you, and if your grandfather should die while you are alone here, I trust you will send for me and let me give you any help you may require. You can scarcely stay in this house after the poor old man's death.'
'I shall go back to Hampshire immediately; if I am not wanted here for anything—to make arrangements for the funeral. O, how hard it seems to speak of that while he is still living !'
You need give yourself no trouble on that account. I will see to all that, if there is no more proper person to do so.'
• You are very good. I am anxious to go back to the Grange as quickly as possible.'
Gilbert left soon after this. He felt that his presence was of no use in the sick-room, and that he had no right to intrude upon Marian at such a time.
FATHER AND DAUGHTER.
ALMOST immediately after Gilbert's departure, another visitor appeared in the dimly-lighted shop, where Luke Tulliver was poring over a newspaper at one end of the counter under a solitary gasburner.
This new-comer was Percival Nowell, who had not been to the house since his daughter's arrival.
· Well,' said this gentleman, in his usual off-hand manner, 'how's the governor ?
• Very ill; going fast, the doctor says.'
Eh? As bad as that ? Then there's been a change since I was here last.'
• Yes ; Mr. Nowell was taken much worse yesterday morning. He had a kind of fit, I fancy, and couldn't get his speech for some time afterwards. But he got over that, and has talked well enough since then,' Mr. Tulliver concluded ruefully, remembering his master's candid remarks that morning.
* I'll step upstairs and have a look at the old gentleman,' said Percival.
. There's a young lady with him,' Mr. Tulliver remarked, in a somewhat mysterious tone.
• A young lady!' the other cried. What young lady?'
Yes; she came up from the country yesterday evening, and she's been sitting with him ever since. He seems to have taken to her very much. You'd think she'd been about him all her life ; and she's to have all his money, he says. I wonder what his only son will
say to that,' added Mr. Tulliver, looking very curiously at Percival Nowell, “supposing him to be alive? Rather hard upon him, isn't it?'
* Uncommonly,' the other answered coolly. He saw that the shopman suspected his identity, though he had carefully avoided all reference to the relationship between himself and the old man in Luke Tulliver's presence, and had begged his father to say nothing about him.
'I should like to see this young lady before I go up to Mr. Nowell's room,' he said presently. Will you step upstairs and ask her to come down to me?'
* I can go if you wish, but I don't suppose she'll leave the old gentleman.' • Never mind what you suppose.
Tell her that I wish to say a few words to her upon particular business.'
Luke Tulliver departed upon this errand, while Percival Nowell went into the parlour, and seated himself before the dull neglected fire in the lumbering old arm-chair in which his father had sat through the long lonely evenings for so many years. Mr. Nowell the younger was not disturbed by any sentimental reflections upon this subject, however; he was thinking of his father's will, and the wrong which was inflicted upon him thereby.
* To be cheated out of every sixpence by my own flesh and
blood !' he muttered to himself. That seems too much for any man to bear.'
The door was opened by a gentle hand presently, and Marian came into the room. Percival Nowell rose from his seat hastily and stood facing her, surprised by her beauty and an indefinable likeness which she bore to her mother-a likeness which brought his dead wife's face back to his mind with a sudden pang. He had loved her after his own fashion once upon a time, and had grown weary of her and neglected her after the death of that short-lived selfish passion; but something, some faint touch of the old feeling, stirred his heart as he looked at his daughter to-night. The emotion was as brief as the breath of a passing wind. In the next moment he was thinking of his father's money, and how this girl had emerged from obscurity to rob him of it.
*You wish to speak to me on business, I am told,' she said, in her clear low voice, wondering at the stranger's silence and deliberate scrutiny of her face.
• Yes, I have to speak to you on very serious business, Marian,' he answered gravely.
You are an utter stranger to me, and yet call me by my Christian name.'
· I am not an utter stranger to you. Look at me, Mrs. Holbrook. Have you never seen my face before ?'
· Are you quite sure of that? Look a little longer before you answer again.' · Yes!' she cried suddenly, after a long pause.
"You are my father!'
There had come back upon her, in a rapid flash of memory, the picture of a room in Brussels—a room lighted dimly by two waxcandles on the chimney-piece, where there was a tall dark man who snatched her up in his arms and kissed her before he went out. She remembered caring very little for his kisses, and having a. childish consciousness of the fact that it was he who made her mamma cry so often in the quiet lonely evenings, when the mother and child were together in that desolate continental lodging.
Yet at this moment she was scarcely disposed to think much about her father's ill - conduct. She considered only that he was her father, and that they had found each other after long years of separation. She stretched out her arms, and would have fallen upon his breast; but something in his manner repelled her, something downcast and nervous, which had a chilling effect upon her, and gave her time to remember how little cause she had to love him. He did not seem aware of the affectionate impulse which had moved her towards him at first. He gave her his hand presently. It was leadly cold, and lay loosely in her own.