+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error





"' To my beloved wife.' That will be
sufficient. Take these things away, and
put another pillow behind my shoulders,
Paul. Paul! Paul! do you hear?"

Then followed a hoarse muttered volley
of oaths, and Sir John sank back on his

Veronica and Barletti stood beside his
bed. The former very pale and excited;
the latter wondering, and impressed by the
change in Sir John's face. There was an
awful look upon it. The skin seemed to
be burnt and shrivelled by an inward
scorching fire. The eyes looked out glassy
and prominent from under their red
eyebrows. There was a harsh stubble of
beard upon the cheeks and chin.

"You have explained to him, have you?"
asked Sir John, in a faint voice, making a
slight movement with the emaciated hand
that lay outside the coverlet, towards

"He understands the purport of what
you tell us you have written," answered

"Aye, that is right. I want him to
understand. The estate in Dorsetshire is
entailed, and will go to a cursed snob, a third
cousin who inherits the baronetcy, curse
him! But the money in the English funds,
the plate, the house in town, the railway
shares, andand everything else, in short,
will be ' my beloved wife's.'"

He said the words with so strangely
malevolent a grimace on his withered face,
that Veronica stared at him with wide eyes,
for once unconscious of their own expression.
Barletti, too, was struck by the look,
though he could not fully comprehend the
words of Sir John. The latter had lately
during the last day or so, that isceased
to speak any language but his own. It
troubled him to talk French, he said. At
any time of his life, and under any
circumstances, it would have appeared to him a
sufficient reason for refraining from doing
anything, to say that it troubled him. But
as things were with him, it was very
obvious that he was unequal to making much
continued effort.

"Does Gale say it has been signed?"
asked Barletti of Veronica.

Sir John's ear had caught the question,
and he answered it.

"Oh, yes! Yes, the witnesses! Aye, we
must have witnesses, or it would not be a
legal instrument. Ha, ha, ha! Yes, yes.
Oh, it is signed; it is witnessed. I have
taken care!"

In obedience to a sign from his master,
whose every movement he watched
attentively, Paul took a small key from a ring
attached to his master's watch-chain, and
with it unlocked a desk that stood at one
end of the room opposite to the bed. He
then opened an inner compartment of the
desk, which was fastened by a spring, and
took out a folded paper covered with
writing on one side. When all was done,
Sir John stretched his hand out for the
paper to be given to him. His eyes
travelled over the writingit was very short
and then glanced at Barletti and
Veronica as they stood side by side near the
bed. With a sudden movement his fingers
cramped themselves on the paper they held,
creasing it into irregular folds.

"Go away, go away!" he gasped out.
"Go and leave me. AndPaul, Paul!