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Miss Garth bowed her head; and Mr. Pendril
went on.

"You are sufficiently acquainted with Mr.
Clare's contempt for all social prejudices," he
continued, "to anticipate his reception of the
confession which his neighbour addressed to
him. Five minutes after the interview had
begun, the two old friends were as easy and
unrestrained together as usual. In the course of
conversation, Mr. Vanstone mentioned the
pecuniary arrangement which he had made for the
benefit of his daughter and of her future
husbandand, in doing so, he naturally referred to
this will, here, on the table between us. Mr.
Clare, remembering that his friend had been
married in the March of that year, at once
asked when the will had been executed;
received the reply that it had been made five
years since; and, thereupon, astounded Mr.
Vanstone by telling him bluntly that the
document was waste paper in the eye of the law.
Up to that moment, he, like many other
persons, had been absolutely ignorant that a man's
marriage is, legally, as well as socially,
considered to be the most important event in his
life; that it destroys the validity of any will
which he may have made as a single man; and
that it renders absolutely necessary the entire
reassertion of his testamentary intentions in the
character of a husband. The statement of this
plain fact, appeared to overwhelm Mr.
Vanstone. Declaring that his friend had laid him
under an obligation which he should remember
to his dying day, he at once left the cottage, at
once returned home, and wrote me this letter:"

He handed the letter open to Miss Garth.
In tearless, speechless grief, she read these

"MY DEAR PENDRIL,—Since we last wrote to
each other, an extraordinary change has taken place
in my life. About a week after you went away, I
received news from America which told me that I
was free. Need I say what use I made of that
freedom? Need I say that the mother of my children
is now my Wife?

"If you are surprised at not having heard from
me the moment you got back, attribute my silence,
in great partif not altogetherto my own total
ignorance of the legal necessity for making another
will. Not half an hour since, I was enlightened for the
first time (under circumstances which I will mention
when we meet) by my old friend, Mr. Clare. Family
anxieties have had something to do with my silence,
as well. My wife's confinement is close at hand;
and, besides this serious anxiety, my second daughter
is just engaged to be married. Until I saw Mr.
Clare to-day, these matters so filled my mind that I
never thought of writing to you, during the one
short month which is all that has passed since I
got news of your return. Now I know that my
will must be made again, I write instantly. For
God's sake, come on the day when you receive this
come and relieve me from the dreadful thought
that my two darling girls are at this moment
unprovided for. If anything happened to me, and if my
desire to do their mother justice, ended (through my
miserable ignorance of the law) in leaving Norah
and Magdalen disinherited, I should not rest in my
grave! Come, at any cost, to yours ever, "A. V."

"On the Saturday morning," Mr. Pendril
resumed, "those lines reached me. I instantly
set aside all other business, and drove to the
railway. At the London terminus, I heard the
first news of the Friday's accident; heard it,
with conflicting accounts of the numbers and
names of the passengers killed. At Bristol,
they were better informed; and the dreadful
truth about Mr. Vanstone was confirmed. I
had time to recover myself, before I reached
your station here, and found Mr. Clare's son
waiting for me. He took me to his father's
cottage; and there, without losing a moment, I
drew out Mrs. Vanstone's will. My object was
to secure the only provision for her daughters
which it was now possible to make. Mr.
Vanstone having died intestate, a third of his
fortune would go to his widow; and the rest would
be divided among his next of kin. It is the
cruel peculiarity of the English law, that the
marriage of the parents does not legitimatise
children born out of wedlock. Mr. Vanstone's
daughters, under the circumstances of their
father's death, had no more claim to a share
in his property, than the daughters of one of his
labourers in the village. The one chance left,
was that their mother might sufficiently
recover to leave her third share to them, by will,
in the event of her decease. Now you know
why I wrote to you to ask for that interview
why I waited day and night, in the hope of
receiving a summons to the house. I was
sincerely sorry to send back such an answer to
your note of inquiry as I was compelled to
write. But while there was a chance of the
preservation of Mrs. Vanstone's life, the secret
of the marriage was hers not mine; and every
consideration of delicacy forbade me to
disclose it."

"You did right, sir," said Miss Garth; "I
understand your motives, and respect them."

"My last attempt to provide for the
daughters," continued Mr. Pendril, "was, as you know,
rendered unavailing by the dangerous nature of
Mrs. Vanstone's illness. Her death left the
infant who survived her by a few hours (the
infant born, you will remember, in lawful wedlock)
possessed, in due legal course, of the whole
of Mr. Vanstone's fortune. On the child's death
if it had only outlived the mother by a few
seconds, instead of a few hours, the result would
have been the samethe next of kin to the
legitimate offspring took the money; and that
next of kin is the infant's paternal uncle,
Michael Vanstone. The whole fortune of eighty
thousand pounds has virtually passed into his
possession already."

"Are there no other relations?" asked Miss
Garth. "Is there no hope from any one else?"

"There are no other relations with Michael
Vanstone's claim," said the lawyer. "There are
no grandfathers or grandmothers of the dead
child (on the side of either of the parents), now
alive. It was not likely there should be,
considering the ages of Mr. and Mrs. Vanstone,
when they died. But it is a misfortune to be
reasonably lamented that no other uncles or