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among them were two, addressed in the same hand-writing ; written on black-edged paper, and sealed with a mourning seal smelling of solder, and exhibiting such antiquated dimensions as to attract his notice. Nothing of the London tradesman about them :-nothing of the advertising speculator, touting for custom. — The epistles were as provincial in their cut, as though folded and addressed in the town-hall of some country borough
With a heavy sigh, he threw himself into a chair and deliberately unfolded, not an envelope, but a quarto sheet of blue wire-wove; such as, under the tyranny of his first preparatory school, he had been compelled to overscrawl half-yearly, with what was called a holiday-letter to his parents; and lo! the first lines that met his eye, contained words of reprehension.
“ Messrs. Wortham and Stock, of Liverpool, being greatly surprised at receiving no answer to their letter of the 21st ult., trusted that Mr. Woolston would either honour them with imme
diate instructions, or place them in communica-
Evidently a dun! Yet he owed no man any
From the epoch of his marriage, never had
On reaching this clause of the letter, John Woolston, with a peevish shrug of the shoulders, was about to throw it aside. The very quotation of such a sum seemed an insult to a man under the necessity of shirking his coal-merchant's bill; for that he could be answerable for Adam Wraysbury's estate otherwise than as executor, did not even occur to him. The old gentleman had probably bequeathed a considerable portion of his property to his niece, Lady Woolston ; and selected her son, rather than her husband, whom he detested, to see it equitably administered.
But considering how deeply his feelings were moved as he proceeded, it proved highly judicious, on the part of the formal Liverpool solicitors, to have taken so much time and prose to place him in possession of the fact that he was appointed residuary legatee, as well as executor, and that the sole legacies interfering with his remaindership, consisted of a few thousand pounds to charitable institutions, and one thousand to each of his nephews and nieces, for the purchase of mourning rings, as a memorial of A. W., gent.
As if any one of them were likely to forget an uncle who, having a million and a half to dispose of, had passed them over individually and collectively, to heap the mass of his fortune on the head of the contemned John !
The whole amount producing, as at present invested, an income of sixty-seven thousand and a fraction per annum, was bound up by a strict entail to descend to the second son of John Woolston's marriage with the daughter of
Richard Pennington, of Denny Cross ; or, lacking a second son, to their eldest daughter, so as to secure it against commixture with the property of the surly baronet, by whom old Adam considered himself slighted and aggrieved.
It required more than one or even two perusals of so wonder-striking a document, to enable the startled man to master and realise its contents. But when he had fully satisfied himself that he was the dupe of no illusion, that the letter was clearly authentic, and that he was actually in possession of a million and a half of money, he exhibited, alas ! neither the equanimity of a philosopher, nor the thankfulness of a Christian.—Had his wife and child been at hand to be pressed to his bosom, his heart might have expanded. As it was, having only within reach a fidgety clerk in the adjoining office, and a dirty old woman in the kitchen, he might be excused for the caution with which he carefully locked up the letter in his desk, and kept silence, yea, even from good words.