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   Chapter 13 THE NEW WILL.

May Brooke By Anna Hanson Dorsey Characters: 7791

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


Father Fabian came. Miracles such as this never amazed him. He knew too well that the Spirit of the Eternal God, which abides with His Church for ever, was as powerful then as it had been in ages past, and that He still condescended to add miracles to the testimony of revelation, to glorify the faith He planted. With the angels, he only "rejoiced, and was exceeding glad," giving thanks to God for this new manifestation of His clement love. Long, and earnest, and touching, was the interview between the priest of God and the dying penitent. He saw the depths of an old and embittered heart broken up; he heard its plaintive cry, as it floated out towards the dark ocean of death, of, "Save, Lord, or I perish!" and its imploring prayer for the waters of regeneration, and the sacraments of the Church. All earth had failed him in this his hour of need; and from the deep abyss of his misery he expected no deliverance but through them. But at last, Peace was whispered, and into his soul was breathed the holy sentence of absolution; and on his hoary head was poured the baptismal stream; his eyes and ears had been opened by divine power; and, like Siloa's wave, it washed him clean. What was the leprosy of those men of old, to the corroding infection of SIN, which had for so many weary years diseased and defaced his spirit? They were healed by a miracle of power,-he, by a miracle of grace. Mr. Stillinghast was much exhausted, but calm and humble; he had suddenly become like a little child, so sincere and entire was his repentance.

"I will come again in a few hours, and administer to you, my poor friend, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction; and if I find that you are sinking, will bring the Holy Viaticum for your refreshment and consolation in the dark and trying hour. I would advise you now to settle all your worldly concerns, so that nothing may interfere between your soul and God."

"How is it with you now, dear uncle?" said May, who came in as Father

Fabian left the room.

"Unworthy, child-all and utterly unworthy, but hoping humbly, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ," he whispered.

"Mr. Fielding and Doctor Burrell are here!" said Helen, coming in.

"Is Father Fabian still here?"

"He is, sir."

"Request him to come back." Soon after the three gentlemen came in together. "Leave me a little while," he said, unclasping his fingers from May's hand.

"I fear that you feel very feeble, Mr. Stillinghast," said the doctor.

"I feel it, sir, but I have a work to do, and the 'day is far spent.' Could you ascertain, in any way, so that you could swear to it, that I am in my sane mind?" he asked, eagerly.

"The subject requires no investigation, sir. I have not the least doubt of your sanity. Your mind has been quite-nay, uncommonly clear since your recovery," replied the doctor.

"Gentlemen," he said, addressing the other, "I am perfectly and entirely in my senses; I have not a single obscure or confused idea. All is clear and calm. Fielding, I made a will a short time ago; I wish to change it-to make another. Open that desk, and you will find parchment, pens, and ink. Now, come sit near me-so. Begin and write the usual preamble and formula."

"It is done, sir," said Mr. Fielding, after writing rapidly some ten minutes.

"I wish to devise to my niece, May Brooke, two hundred thousand dollars in bank and city stock, subject to her entire and free control, without condition; and with the hope that she will accept and use it, as a memorial of my gratitude for the great and incalculable good she has done me. To Helen Stillinghast, I bequeath the sum of fifty thousand dollars, the harp I purchased for her, and the house, goods, and chattles I have devised to her elsewhere."

"It is all written out, sir, in due legal form," said Mr. Fielding.

"To my Irish porter, Michael Neal, who has served me faithfully th

ese twenty years, an annuity of two hundred dollars-to be settled on him for life. To a certain wood-sawyer, introduced to me on the 25th by said Michael Neal, who will identify the man, the sum of one hundred dollars, annually, while he lives, as a small compensation for having conducted me, on that day, to a place where I learned something of the first importance to me." Then followed a magnificent bequest for the establishment and support of a Catholic asylum for boys; another for a standing fund for the support of young men preparing for the priesthood, who were destitute of means, and anxious to enter holy orders. The residue of his princely fortune, he wished applied to furnishing capital for a bank for the poor, where, by making small deposits in seasons of health and prosperity, they would be entitled to loans without interest, in ill-health, sickness, or hard times. To Walter Jerrold, in the event of his marrying Helen Stillinghast, his warehouse, then occupied by Stillinghast & Co., and whatever merchandise it contained. It was all put into legal form by the attorney-no technicality was omitted that might endanger the prompt execution of his wishes-not a letter or dot left out. Mr. Fielding read it aloud.

"Add a codicil, Fielding-a codicil. I wish my legacies to the church to be placed in the hands, and under the control, and at the will of, the Archbishop of Baltimore. For the rest, I name you sole executor. Have you finished? Let me sign it; then ask those gentlemen," he said, pointing to Father Fabian and Dr. Burrell, who had been engaged in a low-toned conversation at the window, to "witness it."

They came forward, saw him sign his name in full, clear characters, then appended their own signatures; after which, Mr. Stillinghast fell back exhausted on his pillow, and, while an expression of rest settled on his pale, time-worn features, he exclaimed,

"It is all right, now, Fielding. Now, my God, I am free; my burden, under which I have toiled through misspent years, is cast away. I am free!"

"Courage, my friend; you have done a good work-a work worthy of a dying Christian, and may the blessing of Almighty God rest on it and you," said Father Fabian, who made over him the sign of the cross, while he blessed him in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Mr. Fielding placed the will in a large white envelope, which he laid on the bed beside Mr. Stillinghast, and took leave, hoping that when he saw him in the morning he would be much better. The doctor prevailed on him to swallow a restorative which he had brought, after which, he grew more composed, and gave the will to May, and directed her to lay it on the shelf of a small, narrow closet, on the left side of the fireplace. As she did so, she saw another envelope like it, marked "Will;" also a number of packages-bonds, deeds, mortgages, and receipts, tied up in small; compact bundles, packed in between the shelves. But she felt no interest there; and quickly returning to her uncle's pillow, was glad to see that he had fallen into a profound sleep. Helen, who had been hovering about the door, and around the room, in and out, for the last half hour, came in again, and asked May if "she should not relieve her by taking her post, while her uncle slept?"

"No, dear Helen, he might awake and miss me; and he has requested me not to leave him until death releases his soul. Do you attend to the affairs of the house-I will watch here."

"There's something going on," thought Helen. "She's a deep one, with all her quiet piety; but she shall never stand between me and my aims. I have read one will-I shall not sleep until I read the other." Then, turning to May, she spoke aloud. "It will suit me better to be down stairs; I am so very nervous, that I am a poor nurse;" and glad to be released from a scene too uncongenial to her nature and feelings, she hastily withdrew.

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