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   Chapter 19 CONCLUSION.

May Brooke By Anna Hanson Dorsey Characters: 10189

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:03


Mr. Fielding was alone in his office. Perched on a high stool, with spectacles on his nose, pouring over Blackstone's views on certain questions of equity, sat the lawyer at his desk, with a look of wisdom supernal. The door opened, but it did not disturb him.

"Good morning, Mr. Fielding!" said a small voice, somewhere below him.

"I am engaged!" he growled.

"But I have come on legal business," persisted the voice.

"Who in the world are you-a kobold-or-or-May Brooke! What on earth brought you here?" he exclaimed, pushing back his glasses.

"I have come about that will of my uncle's, sir," said May, demurely.

"Come to your senses at last," said the lawyer, chuckling with triumph.

"I wish to take the most decided measures to set aside my uncle's first will, having in my possession the most decided proof that I did not burn the last one," she said, in her quiet way.

"Proof, eh! I wonder if your proof will stand the test of the law?"

"I should think so. But I can impart nothing more on the subject until you promise me, on your word of honor, to ask me no questions. I will promise you, on the other hand, to tell you all that is necessary on the subject," said May, earnestly.

"Heaven save us, when women begin with law! My dear little foolish child, I am not the Law; I am only its minister, and am bound, under oath, to perform its functions faithfully," said Mr. Fielding, opening his eyes wide with astonishment at May's strange proposition.

"All of which I am perfectly aware; but as your honor, or the honor of the law will not be in the least involved in this affair, I must persevere in my request."

"You'll have your way there's not the slightest doubt-if you can get it. But can't you trust my discretion-my judgment-my-my ahem! friendship for you, pendente lite."

"No, sir; I can trust to nothing but a promise such as I require from you; a promise which, if you knew all, you would voluntarily, from the best and most generous impulses of your heart, offer," said May, standing up on a chair, that she might converse more at her ease, by bringing her face to a level with his.

"I will promise this, and no more," he replied, after thinking some minutes. "If, on producing your proof, I find it irrefragable, and can proceed in this matter without carrying it to court, or bringing in additional counsel-that is, if I can manage it all myself, which I doubt, I will be silent. Men-even lawyers, are not apt to die of ungratified curiosity. Will that answer you, ma'am?"

"I think so," said May, after some deliberation.

"Now produce your proof?"

"Here it is, sir. Here is my uncle's will, which has been so long mislaid. I presume this is proof sufficient," said May, spreading out the lost will before him. But such was his surprise, and so great his eagerness to take it to the window to examine it, that he upset his desk, and losing his balance, plunged head foremost after it, and lay amidst the ruins covered with books, ink, and papers.

"Indeed, sir, I hope you are not hurt, and beg of you to excuse me," said May, trying to raise him up, while she laughed until tears ran down her cheeks. "There, sir, sit in the arm-chair, and let me wipe the ink from your face."

"Let the ink be, May. Only tell me how this will has been so unexpectedly recovered, for it is, I am willing to swear on the Holy Evangely, the identical one I drew up the day your uncle died," he said, quite unruffled by the accident, and examining the document with a close scrutinizing look.

"Are you perfectly satisfied?" asked May, gravely.

"Perfectly," he replied.

"Then I can only tell you that it is a case of conscience which I am not at liberty to reveal; indeed, I would rather tear that will into fragments than reveal its history. Heaven has interposed in answer to prayer in this matter; an immortal soul has been led back to God. Justice is satisfied. The widow, the orphan, the destitute will be comforted-"

"And you will be as rich as Croesus!" said Mr. Fielding, with a delighted look.

"Oh, sir! Oh, Mr. Fielding, what shall I do?" exclaimed May, bursting into a fit of crying.

"What is the matter? What in the world are you crying about?"

"I don't want to be rich, sir; indeed, I never thought of myself. Oh, dear! I shall be so trammelled, so tempted with all this. I don't want it, sir."

"You are a fool. What do you want, boy?" said Mr. Fielding angrily to a boy, who was standing at the door, laughing immoderately, though in a suppressed manner.

"I have a note from Father Fabian, sir," said the urchin, who gave him the note, and rushed out of the office, while his laughter, unsuppressed, made the street echo with its mirthful sound.

Mr. Fielding tore open the note, and read:-

"DEAR SIR: I find that it will be impossible for me to see you, as I wished to do, to-day. Ere this you have been informed, no doubt, by May Brooke of the recovery of the lost will. I can only say, with the permission of the penitent, who, through the fear of the Judgment of Almighty God, and a sincere d

esire for salvation, restored it; that it is the same which you drew up the day Mr. Stillinghast was taken ill; which declaration has been made to me under an oath of the most solemn character. You may, therefore, feel quite safe in making such business arrangements in connection with it as your discretion may suggest.

"Very sincerely yours,

"STEPHEN FABIAN."

"Of course," said the lawyer, looking hurt, "it must be a most delicate case where such secrecy is observed. But one cannot control his suspicions."

Just then Mr. Jerrold came in. He looked so little like a man that was going to lose the bulk of a princely fortune, that Mr. Fielding was amazed-so amazed, that he could not imagine the cause of Mr. Jerrold's laughter, who, although highly diverted at the grave lawyer's blackened visage, endeavored in the most polite manner to suppress it.

"He doesn't know the will is found," thought Mr. Fielding.

"I have called, Mr. Fielding, to say that I am ready to give an account of the stewardship of Mr. Stillinghast's property, which I have managed for the last nine months. My wife and myself are perfectly satisfied that the will now in your hand is genuine, and are too happy to see every thing restored to its equilibrium, to wish an hour's delay in resigning all right and title to every thing except what is legally and honestly ours."

"Give me your hand, Mr. Jerrold. I honor your sentiments, and the prompt and honorable manner with which you meet this emergency," said honest Mr. Fielding. "Take May home, and comfort her between you all, for the poor child is breaking her heart because she is rich."

And so it was settled. After receiving with true humility the Sacraments of the Church, Helen, so altered and changed in all her views of life and eternity, accompanied her husband to Europe. They spent the winter in Rome, where, among other converts, who made their abjuration of error and first communion at the "Gesu," was an American gentleman named Jerrold. We may easily imagine who this Jerrold was.

As to May, with the advice of Father Fabian and Mr. Fielding to aid her in the distribution of her wealth, she became gradually reconciled to the idea of being rich, because it afforded her an unfailing source of happiness in the reflection that she could now, in an extended view, become the benefactor of her kind. And from that day to this she has been the busiest-the most untiring-the most loving friend of the poor and afflicted. Decorating the sanctuary-visiting the widow and orphan-relieving distresses, not only by alms, but by words of cheer-raising up the fallen, and soothing the broken-hearted, was the business of her life; a business sweetened by such ample consolations, that she sometimes dreaded lest she should seek more her own comfort than the kingdom of heaven. And then she often paused, and wondered and feared, because no wild torrents swept across her way, and no ruggedness wounded her feet in life's pathway. But she need not. The love of God-a perfect charity, smoothed and brightened all. Where others would have made gloom, she made sunshine; where others found the waters of life bitter, she sweetened them by her perfect union with the divine will.

And better than all, her practical works of charity were continually adding members to the Church of Christ. But we must bid her adieu. She is growing old, but her step is light, and her cheeks still tinted with the hue of health; and, perchance, in some future sketch of life, we may meet her again in her ceaseless round of charity. Helen was one of her consolations. A truly Christian wife and mother; though timid and humble in her spiritual life, her unobtrusive piety, amidst temptation and worldly associations, made her an example and edification to all who knew her. Mr. Fielding, always devoted to May, and admiring the indomitable and cheerful energy of her character, was at last persuaded that, as there is but one God, so there was but ONE FAITH, and ONE BAPTISM, the fruits of which he sought with great humility and steadfastness. We regret to add, that the benevolent and warm-hearted Mrs. Tabb was so profuse in her charitable belief of the right of all to be saved, that she easily fell in with the New Light of the day-Spiritualism; and got her head so filled with "circles," and "progression" and "manifestations," that not recognizing the demoniac origin of it all, she became hopelessly insane. Mrs. Jerrold, enraged at the loss of Mr. Stillinghast's fortune, and the conversion of her son and Helen, retired to the "Cedars," where between "whist" and opium she drags out a lengthened and miserable existence-refusing all spiritual aid, and denouncing May in no measured terms, as the cause and prime mover of all her reverses. We should like to have told all this in our own way, but our limits, already transgressed, warn us to silence, while the night-lamp, burning low in its socket, and the watch ticking faintly, like the last pulses of the dying, tell us, in emphatic language, that the "good-night" hour has come.

THE END.

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