« PreviousContinue »
address, and I called at her hotel three succes. sive days without once finding her sufficiently at leisure to enter on the subject. I did not call again, though she staid a week in London.
The day before she quitted it, I received another note from her, which, though not sealed with doves or blue wax, I opened with alacrity, but found it only contained an order to deliver over the box with its contents to another attorney, the brother-in-law of Madame Livorne, “whom she had luckily found an opportunity of putting in possession of all the circumstances of her unfortunate case!!!”
I was indebted to the kindness of Miss Gordon, a lady of high connexions, and intimate with many members of my own family, for an introduction to Lady Carysfort, who, with her two sisters, Mrs. Walsingham and Miss St. Clair, were entitled to the accumulations of a very large property, amounting to £80,000.
The income of their father had for peculiar reasons, not necessary to explain, been made over to trustees to allow him a certain maintenance for life, and on his decease to distribute the principal with all the accumulations among his three daughters, subject, however, to the discharge of his just debts. The father died; but the trustees demurred to the immediate distribution, on account of certain outstanding claims of an indefinite and questionable character. My assistance was required in preference to that of the family solicitor, to obtain for the ladies the money to which they were entitled. I bestowed considerable pains on the investigation of the case, and eventually succeeded in satisfying the trustees that they might safely set the alleged creditors at defiance, except as to a comparatively trifling sum; on this they consented to proceed to a distribution, on being indemnified by the cestui que trusts. Having thus, at the end of two or three months, completely cleared away all difficulties, I explained the matter to my clients, that I might obtain the requisite instructions as to the indemnity. I first called upon Miss St. Clair,
“Indeed, Mr. Sharpe, this is really good news! so we shall get all our money at last?"
“Yes, ma'am; subject to the indemnity."
“I don't quite understand this indemnity business, though you have said so much to explain it.”
“It only amounts to this if the trustees are compelled to satisfy these creditors, which I am convinced they never will be, you must, jointly with your sisters, refund as much money as they pay on that account.”
.“Well, if that is all, there can be no objection to that; but will this affect my rights under my aunt Carisbrook's will?”
I began to feel alarm; I had never heard of such a will, nor of such a person, and the plain course was to say so.
“I never heard of the will of Mrs. Carisbrook!"
“ The Countess of Carisbrook,” laying it slight emphasis on the word “Countess,” bequeathed to me £500 per annum, so long as my father lived.”
“Then, ma'am, it will not affect your rights, for by your father's death the annuity is gone already!”
“Indeed, Mr. Sharpe, I never thought of that! this makes the matter doubly important to me; of course I will give the indemnity."
And leaving my client to ponder over the wonderful discovery, I hastened to call on Mrs. Walsingham. he at once comprehended the whole affair; when, unluckily I observed that it would be necessary for me to explain it also
to her husband, the Rev. Mr. Walsingham. The lady instantly bridled up, and I saw that I had perpetrated a blunder, but of what nature] could not divine.
“I cannot imagine, Sir, what Mr. Walsing ham can have to do in the matter! it is my money, not Mr. Walsingham's!”
“I believe, Madam, it is not comprised in your settlement, and of course, therefore, his concurrence is necessary.”
“It is not of course, Mr. Gregory Sharpe, nor shall I ask Mr. Walsingham's concurrence in any step that I think proper to take.”
“I beg pardon for persisting in a point which seems irksome to you, but you must be aware that in contemplation of law, you and Mr. Walsingham have a common interest, and are identified.”
“Identified, Sir! identified with Mr. Walsingham! a common interest with Mr. Walsingham!” raising her voice at every period, till at last it almost amounted to a scream.
“Well, Madam, perhaps you will oblige me by at least speaking to him on the subject.”
“I speak to Mr. Walsingham! speak to him, on the subject! or on any subject whatever!!!
Indeed, Sir, you must excuse me;" rising at the same time to ring the bell.
I doubted whether she was sane; but I saw clearly that she was at all events frantic with anger; and to avoid being kicked out, which seemed highly probable, I took up my hat and made my bow.
I found Lady Carysfort at home, and Sir William with her, as well as Miss St. Clair, who had already preceded me, and communicated my intelligence, I was cordially received; and the sister's communication saved me all trouble in explaining, but Lady Carysfort's settlement had not been sent to me with Mrs. Walsingham’s.
“ Your Ladyship will be aware of the necessity of my ascertaining whether these moneys formed any portion of the settlement funds."
There was a little hesitation, and a slight suffusion of the face, (it had been a beautiful one,) as she inquired
“What can that have to do with it, Sir? Is not the money mine?”
“I cannot answer that question precisely without seeing the settlement. Sir William may take an interest in it, or your children.”