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ance, and Colonel Mannering began full well to hope that the settlement which he had obtained from Glossin contained the ultimate arrangement of the old lady's affairs. But his friend Pleydell, who now came into the room, cautioned him against entertaining this belief.
“I am well acquainted with the gentleman,” he said, “who is conducting the search, and I guess from his manner that he knows something more of the matter than any of us.” Meantime, while the search proceeds, let us take a brief glance at one or two of the company, who seem most interested.
Of Dinmont, who, with his large hunting-whip under his arm, stood poking his great round face over the shoulder of the homme d'affaires, it is unnecessary to say any thing. That thin-looking oldish person, in a most correct and gentleman-like suit of mourning, is Mac-Casquil, formerly of Drumquag, who was ruined by having a legacy bequeathed to him of two shares in the Ayr bank. His hopes on the present occasion are founded on a very distant relationship, upon his sitting in the same pew with the deceased every Sunday, and upon his playing at cribbage with her regularly on the Saturday evenings-taking great care never to come off a winner. That other coarse-looking man, wearing his own greasy hair tied in a leathern cue more greasy still, is a tobacconist, a relation of Mrs. Bertram's mother, who, having a good stock in trade when the colonial war broke out, trebled the price of his commodity to all the world, Mrs. Bertram alone excepted, whose tortoise-shell snuff-box was weekly filled with the best rappee at the
old prices, because the maid brought it to the shop with Mrs. Bertram's respects to her cousin Mr. Quid. That young fellow, who has not had the decency to put off his boots and buckskins, might have stood as forward as most of them in the graces of the old lady, who loved to look upon a comely young man; but it is thought he has forfeited the moment of fortune, by sometimes neglecting her tea-table when solemnly invited ; sometimes appearing there, when he had been dining with blither company ; twice treading upon her cat's tail, and once affronting her parrot.
To Mannering, the most interesting of the group was the poor girl, who had been a sort of humble companion of the deceased, as a subject upon whom she could at all times expectorate her bad humour. She was for form's sake dragged into the room by the deceased's favourite female attendant, where, shrinking into a corner as soon as possible, she saw with wonder and affright the intrusive researches of the strangers amongst those recesses to which from childhood she had looked with awful veneration. This girl was regarded with an unfavourable eye by all the competitors, honest Dinmont only excepted; the rest conceived they should find in her a formidable competitor, whose claims might at least encumber and diminish their chance of succession. Yet she was the only person present who seemed really to feel sorrow for the deceased. Mrs. Bertram had been her protectress, although from selfish motives, and her capricious tyranny was forgotten at the moment while the tears followed each other fast down the cheeks of her
frightened and friendless dependent.
“ There's ower muckle saut water there, Drumquag,” said the tobacconist to the ex-proprietor, “to bode ither folk muckle gude. Folk seldom greet that gate but they ken what it's for.” Mr. Mac-Casquil only replied with a nod, feeling the propriety of asserting his superior gentry in presence of Mr. Pleydell and Colonel Mannering.
“Very queer if there suld be nae will after a’, friend," said Dinmont, who began to grow impatient, to the man of business.
A moment's patience, if you please—she was a good and prudent woman, Mrs. Margaret Bertram-a good and prudent and well-judging woman, and knew how to choose friends and depositories ; she may have put her last will and testament, or rather her mortis causa settlement, as it relates to heritage, into the hands of some safe friend.”
"I'll bet a fump and dozen," said Pleydell, whispering to the Colonel, "he has got it in his own pocket;" -then addressing the man of law, “Come, sir, we'll cut this short if you please—here is a settlement of the estate of Singleside, executed several years ago, in favour of Miss Lucy Bertram of Ellangowan". stared fearfully wild. “You, I presume, Mr. Protocol, can inform us if there is a later deed ?”
“Please to favour me, Mr. Pleydell ;"—and so saying, he took the deed out of the learned counsel's hand, and glanced his eye over the contents.
“Too cool," said Pleydell, “too cool by half-he has another deed in his pocket still.”
“Why does he not show it then, and be dd to him !” said the military gentleman, whose patience began to wax threadbare.
“Why, how should I know ?” answered the barrister -“why does a cat not kill a mouse when she takes him ?- the consciousness of power and the love of teasing, I suppose.—Well, Mr. Protocol, what say you to that deed ?”
“Why, Mr. Pleydell, the deed is a well-drawn deed, properly authenticated and tested in forms of the statute."
“But recalled or superseded by another of posterior date in your possession, eh ?" said the counsellor.
“Something of the sort I confess, Mr. Pleydell,” rejoined the man of business, producing a bundle tied with tape, and sealed at each fold and ligation with black wax. “ That deed, Mr. Pleydell, which you produce and found upon, is dated 1st June 17 — ; but this”-breaking the seals and unfolding the document slowly—“is dated the 20th-no, I see it is the 21st, of April of this present year, being ten years posterior.”
Marry, hang her, brock !” said the counsellor, borrowing an exclamation from Sir Toby Belch, “just the month in which Ellangowan's distresses became generally public. But let us hear what she has done."
Mr. Protocol accordingly, having required silence, began to read the settlement aloud in a slow, steady, business-like tone. The group around, in whose eyes hope alternately awakened and faded, and who were straining their apprehensions to get at the drift of the
testator's meaning through the mist of technical language in which the conveyance had involved it, might have made a study for Hogarth.
The deed was of an unexpected nature. It set forth with conveying and disponing all and whole the estate and lands of Singleside and others, with the lands of Loverless, Liealone, Spinster's Knowe, and heaven knows what beside, “to and in favours of (here the reader softened his voice to a gentle and modest piano) Peter Protocol, clerk to the signet, having the fullest confidence in his capacity and integrity,—(these are the very words which my worthy deceased friend insisted upon my inserting)But in TRUST always,” (here the reader recovered his voice and style, and the visages of several of the hearers, which had attained a longitude that Mr. Mortcloke might have envied, were perceptibly shortened), “in TRUST always, and for the uses, ends, and purposes hereinafter mentioned.”
In these “uses, ends, and purposes,” lay the cream of the affair. The first was introduced by a preamble setting forth, that the testatrix was lineally descended from the ancient house of Ellangowan, her respected great-grandfather, Andrew Bertram, first of Singleside, of happy memory, having been second son to Allan Bertram, fifteenth Baron of Ellangowan. It proceeded to state, that Henry Bertram, son and heir of Godfrey Bertram, now of Ellangowan, had been stolen from his parents in infancy, but that she, the testatrix, was well assured that he was yet alive in foreign parts, and by the providence of heaven would be restored to the posses