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“We cannot be certain of that,” the lawyer replied. “It constantly happens that legacies are, for some reason or other, refused, or become in some manner inoperative ; and in such cases there is generally an alternative—sometimes more than one-provided in codicils. There is no reason to suppose that Mr. Grantley would have failed to foresee such a contingency, and to provide against it; especially in view of the somewhat exceptional position that he was conscious of occupying."
“ That is to say, if he had left his money to Madame Desmoines, and she had refused it, you think he would have provided beforehand that it should go to somebody else?” said Philip.
“I think we have no reason to suppose otherwise," returned the other, with the lawyer's prudence of phrase. “And it may have been in order to facilitate her refusal, had the alternative presented itself, that she acted in anticipation."
“I was sure she would do what she considered right,” said Mrs. Lockhart, who had not in the least comprehended Fillmore's analysis, but had inferred from his tone and manner that he was in some way defending Perdita from an aspersion.
“She possesses many qualities not commonly found in women,” remarked Fillmore, looking down at his hands meditatively. After a little he rose, as for departure. Philip was just then saying something to Mrs. Lockhart ; and as Marion also rose, she and the lawyer were for a moment by themselves.
“Mr. Fillmore,” she said, colouring as she spoke, and lowering her voice as if she intended her words for him only,“ didn't you say that legatees often refused their legacies ? "
“ All sorts of strange things occur, in law as well as elsewhere, Miss Lockhart.”
“Why should anyone refuse a legacy ?”
“For no very wise reason, perhaps," said he, smiling slightly. 'From what are called conscientious motives, sometimes ; or quite as often from enmity, or whim or . . . But I dare say you can imagine as many reasons as I.”
“Yes," said Marion absently; and then she added, "So that is why codicils are put in wills ?”
“Such provisions are sometimes inserted in codicils," said Fillmore, after one of his characteristic pauses, and a fixed glance at Marion.
“Are there any codicils in Mr. Grantley's will ?" was her next question. “A codicil, inserted to provide against the miscarriage of somea thing in the body of the will, remains, of course, inoperative and therefore practically non-existent, if the miscarriage in question does not occur," replied he carelessly. Before she could answer he added, “I have over-stayed my time. Farewell, for the present, Miss Lockhart ; I trust you may long enjoy the means of happiness and variety afforded you. Mrs. Lockhart, I wish you good-day ; Mr. · Lancaster, your obedient servant.”
“I suppose this business won't be settled for some time to come,” observed Marion, following him to the door. “I suppose I should have an opportunity of communicating with you beforehand, if I should wish it?"
“I shall always be at your disposal," returned Fillmore, bowing; and declining Mrs. Lockhart's invitation to remain to dinner, he left the house without further parley.
“Oh, my dear daughter," cried Mrs. Lockhart, in her overflowing way, when the three were again alone,“ what do you think? Philip has his news, too; he is an heir, if you are an heiress; all our good fortune comes at once !"
“You, too? How?” said Marion, appearing to be much moved, and turning upon Philip with a face full of a sort of serious excitement.
“Not much in comparison with yours ; we shall never be equals in that respect, I'm afraid," returned Philip, smiling. “But that poem of mine, which I wouldn't let you read, because I didn't think it good enough for you, seems to have been good enough for other people. My publisher has sold enough of it, at last accounts, to bring me in more than a thousand pounds of profit. If it would only go on at that rate, I should do very well.”
Marion looked deeply delighted, and at the same time agitated. “Huzza ! Philip, I knew you must be a genius !” she exclaimed. “Of course it will go on-how can you help writing better and better. That is much better than inheriting other people's money, which you don't deserve, and which doesn't really belong to you--not even so much as to other people. A thousand pounds in such a short time! We shall not need Mr. Grantley's money at all."
“Oh, you may find it useful to buy your bonnets and shawls with," said Philip, laughing.
But Marion seemed not to hear him. She paced about the room, stopping now and then and humming some air to herself; and, finally, she seated herself at the piano and began to improvise, striking melodious and changing chords, sometimes soft and tender, soinetimes resonant and tumultuous. Philip, who was more stirred and influenced by music than by almost anything else, especially by the
kind of irregular and mysterious music that Marion was given to producing, sat near her, with his head on his hands, letting the harmonies sway and kindle his thoughts. When, at length, the music ceased, and Philip raised his head, he perceived that he and she were alone ; Mrs. Lockhart had gone out.
“I shall always be a poet, as long as I have you to play to me,” said he. “Only, I shall never write such poetry as I think of while you play."
“It does not take much to make two people happy, does it ?" she said.
“Very little : only love, the rarest thing in the world; and music, the next rarest; and a few other trifling matters of that sort,” returned he, with superb irony.
“Ah, my dear love, you know what I mean. All we need to be happy is each other, and what we can do for each other. Nothing else, except something to eat and drink, and a room to live in. I'm sure I've been happier in this house, with you, and with only money enough to keep alive on, than I ever was before, or expected to be."
“Well, I have a theory about that,” said Philip, “though I've never worked it out. Love in a cottage is a good thing ; and so is love in a palace. But love is not always of one quality ; in fact, it never is the same in any two human beings. Sometimes it is simple and quiet and primitive ; and then a cottage is the place for it ; because, if we are to be at ease and content, what is outside of us ought to correspond to what is within, as the body to the spirit. But sometimes love is splendid, royal, full of every kind of spiritual richness and variety, continually rising to new heights of vision, plunging into new depths of insight, creating, increasing, living in wider and wider spheres of thought and feeling. And, for such love as that, a cottage is not the right environment. You must have a palace, a fortune, splendour and power ; indeed, nothing can be too splendid, or splendid enough.”
“And could not such a love be happy without all that splendour ?"
"Well, no—according to the theory! But, as I said, I haven't completely worked it out yet. There is a certain kind of happiness, no doubt, in doing without what you know you ought to have ; and, as a matter of fact, few or no people ever get just the surroundings they want, or ever are or expect to be entirely happy; and, perhaps, to be paradoxical, they wouldn't be happy if they were. Imagination is a great factor in the account, and hope. The material world is too rigid and heavy ever to obey the behests of those two magicians; and so their best work has always been done in cloudland and dream
land. Perhaps, in the next world, nature-this phantasmagory of earth, sea, and sky-will not be fixed and unchangeable as here, but pliant and adaptable to one thought and will : so that the statue which I see in
mind shall at once clothe itself in spiritual marble before my eyes ; and the rocky island, which I imagine in yonder azure sea, shall straightway rise from the waves in all its tropic beauty; and yet all this be not a dream or a fancy, but a reality as real and immortal as my own mind-which, after all, is the only reality. Reality has nothing to do with fixedness. Your lips of flesh and blood, my beloved Marion, are not so real as the kisses I give them, or as the love that goes into the kisses. Well-what were we talking about?"
“About whether twenty thousand pounds were necessary to make us happy."
“Oh, was that it? Then we can take our time ; for, as we have got the money---at least, since you've got it--we can settle the problem in the most satisfactory of all ways-by practical experiment ! And that will take us a lifetime at least.”
“Then, what if we found we had tried the wrong experiment, after all ?"
"Well, I suppose all discoverers run that risk. Meanwhile, it seems to me, 'tis better to have the money to lose than to win.”
“ I'm not sure about that,” said Marion. Money gives us power in the world, but 'tis only the money we earn that gives us a right to the power. Inheriting money is a sort of robbery. The power we have is not our own—we have usurped it. It brings a host of things crowding about us—things to be done, business to be attended to, claims to be considered : things that we do not care about, and that do us no good ; that prevent us from feeling and thinking what we really care about. If one is born rich, it may be different ; but to become suddenly rich without any help of one's own cannot be good, Philip. It must take away more than it gives ; and what it takes away must be better than what it gives."
“But some people must be rich,” said Philip. “Providence has so decreed. And why should it not be just as much the will of Providence that you should inherit riches as that you should be born to them or earn them? At all events, you have got it, and must make the best of it. Besides, there have been bigger fortunes in the world than twenty thousand pounds, as well as people who needed it more."
“Do you love me any better than you did before you knew of this?"
“Knowing it has not made me love you more-if that's what you mean; but the longer I know you the more I love you, so I love you now more than I did an hour ago."
“Should you love me any less if this money turned out to belong to some one else ?"
“No, foolish Marion ; by this kiss, it wouldn't make an atom of difference."
"Oh, Philip, I hope it is so," said Marion, her bosom beginning to heave and her voice to falter. "I hate this money, and have been miserable ever since I had it! It does not belong to me, and I have made up my mind that I won't keep it."
“Not belong to you, Marion ?"
“ It belongs to Perdita ; she was his daughter. Why should he have come back to England, unless because he hoped to find her, and to make her rich and happy? What have I to do with his for. tune? I loved him almost like a father; and he used to say I was a daughter to him ; but I am not his daughter as Perdita is, and the thought of having what she would have had is hateful! And it spoils my memory of him : I must think of him now as a man who left me a fortune-not as a dear friend who gave me all the treasure of his wisdom and gentleness. He should not have done it ; he doubted himself whether to do it, for he said something to me once which I did not understand then, but now I know he was trying to find out whether I would consent to such a thing. It is all wrong ; and the only thing to be done now is to give it back."
“ To whom?” asked Philip, who was trying not to feel too much amazed.
“To Perdita ; for I know that, when I refuse it, it will go to her. There is a codicil in the will that gives it to her. I am sure of it, Philip, for I spoke to Mr. Fillmore, and I could see in his face and in the way he spoke that there is a codicil ; and the reason he didn't read it was that I had not yet refused the legacy."
“But even if there be a codicil, how do you know it is in favour of Perdita ?”
" It will turn out to be so," said Marion, shutting her lips and paling. She was watching Philip's face with an anxiety that seemed to penetrate to his very soul ; it was evidently of supreme importance to her which side his judgment turned. He felt it, and strove to be calm, but the silent strength of her desire flowed against him in a current more nearly irresistible than her words.
“Are you quite sure, Marion," he said, at length," that you have told me all the reasons for your wishing to do this thing?"
Her cheeks slowly reddened as she replied in a whisper, “I have said all I can."