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cleared his throat, and pulling a very brown and worn hat over his ears, leaning on his stick, went to the window and stood some minutes gazing at the “bit of shadow" against which he wanted to bring out the colour.
Meantime, Mr. Beaumont was pursuing his own selfsatisfied reflections, sipping port, crossing his legs, sitting sideways, and looking at nothing. It seemed as if twilight and blackbirds, sloped curving lawns and noiseless elm-boughs were made on purpose to give the finishing stroke to the day of the English country gentleman. Of Mr. Cleffain's movements before the window, hat on head, and stick in hand, as he walked up and down taking different points of view, like a lion in his den trying to find an exit from the bars, he took no notice, for he, as well as all others who knew Mr. Cleffain, were used to the good old gentleman's ways.
“ Beautiful light just now, so quiet and toned down! upon my word, Beaumont, you lose a great deal by not caring for these things. But, by the way," continued ·he, returning to his chair, "I have a word to say relative to your conversation with our good friend Noel there; and, now we are alone, I may as well have a word or two with you. You were speaking of your boy, Raymond. You know I've always said-That light's equal to an effect in Waterloo. What a background of glow behind the shrubs !"
Mr. Beaumont had been startled from his reverie of gentlemanly indifference by Mr. Cleffain's remark. It struck a chord to which he was peculiarly respon. sive ; and when that was touched however lightly by Mr. Cleffain, the very music of inward delight thrilled through his soul. There can be no doubt that Mr. Beaumont's regard and friendship for Mr. Cleffain was as disinterested and pure as such a thing could be. He rode
over to see the old gentleman twice every week; dined at his hospitable board once a fortnight, admired his Gainsboroughs to his heart's content, and could say honestly, “ On my word, Cleffain, your place can be filled by none but yourself; when the turn of the wheel calls you away, the world will learn to value what it has lost."
But new matters would occasionally cross his mind, fleeting recollections of what his excellent wife (who was herself a Dashwood) had often impressed upon him, that Mr. Cleffain's wealth was boundless, and the fact that their Raymond was the sole natural inberitor. Whether any such visions floated before the good magistrate's eye, as he rode leisurely down the lane to Mr. Cleffain's house on any given occasion, is beyond the power of surmise : that they did so at all consciously or pointedly is impossible ; for nothing is so inconsistent with a gentleman as consciousness about anything, except the walk to church on Sundays in the van of the servants, and the purchase of a riding-horse. But this is beyond our mark; whatever self-control Mr. Beaumont had over bis own inward feelings, it was in considerable jeopardy by the very pointed way
in which Mr. Cleffain had touched on the all-important subject. The gliding off to Gainsborough, though a little tantalizing, was so in keeping that Mr. Beaumont was undisturbed by it. That Raymond was the sure and sole heir of this large fortune he never for a moment doubted. The only questions which admitted doubt were, whether the estates were worth £80,000 or £100,000, and how far they might be reduced by a legacy or two, such for instance as £100 to the old housekeeper ; £50 to a scapegrace cousin who was living somewhere about Sydney, and whose very existence Mr. Beaumont considered as doubtful; £50 more to Eustace, poor boy,
and his widow mother. “Though, my dear," as Mrs. Beaumont had said a few evenings before to her husband, as she sat wrapped up in a large Indian shawl before going to bed, “it is monstrous to think the creature should expect such a legacy when she has lived so many years on his bounty, and owes him her very existence, and that of her boy. It would be a shame in the face of day if she should ever expect a legacy. For my part, I cannot conceive why you let Raymond play with her boy so much."
So spoke the quondam Dashwood.
“My dear, you are a little strong in your language,” said Mr. Beaumont calmly. “I have no idea, however, that Mr. Cleffain has even left a legacy to Eustace or his mother. In fact, from what he has said to me I gather not."
“Well, well, Beaumont, to return to the matter of which I spoke."
Mr. Beaumont was all attention.
"I'm a plain spoken man, Beaumont, and you'll forgive me speaking my mind, although it may a little infringe what people call delicacy."
Of course he could have but to speak of the one point, and how could he speak too plainly of that? What words could too clearly express his admirable attention.
“My dear sir, say what you will; you speak to one who has lived to learn your value. No word of yours could infringe the principle of true delicacy; and if—"
“Ah, well, enough of that; I want to speak of money matters, and the disposition of my property at my death -Eb! beautiful twilight there on the church tower, upon my word," said the old gentleman.
Property at my death ;' delightful words ! what honey to the ear of the peaceful magistrate. His fingers played
on the stem of the wine glass as he looked with earnest eye not unmoistened full in Mr. Cleffain's face.
“Your deatb, my dear sir ? God forbid. I trust that many many years may be in store for the continuance of the bounties you shower so liberally around you. Death! my dear sir, who can imagine Mr. Cleffain dead !"
Well, as to that, there are plenty wish me gone, I daresay ; but I shall not die the sooner for all that. But of the money. You are aware"
Yes, quite," said Mr. Beaumont, with mellow and tender voice.
“ You don't say so, Mr. Beaumont ? I very much doubt it."
“ Indeed, I do; and I trust he may be as grateful as
"The young dog, I hope so. But who on earth told you, Beaumont, of my altered plan? I haven't told my solicitor who is to draw the codicil.”
“ Codicil!” hideous word ! what can the old man mean? Codicil ? The finger dropped from the stem of the wine glass, and Mr. Beaumont's eye with tremulous motion awaited the conclusion of the precious sentences.
“Well, my dear sir," said he," you refer, doubtless, to legacies which your generosity prompts you to leave to those to whom you feel bound, and which never can be quite determined on till the end of life, which I earnestly trust may be much longer in your case.”
“Ay, ay, all very well, my dear Beaumont; but I wasn't exactly speaking of legacies. Hem-I thought from what you said that you had anticipated what I had to say-upon my word, that fellow ought to have his ears nailed to the wall for not keeping off those beggars. Halloo, you sir, what d'ye want here ? who are you ?" as a ragged man taking off the rim of his bat from his brow howed in the deep twilight, and darkened the window.
“Get along with you, sir, or I'll have the dogs loosed. -Monstrous picturesque fellow,” continued the old gentleman, leaning on his stick, as he watched the retiring form of the mendicant. “Monstrous clever, do for a Marco Ricci portico."
Horrible suspense! Poor Mr. Beaumont wished Marco Ricci had never been born, and that Gainsborough and Canaletti were in the middle of the desert of Sahara.
“ These fellows,” muttered the old gentleman, returning, " are really intolerable, upon my word. Well, Beaumont," buttoning up his coat to his chin, and clearing his throat; “ Now for my scheme. I'm an odd old fellow and full of schemes ; but the fact is, I don't agree with you about that boy Eustace and his mother, of whom you were just now talking to Noel. I like the boy, I think he's high principled. Now I have an idea of trying a scheme. Your boy, Raymond, will have a decent fortune of his own, independently of me. I know you've been expecting, and not unnaturally, that I shall leave all mine to him, for I hear that's the general impression. Now, I've a great regard for you, Beaumont, and I like your boy much. But I've changed my mind; I feel I ought to consider that boy Eustace and his mother, he is as near of kin to me as your boy, and more in need. Now I intend to leave my fortune to that one of the two who shall pass through his school life for the next few years, with most moral and general credit: that's fair play. I understand you are going to send your boy to school at Merton: good, it's a first-rate school, I'll send Eustace there too. I'll bear the expense, and give him a good education. And, Beaumont, we'll see at the end of three years, which of the boys does most credit to his family-eh! and to bim I'll leave all I have to leave, and make him