"She is the under-housemaid, Miss; and she used to go out walks with Mary on her Sunday evenings out. Thomas, he used to go out to meet his sister, and so met Sarah too; at last he goes to meet her more than Mary, and, I suppose, one of these days they will get married. She is one of the few that are to stay, Miss, for most of the old ones are going because they don't mean to keep so many servants, and they have got some new ones coming. All those who are going were recommended to Mr. Harmer by Master; and they seem to have picked them out a-purpose. Now Sarah was not; she came from the other end of the county, and was recommended to Mr. Harmer by some lady last year, at the time of all those grand doings over there; and as they don't know that her young man Thomas is my son, seeing he is in service in another place, they have not given her warning to go."
"That is all," Harry concluded, "that Thornton told me. Of course I said I was very much obliged to him, and that I would take good care that it never was known from whom I got the information. And now, I suppose the mother they talk of means Mother Church, but who is the Bishop of Ravenna?"
My letter to Percy finished, I had the other and more difficult one before me, and I was some considerable time before I could make up my mind respecting it. In the first place, should it be to Lady Desborough or Ada? and then, how should I put it? Of course I must say that all hope of finding the will was gone; but should I add that in consequence I considered my engagement with Percy to be at an end, or should I leave her to do so? At one time I resolved upon the former, and wrote the beginnings of two or three letters to that effect. But then I said to myself, why should I do this? Why should I assume that she would stop the allowance of 300l. a year, which Percy has, when he thinks that with that and the staff pay he expects to get in India, there is no reason why we could not manage very well? I accordingly came to the conclusion to write to Ada. I told her all that we had done, and that the will was now unquestionably lost for ever; I said that this was of course a grievous disappointment to me, and then after a little chit-chat upon ordinary matters, I wound up by asking her to show to Lady Desborough the part relating to the loss of the will.
We reached home after the expedition a little before seven o'clock, and then sat down to a regular breakfast, under the influence of which our spirits rose somewhat, and we recovered a little from our disappointment. Polly and I agreed that it was settled that we were not to be heiresses, and that it was no use our repining. We talked a good deal of Sophy, and we agreed that the loss was a matter of far more serious importance to her than it was to us. We feared she had a terrible life before her, and we wondered what she and her husband would do.
"Yes. Yes, I shall go, certainly. My poor brothers and I have never been friends; have not seen each other for thirty years; indeed, even as a boy I saw next to nothing of them; however, the least I can do is to follow them to the grave. I shall go down to-morrow." After a pause, Mr. Harmer added, "I shall get Ransome to go down with me to be present at the reading of the will. I know it is of no use, as everything is sure to be done in legal form; still, as I have no desire to lose even the remotest chance of saving from the priests a property that has been in the hands of the family for centuries, I will take every possible precaution. I shall therefore take Ransome down with me. I think you may as well stay here until I return: it will be a painful and unpleasant business."
Dr. Ashleigh then turned to Mr. Petersfield and asked him if he would come on to Ramsgate, and stay the night with him, to chat over the affair in quiet, and determine upon the best course to be pursued. Mr. Petersfield agreed to stop for the night, saying that he must return to town by the early train in the morning, but that if they would promise that he should do that, he would accompany them.