She ascertained that the elder Miss Harmer was in the habit of coming in on Sunday mornings, to the little Catholic chapel in the town, and that she was very seldom accompanied by her sister. Accordingly, one morning when I was unusually poorly, and was unable to go to church, she started early, and walked through the town, and out upon the road to Sturry; presently she saw the well-known Harmer carriage approaching, and she pulled down her veil as it approached her, to prevent any possibility of her being recognized.
However, week after week rolled on, and every Saturday came a message, "No result;" and the week before Christmas she sent to say she had tried every possible place, but could not find any signs of it. I sent back in answer to ask her to try all the stones and bricks as far up the chimney as she could reach.
The gentleman who had brought the news, seeing that at present he could do nothing there, quietly entered the house and ordered the affrighted servants instantly to get a bed-room ready, with hot water, sponges, and everything that could be required.
"Come? Of course I will. I would go to any man to whom my aid could be useful, and to me it is a matter of no consequence whether he is a good or a bad one; in any case I will for Sophy's sake do what I can for her husband, bad as I am afraid he is. And you?" and the doctor shrunk back from the man; "What have you to do with him?"
"She must," Gregory said, with a deep oath. "I must have the will; she shall tell where it is."
And so it was settled; and when my letter to Percy in answer to his was written, the three months' rule began. And now that I could have no letter for that time, I settled down into a dreamy, despondent state, from which, although I tried to rouse myself, I could not succeed in doing so. Nine years! It was such a long, long time to look forward to; and so few long engagements ever came to anything, even when there were no difficulties in the way. How could I hope that my case would form an exception to the rule?
Although not born at Canterbury, I look upon it as my native town, my city of adoption. My earliest remembrances are of the place; my childhood and youth were spent there; and, although I was then for a few years absent, it was for that stormy, stirring time, when life is wrapped up in persons and not in places, when the mere scene in which the drama is played out leaves barely an impression upon the mind, so all-absorbing is the interest in the performers. That time over, I returned to Canterbury as to my home, and hope, beneath the shadow of its stately towers, to pass tranquilly down the hill of life, whose ascent I there made with such eager, strong young steps.下载
Very snug and comfortable they looked, with two large fires blazing in the grates, which gave a cosy look to the rooms, and caused me to forget the unusual grandeur of the furniture; for I should, I think, have otherwise felt not a little awe-struck, it was all so very different from my quiet old-fashioned low-ceiled room, with its white hangings, down in Canterbury.
We always called papa Dr. Ashleigh in company. It was one of mamma's fancies: she called him so herself, and was very strict about our doing the same upon grand occasions. We did not like it, and I don't think papa did either, for he would often make a little funny grimace, as he generally did when anything rather put him out; but as mamma set her mind upon it so much, he never made any remark or objection. He was very, very kind to her, and attentive to her wishes, and likes and dislikes; but their tastes and characters were as dissimilar as it was possible for those of any two persons to be.
Companions he had none. Gregory, the brother next to him in age, was away in Italy studying for the priesthood; Cecilia and Angela he had seen but seldom, as they also were abroad, being educated in a convent; Edward and Robert were young men nearly ten years older than himself, and were when at home his father's companions rather than his, and both were of grave taciturn disposition, ascetic and bigoted even beyond the usual Harmer type.
She was very quiet and pale, as she lay that day that he had gone down to the funeral, and she waited and thought all those long hours that he was abroad. She thought a good deal of the future, and planned that they should go upon the Continent first for a while, and upon their return spend the great proportion of their income in doing good, living quietly themselves upon very little; she thought that in any other way she should feel as if this fortune were a curse to her, for it had never even occurred to her that Mr. Harmer might have altered his will.