"In any case, madam, I think it but right that we should search Mr. Harmer's library thoroughly."
The ponies and carriage fetched seventy guineas, and Robert was at once anxious to move into larger lodgings; but Sophy persuaded him to wait as they were for the present, at any rate, until they saw what success attended her project for teaching. The only thing to which she would agree was that a few shillings should be laid out in repapering their sitting-room; and when this was done with a light, pretty paper, all the tea-tray landscapes removed, and her own paintings hung up in their place, the room looked so different that Sophy was quite delighted with it, and even Robert allowed that, although very small, it was really a pretty, snug little room.
"Dr. Ashleigh, Canterbury."
Father Eustace at once rose, and preceded the others to the library.
Papa wrote several times in the fortnight following the funeral of Mr. Harmer to Robert Gregory, in answer to his letters inquiring what progress he was making towards the discovery of the will. At the end of that time I received a letter from Sophy, and from the handwriting I could see how ill and shaken she must be. Her letter was very, very pitiful; she was still evidently suffering the greatest remorse and sorrow for the death of Mr. Harmer, and she said "she was sure she should never have recovered at all had she not received the news of the forgiveness he had written to her before he died." It had been a dreadful shock to her; but she accepted the loss of her fortune as a deserved punishment for her wicked conduct. "My husband," she said, "is very kind indeed to me; and it is on my account entirely that he regrets the loss of the fortune, as he says that my listening to him has been my ruin." If the will was not found shortly, he intended to get something to do, and she meant to try to get some pupils for music. She begged me to write to her, for that I was the only person she could hope to be a friend to her now.
"By Jove, Fielding! is that you? How are you, my boy?"
"Yes, my dear, a great deal is the matter, I am sorry to say. Mr. Harmer's will is missing."
For the first few nights I went out, Lord Bangley was very attentive to me; but I disliked him so much that at last I always was engaged when he asked me to dance; and, although he was very slow to see that any one really could dislike dancing with so very exalted a person as himself, he at last was forced to adopt that conclusion, and so gave up asking me, which was a great relief to me, for his disagreeable manner quite oppressed me.
In truth we both needed it. I was pale and nervous; all the scenes and emotions of the last three months had shaken me very much, and I think that had I not gone to the sea-side I should have had a serious illness of some sort. Papa, too, looked ill and worn. He had felt mamma's loss very much; and, indeed, the long watching and the constant noting the signs of her rapid decay, all so clear to his medical eye, must have been a terrible trial.
It had had its effect; Sophy had fainted. The first crisis was over, but not as yet was the danger past. Very anxiously they watched her waking, and intense was the relief when they found that she was conscious of what had happened; but there were still grave apprehensions for the future. Weak as she was, she was in a state of almost delirious grief and excitement; indeed, at times her mind wandered.
It was late in the evening before Robert returned; he came in quiet and grave, but with no sign of passion or disappointment upon his face as he kissed her, and asked her how she had been all the long day. Robert Gregory was not a good man. In many respects he was bad and vicious; but, as in most men, there was some good in him, and what there was came out at its brightest in his relations with Sophy.