Press enter after choosing selection

The Sealed Will

The Sealed Will image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

" Do you suppose, mamma, in case the inoney goes from me tliat it will be given to you P " " Dear child, how can I ever guess V Your aunt, remember, is your fatlier's sister, not mine ; so it is scurcely likel slie has thought of iue. I am af rui u the heir in the sealed will is Jahn Garland." " Mainma ! " " It ispuly guess work, dear." " But. he is uufit to have the re&ponsiñlity of money ; a man known to be a gambler and a drinking man, if not an ictual drunkard." " Very true. Yet he is the nearest reative your Aunt Jessie had, excepting only yourself." "I can scarcely th:nk Aunt Jessie would leavo him iit'ty thousand dolars." " My dear, she has left it to you, her niece and namesake." "But upon eondition that I shall never marry. It' 1 do the sealed will in the mnds of hor lawyer is to be opened, and i ;he money pass froin me to the heir or ïeirs naiucd therein. You must knovv 110 welleuougiitd basure (int the money would ncver tempt me to break my engagement, yet for your sake 1 wish Oh, vh y did Aunt Jessie leave it to me at all'-"' " Do not think of me. I can live as we llave done since your father died But, Jessie," - and Mi), Markham'sfaee looked fjravp and sad, - " there is one view of the matter you do not take." " I dare say there are fifty. Remember we huve now had only an hour or tvvo to think, since the letter came from the lawyer. Bat what is the view you mean ï" f" Charlie." " Charlie V" Jíissie's large brown oyes opened to their widest extent as she repeated the name, adding : " Why, I haven't thought of anything but Charlie!" "But- I mean - dear me!" said the raother, shrinking frora uttering her own thoughte. "You know, dear, you have always been considered your aunt's heiress ; and Charlie is young and only commencing the jiractico of his profession. it may be that he will - '" " Be false to me for the sake of monpy ?" interrupted Jessie, with the rosiest of cheeks and brightest of eyes. " We will soon test that," and she drew a writingtable to her side. "Iwill send him a copy of the lawyer's letter, and " - here her voice softened - " the assurance that Aunt Jessie's will makes no difference to me." Mrs. Markham made no objection to this step ; but after the letter was signed, sealed and dispatched to the village by l'olly, the only servant of Mrs. Markbain's household, she called Jessie again to her side. Over the fair, sweot face of the young girl there had crept a shade of gravity and perplexity since the arrival of the lawyei's letter, that olouded the brown eyes and gave the sensitive, mobile mouth a firmer pressure than was quite natural. Life had been all sunshine for Jessie Markhara, yet her's was one of the buoyant natures that find the silver liuing for every cloud, and coax some sweetness 'rom every bitter dose. Her father had leen dead six years, and his business af'airs having been complioated in some way not comprehensible to feniinine inellect, his widow and child found themelves reduced to an incomo that barely overed the naoessaries of life. ïhey left the city and took a stnall cottage in the jretty village of Merton, where Mrs. Vlarkhum soon procured a class of music Rcholars, and herself gave Jessie lessons n the highest branches of English studes, Gemían, French, and music, till, at pightoen, her daughter also procured a few pupils in languages. They were very m'ppy in their mutual affection, in the love of their pupils, and the care of their little huusehold. It had been understood from the time Jessie was a tiny baby that she would inherit the fortune of her tnaiden aunt for whom she was narned, and who came trom the city every summer to spend a month or two in the little cottage, always bringing pretty presents to brighten the home of her brother's widow, and lavishing the tenderest affections upon hei "it'ce. , , of her aunt's supposed intentions, neithei she nor her mother had ever made cal culations upon a fortune dependent upon the death of one for whom they feit the warmest affection, and the idea tha others could be inrluenced by it was a new thought to the young girl. She had given to her betrothed, Charli Seaton, the first lovo of her young heart bolieving his love was all her own. in thesix years she hadlived in Merton, chili and maiden, Charles Seaton had been her devoted admirer frora the first, anc had reeen tl y i'mished his course of law study and been admitted to the bar. lli fortune, inherited from his father, was very email, barely covering his expenditures for board and clothing ; but he energetic, industrious, and without biilliar.t talent, a clear-headed, intelligent student, promising to make a capable lawyer, if not a shining light at the bar. Answering lier mother's cali, Jessie nestled down in her iavorite seat at her feet, saying sadly : " If Charlie was intluenced by any hope of Aunt Jessie's moiii'y, inamina, it is botter to know it now. I had supposed we would have to wait tbr our wedding day ufitil he had sonie praotioe, and you know I have a little sura of my own toward tirat expenses. We could live here, and - ïhere, I will not think of it any more until the answer comes to my letter." " While you wait, dear," said her mother, "shallltell yuu what I think is the explanatioa of your auut's singular will ? You, wlio knew heronly as the gentío, sad woman of her late j-ears, eau scarcely imagine, I presume, that she waa onco as brigiit, hopeful, and sunny-tempered as yourself. I think it is to save you froin her own BOITOW that she has taken from you the power of gi ving wealth to a mere t'ortune-hunter. She would have you wooed and won for yourself alone ; and as she has never positively said you were to be her heiress she has probably never supposed Charlie biased hy that hope. Btill, dear, it is possible." " Yes, it is possible," said Jessie slowly, " but teil me about Aunt Jessie." " Your grandfather Markham, Jessie, was one of the leadingmerchants of New Yovk, when your aunt, hisonly daughter, was introducd into society. Your únele Hoy t, was in good practice as a physioian, your father doing then a fair business, and already married and in his own house. " It was therefore with the name of an heiiess that Jessie danced through her first season. a careless, light-hearted girl, very pretty, and accomplished enough to make a pleasing nupression wherever she went. She was but little over twenty, when ahe became engaged to iStanley Hüi'toii, the most fasoinating man in all our chele of friends. Xot only handsome and talented, - and he was both, - but possessing in a remarkable degree the couvtly polish and winning grace of manners, that go so far toward gaiuing a woman's heart, the absorbing love Ihat Jessie feit foi him seemed mutual, and congratulations were the order of the day, when your grandfather failod. From a man of wealth he became actually pooi, and losing energy and hope he oame with Jessie to share onr home. Stanley Horton, the man we all supposed a devoted lover, was fully aware of the change in Jessie's prospeots, yet he contiuued bis visits, making no abrupt, uigentlemanly desertion of his betrothed. Yet we, who watohed her with the jealousy of affection, soon díscovered a change in her. She became Dale and sad, often tearful, till finally she conflded to me thiit Stanley was evidently weary of her, and had ceased to love her. Even then she attributed the change to souie defect in herself, not seeing the ary motive tul later, wuen time nao. taken the glamour i'roin hor eyes and heart. She gave him back his ring and prpmises, tlms accepting the condHion his unmanly conduct torced upon her, of herseli breaking the engagement between tliiiu. The first love of her lite was the last. She was your grandfather's comfort unül he died, and then she went to keep house tor Hoyt, who lost his wife aud baby one y%wi aíter hi9 wedding day. When he died he left her the house and money, and she lived there till she died. Still I know she loved you, and I am quite suie her will is not designed so mach to keep you single us it was to win the disinterested love ot' your future husband." There was a long silence after Mra. Markham concluded her story, and Jessie allowed her head to rest in her mothers's lap, under her caressing hand trying to picture a future ot' easy competency shared by the companions of her life. It had its bright side ; there was still love and happiness for her yet. And then a bright face crowned with curly brown hair wonld come before her, and she knew that the handsome house nor the conifortable income could ever fill her heart if Charley left an aohing void th'i 'e. öuddenly, hko a gust oí wind, there swept into the little sitting-rooni a taU, broad-shouldored young ïnun, in a gvay tweed snit and slouched bat, which latter article iound a resting place upon the Hoor, as the young giant braced liimself before Jessie in an attitude of grim defianoe tlmt sent thrills of glad musie into her heart. " Will you have the kindness, Miss Markhani," said the intruder, towering in his six feet of inanhood over Jessie's ov seat, " to teil me what you mean by hat absurd letter Polly handed to me '1 Vas it not fully understood that you and , werfi to share tliis cottage witli your ïainma until I tittaiued sufiicieut legal mineuoe to warrant the purchase of a irown stone front in New York p Was not deluded into the belief that your jresonce in the culinavy depanruent of our establishment was to reduce our ex)enses to the 1 í mits of our present inoiue ? Was it not represented to me that ny present hoard was sufücient to meet lie requirements of this domicile ? In hort, Miss Markhain, in what way was ever led to suppose that the fortune of 'our spinster aunt was to influence in the slightest degree your matrimonial relaions in regard to niy self ; I pause for a reply." Jessie stool ii], her hands meekly folded together, and her happy eyes downcast till the long lashes kissed her uheek. " Pleaso forgive me this time and 111 never do it again," she said ; and then the laugh dinipled her cheek, danced in lier eye and rippled out olear and sweet upon the air. "Oh, Charlie! Charlie ! I knew you never thought ot' Aunt Jessie's money I" " And you," said Charlie, holding her off at arm's length, " you can have it all it' you give me up." " As if I loved nioney better than you," said Jessie, nestling now in the strong arms folded closely around her. It seomed, however, as if Charlie were actually af raid of the money that was so temptingly near Jessie's grasp, for he cominenced a series of interviews that bore entirely npon the subject of n imuiediate marriage. " What is tiiere to wait tor r he would ask, and then enter upon calculations of his present expenses and those of the future proving most conclusively that thtre was a deeided saving lor both in uniting their incomcs. " You remind me," said Jessie, " of the Dutchman who said he could almost support himself alone, and it was a pity it' two of them could not do it entirely." But though she laughed at him, Jessie was quite willing to admit the force of his reasoning ; and one bright June morning, six months after Aunt Jesie'e death, there was a wedding in the village churuh, and a breakfast in tho cottage tbr a few chosen friends. Among these was Aunt Jessie's lawyer, for the will stipulated that the seulud codicil was to be opened at Jessie's wedding, if she preferred love to money. The bride was a little paler than usual when witli a soleinn face the New York lawyer broke the big red seal. Yisions of John Garland holding drunken reveis in her aunt's house flitted across her mind, and then she looked into Charlie's face, and over her own crept an expression of , perfect content. The wül was opened and found to contain only a letter direeted to Jessie, and a short, legally-worded formula, iiiakiug herself and her chusen husbund joint inheritors of her aunt's fortune. Truly tho bride opened the letter from the dead. With loving words Aurit Jessie blessed her and wished her happiness. ' 'I do not," she wrote, "approve of the ïuoney-power in a tamil y being entirely in the hands of a vroraan ; therefore you will find, dear Jessie, that half of my fortune only is yours, the reraaining half to go to the husband who has proved that he loved you for your own sweet self, not tor your fortune." During the wedding tour of the young couplo, Mis. Markham, at their earnest solicitation, took an affectionato farowell of her pupils, and removed her household treasures to the New York mansion, to which in duo time carne Charlie and Jessie to brighten the long silent rooms with their happiness, and establish that loving cirole that uiakes home of any house, howover grand or however hutnble.


Old News
Michigan Argus