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The Legacy Hunters

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It was Abigail Varley's threescore-andtenth birthday. Slie was a rioh widow, childless, and with no kuowii relations 1 save two gentlemen cousiun. Never was cousinly attachment more boautifnlly illustrated, or cousinly jealouay less amiably exemplifted, than'iu the dnily walk and conversation of these Wo collnteral They bestowed so much affection on their common relative, that they had none left to waste between themselves. Both were sereraj years younger than thé lady, with a fair prospect, according to the eourse of nature, of surviving her; and how to supplant each other in her will, which she had at last begun to talk Beritmsly of making, was tht problem which at present ougaged their attention. On the morning in question, when Consin Koger called to wish Cousin Abigail the usual " inany happy returns," he was not a little chagrined to ftnd Consin Dick there before him. However, he presented liis annual gift, ! and went through his annual speech without missing a word ; and seeing Tabby, the cousinly cat, perched snugly on his rival's knee, by way of not being ontdane in cousinly attention, he took up ' Pompey, the cousinly poodle, thongh ! doga were his abomioation. "Well, Cousin Abigail, I hope your hcalth continuos goud," said Cousin i ml ;.■;!. lilcing snspiciotisly ;it Cousin Dick, whoni he devouÜy winhed at Jericlio. " Not so good latterly as it has been. , The f act ia," the old lady eontinued, " I have been thinking seriously of sending for Mr. Parker, with a víbw to settling i my worldly afl'nirs without delay." " Oh, fchere is no need of haste, oonsin," broke in Dick ; "yu have mniiy yi'jirs before you vet ;" mentally adding, " What lias poasessed tho old ninny to put it ofF so long ?" "Well, well, I suppose there's no hurry about it," said Cousin Abigail. "And yet," Cousin Hoger ventured to hint, "it is always well to be prepared; ! none of us can teil the minute or tho : hour, you know." "And, afterall, ealliug in a lawyer ia notsoserious a matter as calliog in a doctor," said Cousin I ick, facetiously. The oonversation was interrupteu by bhe entrance of a yonng and beautiful ; girl, at whom Cousin Dick staeed with a I aurprised and troubled looli. " Pardon me, ma'am," sho said, in a voice renmrkably ffwreetandgentle; "not knowiug you were onggged, 1 raiue to see if you wished me, is usual, to road to you to-day." "Prosently, dear," Mm. Varley j Bwered, in a tono that plainly hinted her ' visitors would not be pressed to stay if they offered to go. After an iwkwanl pause, the twocousius took thoir departure together. " Who is that gixl?" inquired Boger, as Boon as they had reached the streel "You may well ask, " said Cousin; Dick; and, stooping, lio wlu'spered something in liis oompanion's eai', at whioh the latter Btarted suddenly. "Oood hearenl the reaemblance is I certainly Btriking. Bui what is to bc done 2 Do you think the old - Oousin I Abigail, 1 mean, suspecte anything?" "Not yet, I think; but no time is to be lost. I have a plan which it would ! be well for us to talk over together." And the two hurried rapidly along. Mrei. Varley had occasionally found ; time hang heavy on her hauda, and so liad advertined for a porson to fill the post of " companion " to an aged lady. It was thus that Hester larhuig had bccome an in mate of the house. At as early au lioui' aawftftseemly on the moruing ioHovving that on which we introdneed them to the reader, Boger and Dick ngain prewnk'd themselves beI f ore their cousin. " We have thought it our duty, consin ," began Diok. " Our boundeu duty," put in Boger. "As paiufnl as it is imperative," Dilik I continued. "To put you on your guard, ma'am," : Boger added. " Against a deceití'ul and designing persou," exclaimed Dick. "Who is no better tlian ahe should be!" shouted Roger, indignantly. "Upon my word, cousinn, 1 do not ; comprehend a syllable you have uttered," gaid Mrs. Varley ; "nor hall I be likely i to if you both keep talkiiifi at once. Come, Diek, yon seem least -xcitcd. What is the meaning of all this 1" " What meaos, may I venture to aak, mud Dick, "diil yon take to asoertain I the character ainl anteoedente of the. young woman at present sheltered beneath your roof '." " 'Why, none," replied the good lady. "Her yonng and truthful face was recommendation euough on which to give her a ti-iid." " We hare ascertaiaed her U be a moed abandoned oreature," procoeded Diok, " and hve deemed it properal occe to I nnprise you of the discovery. Should n]w deny the aoousation, we are prepared with abundaut proofs." And the two cousins took their leave, i with an air of exalted virtue. Mr. Varley ras a lady of the stricteet proprity and sereresí moráis. Muchas tíhf pitiefl the poor nul friendle abt musí, proraptíy freed Erom tln's t'uul i 1 i dreadful charge, 01 cross her threahold never t. return. She went direotly to Hester's cliamber. "Yon musí tel] me yovx past history, . child, uil Mrs. Variey, ín a determined, í but nol uakkidly, tune. " OJ], madam, I pray yon pardon mu ; j but I oannot, cannot tell it !" " Tlvcn it han been onc of shanm and guiití" "Fat a timo, of sliame, madam,'1 au swered tí i young giii, with flúshed cheek, "but nevero! guill." What was it that caiised Mre. Varley t start so Buddenly, and stagger halffaintíng to a seat it Heeter'a dreasinetable? "Who - whoae likenees isthat?" sKe exclaimed, iu a boaroe artioulate yoice, poiiiting to au open miniature on the table. " My mother's," Hester answered. " Tlien yon aro Florence Marvin's child ?" " That wa, indeed, my mother's name," "Moro, yofl are the daughter oï my only brother, ( ieorgo Haywood, for Florence Mamama Jiis wife. " _ With a stifled cry, sh who liad bclieved herselí alone and friendlesa in the world, feil on her kinswomaa's neck and wept tears of miugled gladucsB and BOf row. Her títory, which Hester had refused to confide to n stranger's earp, she now willingly imparted to one from whom she felt she liad no longer a right to withhold it, Tlmt her brother liad mariied in oppoaition to her fatlier's wishes, and had I been disinlierited in oohsequénoe, was ( already known to Abigail Varley; bnt what distant spot lie liad selected for Iiíh home, and what liad befallen him there, sha had ne.ver learned. The story -svas sad enougli : After a IVw toilsome, butnottmhappy, yeai-s - for they were spent in the loved society of his wife and child - a diré j lamity liad fallen upon George Haywood. He carne ander suspidon oi' a fearful crime. A network of circumstances too intrúsate i'or man's wit to discntanglo environed him, and lio was condemned to ; die. The stern judgment was canied into effect, and the exccuted murderer's . despised widow sought concealmenl foi ' herself and child in a change of place and name. Long, long years af terward, the truth was discovcred; but the judicial mnrder was poseed among the things irrevocable. The poor widow died at last - died broken-hearted, but with one consolation - sho liad lived to see her husband's innoconce vindicated. ' ' And this, my poor child, is the shame of which yon spoke ?" " My life has known no othor. " Not many days after, Hestor was sent to one of the firfit seminaries in the land, for slic had yet time enonghto avail herself of opportimitii'ij of culture hitherto beyond her reach. Her aunt and she kept tlicir own counsel. Oousins Itoger and ]ick only know that the object of fcheir solicitude had disappeared, and probably congratnlated themselves on the success of their virtuoua ; gem. ïfter a time, Mr. Parker, Mr. Abigail's lawyer, waa sent for; and after that the good lady aeeiaed wonderfnlly revived in health and spirits. At her m xt birthday, the prospect of " many happy returns ' produced anythiug but a happy ! effect on the two expeotant cousins, who began to think that, after all, the lifetables were not inl'allible. But her time came at last, and, within a decent period after the sad event, Oousins Roger and Dick were duly snmmoned to attend the, readrng of Abigail Varley's will. They were a good deal startled at the sight of tlieir old enemy, the strange i gii-1. Poor Tabby, as if Beekiag oonaolation in her bereavement, Ieaped npon the knee of her old friend Diok, who stroked her back pafchetícally, but a little nervously. Pompey, who took things more philoöophically, stretched bimself out for :i Büooze at the Eeet of Bogar. Mr. Parker, drawing from his pookel tlie document, prooeeded to read it. The introduction was long aodformal. But, hark ! there'something coming mnv. "To my cousin, Richard Figgins Richard looked at Roger in triumph. j - " I give and bcqueath - " Yoti could have heurd botli their hearts beat. - "In considcration of tho natural love and affeetion which I have long obBerved between them - " Dick looked piizzled. - " Mij favorite vat Tabby - " Dick gave Tabby a furious stroke tho wrong way. - " And no more f nj estáte." With a Hing that betokened a most ' emphatio renunciation of the legacy, I Tabby was Bont mewing and spitting to the larthcst corner of the room. " To my cousin, Hoger Sraith - " It was Boger'a turn to triumph. - "In ooBsideration of the natural love and afl'ection - " Roger began to fooi suapicious. - givc (nul. hiiimnil) mi dog Pompey, and no of my estáte." With a violent kick, Pompey was sent spinniug after tho cat ; an4 the fear of her who had so long kept tho peace j tween them being no longer before their j oyes, the pent-uj) enmity of years found vent in au uproarioua light, iuthe noise of which the voioo of the old laTryei was almost drowned ; but tho word.s, ' ' reet and residue oí rny estáte - mece, Hester Haywood," were Buffioiently audible, and Oousins Dick and Roger stayed to hcar no more. - - ■- - =-


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Michigan Argus