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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesGodolphin - Chapter 9. The Legacy.--A New Deformity In Saville...
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Godolphin - Chapter 9. The Legacy.--A New Deformity In Saville... Post by :affiliates9 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1043

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Godolphin - Chapter 9. The Legacy.--A New Deformity In Saville...

CHAPTER IX. THE LEGACY.--A NEW DEFORMITY IN SAVILLE.--THE NATURE OF WORLDLY LIAISONS.--GODOLPHIN LEAVES ENGLAND


But then, it is not always a sustainer of the stage delusion to be enamoured of an actress: it takes us too much behind the scenes. Godolphin felt this so strongly that he liked those plays least in which Fanny performed. Off the stage her character had so little romance, that he could not deceive himself into the romance of her character before the lamps. Luckily, however, Fanny did not attempt Shakspeare. She was inimitable in vaudeville, in farce, and in the lighter comedy; but she had prudently abandoned tragedy in deserting the barn. She was a girl of much talent and quickness, and discovered exactly the paths in which her vanity could walk without being wounded. And there was a simplicity, a frankness, about her manner, that made her a most agreeable companion.

The attachment between her and Godolphin was not very violent; it was a silken tie, which opportunity could knit and snap a hundred times over without doing much wrong to the hearts it so lightly united. Over Godolphin the attachment itself had no influence, while the effects of the attachment had an influence so great.

One night, after an absence from town of two or three days Godolphin returned home from the theatre, and found among the letters waiting his arrival one from his father. It was edged with black; the seal, too, was black. Godolphin's heart misgave him: tremblingly he opened it, and read as follows:

"DEAR PERCY,

"I have news for you, which I do not know whether I should call good or bad. On the one hand, your cousin, that old oddity, Harry Johnstone, is dead, and has left you, out of his immense fortune, the poor sum of twenty thousand pounds. But mark! on condition that you leave the Guards, and either reside with me, or at least leave London, till your majority is attained. If you refuse these conditions you lose the legacy. It is rather strange that this curious character should take such pains with your morals, and yet not leave _me a single shilling. But justice is out of fashion nowadays; your showy virtues only are the rage. I beg, if you choose to come down here, that you will get me twelve yards of house-flannel; I inclose a pattern of the quality. Snugg, in Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court Road, is my man. It is certainly a handsome thing in old Johnstone: but so odd to omit me. How did you get acquainted with him? The twenty thousand pounds will, however, do much for the poor property. Pray take care of it, Percy,--pray do.

"I have had a touch of the gout, for the first time. I have been too luxurious: by proper abstinence, I trust to bring it down. Compliments to that smooth rogue, Saville.

"Your affectionate, A. G.

"P. S.--Discharged Old Sally for flirting with the butcher's boy: flirtations of that sort make meat weigh much heavier. Bess is my only she-helpmate now, besides the old creature who shows the ruins: so much the better. What an eccentric creature that Johnstone was! I hate eccentric people."

The letter fell from Percy's hands. And this, then, was the issue of his single interview with the poor old man! It was events like these, wayward and strange (events which chequered his whole life), that, secretly to himself, tinged Godolphin's character with superstition. He afterwards dealt con amore with fatalities and influences.

You may be sure that he did not sleep much that night. Early the next morning he sought Saville, and imparted to him the intelligence he had received.

"Droll enough!" said Saville, languidly, and more than a little displeased at this generosity to Godolphin from another; for, like all small-hearted persons, he was jealous; "droll enough! Hem! and you never knew him but once, and then he abused me! I wonder at that; I was very obliging to his vulgar son."

"What! he had a son, then?"

"Some two-legged creature of that sort, raw and bony, dropped into London, like a ptarmigan, wild, and scared out of his wits. Old Johnstone was in the country, taking care of his wife, who had lost the use of her limbs ever since she had been married;--caught a violent--husband--the first day of wedlock! The boy, sole son and heir, came up to town at the age of discretion; got introduced to me; I patronised him; brought him into a decent degree of fashion; played a few games at cards with him; won some money; would not win any more; advised him to leave off; too young to play; neglected my advice; went on, and, d--n the fellow! if he did not cut his throat one morning; and the father, to my astonishment, laid the blame upon me!"

Godolphin stood appalled in speechless disgust. He never loved Saville from that hour.

"In fact," resumed Saville, carelessly, "he had lost very considerably. His father was a stern, hard man, and the poor boy was frightened at the thought of his displeasure. I suppose Monsieur Papa imagined me a sort of moral ogre, eating up all the little youths that fall in my way! since he leaves you twenty thousand pounds on condition that you take care of yourself and shun the castle I live in. Well, well! 'tis all very flattering! And where will you go? To Spain?"

This story affected Percy sensibly. He regretted deeply that he had not sought out the bereaved father, and been of some comfort to his later hours. He appreciated all that warmth of sympathy, that delicacy of heart, which had made the old man compassionate his young relation's unfriended lot, and couple his gift with a condition, likely perhaps, to limit Percy's desires to the independence thus bestowed, and certain to remove his more tender years from a scene of constant contagion. Thus melancholy and thoughtful, Godolphin repaired to the house of the now famous, the now admired Miss Millinger.

Fanny received the good news of his fortune with a smile, and the bad news of his departure from England with a tear. There are some attachments, of which we so easily sound the depth, that the one never thinks of exacting from the other the sacrifices that seemed inevitable to more earnest affections. Fanny never dreamed of leaving her theatrical career, and accompanying Godolphin; Godolphin never dreamed of demanding it. These are the connections of the great world: my good reader, learn the great world as you look at them!

All was soon settled. Godolphin was easily disembarrassed of his commission. Six hundred a year from his fortune was allowed him during his minority. He insisted on sharing this allowance with his father; the moiety left to himself was quite sufficient for all that a man so young could require. At the age of little more than seventeen, but with a character which premature independence had half formed, and also half enervated, the young Godolphin saw the shores of England recede before him, and felt himself alone in the universe--the lord of his own fate.

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