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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHow It All Came Round - Chapter 34. Trustees
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How It All Came Round - Chapter 34. Trustees Post by :chensf Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :800

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How It All Came Round - Chapter 34. Trustees

CHAPTER XXXIV. TRUSTEES

"Madam," said the stranger, "you will pardon my intruding on you, but I saw it in your face. You are interested in that will you have just read."

"Yes," answered Charlotte simply.

At another time she would have given an indignant retort to what she would have considered a liberty. Now she turned her eyes with a mute appeal in them to this stranger, for she recognized kindness in his tones.

"It was my grandfather's will," she said, responding yet farther to the full, kind gaze he gave her back.

"Ah! then that sets me right," said Sandy Wilson, for it was he. "That sets me right, young lady. Now I saw you got a considerable bit of a shock just then. You ain't, you'll forgive me for saying so, but you ain't quite fit to meet any of your people for a bit; you may want them not to guess, but any one with half an eye can see you're not the young lady you were even when I entered that reading-room not half an hour back. I'm a rough, plain man, but I'm very much interested in that will too, and I'd like to have a little bit of a talk with you about it, if you'll allow me. Suppose, miss, that you and I just take a turn round the square for a few moments."

Charlotte's answer to this was to turn her face again towards the particular building where she had read the will, and her companion, turning with her, began to talk eagerly.

"You see, miss, it was quite a little bit of luck brought you and me together to-day. The gentleman who made that will was your grandfather; your name is----"

"Harman," answered Charlotte.

"Ah! yes, I see; and I--I am Alexander Wilson. I don't suppose you ever saw me before; but I, too, am much interested in that will. I have been abroad, and--and--supposed to be dead almost ever since that will was made. But I was not dead, I was in Australia; I came home a week ago, and found out my one living relation, my niece, my sister's child. She is married and is a Mrs. Home now, but she is the Charlotte named in Mr. Harman's will, the Charlotte to whom, and to her mother before her, Mr. Harman left L1,200 a year."

"Yes," said Charlotte Harman. She found difficulty in dragging this one word from her lips.

"Madam, I find my niece very poor; very, very poor. I go and look at her father's will. I see there that she is entitled to wealth, to what she would consider riches. I find also that this money is left for her benefit in the hands of trustees; two of the trustees are called Harman, the other, madam, is--is I--myself; I--Alexander Wilson, am the other trustee, supposed to be dead. I could not hitherto act, but I can act now. I can get that wronged woman back her own. Yes, a monstrous piece of injustice has been done. It was full time for Sandy Wilson to come home. Now the first thing I must do is to find the other trustees; I must find the Harmans, wherever they are, for these Harmans have robbed my niece."

"I can give you their addresses," answered Charlotte, suddenly pausing in her walk and turning and facing her companion. "John Harman, the other trustee, who, as you say, has robbed Mrs. Home, is my father. I am his only child. His address is Prince's Gate, Kensington."

"Good heavens!" said Wilson, shocked and frightened by her manner; "I never guessed that you were his child--and yet you betray him."

"I am his only child. When do you wish to see him?"

To this question Wilson made no answer for a few moments. Though a just man, he was a kind one. He could read human nature with tolerable accuracy. It was despair, not want of feeling, which put those hard tones into that young voice. He would not, he could not, take advantage of its bewilderment.

"Miss Harman," he said after a pause, "you will pardon me, but I don't think you quite know what you are saying; you have got a considerable bit of a shock; you were not prepared for this baseness--this baseness on your father's part."

Here her eyes, turned with a sudden swift flash of agony upon him, said as plainly as eyes could speak--

"Need you ask?"

"No, you could not have guessed it," continued Sandy, replying to this mute, though beautiful appeal, almost with tears. "You are Mr. Harman's only child. Now I daresay you are a good bit of an idol with him. I know how I'd worship a fine lassie like you if I had her. Well, well, miss: I don't want to pain you, but when young things come all on a heap on a great wrong like you have done to-day, they're apt, whatever their former love, to be a bit, just a bit, too hard. They do things, in their first agony, that they are sorry enough for by and by. Now, miss, what I want to say is this, that I won't take down your father's address to-day nor listen indeed to anything you may tell me about him. I want you to sleep it over, miss. Of course something must be done, but if you will sleep it over, and I, Sandy Wilson sleep it over too, we'll come together over the business with our heads a deal clearer than we could when we both felt scared, so to speak, as we doubtless do just at present. I won't move hand or foot in the matter until I see you again, Miss Harman, When do you think you will be able to see me again?"

"Will this hour to-morrow do?"

"Yes; I shall be quite at your service. And as we may want to look at that will again, suppose we meet just here, miss?"

"I will be here at this hour to-morrow," said Charlotte, and as she spoke she pulled out her watch to mark the exact time. "It is a quarter past four now," she said; "I will meet you here at this hour to-morrow, at a quarter past four."

"Very well, young lady, and may God help you! If I might express a wish for you, it is that you may have a good hard cry between now and then. When I was told, and quite sudden like too, that my little sister, Daisy Wilson, was dead nothing took off the pressure from my heart and brain like a good hearty cry. So I wish you the same. They say women need it more than men."

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