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HOME > Classical Novels > Red Money > CHAPTER X.A DIFFICULT POSITION.
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 Lord Garvington was not a creditable member of the aristocracy, since his greatly exceeded his . With a weak nature, and the tastes of a sybarite, he required a great deal of money to render him happy. Like the Becky Sharp, he could have been fairly honest if of a large income; but not having it he stopped short of nothing save actual criminality in order to indulge his tastes to the full. speaking, he had already overstepped the mark when he altered the figures of a check his brother-in-law had given him, and, had not Pine been so generous, he would have occupied an extremely unpleasant position. However, thanks to Agnes, the affair had been hushed up, and with characteristic promptitude, Garvington had conveniently forgotten how nearly he had escaped the iron grip of Justice. In fact, so did it slip his memory that—on the plea of Pine's newly discovered origin—he did not desire the body to be placed in the family . But the widow wished to pay this honor to her husband's , and finally got her own way in the matter, for the simple reason that now she was the owner of Pine's millions Garvington did not wish to offend her. But, as such a mean creature would, he made capital out of the .  
"Since I do this for you, Agnes," he said bluntly, when the question was being , "you must do something for me."
"What do you wish me to do?"
"Ah—hum—hey—ho!" gurgled Garvington, thinking cunningly that it was too early yet to exploit her. "We can talk about it when the will has been read, and we know exactly how we stand. Besides your grief is sacred to me, my dear. Shut yourself up and cry."
Agnes had a sense of humor, and the of the speech made her laugh in spite of the genuine regret she felt for her husband's death. Garvington was quite shocked. "Do you forget that the body is yet in the house?" he asked with heavy solemnity.
"I don't forget anything," retorted Agnes, becoming scornfully serious. "Not even that you count on me to settle your wretched financial difficulties out of poor Hubert's money."
"Of course you will, my dear. You are a Lambert."
"Undoubtedly; but I am not necessarily a fool."
"Oh, I can't stop and hear you call yourself such a name," said Garvington, ostentatiously to her true meaning. "It is hysteria that speaks, and not my dear sister. Very natural when you are so grieved. We are all mortal."
"You are certainly silly in addition," replied the widow, who knew how useless it was to argue with the man. "Go away and don't worry me. When poor Hubert is buried, and the will is read, I shall announce my intentions."
"Intentions! Intentions!" muttered the corpulent little lord, taking a hasty departure out of . "Surely, Agnes won't be such a fool as to let the family estates go."
It never struck him that Pine might have so worded the will that the inheritance he counted upon might not come to the widow, unless she chose to fulfil a certain condition. But then he never guessed the with which the hot-blooded gypsy had regarded the early engagement of Agnes and Lambert. If he had done so, he assuredly would not have invited the young man down to the funeral. But he did so, and talked about doing so, with a frequent mention that the body was to rest in the sacred vault of the Lamberts so that every one should applaud his generous .
"Poor Pine was only a gypsy," said Garvington, on all and every occasion. "But I him as a good and honest man. He shall have every honor shown to his memory. Noel and I, as representatives of his wife, my dear sister, shall follow him to the Lambert vault, and there, with my ancestors, the body of this honorable, though , man shall rest until the Day of ."
A cynic in London laughed when the speech was reported to him. "If Garvington is buried in the same vault," he said contemptuously, "he will ask Pine for money, as soon as they rise to attend the Great Assizes!" which bitter remark showed that the little man could not induce people to believe him so as he should have liked them to consider him.
However, in pursuance of this artful policy, he certainly gave the dead man, what the of the village inn called, "a dressy funeral." All that could be done in the way of pomp and ceremony was done, and the procession which followed Ishmael Hearne to the grave was an long one. The villagers came because, like all the lower orders, they loved the excitement of an interment; the gypsies from the camp followed, since the deceased was of their blood; and many people in financial and social circles came down from London for the obvious reason that Pine was a well-known figure in the City and the West End, and also a member of Parliament. As for Lambert, he put in an appearance, in response to his cousin's invitation, enough, but in order to convince Agnes that he had every desire to obey her commands. People could scarcely think that Pine had been jealous of the early engagement to Agnes, when her former lover attended the funeral of a successful rival.
Of course, the house party at The had broken up immediately after the inquest. It would have before only that Darby insisted that every one should remain for examination in connection with the late occurrence. But in spite of questioning and cross-questioning, nothing had been learned likely to show who had murdered the millionaire. There was a great deal of talk after the body had been placed in the Lambert vault, and there was more talk in the newspapers when an account was given of the funeral. But neither by word of mouth, nor in print, was any suggestion made likely to afford the slightest clue to the name or the whereabouts of the assassin. Having regard to Pine's romantic career, it was thought by some that the act was one of revenge by a gypsy jealous that the man should to such , while others hinted that the for the crime was to be found in connection with the millionaire's career as a Gentile. Gradually, as all proved , the gossip died away, and other events the interest of the public. Pine, who was really Hearne, had been murdered and buried; his assassin would never be discovered, since the trail was too well hidden; and Lady Agnes inherited at least two millions on which she would probably marry her cousin and so restore the of the Lambert family. In this way the situation was summed up by the gossips, and then they began to talk of something else. The tragedy was only a nine minutes' wonder after all.
The gossips both in town and country were certainly right in assuming that the widow inherited the vast property of her deceased husband. But what they did not know was that a condition attached to such inheritance irritated Agnes and caused Garvington unfeigned alarm. Pine's —he was called Jarwin and came from a little office in Chancery Lane—called Garvington aside, when the mourners returned from the funeral, and asked that the reading of the will might be confined to a few people whom he named.
"There is a condition laid down by the testator which need not be made public," said Mr. Jarwin . "A proposition which, if possible, must be kept out of print."
Garvington, with a sudden recollection of his in connection with the falsified check, did not dare to ask questions, but hastily summoned the people named by the lawyer. As these were the widow, Lady Garvington, himself, and his cousin Noel, the little man had no fear of what might be forthcoming, since with relatives there could be no risk of betrayal. All the same, he waited for the reading of the will with some perturbation, for the suggested hinted at some revenge on the part of the dead man. And, hardened as he was, Garvington did not wish his wife and Lambert to become acquainted with his delinquency. He was, of course, that the latter knew about it through Agnes, and knew also how it had been used to her—for the pressure amounted to coercion—into a loveless marriage.
The quintette assembled in a small room near the library, and when the door and window were closed there was no chance that any one would overhear the conference. Lambert was rather puzzled to know why he had been requested to be present, as he had no idea that Pine would mention him in the will. However, he had not long to wait before he learned the reason, for the document produced by Mr. Jarwin was singularly short and . Pine had never been a great speaker, and carried his into his testamentary . Five minutes was sufficient for the reading of the will, and those present learned that all real and personal property had been left unreservedly to Agnes Pine, the widow of the testator, on condition that she did not marry Noel Tamsworth Leighton Lambert. If she did so, the money was to pass to a certain person, whose name was mentioned in a sealed envelope held by Mr. Jarwin. This was only to be opened when Agnes Pine formally her claim to the estate by marrying Noel Lambert. Seeing that the will disposed of two millions , it was a document, and the reading of it took the hearers' breath away.
Garvington, relieved from the fears of his guilty conscience, was the first to recover his power of speech. He looked at the lean, dry lawyer, and demanded fiercely if no had been left to him. "Surely Pine did not forget me?" he , with more temper than sorrow.
"You have heard the will," said Mr. Jarwin, folding up the single sheet of legal paper on which the was .
"There are no ."
"None at all."
"Hasn't Pine remembered Silver?"
"He has remembered nothing and no one save Lady Agnes." Jarwin bowed to the silent widow, who could not trust herself to speak, so angered was she by the cruel way in which her husband had shown his jealousy.
"It's all very dreadful and very disagreeable," said Lady Garvington in her weak and inconsequent way. "I'm sure I was always nice to Hubert and he might have left me a few shillings to get clothes. Everything goes in cooks and food and—"
"Hold your tongue, Jane," struck in her husband crossly. "You're always thinking of frocks and frills. But I agree with you this will is dreadful. I am not going to sit under such a beastly sell you know," he added, turning to Jarwin. "I shall contest the will."
The lawyer coughed dryly and smiled. "As you are not mentioned in the testament, Lord Garvington, I fail to see what you can do."
"Hum! hum! hum!" Garvington was rather disconcerted. "But Agnes can fight it."
"Why should I?" questioned the widow, who was very pale and very quiet.
"Why should you?" her brother. "It prevents your marrying again."
"Pardon me, it does not," corrected Mr. Jarwin, with another dry cough. "Lady Agnes can marry any one she chooses to, save—" His eyes rested on the calm and face of Lambert.
The young man colored, and glancing at Agnes, was about to speak. But on second thoughts he checked himself, as he did not wish to add to the of the scene. It was the widow who replied. "Did Sir Hubert tell you why he made such a provision?" she asked, striving to preserve her calmness, which was difficult under the circumstances.
"Why, no," said Jarwin, nursing hi............
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