"Take my advice," said Mr. Bergan, "and wait a little longer. I have had, all along, an expectation—or, at least, a hope—that my brother's will would give some clue to all these mysteries. The time fixed for the reading is now at hand. Go with me, and be present thereat, as you have a right to be. Then, if we get any clue, I will do my utmost to help you follow it out; if we do not, I shall be equally at your service to seek for one elsewhere."
But the incident seemed to have set free the faculty of speech. Words began to drop from his set lips; short, disconnected sentences, through which, nevertheless, there ran a distinct thread of suggestion."I heard him telling your father, last night," answered Diva, calmly, "that he would be forced to return to town early this morning on business of importance."As yet, the master of the premises had not been made aware of the stranger's approach; but, looking up to reprimand his torch-bearer for inattention, he observed the imp's dumbfounded gaze, and turned to see what had caused it.
"Yes, certainly. But she regarded you as the head of the family, and in giving me the family name—""Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,""I really cannot answer that question as it stands. There is a mistake in the terms.""Because your Uncle Harry has made his will, giving it to her. Never doubt me, Master Bergan, I know what I am talking of; and when I tell you that you shall yet own Bergan Hall, and all the gold that is hidden in it, and every foot of land that belongs to it, you may believe it as implicitly as if it were written in your Bible."Nor—to represent him fairly—was the young man himself wholly insensible of his absurdity. "Well!" said he, at last, "I can't afford to spend my morning in this way. I must go back to my room, and set to work. When Arling comes in, tell him I've been here." And away he went through the dancing elm-shadows, more quickly than he had come.
- The words were spoken carelessly enough, yet Bergan could scarcely fail to detect in them a covert insinuation, or to imagine one. His cheek crimsoned, and his eye flashed. Ere he could speak, however, a gentleman whom he had observed sitting near him, with a newspaper before his face, dropped the printed screen, and came forward.
- Very shortly she returned, preceded by a servant bearing lights, and accompanied by her mother. Looking toward Bergan with a smile, she gave a slight start; the coming words were arrested on her parted lips; the color mounted to her brow; across her face went a swift ripple of disappointment and pain. Quickly recovering herself, she presented him to her mother; but the bright cordiality, the warm heart-glow, of her earlier manner, had faded, and came no more. It was as if a gray screen had suddenly been drawn before a cheery household fire.
- Slightly inclining her head, as she passed Bergan, she quickly disappeared under the low-hanging oak boughs.
- "Good-bye," she answered, withdrawing her hand, yet not without a certain lingering pressure, that seemed even sadder than her face, and that Bergan felt long afterwards. And he left her sitting where he found her.
- "And in good time," laughed the doctor. "I was forgetting my professional duty to you,—which was, to have left you long ago to the sleep which you so much need, and which you may now safely and profitably take. Good night."
- "Again: If thought be the spring of action, action is also the spring of thought. If it be true that, 'as a man thinks, he is,' so it is true that as he is, he thinks. Thought is by turns cause and effect. If a man's sins are the result of his evil thoughts, so his evil and erroneous thoughts are sometimes the result of his sins. He cannot long continue to think right if he act wrong. After breaking the Sabbath awhile, he ceases to think of it as a holy day. After committing murder, he ceases to regard life as sacred. Violating human law, it becomes a terror instead of a protection. Defying the Divine law, he soon denies its authority. Sin distorts his views, as well as his life. The truths of religion lose their clearness to his mind with their power to influence his action. Doubts, scepticism, infidelity, find an open door, and an easy road, to his heart. If a man would keep fast hold of his Christian faith, let him take care to order his actions, as far as possible, in conformity to its precepts. But, on the other hand, let him give free rein to his appetites and ambitions,—yea, even to the commission of absolute crime,—if he wishes to become a mocker and an infidel, without love of God or man, without correct views of time or clear ones of eternity. For, to all these things, he will be sure to be holden with the cords of his sins.
- "This is my nephew, gentlemen," he went on, addressing the delighted audience,—"Harry Bergan Arling, as he now calls himself, or Harry Bergan, of Bergan Hall, as he is to be, in good time,—a real chip of the old family block, as you can see at a glance. I expect that you will all do me the honor of drinking his health in a bowl of the best punch that Gregg can concoct. Hurry up, Gregg! you know how I like it,—not too strongly flavored with our two days' drizzle;—was there ever a nastier spell of weather?"
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