The Will

The funeral of Miss Wharf was attended by many people. Of course
all her friends came with the usual wreaths of flowers, but
owing to the tragic circumstances of her death, many strangers
were present. She was buried in the family vault with much
ceremony, and then the mourners departed talking of the crime.
It was the general opinion that Tung-yu,–who had not yet been
heard of,–was responsible for the death, and that he had sailed
away in the Stormy Petrel. Rodgers having returned to Town after
the inquest was making inquiries about the yacht. When he
discovered her, he hoped to learn particulars as to the flight
of Tung-yu.

These many days Rupert had not seen Olivia, although he had
called at Ivy Lodge. But Miss Pewsey, who took charge of
everything in her usual meddlesome way, would not allow him to
be admitted. Olivia did not even know of his visit. She remained
in her room, and mourned the death of her aunt. Miss Wharf had
certainly been a good friend to her, but she could not be said
to have been a kindly aunt. All the same Olivia’s conscience
pricked her, for having secretly married Rupert. As she now
thought, she should have told her aunt. But the marriage was
decided upon in a hurry, and when the girl had been more than
usually piqued by the insulting speeches of Miss Wharf. However,
the old woman was dead, and Olivia, little as she loved her,
wept for her tragic end.

Miss Rayner, during her mourning, read the evidence given at the
inquest, and wondered why she had not been called as a witness,
if only to prove that she had given the scarf to Rupert. She
thought it extraordinary that Tung-yu should have used the tie
to strangle Miss Wharf, and could not think how it came into his
possession. After some thought she concluded, that he had taken
the scarf from Rupert’s pocket, so as to implicate him in the
crime, and had bribed Dalham the attendant, who certainly was
not above being bribed, to say nothing about the matter. If this
were the case, Dalham would probably blackmail Tung-yu for the
rest of his life, as he was just the kind of rascal to make
money in shady ways. Then it occurred to Olivia that as Tung-yu
had sailed for China, presumably in the yacht, Dalham would not
be able to make a milch cow of him. However, whether Tung-yu was
guilty or not, she cared little. Rupert was safe, in spite of
the evidence of the scarf, and so long as he escaped being
arrested, the girl felt perfectly happy.

After the funeral Olivia came downstairs again, and found Miss
Pewsey looking after things as usual. The little old maid was
most polite, and it seemed as though she was now anxious to make
much of Olivia, thinking she would inherit the money. Miss
Pewsey had not a shilling to bless herself with, and for years
had lived on the bounty of Miss Wharf. Now that Olivia was to be
the mistress of Ivy Lodge, Miss Pewsey appeared desirous of
making herself pleasant, so that she might remain. Olivia saw
through her newly born politeness, and, although she disliked
the woman, was not averse to her remaining for a time at least.

“I should be glad for you to remain altogether,” explained
Olivia when matters came to be discussed, “but of course now
that my aunt is gone I may marry Mr. Ainsleigh.”

“Oh he’ll marry you quick enough for your money,” snapped Miss
Pewsey, “not but what he’s a handsome young fellow, but–”

“Don’t run down Rupert,” interrupted Olivia flushing, “I love
him. You have never been just to him.”

Miss Pewsey coughed. “I don’t think he is a very good young
man.”

“I hate good young men,” said Olivia. “Mr. Chris Walker is one
of those who never cost his mother a single pang. Why my aunt
should wish me to marry such a milksop, I can’t understand.”

“Well then, why not marry Clarence?” asked the old maid, “he is
not a milksop and has cost his mother–poor soul many a pang.
And he loves you dearly, Olivia. I should think you would be
able to live very nicely on five hundred a year and with this
house rent free.”

“If I come into possession of the property that is.”

“Oh, I am sure you will,” said Miss Pewsey effusively. “To whom
should dear Sophia leave the money, if not to you, her nearest
relative.”

“She might have left it to you, for she loved you, while she
only tolerated me.”

Miss Pewsey threw up her mittened hands with a cry of dismay.
“Oh my dear there’s no chance of my being so lucky. Sophia was
very close about money matters–”

“Surely not with you. Miss Pewsey. She always consulted you in
everything. You had great influence over her.”

“If so, I made no use of it for my own benefit,” said Miss
Pewsey with great dignity. “Sophia never consulted me about her
wills. I know she made several, and dictated the last just a
week before her death. While she was confined to her room with
that cold you know, Olivia. I suppose,” Miss Pewsey tittered, “I
suppose she wanted to be amused.”

“I shouldn’t think making one’s will was amusing,” said Olivia
dryly, “however, the lawyer will be here this afternoon to read
the will, and we shall know if I inherit.”

“I am sure you will get the money. And dear, you won’t forget
your poor Lavinia,” purred Miss Pewsey. “Let me remain here with
you, until you marry Mr. Ainsleigh, or until I marry
Theophilus.”

“Are you really going to marry Dr. Forge?” asked Miss Rayner,
looking with secret amazement at the withered face and shrunken
form of Miss Pewsey and wondering what the doctor could see in
her to make her his wife.

“I really am,” said Miss Pewsey emphatically and with a shrewd
look in her eyes. “And I see that you think it is ridiculous at
my age to marry. Also, I am not handsome I know. All the same,
Theophilus is willing to make me Mrs. Forge, and I dare say I’ll
grace the position well enough. It isn’t love,” added Miss
Pewsey, “at our age dear that would be too absurd. We are simply
entering into a partnership. He has money and I have brains.”

“Dr. Forge has brains also.”

“Not so much brain power as I have. I am not lovely I know dear,
but I am clever,” and Miss Pewsey drew herself up proudly. “Why
poor dear Sophia would never have died worth so much money but
for me. Ah, if she had only given me that fan when I asked her,
she would not have been killed and I should have got five
thousand pounds and more from Tung-yu for her. But she would
keep the fan,” Miss Pewsey squeezed out a tear, “and so met with
her doom. That nasty Chinaman.” Miss Pewsey shook a small fist.
“I wish he could hang.”

Olivia looked at her. “I heard that you disagreed with the
verdict Miss Pewsey.”

“Meaning that I said Mr. Ainsleigh was guilty,” snapped the old
maid, “well I did, dear, but I have changed my mind.”

Miss Rayner did not believe this, for Miss Pewsey looked very
malignant as she spoke. Her change of opinion was made, merely
to adapt herself to circumstances and to retain a home until
such time as her marriage with Forge, would enable her to
dispense with Miss Rayner’s help. However, Olivia did not argue
the point. She wished to keep on good terms with the old maid,
until Rupert declared the secret marriage. Then she could go to
the Abbey, and leave Miss Pewsey behind with all other
disagreeable things.

With Pastor, the solicitor of the deceased lady, came Clarence
Burgh and Dr. Forge. Lady Jabe, more manly than ever, appeared
with Chris Walker, who had taken a holiday on purpose to hear
the will read, and Lady Jabe explained this to Miss Pewsey in a
whisper. “I know that poor Sophia wished Chris to marry Olivia,”
she said, “so I thought the will might state that the money
would be left to her on such a condition. I therefore made Chris
ask for a holiday, so that he might hear of his good fortune.”

“Let us hope it will come,” aid Miss Pewsey, dryly, “but fortune
or no fortune, Olivia will stick to young Ainsleigh.”

“He is a nice young man, but poor.”

“Chris is poor also. Yet you want him to marry Olivia.”

“I think Chris has a better character than young Ainsleigh, who
looks as though he has a will of his own. Now Chris has none. I
have broken it, and Olivia as Mrs. Walker, can order him about
like a slave. I hope Sophia has made the will as I wished.”

“You’ll hear in a minute. For my part,” added Miss Pewsey in her
spiteful way, “I hope Sophia has left the money to Olivia, on
condition that she marries Clarence, and keeps him at home.”

“And keeps him on the income,” corrected Lady Jabe, who did not
at all approve of this speech. “No man should live on his wife.”

“You propose that Chris should do so.”

“Indeed no. He earns quite a good salary at the office, and I
could live with the young couple to prevent waste.”

“I am quite sure you would,” said Miss Pewsey, “if you get the
money.”

Lady Jabe would have made a sharp reply, as Miss Wharf being
dead, she was under no obligation to curry favour with Miss
Pewsey. But at that moment she saw Chris talking to Olivia, and
as the girl seemed deeply interested, she pointed out the two
with her cane. “I see Chris is losing no time,” she murmured,
“such a lover as he is.”

But had she heard Chris talking, she would not have been so
happy. The young man was simply replying to a question put by
Olivia, as to the whereabouts of Tung-yu. “I really don’t know
where he is, Miss Rayner,” said Chris, earnestly. “There was a
police-officer at our place the other day inquiring. But Tung-yu
has not been near Kum-gum Li’s since I took him to the ball. I
believe he asked me to get him an invitation so that he might
kill your aunt.”

“Does Kum-gum Li know anything about him,” asked Olivia.

“No. He came with a letter of introduction from a mandarin—-”

“Lo-Keong?”

“No. That is not the name–let me see–the Mandarin, Hop
Sing—-”

“Ah,” said Forge, who was listening, “Lo-Keong’s rival.”

“I never knew that. But Kum-gum Li gave Tung-yu a place as extra
clerk when he received the letter. He knows nothing more than
what the letter explained.”

“And what did it explain?” asked Forge with sudden interest.

“I can’t tell you,” replied Chris coldly, “I am not in the
confidence of my employer, and if I were,” he added fixing an
indignant eye on the sardonic face of the doctor, “I should say
nothing.”

“Quite right,” replied Forge not at all disconcerted, “you keep
out of these Chinese affairs. There’s danger in them.”

“Connected with the fan?” demanded Olivia.

“Yes,” said Forge slowly, “connected with the fan.”

Olivia being a woman and curious, would have asked further
questions, to which Dr. Forge might have hesitated to reply, but
that Miss Pewsey called her dear Theophilus to her side. The
will was about to be read and Miss Pewsey–so she said–wanted
support. Forge crossed to the withered little shrimp he had
chosen, heaven knows why, for his wife and sat down. The lawyer
opened an envelope and took out a rustling parchment. Just as he
cleared his throat, the door opened and the maid announced “Mr.
Ainsleigh.”

Miss Pewsey glared, and no one appeared glad to see him. Lady
Jabe least of all, as she knew he was a powerful rival to Chris.
But Rupert bowed to the company in silence, took no notice of
their cold looks, and walked over to where Olivia sat, a little
apart. He seated himself beside her. The girl smiled a little
faintly, and then gazed straight before her. No one made any
remark, as Pastor was beginning to read the will.

Miss Wharf, it appeared, died worth one thousand a year and the
house and furniture and land of Ivy Lodge. Five hundred a year
went to a distant relative, as Miss Wharf was unable to leave it
to anyone else, by reason of only having a life interest in this
amount. Then a few personal bequests were left to Lady Jabe, to
Chris Walker, and to some other friends. Ivy Lodge, and the
furniture, and the land it was built on, and the remaining five
hundred a year was left to–Lavinia Pewsey. When the name was
mentioned the little old maid quivered, and Olivia, pale and
quiet, rose to her feet. In a moment Miss Pewsey, prepared for
battle, was on her feet also, and the two women looked at one
another.

“You knew of this will,” said Olivia quietly.

“No,” replied Miss Pewsey.

“You did. And all your paying court to me was a blind, so that I
might not suspect Aunt Sophia had left the money to you.”

“Dearest Sophia left the money to whom she chose,” said Miss
Pewsey, in a sharp, shrill voice, “do you mean to say, that I
exercised any undue influence over her?”

“I say nothing,” was Olivia’s reply: “but hard on me as my aunt
was, I do not think she would have left me penniless, while the
money which belonged to my family goes to a perfect stranger.”

“A stranger,” cried Miss Pewsey tossing her head, “am I a
stranger, indeed? I was hand and glove with dear Sophia when we
were at school together. I gave up my life to her—-”

“And you have got your reward,” said Olivia bitterly.

“As you say,” retorted Miss Pewsey, tossing her head again, “but
the will is in order, and I had nothing to do with the making of
it. I appeal to Mr. Pastor.”

“Why, certainly,” said the lawyer, looking on Olivia with
something like pity. “Miss Wharf gave me instructions to make a
new will, during the week before she met with her untimely end.
Miss Pewsey was not in the room—-”

“But no doubt she induced my aunt to cut me out of the will.”

“No,” cried Miss Pewsey breathing very hard, and looking more
drab than ever. “I won’t stand this. Your aunt had good cause to
take the money from you–oh you deceiving girl.”

At this Rupert suddenly rose and took Olivia’s hand. He half
guessed what was coming, and looked at the spiteful face of the
heiress. Olivia stared. She could not understand. Miss Pewsey
was about to speak, when Mr. Pastor intervened.

“May I be permitted to remark that I have not finished reading
the will of the deceased lady,” said he sweetly.

“There’s no more money to be disposed of,” said Olivia bitterly,
“my enemy has got it all.”

Pastor made a gesture of silence to prevent Miss Pewsey bursting
out into a volume of words. “There is no more money to be
disposed of as you say, Miss Rayner, but Miss Wharf sets forth
in the will why she disinherited you.”

“Ah,” cried Olivia a light breaking in upon her, and reading the
truth in Miss Pewsey’s look of triumph, “so my aunt knew—-”

“She knew that you had secretly married the gentleman beside
you.”

Everyone was on his or her feet by this time, and every look was
directed towards Olivia. “Is this true?” asked Lady Jabe.

“Yes,” cried Miss Pewsey, before either Rupert or Olivia could
speak, “of course it is true. Let them deny it if they can. I
heard Olivia say herself, that she had been married at a
registrar’s.”

Miss Rayner, or rather Mrs. Ainsleigh turned on the little
woman, “I should like to know when I said that to you Miss
Pewsey?”

“You never said it to me–oh dear no,” said Miss Pewsey shrilly,
“you were not straightforward enough. But I heard–oh yes I
heard.”

“Miss Wharf,” said the lawyer folding up the will, “told me that
she learned of this from Miss Pewsey, just before she called me
in, to make a new will. The five hundred a year was left to you
Miss—-”

“Mrs. Ainsleigh,” said Rupert quickly.

“Very good. To you Mrs. Ainsleigh, by a former will. But on
discovering the secret marriage, my client made a new
will–this,” he shook it, “and Miss Pewsey benefits.”

“Miss Pewsey has every right to benefit,” said Mrs. Ainsleigh in
a clear cold voice, “she has been well paid, for being a spy.”

“Spy,” shrilled Miss Pewsey glaring, “yes I was a spy in the
interests of dearest Sophia. I followed you several times, when
you went to meet Mr. Ainsleigh near the flag-staff, and on the
last occasion—-”

“Ah,” said Olivia tranquilly, “so I thought. I heard something
moving. It was you, concealed. Rupert said it was a rat–perhaps
he was right. Well Miss Pewsey you have gained your ends and
now—-”

“Now you leave my house,” said the old maid, “yes, my house.”

Olivia made no reply but placed her hand within her husband’s
arm. Rupert conducted her towards the door. “Mrs. Ainsleigh’s
effects will be sent for,” said he looking at Miss Pewsey, “we
will not trouble you further.”

“But the law will trouble _you_,” cried Miss Pewsey, “you—-”

Rupert turned and looked at her. The venomous words died on her
lips. She dropped into her chair, while Ainsleigh and the
disinherited Olivia left Ivy Lodge to the woman, who had schemed
for it in so base a way.