Lydia Trent
how greatly respected and loved
their father had been, and how much good he had done in that little
neighbourhood. Each man had some fond recollection to share with the
girls, of kindness and good fellowship, of some problem or trouble
relieved by the good gentleman's capacious purse or more capacious
mind. Each woman – for these humbler orders did not share in the
popular prejudice which forbad women a place at the funerary rites –
had some kind word to say of the true gentleman whose old-fashioned
courtesy had treated even the lowest of these 'like as if I was a
duchess at St James', Miss.' The girls were consoled in some measure
by the discovery that their Papa, though his life had been cut
cruelly short, had not lived in vain, that he had died a richer man,
in the true treasures of life, than one whose balance at the bankers
stood at ten - nay, a hundred - times as many thousands. They might
well cry with Venus – 'Alas, poor world, what treasure hast thou
lost'.

    The
servants, in mourning, now advanced amongst the crowd with trays of
ale and cold meats, and the girls left the throng there assembled to
toast the virtues of the dear deceased and drink the health of the
survivors. They retired to the parlour, where the more genteel
mourners were being regaled with sherry, port, and ham.

    Being
disengaged for a moment, Mrs Trent pulled the butler to one side.

    “ What
wine is this?” she sharply enquired, indicating that functionary's
tray of glasses.

    “ Why,
Ma'am,” stammered the butler in some confusion, “There were
almost a full bottle left in the decanter, and such a fine old port,
that it seemed a shame to waste it, being as you ladies don't drink
it...” and he trailed off under the force of the lady's glare. She
opened her mouth briefly as if to say something, then, as if deciding
against it, she pressed her lips tightly together.

    “ Very
well.” she snapped, adding to herself, 'They cannot drink more than
a glass or two apiece – it can't do much harm.'

    After
these polite ceremonials, those mourners who lived locally made their
departure, leaving the principal persons concerned – Mrs Trent,
Adeline, Lydia, John Trent, and Mr Elkwood, Mr Trent's solicitor, to
assemble in the pleasant book-lined room that had been Mr Trent's
study.

    The
will was a simple one, Mr Elkwood explained, and had been drawn up at
the time of Mr Trent's second marriage. No later will was believed to
have been made.

    There
were some sundry small bequests to the servants, and to old friends
for the purchase of mourning rings, amounting to some few hundreds
altogether. Lydia had inherited from her mother the sum of
two-and-a-half thousand pounds, and William had settled a like amount
on Adeline, 'for I do not wish any difference to be made between my
two daughters'. Adeline could barely repress a sob as this sentiment
was read out in the laywer's calm, quiet voice. These fortunes were
left in the trust of his brother, John Trent, who was also appointed
guardian to the two girls, should they not be of age.

    The
remainder of William Trent's fortune, amounting to some
forty-thousand pounds, as well as the lease on the house - a long
lease, for it still had some seventy years left to run - was left
absolutely to his wife, to use as she saw fit. This was a matter of
some surprise to Mr John Trent, who was quietly perturbed, not having
the same faith in that lady, as his brother evidently did, that she
would consider his children in the slightest. He kept his thoughts to
himself on this occasion, however, only noting with disgust the look
of evident satisfaction that lady barely troubled herself to hide.

    Mr
Elkwood went back to London by that evening's train, but Mr John
Trent remained some few days longer, in hopes he could be of service
to the young ladies. In truth, the old bachelor felt an unexpected
happiness in the company of his two nieces, finding that their
father's best bequest to them was an uncommon amount of

Similar Books

Silo 49: Deep Dark

Ann Christy

Making Pretty

Corey Ann Haydu

The Telling

Jo Baker