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turn a sum of money which the dean had many years before placed in his hands, to secure a provision for his niece, Miss Stanley.
This letter had arrived when the dean was extremely ill. Helen had been afraid to give it to him, and yet thought it right to do so. The moment her uncle had read the letter, which he was still able to do, and to comprehend, though he was unable to speak, he wrote on the back with difficulty, in a sadly trembling hand, yet quite distinctly, these words :-“That money is yours, Helen Stanley; no one has any claim upon it. When I am gone, consult Mr. Collingwood; consider him as your guardian.”
Mr. Collingwood perceived that this provision had been made by the dean for his niece before he had contracted his present debts-many years before, when he had sold his paternal estate, and that, knowing his own disposition to extravagance, he had put this sum out of his own power.
“Right-all right, my dear Miss Stanley," said the vicar; “I am very glad-it is all justly yours.”
“No,” said Helen, " I shall never touch it; take it, my dear Mr. Collingwood, take it, and pay all the debts before any one can complain.”
Mr. Collingwood pressed her to him without speaking; but after a moment's recollection he replied :
“ No, no, my dear child, I cannot let you do this; as your guardian, I cannot allow such a young creature as you are, in a moment of feeling, thus to give away your whole earthly fortune-it must not be.”
“ It must, indeed it must, my dear sir. Oh, pay everybody at once-directly."
“No, not directly, at all events," said Mr. Colling: wood" certainly not directly: the law allows a year.
“ But if the money is ready," said Helen, “I cannot understand why the debt should not be paid at once. Is there any law against paying people immediately?"
Mr. Collingwood half smiled, and on the strength of that half smile Helen concluded that he wholly yielded. “Yes, do," cried she, “ send this money this instant to Mr. James, the solicitor: he knows all about it, you say, and he will see everybody paid."
“Stay, my dear Miss Stanley,” said the vicar, “I cannot consent to this, and you should be thankful that I am steady. If I were at this minute to consent, and to
do what you desire-pay away your whole fortune, you would repent and reproach me with my folly before the end of the year-before six months were over."
Never, never," said Helen. Mrs. Collingwood strongly took her husband's side of the question. Helen could have no idea, she said, how necessary money would be to her. It was quite absurd to think of living upon air; could Miss Stanley think she was to go on in this world without money?
Helen said she was not so absurd ; she reminded Mrs. Collingwood that she should still have what had been her mother's fortune.
Before Helen had well got out the words, Mrs. Col. lingwood replied,
“That will never do, you will never be able to live upon that; the interest of Lady Anne Stanley's fortune, I know what it was, would just do for pocket-money for you in the style of life for which you have been educated. Some of your uncle's great friends will of course invite you presently, and then you will find what is requisite with that set of people.”
“Some of my uncle's friends perhaps will,” said Helen; “but I am not obliged to go to great or fine people, and if I cannot afford it I will not, for I can live independently on what I have, be it ever so little.”
Mrs. Collingwood allowed, that if Helen were to live always in the country in retirement, she might do upon her mother's fortune.
“Wherever I live-whatever becomes of me, the debts must be paid-I will do it myself;" and she took up a pen as she spoke-"I will write to Mr. James by this day's post.”
Surprised at her decision of manner, and the firmness of one in general so gentle, yielding, and retired, and feeling that he had no legal power to resist, Mr. Collingwood at last gave way, so far as to agree that he would in due time use this money in satisfying her uncle's creditors; provided she lived for the next six months within her income.
Helen smiled, as if that were a needless proviso. "I warn you,” continued Mr. Collingwood, that
you will most probably find, before six months are over, that you will want some of this money to pay debts of your own."
“No, no, no,” cried she ; " of that there is not the slightest chance."
“And now, my dear child," said Mrs. Collingwood, “now that Mr. Collingwood has promised to do what you wish, will you do what we wish? Will you promise to remain with us? to live here with us, for the present at least; we will resign you whenever better friends may claim you, but for the present will you try us?"
“ Try!" in a transport of gratitude and affection she could only repeat the words "Try! oh, my dear friends, how happy I am, an orphan, without a relation, to have such a home.”
But though Mr. and Mrs. Collingwood, childless as hey were, felt real happiness in having such a companion--such
an adopted daughter, yet they were sure that some of Dean Stanley's great friends and acquaintance in high life would ask his niece to spend the spring in town, or the summer in the country with them; and post after post came letters of condolence to Miss Stanley from all these personages of high degree, professing the greatest regard for their dear amiable friend's memory, and for Miss Stanley, his and their dear Helen; and these polite and kind expressions were probably sincere at the moment, but none of these dear friends seemed to think of taking any trouble on her account, or to be in the least disturbed by the idea of never seeing their dear Helen again in the course of their lives.
Helen, quite touched by what was said of her uncle, thought only of him ; but when she showed the letters to Mr. and Mrs. Collingwood, they marked the oversight, and looked significantly as they read, folded the letters up and returned them to Helen in silence. Afterward, between themselves, they indulged in certain comments.
“ Lady C— does not invite her, for she has too many daughters, and they are too ugly, and Helen is too beautiful," said Mrs. Collingwood. “Lady L
has too many sons,” said Mr. Collingwood, " and they are too poor, and Helen is not an heiress now.
“But old Lady Margaret Dawe who has neither sons nor daughters, what stands in the way there? Oh! her delicate health-delicate health is a blessing to some people-excuses them always from doing any thing for anybody.”
6 And the Berkeleys the dean's most particular
friends, and who doted on Helen, what can they find to say? They would have been really so happy to have her; but going to travel, God knows where, or for how long! Oh!--and no carriage could carry Miss Stanley, I suppose, along with them.”
Then came many, who hoped, in general, to see Miss Stanley as soon as possible; and some who were “ very anxious indeed” to have their dear Helen with them ; but when or where never specified, and a general invitation, as everybody knows, means nothing but “Good morning to you."
Mrs. Coldstream ends with, " I forbear to say more at present," without giving any reason.
“And here is the dean's dear duchess, always in the greatest haste, with You know my heart,' in a parenthesis, ever and ever most sincerely and affec
“And the Davenants," continued Mrs. Collingwood, “who were such near neighbours, and who were so kind to the dean at Florence; they have not even written !"
“ But they are at Florence still,” said Mr. Collingwood; “ they can hardly have heard of the poor dean's death."
The Davenants were the great people of this part of the country; their place, Cecilhurst, was close to the deanery and to the vicarage, but they were not known to the Collingwoods, who had come to Cecilhurst during the dean's absence abroad.
" And here Mrs. Wilmot too,” continued Mrs. Collingwood, “wondering, as usual, at everybody else, wondering that Lady Barker has not invited Miss Stanley to Castle-port ; and it never enters into Mrs. Wilmot's head that she might invite her to Wilmot's fort. And this is friendship, as the world goes !"
“And as it has been ever since the beginning of the world, and will be to the end," replied Mr. Collingwood. “Only I thought in Dean Stanley's case-however, I am glad his niece does not see it as we do."
No—with all Helen's natural quickness of sensibility, she suspected nothing, saw nothing in each excuse but what was perfectly reasonable and kind; she was sure that her uncle's friends could not mean to neglect her. In short, she had an undoubting belief in those she loved, and she loved all those who she thought had loved
her uncle, or who had ever shown her kindness. Helen had never yet experienced neglect or detected insincerity, and nothing in her own true and warm heart could suggest the possibility of double-dealing, or even of coldness in friendship. She had yet to learn that
“No after friendship ere can raze
Th' endearments of our early days,
But prudence comes with hundred eyes,
Some time after this, Mr. Collingwood, rising from the breakfast-table, threw down the day's paper, saying there was nothing in it; Mrs. Collingwood glancing her eye over it exclaimed “Do you call this nothing ? Helen, hear this!
Marriage in high life-At the Ambassador's chapel, Paris, on the 16th instant, General Clarendon to Lady Cecelia Davenant, only daughter of Earl and Countess Davenant."
“Married, absolutely married !” exclaimed Helen : “I knew it was to be, but so soon I did not expect. Ambassador's chapel—where did you say ?
-Paris ? No, that must be a mistake, they are all at Florence settled there, I thought their letters said."
Mrs. Collingwood pointed to the paragraph, and Helen saw it was certainly Paris-there could be no mistake. Here was a full account of the marriage, and a list of all the fashionables who attended the fair bride to the hymeneal altar. Her father gave her away.
“ Then certainly it is so,” said Helen, and she came to the joyful conclusion that they must all be on their