which by the time he was twenty-eight would have accumulated to, say, £30,000. `Sell out the debentures,' she said, `where the money now is - and put it into Midland ordinary.'

`Let him make his mistakes,' she said, `upon the money his grandfather left him. I am no prophet, but even I can see that it will take that boy many years to see things as his neighbours see them. He will get no help from his father and mother, who would never forgive him for his good luck if I left him the money outright; I dare say I am wrong, but I think he will have to lose the greater part or all of what he has, before he will know how to keep what he will get from me.'

Supposing he went bankrupt before he was twenty-eight years old, the money was to be mine absolutely, but she could trust me, she said, to hand it over to Ernest in due time.

`If,' she continued, `I am mistaken, the worst that can happen is that he will come into a larger sum at twenty-eight instead of a smaller sum at, say, twenty-three, for I would never trust him with it earlier, and if he knows nothing about it he will not be unhappy for the want of it.'

She begged me to take £2,000 in return for the trouble I should have in taking charge of the boy's estate, and as a sign of the testatrix's hope that I would now and again look after him while he was still young. The remaining £3,000 I was to pay in legacies and annuities to friends and servants.

In vain both her lawyer and myself remonstrated with her on the unusual and hazardous nature of this arrangement. We told her that sensible people will not take a more sanguine view concerning human nature than the Courts of Chancery do. We said, in fact, everything that anyone else would say. She admitted everything, but urged that her time was short, that nothing would induce her to leave her money to her nephew in the usual way. `It is an unusually foolish will,' she said, `but he is an unusually foolish boy'; and she smiled quite merrily at her little sally. Like all the rest of her family, she was very stubborn when her mind was made up. So the thing was done as she wished it.

No provision was made for either my death or Ernest's - Miss Pontifex had settled it that we were neither of us going to die, and was too ill to go into details; she was so anxious, moreover, to sign her will while still able to do so that we had practically no alternative but to do as she told us. If she recovered we could see things put on a more satisfactory footing, and further discussion would evidently impair her chances of recovery; it seemed then only too likely that it was a case of this will or no will at all.

When the will was signed I wrote a letter in duplicate, saying that I held all Miss Pontifex had left me in trust for Ernest except as regards£5,000, but that he was not to come into the bequest, and was to know nothing whatever about it directly or indirectly, till he was twenty-eight years old, and if he was bankrupt before he came into it the money was to be mine absolutely. At the foot of each letter Miss Pontifex wrote, `The above was my understanding when I made my will,' and then signed her name. The solicitor and his clerk witnessed; I kept one copy myself and handed the other to Miss Pontifex's solicitor.

When all this had been done she became more easy in her mind. She talked principally about her nephew. `Don't scold him,' she said, `if he is volatile, and continually takes things up only to throw them down again. How can he find out his strength or weakness otherwise? A man's profession,' she said, and here she gave one of her wicked little laughs, `is not like his wife, which he must take once for all, for better for worse, without proof beforehand. Let him go here and there, and learn his truest liking by finding out what, after all, he catches himself turning to most habitually - then let him stick to his. But I dare say Ernest will be forty or five-and-forty before he settles down. Then all his previous infidelities will work together to him for good if he is the boy I hope he is.

`Above all,' she continued, `do not let him work up to his full strength, except once or twice in his lifetime; nothing is well done nor worth doing unless, take it all round, it has come pretty easily. Theobald and Christina would give him a pinch of salt and tell him to put it on the tails of the seven deadly virtues'; - here she laughed again in her old manner at once so mocking and so sweet - `I think if he likes pancakes he had better eat them on Shrove Tuesday, but this is enough.' These were the last coherent words she spoke.

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