Chapter 4

THE signing of the Will was a much shorter matter than I had anticipated. It was hurried over, to my thinking, in indecent haste. Samuel, the footman, was sent for to act as second witness--and the pen was put at once into my aunt's hand. I felt strongly urged to say a few appropriate words on his solemn occasion. But Mr. Bruff's manner convinced me that it was wisest to check the impulse while he was in the room. In less than two minutes it was all over--and Samuel (unbenefited by what I might have said) had gone downstairs again.

Mr. Bruff folded up the Will, and then looked my way; apparently wondering whether I did or did not mean to leave him alone with my aunt. I had my mission of mercy to fulfil, and my bag of precious publications ready on my lap. He might as well have expected to move St. Paul's Cathedral by looking at it, as to move Me. there was one merit about him (due no doubt to his worldly training) which I have no wish to deny. He was quick at seeing things. I appeared to produce almost the same impression on him which I had produced on the cabman. He too uttered a profane expression, and withdrew in a violent hurry, and left me mistress of the field.

As soon as we were alone, my aunt reclined on the sofa, and then alluded, with some appearance of confusion, to the subject of her Will.

`I hope you won't think yourself neglected, Drusilla,' she said. `I mean to give you your little legacy, my dear, with my own hand.'

Here was a golden opportunity! I seized it on the spot. In other words, I instantly opened my bag, and took out the top publication. It proved to be an early edition--only the twenty-fifth--of the famous anonymous work (believed to be by precious Miss Bellows), entitled The Serpent at Home. The design of the book-- with which the worldly reader may not be acquainted--is to show how the Evil One lies in wait for us in all the most apparently innocent actions of our daily lives. The chapters best adapted to female perusal are `Satan in the Hair Brush'; `Satan behind the Looking Glass'; `Satan under the Tea Table'; `Satan out of the Window'--and many others.

`Give your attention, dear aunt, to this precious book--and you will give me all I ask.' With those words, I handed it to her open, at a marked passage--one continuous burst of burning eloquence! Subject: Satan among the Sofa Cushions.

Poor Lady Verinder (reclining thoughtlessly on her own sofa cushions) glanced at the book, and handed it back to me looking more confused than ever.

`I'm afraid, Drusilla,' she said, `I must wait till I am a little better, before I can read that. The doctor--'

The moment she mentioned the doctor's name, I knew what was coming. Over and over again in my past experience among my perishing fellow-creatures, the members of the notoriously infidel profession of Medicine had stepped between me and my mission of mercy--on the miserable pretence that the patient wanted quiet, and that the disturbing influence of all others which they most dreaded, was the influence of Miss Clack and her Books. Precisely the same blinded materialism (working treacherously behind my back) now sought to rob me of the only right of property that my poverty could claim--my right of spiritual property in my perishing aunt.

`The doctor tells me,' my poor misguided relative went on, `that I am not so well to-day. He forbids me to see any strangers; and he orders me, if I read at all, only to read the lightest and the most amusing books. "Do nothing, Lady Verinder, to weary your head, or to quicken your pulse"--those were his last words, Drusilla, when he left me to-day.'

There was no help for it but to yield again--for the moment only, as before. Any open assertion of the infinitely superior importance of such a ministry as mine, compared with the ministry of the medical man, would only have provoked the doctor to practise on the human weakness of his patient, and to threaten

  By PanEris using Melati.

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