It was a manly, feeling, sensible letter, explaining to the old father in very simple language the services which were demanded by the terms of the will to which the writer and two or three others were trustees; the liberal allowance for expenses; the still more liberal reward for performance, which had tempted several men of considerable renown to offer themselves as candidates for the appointment. Lord Hollingford then went on to say that, having seen a good deal of Roger lately, since the publication of his article in reply to the French osteologist, he had had reason to think that in him the trustees would find united the various qualities required, in a greater measure than in any of the applicants who had at that time presented themselves. Roger had deep interest in the subject; much acquired knowledge, and at the same time, great natural powers of comparison and classification of facts; he had shown himself to be an observer of a fine and accurate kind; he was of the right age, in the very prime of health and strength, and unshackled by any family ties. Here Mr. Gibson paused for consideration. He hardly cared to ascertain by what steps the result had been arrived at—he already knew what that result was; but his mind was again arrested, as his eye caught on the remuneration offered, which was indeed most liberal; and then he read with attention the high praise bestowed on the son in this letter to the father. The Squire had been watching Mr. Gibson—waiting till he came to this part—and he rubbed his hands together, as he said—

“Ay! you’ve come to it at last. It’s the best part of the whole, isn’t it. God bless the boy! and from a Whig, mind you, which makes it the more handsome. And there’s more to come still. I say, Gibson, I think my luck is turning at last,” passing him on yet another letter to read. “That only came this morning; but I’ve acted on it already, I sent for the foreman of the drainage works at once, I did; and to-morrow, please God, they’ll be at work again.”

Mr. Gibson read the second letter, from Roger. To a certain degree it was a modest repetition of what Lord Hollingford had said, with an explanation of how he had come to take so decided a step in life without consulting his father. He did not wish him to be in suspense for one reason. Another was that he felt, as no one else could feel for him, that, by accepting this offer, he entered upon the kind of life for which he knew himself to be most fitted. And then he merged the whole into business. He said that he knew well the suffering his father had gone through, when he had to give up his drainage works for want of money; that he, Roger, had been enabled at once to raise money upon the remuneration he was to receive on the accomplishment of two years’ work; and that he had also insured his life, in order to provide for the repayment of the money he had raised, in case he did not live to return to England. He said that the sum he had borrowed on this security would at once be forwarded to his father.

Mr. Gibson laid down the letter, without speaking a word for some time; then he said—“He’ll have to pay a pretty sum for insuring his life beyond seas.”

“He’s got his Fellowship money,” said the Squire, a little depressed at Mr. Gibson’s remark.

“Yes; that’s true. And he’s a strong young fellow, as I know.”

“I wish I could tell his mother,” said the Squire in an undertone.

“It seems all settled now,” said Mr. Gibson, more in reply to his own thoughts than to the Squire’s remark.

“Yes!” said the Squire; “and they’re not going to let the grass grow under his feet. He’s to be off, as soon as he can get his scientific traps ready. I almost wish he wasn’t to go. You don’t seem quite to like it, doctor?”

“Yes, I do,” said Mr. Gibson, in a more cheerful tone than before. “It can’t be helped now, without doing a mischief,” thought he to himself. “Why, Squire, I think it a great honour to have such a son. I envy you, that’s what I do! Here’s a lad of three or four and twenty distinguishing himself in more ways than one, and as simple and affectionate at home as any fellow need to be—not a bit set-up!”

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