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    But when the light was out and they lay composing themselves for sleep, she heard Richard mutter to himself: “There may be . . . there probably IS . . . fraud. And why not? . . . do not rogues ofttimes preach the gospel? But that there’s truth in it — a truth greater than any yet dreamed of — on that I would stake my soul. Ours the spadework . . . God alone knows what the end will be.”


    1.“Just fancy, John writes he’s been forced to shut up his house and go and live at the Melbourne Club. WHAT a state of things! That lovely house left to go to rack and ruin. It seems the last housekeeper turned out worst of all. She didn’t set her cap at him, like Mrs. Perry, but he discovered that she was carrying on improperly with men. To think of a woman like that looking after poor Jinny’s children! Now John has put all three to boarding-school. And Josey still the merest baby. How he expects them to thrive, I don’t know — with never a proper home, or a mother’s care. Then, here’s Trotty . . . or Emma as he will persist in calling her . . . accused of being idle and flighty. Trotty flighty! If ever there was a dear, good-hearted little soul . . . easy to manage and open as the day. But John still seems to have his old down on Emma’s children. And that brings me to some bad news. Johnny has run away. Listen to this. AND NOW I PASS TO THE DOINGS OF MY SON AND HEIR. AFTER KEEPING THE BOY TO HIS DESK UNDER MY OWN EYE FOR THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS, AND ENDEAVOURING BY PRECEPT AND SEVERITY TO MAKE AN HONEST MAN OF HIM— IN VAIN, MARY, FOR NEVER A MOMENT’S GRATIFICATION OR SATISFACTION HAVE I HAD FROM HIM; NEVER A THANK-YOU HAS HE GIVEN ME FOR ALL THE MONEY SPENT ON HIM— HE WAS LAZY, DECEPTIVE, AND FREQUENTED LOOSE COMPANY . . . Richard! At seventeen! . . . NEGLECTED HIS DUTIES, TOOK MORE WINE THAN WAS GOOD FOR HIM, PLAYED CARDS FOR MONEY, AND IN THE END WENT SO FAR AS TO ABSTRACT HIS LOSSES FROM MY PRIVATE DRAWER. — Isn’t it dreadful? — WHEN I TAXED HIM WITH IT, AND THREATENED HIM WITH EXPOSURE, HE AS GOOD AS WHISTLED IN MY FACE; THEN ACTUALLY HAD THE AUDACITY TO ASSERT HE OWED ME NO GRATITUDE, SINCE I HAD NEVER DONE ANYTHING FOR HIM; AND THE NEXT MORNING HE WAS MISSING— HIS BED HAD NOT BEEN SLEPT IN. WHEN AFTER THE LAPSE OF SEVERAL WEEKS I CONTRIVED TO TRACK HIM, I LEARNED, TO MY SHAME AND DISGRACE, THAT HE HAD SHIPPED BEFORE THE MAST TO THAT ELDORADO OF THIEVES AND SCOUNDRELS, AMERICA. NOW HE MAY SHIFT FOR HIMSELF; I WASH MY HANDS OF HIM. I HAVE CUT HIM OUT OF MY WILL AND SHALL DO THE SAME BY EMMA, UNLESS SHE MENDS HER WAYS. YOU WILL SCARCELY CREDIT IT, MY DEAR MARY, BUT HER SCHOOLMISTRESS WRITES ME THAT THE GIRL— NOT YET FIFTEEN YEARS OF AGE, MARK YOU! — HAS HAD TO BE ‘PUBLICLY REBUKED’ FOR COQUETTING WITH MEMBERS OF THE OTHER SEX IN A PLACE OF WORSHIP. — Oh, stuff and nonsense, John! Never will I believe such a thing of Trotty. I know the child a great deal better than you. If I were only there, to find out what it all means He winds up with the usual: THANK GOD, JANE’S CHILDREN ARE OF ANOTHER DISPOSITION. I AM CONFIDENT I SHALL NEVER BE DISGRACED BY THEM. No, my dear John, they haven’t the spirit. But . . . well, I never did!” and Mary let her hand fall flop on the table. “Just listen to this! A postscript — I didn’t see it before. He says: YOUR SISTER ZARA SEEMS ABOUT TO MAKE A FOOL OF THE FIRST WATER OF HERSELF. SHE IS, I HEAR— FOR I HAVE SEEN NOTHING OF HER, I AM THANKFUL TO SAY— CONTEMPLATING MATRIMONY. — Richard! And he doesn’t even say who to. Isn’t that like a man? Can it . . . could it be . . . But there! I believe I saw a letter from Zara herself.”
    3.“Well, I shan’t see Tilly again for ever so long. I do beg you to be nice to her, dear . . . to both of them,” said Mary.
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