Sophy was a little alarmed at the thought of their whole available capital being embarked; but she assented cheerfully to the proposal, as she was delighted at anything which seemed likely to occupy Robert's time and thoughts, and prevent him being driven, from sheer want of something to do, to spend his time in drinking. So the next day the grand pianoforte was sent to an auction-room to be sold; it fetched fifty-five pounds, and with this and twenty-five of their former stock Robert joined Fielding as a partner, leaving a solitary ten pounds only in Sophy's charge. But as she was now regularly giving lessons six hours a day, she had very little occasion to break in upon this, as the thirty-six shillings she earned quite covered her household expenses; and she was now able to go to her work with a light heart, knowing that her absence from home no longer drove her husband to spend his time in public-houses.
The room was literally crowded with tables of every imaginable shape and form, generally on twisted legs, and looking as if a breath would upset them. On these tables were placed works of art and industry of every description. Vases of wax flowers and fruit, Berlin wool mats of every colour and pattern, inkstands of various shapes and sizes, books of engravings, stuffed birds under glass shades; in short, knicknacks of every sort and kind, and on a great majority of them were inscribed, "Presented to Miss Pilgrim, or Miss Isabella Pilgrim, by her attached pupils on her birth-day;" or, "Presented to the Misses Pilgrim by their attached pupil so-and-so on the occasion of her leaving school."
As he was leaving her, Robert Gregory mentioned that he lived on the other side of Canterbury, but was out for a day's shooting on the neighbouring estate. He said that on that day week he should again be there, and asked her if she frequently walked in that direction; he urged that he should feel really anxious to know if she had suffered from the effect of the sudden alarm he had given her, and that he hoped she would be kind enough to let him know how she was.
"There lives near Canterbury, Agnes, a lazy, bad, dissolute man, named Robert Gregory. I do not suppose you have noticed him, although you may have possibly met him casually. He is, as I have said, a bad man, and bears a character of the worst description. Some eight or ten years since, when he was a very young man, he went up to London, and by his extravagance and bad habits there, he ruined the old man, his father, and brought him prenaturely to the grave.
"Than you do about him," Ada suggested.
"My dear ladies," Mr. Harmer said, "as to the result I entirely agree with you, and as I, although I am an old fellow now, do like to see young people enjoying themselves, it is precisely for the very reason that you have alleged that I have had the garden lighted up."
"But, Miss Harmer," Dr. Ashleigh said, in his quiet, firm voice, motioning Robert Gregory, who had advanced to reply to the attack upon him, to be silent. "But, Miss Harmer, we know that such was not the case; we know that he was found in the same position in which he was sitting when he received Sophy's letter. We know that he did not leave the room, and that no one entered it. We know that there were no fragments of paper scattered about, as there would in all probability have been had he destroyed the will in the way you suggest; and lastly, Miss Harmer," and here the doctor advanced a step nearer and spoke even more impressingly, "lastly, we know that such an intention was farthest from Mr. Harmer's mind; for that he began a letter, which is, or has been in your possession, a letter to Sophy expressing his full forgiveness. So that in your bitter anger against the poor girl, you are acting in direct contradiction to the dying words of your brother."