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Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:57 am

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R. Robert Clarkson was sitting by his fire, smoking thoughtfully. His lifelong neighbor and successful rival in love had died a few days before, and Mr. Clarkson, fresh from the funeral, sat musing on the fragility of man and the discomfort that sometimes attended his departure.

His meditations were interrupted by a low knocking at the door that opened onto the street. In response to his invitation to slowly opened, and a small middle-aged man of gentle melancholy aspect filled and closed it behind him.

"Good evening, Bob," he said, in affected accents. "I thought I'd just step round to see how you were with you. Fancy pore old Phipps! Why, I could as fast a'most me. A'most. "

Mr. Clarkson nodded.

"Here to-day and gone tomorrow," added Mr. Smithson, taking a seat. "Well, well! So you have her on the final pore thing."

"That was his wish," said Mr. Clarkson, in a dull voice.

"And also very generous of him," said Mr. Smithson. "Everyone is so to speak. Sure, he could not keep her with him. How long has it been since you were both of you court her?"

"Thirty years come June," replied the other.

"Shows what is waiting, and patience," said Mr Smith. "If you'd like some chaps and went abroad, where would you be now? What would have been the reward of your faithful heart?"

Mr. Clarkson, whose pipe had gone, took a coal from the fire and put it back.

"I can not understand him dead at his age," he said darkly. "He had lived to ninety if he had provided."

"Well, he's gone, pores guy," said his friend. "What a blessing to ha 'been to him in his final moments to think he had provided his wife."

"Provision" Mr Clarkson said. "Why he's only the furniture and fifty pounds insurance money left -. Nothing in the world"

Mr. Smithson nervous. "I mean you," he said, staring.

"Oh!" said another. "Oh, yes - yes, of course."

"And he does not want you to eat your heart out in waiting," said Mr. Smithson. "" Never mind about me, "he told her," you go and make Bob happy. "Beautiful beautiful girl she used to be, right? "Mr. Clarkson voted.

"And I have no doubt that she looks the same for you if they ever did," the sentimental Mr. Smithson. "That's the extraordinary part of it."

Mr. Clarkson turned and looked at him, removed the pipe from his mouth, and after hesitating a moment, to replace a jerk.

"She says she would rather faithful to his memory," continued the persevering Mr. Smithson, "but his wishes are her right. She said my lady until yesterday."

"But they should be considered," said Mr. Clarkson, shook his head. "I think someone had it to her. She has her heart, poor thing, and if they prefer not to marry again, she should not be forced to."

"Just what my teacher said to her," said the other;. "But she did not pay much attention She said it was Henry's wish and they do not care what happened to her now he's gone way, if you will. To think what else she has to do Do not worry, Bob ;? you will not lose her. "

Mr. Clarkson, staring at the fire, darkly mused. Thirty years he had played the sympathetic part of the disappointed admirer but loyal friend. He was planning to play for at least fifty or sixty. He wanted his strength of mind to refuse the bequest when the late Mr. Phipps was first mentioned, or taken a firmer line on the congratulations of his friends. As it was, Little Molton understood that after thirty years waiting for the faithful heart was rewarded at last. Public opinion seemed to be that the late Mr. Phipps had behaved with extraordinary generosity.

"It is rather late in life for me to start," said Mr. Clarkson at last.

"Better late than never," said the cheerful Mr. Smithson.

"And something seems to tell me that I am not long for this world," said Mr. Clarkson, looked at him with some disfavour.

"Stuff and nonsense," said Mr. Smithson. "You lose them all ideas once you're married. You will be someone to look after you and help you have money."

Mr. Clarkson released a dismal groaning and clapping his hand over his mouth tried to pass muster as a yawn. It was clear that the evil Mr. Smithson was great enjoyment of his embarrassment that result - the pleasure of course the father of seven on the problems of a comfortable degree. Mr. Clarkson, concerned about his problems with someone, came to a sudden and malicious determination to share them with Mr. Smithson.

"I do not know who will help me my money," he said, slowly. "First and last time that I have saved a tidy bit. I have this house, this B & B in three Turner's Lane, and pretty close to six hundred pounds in the bank."

Mr. Smithson's eyes sparkled.

"I had thought - it had occurred to me," said Mr. Clarkson, trying to get as close to the truth as possible, "to my property to leave to mine a friend o '- a hardworking man with a big family. However, it is not talking about that now. It's too late. "

"Who - who was" asked his friend, trying to keep his voice steady.

Mr. Clarkson shook his head. "It's not good to talk about that now, George," he said and looked at him with sly delight. "I will now need to leave everything to my wife. After all, perhaps does more harm than good to leave money to people."

"Rubbish!" Mr Smithson said, sharply. "Who was it?"

"You, George," said Mr. Clarkson, softly.

"Me?" said the other, with a sob. "Me?" He jumped from his chair, and seizing the other hand, shook it fervently.

"I would have told you, George," said Mr. Clarkson, with great satisfaction. "It will only make you miserable. It's just one o 'power ha' Beens."

Mr Smithson, with his back to the fire and his hands twisted behind him, stood with his eyes fixed in thought.

"It's pretty cool Phipps," he said after a long silence, "instead of cool, I think, to go out of the world and to leave his wife alone to care for you Some men would not stand You 're too lazy .., Bob, that's what's wrong with you. "

Mr. Clarkson sighed.

"And you took advantage of," added his friend.

"It's all very well to talk," said Mr. Clarkson, "but what can I do? I should have said at the time. It is too late."

"If I were you," said his friend very seriously, "and did not want to marry her, I'd say. Say what you want is not fair to her you know. It is not fair to the woman pores. She had never forgiven when she found out. "

"Everyone is taking for granted," said another.

"Let everyone look after their own business," said Mr. Smithson, tartly. "Now look here, Bob;?. Suppose I call you this business, how should I sure you will leave your house for me - not that I suppose you want to change your will?"

"If you look like me, every cent I'll leave to you," said Mr. Clarkson, fervently. "I have no relations, and not least important to me, that is after I'm gone."

"As true as you say?" asked the other, looked him straight.

"As surely as I stand here," said Mr. Clarkson, beating his chest and shook hands again.

Long after his visitor had gone he sat staring into a sultry fashion on the fire. If a man wants were few, and he could live on his savings, as the husband of Mrs. Phipps he would be forced to work he thought he had failed a good three years before resuming. Moreover, Ms. Phipps had a strong character, which had many times made him congratulating itself on its choice of a spouse.

Slowly but surely his shackles were secured. Two days later the widow to spend six weeks with a sister, but all the joy he would feel about the fact it was marred by the fact that he had to carry her bags to the station and to see her leave. The key to her house was left with him, with strict orders to go in water and its geraniums every day, while two canaries and a bullfinch had to be removed to his home in that they have a constant attention and companionship.

"She does it deliberately," said Mr. Smithson, fierce, "she is bound up hand and foot."

Mr. Clarkson voted bleak. "I trust you, George," he noted.

"How is it to forget the geraniums and water birds die because she missed her so late?" suggested Mr. Smithson, after long thought.

Mr. Clarkson shuddered.

"It would be a hint," said his friend.

Mr. Clarkson took some letters from the mantelpiece and held them up. "She writes about them every day," he said recently, "and I have to answer them."

"They - they do not relate to your marriage, I suppose?" his friend said, anxious.

Mr Clarkson said: "No, but her sister does," he added. "I got two letters from her."

Mr. Smithson got up and walked restlessly up and down the room. "That women all over," he said, bitterly. "They never ask for things right;. But she always' em in detours She can not own, so she gets her sister to do it."

Mr. Clarkson groaned. "And her sister has hinted that they can not leave the house where she spent so many happy years," he said, "and says what a pleasant surprise would be for Mrs. Phipps as she was to come home and it is done to find up. "

"That means you have to live if you're married," said his friend solemnly.

Mr. Clarkson looked comfortable around his room and groaned again. "They asked me to get an estimate of Digson," he said dully. "They know as well as I her sister has got no money. I wrote to say that it had better be left until they come home, because I might not know what is wanted."

Mr. Smithson nodded approval.

"And Mrs. Phipps wrote himself and thanked me for being so thoughtful," said his friend, grim, "and says that if they come back together we should go about the house and see what to do."

Mr. Smithson stood up and walked around the room.

"You never promised to marry her?" he said, stopping suddenly.

"No," said another. "It's all arranged for me. I never said a word. I could not Phipps told her that I would not have them all standing round, and him thinking he was doing me the greatest favor in the world .

"Well, they can not name the day, unless you ask her," said another. "All you have to do is to remain silent and not to commit yourself. Be as cool as you can, and just before she comes home, you go off to London on business and stay as long as possible."

Mr Clarkson made his instructions to the letter, and Mrs. Phipps, back home at the end of her visit, learned that he went to London for three days, making the geraniums and birds to the care of Mr. Smithson. From the hands of the unjust steward them two empty bird cages, along with receiving a detailed explanation of how the occupants had made their escape, and a bullfinch that seemed to be suffering from torpid liver. The condition of the geraniums were attributed to worms in the pots, frost, and premature decay.

"They are sometimes funny, 'said Mr. Smithson," and if they do nothing will save' em. "

Mrs. Phipps thanked him. "It's very kind of you to take so much trouble," she said, softly, "some people would have also lost the cages as they left. "

"I did my best," said Mr. Smithson, in a gruff voice.

"I know you did," said Mrs. Phipps, thoughtful, and I am sure that I am very grateful to you. If anything is yours, I can look after any time I will only too happy. When you saying Mr Clarkson was coming back? "

"He does not know," said Mr. Smithson, immediately. "He was a distance of one month, and then, again, he would be a distance of six all depends, you know what business is ..."

"It's very thoughtful of him," Mrs. Phipps said. "Very."

"Ingenious!" repeated Mr. Smithson.

"He has gone to time out of concern for me," said the widow. "As things stand, it is a bit too difficult for us at this time to comply."

"I do not think he's gone that way at all," answered the other bone.

Mrs. Phipps shook her head. "Ah, you do not know him so well as I do," she said, affectionately. "He went out on my behalf, I am sure."

Mr. Smithson screwed his lips together and remained silent.

"If he feels it is right and good for him to come back," continued Mrs. Phipps, her eyes turned upward, "he will come. He has left his comfortable home just before my eyes, and I will not forget. "

Mr Smithson, coughed a short, dry cough, meant to bring disbelief.

"I will not do to this house until he comes back," Ms. Phipps said. "I expect he would want to have a voice. He always used to admire it and how comfortable it is to say. Well, well, we never know what lies ahead."

Mr. Smithson reiterated the contents of the interview to Mr Clarkson by letter and in the lengthy correspondence that followed kept him posted as to the movements of Mrs. Phipps. Because of warnings and entreaties they kept the groom-elect in London for three months. By this time Little Molton started talking.

"They begin to see the country," said Mr. Smithson, on the evening of the return of his friend, "and if you shut up and do what I tell you that they will begin to see already. As I said before, she can not name until the day you ask her. "

Mr. Clarkson has agreed, and the next morning when he called Mrs. Phipps at her request, his manner was so far that they attributed to ill health following business worries and the atmosphere of London. In the front room Mr. Digson, a small builder and contractor, was engaged in money laundering.

"I thought we might as well get on with it," Ms. Phipps said, "there's only one way of doing whites, and the room has to be done to Mr. Digson tomorrow will bring some papers, and. If you around comes, could you help me choose. "

Mr. Clarkson hesitated. "Why not choose 'em yourself?" he said finally.

"Just what I told her," said Mr. Digson, stroking his black beard. "What you then you will be sure to please him, I say, and if not it should."

Mr. Clarkson began. "Maybe you can help her choose," he said sharply.

Mr. Digson came from his perch. "Just what I said," he replied. "If Mrs. Phipps will let me advise her, I make this house so they did not know before I've done with her."

"Mr. Digson has been very kind," Ms. Phipps said, reproachfully.

"Not at all, ma'am," the builder said, softly. "All I can do to make you happy or comfortable will be a pleasure for me."

Mr. Clarkson started again, a strange idea and sent the blood dancing. Digson was a widower, Mrs. Phipps was a widow. Could anything be more appropriate or desirable?

"Better let him choose," he said. "After all, he would be a good judge."

Mrs. Phipps, after a weak protest, offered no resistance, and Mr. Digson, smiling broadly, mounted perch again.

Mr. Clarkson was the first idea to consult Mr. Smith, then he decided to wait for the events. The idea was great to start, but when did things take a turn satisfactory, he could not help because it would not be due to efforts on the part of Mr. Smithson, and he would no longer under a testamentary obligations enterprising man.

By the end of one week, he was jubilant. A child could have told Mr. Digson intentions - and Mrs. Phipps was anything but a child. Mr Clarkson admitted cheerfully that Mr. Digson was a younger and better looking man than himself - a more suitable match in every way. And, as far as he could judge, seemed to think Mrs. Phipps. In any case, they no longer have the faintest allusion to a draw between them. He left her one day painting a door, while the attentive Digson the brush guide, and went home smiling.

"Morning!" said a voice behind him.

"Tomorrow, Bignell," said Mr. Clarkson.

"When - when is it to be?" asked his friend, walking beside him.

Mr. Clarkson frowned. "When is what to be?" he asked, uncomfortable.

Mr Bignell lowered his voice. "You'll lose it if you're not careful," he said. "Mark my words. Can not you see Digson's game?"

Mr. Clarkson shrugged.

"He is after her money," said the other, with a cautious glance around.

"Money?" said the other, with a surprised smile. "Why does she have any. "

"Oh, okay," said Mr Bignell.. "You know the best course I just gave you the tip, but if you know better - why, there is nothing to be said she will ride in her carriage and a pair In six months, anyhow, the richest woman. Little Molton. "

Mr. Clarkson stopped short and looked at him in confusion.

"Digson was a bit sprung one night and told me," said Mr Bignell. "They do not know it yourself - uncle on the side of her mother in America, they would know at any time .."

"But - but how Digson know?" asked the surprised Mr. Clarkson.

"He would not tell me," was the reply. "But it's good enough for him. What do you think he after? Her? And mind, not, let a soul, that I told you."

He walked on, leaving Mr. Clarkson standing in a dazed state in the middle of the foot-path. Recovering by an effort, he walked slowly away, and after sneaking in some time in an aimless fashion, made his way back to the house of Mrs. Phipps's.

He arrived one hour later a man concerned with the date of permanent marriage. With jaunty steps he walked around and put the banns, and then, with the air of a man who has a successful stroke of business, went home.

Little Molton is a small town and news travels fast, but it did not travel faster than Mr Smithson once he had heard. He burst into the room of Mr. Clarkson as the proverbial hurricane, and gasping for breath, leaning against the table and pointed an incriminating finger at him.

"You have walked," said Mr. Clarkson, uncomfortable.

"What - what - what do you - mean?" gasped Mr. Smithson. "After all my trouble After our Bargain -.."

"I changed my mind," said Mr. Clarkson, with dignity.

"Pah!" said another.

"Just in time," said Mr. Clarkson, speaking quickly. "Just one day and I guess I should ha 'been too late It took me quite close to one hour to talk to her about her saying that I have neglected, and all that stuff, .. Said she began to think I'm talking to her. As hard a job as I ever in my life. "

"But you did not want," said the astonished Mr. Smithson. "You told me so."

"You misunderstood me," said Mr. Clarkson, cough. "You jump to conclusions."

Mr. Smithson sat staring at him. "I heard," he said finally, trying ... "I heard that was her attentions Digson pay."

Mr. Clarkson spoke without thinking. "Ha, it was only after her money," he said, gravely. "Good heavens! What's going on?"

Mr Smithson, who was at his feet, made no reply, but stood for some time incapable of speech.

"What - is - a -?" Repeated Mr. Clarkson. "Are not you well?"

Mr. Smithson faltered a bit, and slowly sank back into his chair again.

"Room too hot," said his astonished host.

Mr Smithson, stared straight ahead, nodded.

"As I said," said Mr. Clarkson, in the low tones of confidence, "Digson was after her money. Of course, her money is no difference to me, though, I might be able to do anything. For It's friends like you in America by an uncle on her Mother's - "

Mr. Smithson was a strange groaning sound and and snatching his hat from the table, he clapped on his head and made for the door. Mr. Clarkson hit his arms around him and dragged him back by main force.

"What have you got to like that?" he asked. "What do you mean it?"

"Fancy!" Mr Smithson said with intense bitterness. "I thought Digson was the biggest fool in the place, and I think I made a mistake. So do you. Good night made."

He opened the door and stormed outside. Mr. Clarkson, with a strange sinking at his heart, saw him on the road.



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Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:10 am

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nice moral



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