Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 13

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When the reading was finished, the old man dozed in his chair for half an hour. He would not go up to bed before the enjoyment of that luxury. He was daily implored to do so, because that sleep in the chair interfered so fatally with his chance of sleeping in bed. But sleep in his chair he would and did. Then he woke, and after a fit of coughing, was induced, with much ill-humour, to go up to his room. Kate had never seen him so weak. He was hardly able, even with her assistance and that of the old servant, to get up the broad stairs. But there was still some power left to him for violence of language after he got to his room, and he rated Kate and the old woman loudly, because his slippers were not in the proper place. "Grandfather," said Kate, "would you like me to stay in the room with you to-night?" He rated her again for this proposition, and then, with assistance from the nurse, he was gotten into bed and was left alone.

After that Kate went to her own room and wrote her letters. The first she wrote was to her aunt Greenow. That was easily enough written. To Mrs Greenow it was not necessary that she should say anything about money. She simply stated her belief that her grandfather's last day was near at hand, and begged her aunt to come and pay a last visit to the old man. "It will be a great comfort to me in my distress," she said; "and it will be a satisfaction to you to have seen your father again." She knew that her aunt would come, and that task was soon done.

But her letter to her brother was much more difficult. What should she tell him, and what should she not tell him? She began by describing her grandfather's state, and by saying to him, as she had done to Mrs Greenow, that she believed the old man's hours were well-nigh come to a close. She told him that she had asked her aunt to come to her; "not," she said, "that I think her coming will be of material service, but I feel the loneliness of the house will be too much for me at such a time. I must leave it for you to decide," she said, "whether you had better be here. If anything should happen,"—people when writing such letters are always afraid to speak of death by its proper name,—"I will send you a message, and no doubt you would come at once." Then came the question of the will. Had it not occurred to her that her own interests were involved she would have said nothing on the subject; but she feared her brother,—feared even his misconstruction of her motives, even though she was willing to sacrifice so much on his behalf,—and therefore she resolved to tell him all that she knew. He might turn upon her hereafter if she did not do so, and accuse her of a silence which had been prejudicial to him.

So she told it all, and the letter became long in the telling. "I write with a heavy heart," she said, "because I know it will be a great blow to you. He gave me to understand that in this will he left everything away from you. I cannot declare that he said so directly. Indeed I cannot remember his words; but that was the impression he left on me. The day before he had asked me what I should do if he gave me the estate; but of course I treated that as a joke. I have no idea what he put into his will. I have not even attempted to guess. But now I have told you all that I know." The letter was a very long one, and was not finished till late; but when it was completed she had the two taken out into the kitchen, as the boy was to start with them before daylight.

Early on the next morning she crept silently into her grandfather's room, as was her habit; but he was apparently sleeping, and then she crept back again. The old servant told her that the Squire had been awake at four, and at five, and at six, and had called for her. Then he had seemed to go to sleep. Four or five times in the course of the morning Kate went into the room, but her grandfather did not notice her. At last she feared he might already have passed away, and she put her hand upon his shoulder, and down his arm. He then gently touched her hand with his, showing her plainly that he was not only alive, but conscious. She then offered him food,—the thin porridge,—which he was wont to take, and the medicine. She offered him some wine too, but he would take nothing.

At twelve o'clock a letter was brought to her, which had come by the post. She saw that it was from Alice, and opening it found that it was very long. At that moment she could not read it, but she saw words in it that made her wish to know its contents as quickly as possible. But she could not leave her grandfather then. At two o'clock the doctor came to him, and remained there till the dusk of the evening had commenced. At eight o'clock the old man was dead.