List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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was quite recent--and then leaned back in her chair and set herself
deliberately to read it.

The document was long and full of repetitions and technicalities, but the
purport of it was plain.  As she read on she was at first astonished,
then she was excited to trembling, and felt herself pale and faint; but
when she had finished and fully comprehended it her pretty face was
distorted with rage.  The great bulk of the property was not for her.
She sprang up and paced the floor.  She came back and took up the
document with a motion of tearing it in pieces.  No--it would be better
to burn it.  Of course there must be another will deposited in the safe.
Henderson had told her so.  It was drawn up shortly after their marriage.
It could not be worse for her than this.  She lighted the gas-jet by the
fireplace, and held the paper in her hand.  Then a thought struck her.
What if somebody knew of this will, and its execution could be proved!
She looked again at the end.  It was signed and sealed.  There were the
names of two witnesses.  One was the name of their late butler, who had
been long in Henderson's service, and who had died less than a month ago.
The other name was Thomas Mavick.  Evidently the will had been signed
recently, on some occasion when Mavick was in the house.  And Henderson's
lawyer probably knew it also!

She folded the document carefully, put it back in the pigeon-hole, locked
the desk, and rang the bell for her carriage.  She was ready when the
carriage came to the door, and told the coachman to drive to the office
of Mr. Sage in Nassau Street.  Mr. Sage had been for many years
Henderson's most confidential lawyer.

He received Carmen in his private office, with the subdued respect due to
her grief and the sudden tragedy that had overtaken her.  He was a man
well along in years, a small man, neat in his dress, a little formal and
precise in his manner, with a smoothly shaven face and gray eyes, keen,
but not unkindly in expression.  He had the reputation, which he
deserved, for great ability and integrity.  After the first salutations
and words of condolence were spoken, Carmen said, "I have come to consult
you, Mr. Sage, about my husband's affairs."

"I am quite at your service, madam."

"I wanted to see you before I went to the office with the keys of his

"Perhaps," said Mr. Sage, "I could spare you that trouble."

"Oh no; his secretary thought I had better come myself, if I could."

"Very well," said Mr. Sage.

Carmen hesitated a moment, and then said, in an inquiring tone,
"I suppose the first thing is the will.  He told me long ago that his
will was made.  I suppose it is in the safe.  Didn't you draw it, Mr.

"Oh yes," the lawyer replied, leaning back in his chair, "I drew that;
a long time ago; shortly after your marriage.  And about a year ago I
drew another one.  Did he ever speak of that?"

"No," Carmen replied, with a steady voice, but trembling inwardly at her
narrow escape.

"I wonder," continued Mr. Sage, "if it was ever executed?  He took it,
and said he would think it over."

"Executed?" queried Carmen, looking up.  "How do you mean, before a

"Oh, no; signed and witnessed.  It is very simple.  The law requires two
witnesses; the testator and the witnesses must declare that they sign in
the presence of each other.  The witnesses prove the will, or, if they
are dead, their signatures can be proved.  I was one of the witnesses of
the first will, and a clerk of Henderson's, who is still in his office,
was the other."

"The last one is probably in the safe if it was executed."

"Probably," the lawyer assented.  "If not, you'd better look for it in
the house."

"Of course.  Whether it exists or not, I want to carry out my husband's
intention," Carmen said, sweetly.  "Have you any memorandum of it?"

"I think so, somewhere, but the leading provisions are in my mind.  It
would astonish the public."

"Why?" asked Carmen.

"Well, the property was greater than any of us supposed, and--perhaps I
ought not to speak to you of this now, Mrs. Henderson."

"I think I have a right to know what my husband's last wishes were,"
Carmen answered, firmly.

"Well, he had a great scheme.  The greater part of his property after the
large legacies--"  The lawyer saw that Carmen looked pale, and he
hesitated a moment, and then said, in a cheery manner: "Oh, I assure you,
madam, that this will gave you a great fortune; all the establishment,
and a very great fortune.  But the residue was in trust for the building
and endowment of an Industrial School on the East Side, with a great
library and a reading-room, all to be free.  It was a great scheme, and
carefully worked out."

"I am so glad to know this," said Carmen.  "Was there anything else?"

"Only some legacies."  And Mr. Sage went on, trying to recall details
that his attentive listener already knew.  There were legacies to some of
his relatives in New Hampshire, and there was a fund, quite a handsome
fund, for the poor of the city, called the "Margaret Fund."  And there
was something also for a relative of the late Mrs. Henderson.

Carmen again expressed her desire to carry out her husband's wishes in
everything, and Mr. Sage was much impressed by her sweet manner.  When
she had found out all that he knew or remembered of the new will, and
arose to go, Mr. Sage said he would accompany her to the office.  And
Carmen gratefully accepted his escort, saying that she had wished to ask
him to go with her, but that she feared to take up so much of his time.

At the office the first will was found, but no other.  The lawyer glanced
through it, and then handed it to Mrs. Henderson, with the remark, "It
leaves you, madam, pretty much everything of which he died possessed."
Carmen put it aside.  She did not care to read it now.  She would go home
and search for the other one.

"If no other is found," said Mr. Sage, in bidding her good-morning,"
this one ought to be proved tomorrow.  I may tell you that you and Mr.
Hollowell are named as executors."

On her way home Carmen stopped at a telegraph station, and sent a message
to Mavick, in Washington, to take an afternoon train and come to New

When Carmen reached home she was in a serious but perfectly clear frame
of mind.  The revelation in the last will of Henderson's change of mind
towards her was mortifying to a certain extent.  It was true that his
fortune was much increased since the first will was made, and that it
justified his benevolent scheme.  But he might have consulted her about
it.  If she had argued the matter with her conscience, she would have
told her conscience that she would carry out this new plan in her own way
and time.  She was master of the situation, and saw before her a future
of almost unlimited opportunity and splendor, except for one little
obstacle.  That obstacle was Mr. Mavick.  She believed that she
understood him thoroughly, but she could not take the next step until she
had seen him.  It was true that no one except herself positively knew
that a second will now existed, but she did not know how much he might
choose to remember.

She was very impatient to see Mr. Mavick.  She wandered about the house,
restless and feverish.  Presently it occurred to her that it would be
best to take the will wholly into her own keeping.  She unlocked the
desk, took it out with a trembling hand, but did not open it again.
It was not necessary.  A first reading had burned every item of it into
her brain.  It seemed to be a sort of living thing.  She despised herself
for being so agitated, and for the furtive feeling that overcame her as
she glanced about to be sure that she was alone, and then she ran up
stairs to her room and locked the document in her own writing-desk.

What was that?  Oh, it was only the door-bell.  But who could it be?
Some one from the office, from her lawyer?  She could see nobody.  In two
minutes there was a rap at her door.  It was only the servant with a
despatch.  She took it and opened it without haste.

"Very well, Dobson; no answer.  I expect Mr. Mavick on business at ten.
I am at home to no one else."

At ten o'clock Mr. Mavick came, and was shown into the library, where
Carmen awaited him.

"It was very good of you to come," she said, as she advanced to meet him
and gave him her hand in the natural subdued manner that the
circumstances called for.

"I took the first train after I received your despatch."

"I am sorry to inconvenience you so," she said, after they were seated,
"but you know so much of Mr. Henderson's affairs that your advice will be
needed.  His will is to be proved tomorrow."

"Yes?" said Mavick.

"I went to see--Mr. Sage today, and he went with me to the office.  The
will was in the safe.  I did not read it, but Mr. Sage said that it left
everything to me except a few legacies."


"He said it should be proved tomorrow, unless a later will turned up."

"Was there a later will?"

"That is what he did not know.  He had drawn a new will about a year ago,
but he doubted if it had ever been executed.  Mr. Henderson was
considering it.  He thought he had a memorandum of it somewhere, but he
remembered the principal features of it."

"Was it a great change from the first?" Mavick asked.

"Yes, considerable.  In fact, the greater part of his property, as far as
I could make out, was to go to endow a vast training-school, library, and
reading-room on the East Side.  Of course that would be a fine thing."

"Of course," said Mavick.  "And no such will has been found?"

"I've looked everywhere," replied Carmen, simply; "all over the house.
It should be in that desk if anywhere.  We can look again, but I feel
pretty sure there is no such document there."

She took in her hand the bunch of keys that lay on the table, as if she
were about to rise and unlock the desk.  Then she hesitated, and looked
Mavick full in the face.

"Do you think, Mr. Mavick, that will was ever executed?"

For a moment they looked steadily at each other, and then he said,
deliberately, their eyes squarely meeting, "I do not think it was."

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