1. CHAPTER I
Contributed by FRANKLIN BLAKE
In the spring of the year eighteen hundred and forty-nine
I was wandering in the East, and had then recently altered
the travelling plans which I had laid out some months before,
and which I had communicated to my lawyer and my banker
This change made it necessary for me to send one of my servants to obtain my
letters and remittances from the English consul in a certain city, which was
no longer included as one of my resting-places in my new travelling scheme.
The man was to join me again at an appointed place and time. An accident,
for which he was not responsible, delayed him on his errand. For a week I
and my people waited, encamped on the borders of a desert. At the end of that
time the missing man made his appearance, with the money and the letters,
at the entrance of my tent.
"I am afraid I bring you bad news, sir," he said, and pointed
to one of the letters, which had a mourning border round it,
and the address on which was in the handwriting of Mr. Bruff.
I know nothing, in a case of this kind, so unendurable as suspense.
The letter with the mourning border was the letter that I opened first.
It informed me that my father was dead, and that I was heir
to his great fortune. The wealth which had thus fallen into
my hands brought its responsibilities with it, and Mr. Bruff
entreated me to lose no time in returning to England.
By daybreak the next morning, I was on my way back to my own country.
The picture presented of me, by my old friend Betteredge, at the time
of my departure from England, is (as I think) a little overdrawn.
He has, in his own quaint way, interpreted seriously one of his
young mistress's many satirical references to my foreign education;
and has persuaded himself that he actually saw those French, German,
and Italian sides to my character, which my lively cousin only
professed to discover in jest, and which never had any real existence,
except in our good Betteredge's own brain. But, barring this drawback,
I am bound to own that he has stated no more than the truth
in representing me as wounded to the heart by Rachel's treatment,
and as leaving England in the first keenness of suffering caused by
the bitterest disappointment of my life.