Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

81. CHAPTER LXXXI (continued)

As the time fixed upon by his aunt drew nearer I prepared him more and more for what was coming, and at last, on his twenty-eighth birthday, I was able to tell him all and to show him the letter signed by his aunt upon her death-bed to the effect that I was to hold the money in trust for him. His birthday happened that year (1863) to be on a Sunday, but on the following day I transferred his shares into his own name, and presented him with the account books which he had been keeping for the last year and a half.

In spite of all that I had done to prepare him, it was a long while before I could get him actually to believe that the money was his own. He did not say much--no more did I, for I am not sure that I did not feel as much moved at having brought my long trusteeship to a satisfactory conclusion as Ernest did at finding himself owner of more than 70,000 pounds. When he did speak it was to jerk out a sentence or two of reflection at a time. "If I were rendering this moment in music," he said, "I should allow myself free use of the augmented sixth." A little later I remember his saying with a laugh that had something of a family likeness to his aunt's: "It is not the pleasure it causes me which I enjoy so, it is the pain it will cause to all my friends except yourself and Towneley."

I said: "You cannot tell your father and mother--it would drive them mad."

"No, no, no," said he, "it would be too cruel; it would be like Isaac offering up Abraham and no thicket with a ram in it near at hand. Besides why should I? We have cut each other these four years."

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