Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

83. CHAPTER LXXXIII (continued)

Christina saw the change which had come over him--how much firmer and more vigorous both in mind and body he seemed than when she had last seen him. She saw too how well he was dressed, and, like the others, in spite of the return of all her affection for her first-born, was a little alarmed about Theobald's pocket, which she supposed would have to be mulcted for all this magnificence. Perceiving this, Ernest relieved her mind and told her all about his aunt's bequest, and how I had husbanded it, in the presence of his brother and sister--who, however, pretended not to notice, or at any rate to notice as a matter in which they could hardly be expected to take an interest.

His mother kicked a little at first against the money's having gone to him as she said "over his papa's head." "Why, my dear," she said in a deprecating tone, "this is more than ever your papa has had"; but Ernest calmed her by suggesting that if Miss Pontifex had known how large the sum would become she would have left the greater part of it to Theobald. This compromise was accepted by Christina who forthwith, ill as she was, entered with ardour into the new position, and taking it as a fresh point of departure, began spending Ernest's money for him.

I may say in passing that Christina was right in saying that Theobald had never had so much money as his son was now possessed of. In the first place he had not had a fourteen years' minority with no outgoings to prevent the accumulation of the money, and in the second he, like myself and almost everyone else, had suffered somewhat in the 1846 times--not enough to cripple him or even seriously to hurt him, but enough to give him a scare and make him stick to debentures for the rest of his life. It was the fact of his son's being the richer man of the two, and of his being rich so young, which rankled with Theobald even more than the fact of his having money at all. If he had had to wait till he was sixty or sixty-five, and become broken down from long failure in the meantime, why then perhaps he might have been allowed to have whatever sum should suffice to keep him out of the workhouse and pay his death-bed expenses; but that he should come in to 70,000 pounds at eight and twenty, and have no wife and only two children--it was intolerable. Christina was too ill and in too great a hurry to spend the money to care much about such details as the foregoing, and she was naturally much more good-natured than Theobald.

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