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youwhat he wanted with you.’ ‘Well, what did he want?’ ‘Merely
to tell you that your uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, is dead; that he
has left you all his property, and that you are now rich-merely
that-nothing more.’ ‘I!- rich?’ ‘Yes, you, rich-quite an heiress.’
Silence succeeded.

‘You must prove your identity of course,’ resumed St. John
presently: ‘a step which will offer no difficulties; you can then
enter on immediate possession. Your fortune is vested in the
English funds; Briggs has the will and the necessary documents.’
Here was a new card turned up! It is a fine thing, reader, to be
lifted in a moment from indigence to wealth-a very fine thing; but
not a matter one can comprehend or consequently enjoy, all at
once. And then there are other chances in life far more thrilling and
rapture-giving: this is solid, an affair of the actual world, nothing
ideal about it: all its associations are solid and sober, and its
manifestations are the same. One does not jump, and spring, and
shout hurrah! at hearing one has got a fortune; one begins to
consider responsibilities, and to ponder business; on a base of
steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares, and we contain
ourselves, and brood over our bliss with a solemn brow.

Besides, the words Legacy, Bequest, go side by side with the
words, Death, Funeral. My uncle I had heard was dead-my only
relative; ever since being made aware of his existence, I had
cherished the hope of one day seeing him: now, I never should.
And then this money came only to me: not to me and a rejoicing
family, but to my isolated self. It was a grand boon doubtless; and
independence would be glorious-yes, I felt that-that thought
swelled my heart.

‘You unbend your forehead at last,’ said Mr. Rivers. ‘I thought
Medusa had looked at you, and that you were turning to stone.
Perhaps now you will ask how much you are worth?’ ‘How much
am I worth?’ ‘Oh, a trifle! Nothing of course to speak of-twenty
thousand pounds, I think they say-but what is that?’ ‘Twenty
thousand pounds?’ Here was a new stunner-I had been calculating
on four or five thousand. This news actually took my breath for a
moment: Mr. St. John, whom I had never heard laugh before,
laughed now.

‘Well,’ said he, ‘if you had committed a murder, and I had told you
your crime was discovered, you could scarcely look more aghast.’
‘It is a large sum-don’t you think there is a mistake?’ ‘No mistake
at all.’

‘Perhaps you have read the figures wrong-it may be two
thousand!’ ‘It is written in letters, not figures,- twenty thousand.’ I
again felt rather like an individual of but average gastronomical
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