But, when they were gone, he recurred to the difficulty of his position. Director of the "Gosshawk," and father to a young lady who had a claim of five thousand pounds on it, and that claim debatable, though, to his own mind, no longer doubtful.
Now Mr. Coventry had a great advantage over Mr. Carden here: he had studied this very situation profoundly for several hours, and at last had seen how much might be done with it.
He began by artfully complimenting Mr. Carden on his delicacy, but said Miss Carden must not be a loser by it. "Convince her, on other grounds, that the man is dead; encourage her to reward my devotion with her hand, and I will relieve you of everything disagreeable. Let us settle on Miss Carden, for her separate use, the five thousand pounds, and anything else derivable from Mr. Little's estate; but we must also settle my farm of Hindhope: for it shall never be said she took as much from that man as she did from me. Well, in due course I apply to the 'Gosshawk' for my wife's money. I am not bound to tell your Company it is not mine but hers; that is between you and me. But you really ought to write to London at once and withdraw the charge of fraud; you owe that piece of justice to Miss Carden, and to the memory of the deceased."
"That is true; and it will pave the way for the demand you propose to make on Mrs. Coventry's behalf. Well, you really are a true friend, as well as a true lover."
In short, he went back to Hillsborough resolved to marry his daughter to Coventry as soon as possible. Still, following that gentleman's instructions, he withheld from Grace that Little had made a will in her favor. He knew her to be quite capable of refusing to touch a farthing of it, or to act as executrix. But he told her the workmen had identified the remains, and that other circumstances had also convinced him he had been unjust to a deceased person, which he regretted.
When her father thus retracted his own words, away went Grace's last faint hope that Henry lived; and now she must die for him, or live for others.
She thought of Jael Dance, and chose the latter.
Another burst or two of agony, and then her great aim and study appeared to be to forget herself altogether. She was full of attention for her father, and, whenever Mr. Coventry came, she labored to reward him with kind words, and even with smiles; but they were sad ones.