My Lady's Money by Wilkie Collins

My Lady's Money

byWilkie Collins

Kobo ebook | July 7, 2013

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OLD Lady Lydiard sat meditating by the fireside, with three letters

lying open on her lap.

 

Time had discolored the paper, and had turned the ink to a brownish hue.

The letters were all addressed to the same person--"THE RT. HON. LORD

LYDIARD"--and were all signed in the same way--"Your affectionate

cousin, James Tollmidge." Judged by these specimens of his

correspondence, Mr. Tollmidge must have possessed one great merit as a

letter-writer--the merit of brevity. He will weary nobody's patience,

if he is allowed to have a hearing. Let him, therefore, be permitted, in

his own high-flown way, to speak for himself.

 

_First Letter._--"My statement, as your Lordship requests, shall be

short and to the point. I was doing very well as a portrait-painter

in the country; and I had a wife and children to consider. Under

the circumstances, if I had been left to decide for myself, I should

certainly have waited until I had saved a little money before I ventured

on the serious expense of taking a house and studio at the west end of

London. Your Lordship, I positively declare, encouraged me to try the

experiment without waiting. And here I am, unknown and unemployed, a

helpless artist lost in London--with a sick wife and hungry children,

and bankruptcy staring me in the face. On whose shoulders does this

dreadful responsibility rest? On your Lordship's!"

 

_Second Letter._--"After a week's delay, you favor me, my Lord, with a

curt reply. I can be equally curt on my side. I indignantly deny that

I or my wife ever presumed to see your Lordship's name as a means

of recommendation to sitters without your permission. Some enemy has

slandered us. I claim as my right to know the name of that enemy."

 

_Third (and last) Letter._--"Another week has passed--and not a word

of answer has reached me from your Lordship. It matters little. I have

employed the interval in making inquiries, and I have at last discovered

the hostile influence which has estranged you from me. I have been, it

seems, so unfortunate as to offend Lady Lydiard (how, I cannot imagine);

and the all-powerful influence of this noble lady is now used against

the struggling artist who is united to you by the sacred ties of

kindred. Be it so. I can fight my way upwards, my Lord, as other men

have done before me. A day may yet come when the throng of carriages

waiting at the door of the fashionable portrait-painter will include her

Ladyship's vehicle, and bring me the tardy expression of her Ladyship's

regret. I refer you, my Lord Lydiard, to that day!"

 

Having read Mr. Tollmidge's formidable assertions relating to herself

for the second time, Lady Lydiard's meditations came to an abrupt end.

She rose, took the letters in both hands to tear them up, hesitated, and

threw them back in the cabinet drawer in which she had discovered them,

among other papers that had not been arranged since Lord Lydiard's

death.

 

"The idiot!" said her Ladyship, thinking of Mr. Tollmidge, "I never even

heard of him, in my husband's lifetime; I never even knew that he was

really related to Lord Lydiard, till I found his letters. What is to be

done next?"

 

She looked, as she put that question to herself, at an open newspaper

thrown on the table, which announced the death of "that accomplished

artist Mr. Tollmidge, related, it is said, to the late well-known

connoisseur, Lord Lydiard." In the next sentence the writer of the

obituary notice deplored the destitute condition of Mrs. Tollmidge and

her children, "thrown helpless on the mercy of the world." Lady Lydiard

stood by the table with her eyes on those lines, and saw but too plainly

the direction in which they pointed--the direction of her check-book.

Title:My Lady's MoneyFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:July 7, 2013Publisher:WDS PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN:9990005595438

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