We had not sat here many minutes, when Mrs. Markleham, who usually contrived to be in a fuss about something, came bustling in, with her newspaper in her hand, and said, out of breath, 'My goodness gracious, Annie, why didn't you tell me there was someone in the Study!'
'My dear mama,' she quietly returned, 'how could I know that you desired the information?'
'Desired the information!' said Mrs. Markleham, sinking on the sofa. 'I never had such a turn in all my life!'
'Have you been to the Study, then, mama?' asked Annie.
'BEEN to the Study, my dear!' she returned emphatically. 'Indeed I have! I came upon the amiable creature - if you'll imagine my feelings, Miss Trotwood and David - in the act of making his will.'
Her daughter looked round from the window quickly.
'In the act, my dear Annie,' repeated Mrs. Markleham, spreading the newspaper on her lap like a table-cloth, and patting her hands upon it, 'of making his last Will and Testament. The foresight and affection of the dear! I must tell you how it was. I really must, in justice to the darling - for he is nothing less! - tell you how it was. Perhaps you know, Miss Trotwood, that there is never a candle lighted in this house, until one's eyes are literally falling out of one's head with being stretched to read the paper. And that there is not a chair in this house, in which a paper can be what I call, read, except one in the Study. This took me to the Study, where I saw a light. I opened the door. In company with the dear Doctor were two professional people, evidently connected with the law, and they were all three standing at the table: the darling Doctor pen in hand. "This simply expresses then," said the Doctor - Annie, my love, attend to the very words - "this simply expresses then, gentlemen, the confidence I have in Mrs. Strong, and gives her all unconditionally?" One of the professional people replied, "And gives her all unconditionally." Upon that, with the natural feelings of a mother, I said, "Good God, I beg your pardon!" fell over the door-step, and came away through the little back passage where the pantry is.'
Mrs. Strong opened the window, and went out into the verandah, where she stood leaning against a pillar.