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and took her head between her hands and tried to think what it meant. Could it be true? Instead of the heiress, in a good position, who could go abroad or anywhere, and do anything she liked, was it possible that she was only a penniless single woman with nobody to look to, and nothing to live on? Such an extraordinary incomprehensible revolution might well make any one feel giddy. The solid house and the comfortable room, and her own sober brain, which was not in the way of being put off its balance, seemed to turn round and round as she looked into the fire. Lucilla was not one to throw the blame upon her father, as Mrs John had done. On the contrary she was sorry, profoundly sorry for him, and made such a picture to herself of what his feelings must have been, when he went into his room that night and knew that all his hard-earned fortune was gone, that it made her weep the deepest tears for him that she had yet shed. "Poor papa!" she said to herself; and as she was not much given to employing her imagination in this way, and realising the feeling of others, the effect was all the greater now. If he had but told her, and put off a share of the burden from his own shoulders on to hers who could have borne it! but the Doctor had never done justice to Lucilla's qualities. This, amid her general sense of confusion and dizziness and insecurity, was the only clear thought that struck Miss Marjoribanks; and that it was very cold and must be freezing outside; and how did the poor people manage who had not all her present advantages? She tried to put away this revelation from her, as she had said to aunt Jemima, and keep it for a little at arm's length, and get a night's rest in the mean time, and so be able to bring a clear head to the contemplation of it to-morrow, which was the most judicious thing to do. But when the mind has been stimulated by such a shock, Solomon himself, one would suppose, could scarcely, however clearly he might perceive what was best, take the judicious passive way. When Lucilla got up from where she was crouching before the fire, she felt so giddy that she could scarcely stand. Her head was all queer, as she had said, and she had a singing in her ears. She herself seemed to have changed along with her position. An hour or two before, she could have answered for her own steadiness and self-possession in almost any circumstances, but now the blood seemed to be running a race in her veins, and the strangest noises hummed in her ears. She felt ashamed of her weakness, but she could not help it; and then she was weak with grief and excitement and comparative fasting, which told for something, probably, in her inability to bear so unlooked-for a blow.
But Miss Marjoribanks thought it was best to go down to the drawing-room for tea, as she had said. To see everything just as it had been, utterly indifferent and unconscious of what had happened, made her cry, and relieved her giddiness by reviving her grief; and then the next minute a bewildering wonder seized her as to what would become of this drawing-room, the scene of her triumphs—who would live in it, and whom the things would go to—which made her sick, and brought back the singing in her ears. But on the whole she took tea very quietly with aunt Jemima, who kept breaking into continual snatches of lamentation, but was always checked by Lucilla's composed looks. If she had not heard this extraordinary news, which made the world turn round with her, Miss Marjoribanks would have felt that soft hush of exhaustion and grief subdued which, when the grief is not too urgent, comes after all is over; and even now she felt a certain comfort in the warm firelight and the change out of her own room—where she had been living shut up, with the blinds down, and the black dresses everywhere about, for so many dreary days.
John Brown, who had charge of Dr Marjoribanks's affairs, came next day and explained everything to Lucilla. The lawyer had had one short interview with his client after the news came, and Dr Marjoribanks had borne it like a man. His face had changed a little, and he had sat down, which he was not in the habit of doing, and drawn a kind of shivering long breath; and then he had said, "Poor Lucilla!" to himself. This was all Mr Brown could say about the effect the shock had on the Doctor. And there was something in this very scanty information which gave Lucilla a new pang of sorrow and consolation. "And he patted me on the shoulder that last night," she said, with tender tears; and felt she had never loved her father so well in all her life—which is one of the sweeter uses of death which many must have experienced, but which belonged to a more exquisite and penetrating kind of emotion than was common to Lucilla.
"I thought he looked a little broken when he went out," said Mr Brown, "but full of pluck and spirit, as he always was. 'I am making a good deal of money, and I may live long enough to lay by a little still/ were the last words he said to me. I remember he put a kind of emphasis on the may. Perhaps he knew he was not so strong as he looked. He was a good man, Miss Marjoribanks, and there is nobody that has not some kind thing to tell of him," said the lawyer, with a certain moisture in his eyes; for there was nobody in Carlingford who did not miss the old Doctor, and John Brown was very tender-hearted in his way.
"But nobody can know what a good father he was," said Lucilla, with a sob; and she meant it with all her heart, thinking chiefly of his hand on her shoulder that last night, and of the " Poor Lucilla!" in John Brown's office; though, after all, perhaps, it was not chiefly as a tender father that Dr Marjoribanks shone, though he gave his daughter all she wanted or asked for. Her grief was so true, and so little tinctured by any of that indignation over the unexpected loss, which aunt Jemima had not been able to conceal, that John Brown was quite touched, and felt his heart warm to Lucilla. He explained it all very fully to her when she was composed enough to understand him; and as he went through all the details the giddiness came back, and once more Miss Marjoribanks felt the world running round, and heard his statement through the noises in her ears. All this settled down, however, into a certain distinctness as John Brown, who was very clearheaded and good at making a concise statement, went on; and gradually the gyrations became slower and slower, and the great universe became solid once more, and held to its moorings under Lucilla's feet, and she ceased to hear that supernatural hum and buzz. The vague shadows of chaos and ruin dispersed, and through them she saw once more the real aspect of things. She was not quite penniless. There was the house, which was a very good house, and some little corners and scraps of money in the funds, which were Lucilla's very own, and could not be lost; and last of all there was