The justice room, in which Sir Rupert gave audience to constables and administered the law when urgently required, was also his library, study, and place of business. It was a cheerless, formal, barely-furnished room, which took, as rooms usually do, the colour and temper of its occupant, and was, like him, cold and uncompromising.
Sir Rupert seated 佛山夜生活哪里好玩 himself at his official table, in his high magisterial chair, and sorting his letters carefully,
selected that which had so evidently disturbed him, read and re-read it several times.
Then Letitia joined him—
‘Sit down please. What I have to say will take some time.’ He paused—
‘A letter has reached me this morning from Lady Farrington’s—the dowager’s—lawyer. It may be all a hoax; let us hope that it is; but I confess I am greatly disturbed by what it says.’
Letitia looked at him, keenly interrogative, but said nothing.
‘You remember, no doubt, the circumstances of the old dowager’s craze? It was no secret in the family. She pretended that a grandchild of hers was in existence, who was the rightful heir to the title and estates; all that you knew, of course?’
‘I had heard the absurd story. Idiotic old woman! I cannot understand why you ever let her out,’ 佛山桑拿会所全套一龙 said Letitia, as though her father had full powers to commit to durance indefinite every individual likely to injure the Farrington family or whose brain was touched, the two being synonymous terms.
‘I did not wish to let her out, I assure you. It was done in spite of me, and by the person who is, I believe, at the bottom of the newest attempt to defraud us of our rights.’
‘Are they threatened?—by whom?’ Letitia was like a lioness who, with her whelps, was about to be robbed of her prey.
‘The old lady, you must know, did not fabricate her story without something to go upon. There was some semblance of probability. She produced the rightful heir—not quite at the right time, perhaps, but there he was.’
‘Did you meet him?’
‘I did; so did you; you knew him, well.’
‘I, father? Preposterous; where, pray, did we meet?’
‘He served as a private in the Duke’s Own. His name—the name he went by, at least—was Larkins.佛山夜生活luntan ’
‘Larkins! the sergeant? Poor Ernest’s champion? Never!’
‘This Mr. Larkins whom I received here at your mother’s express desire, whom I treated with the utmost consideration, proved a snake in the grass. He first thwarted me with regard to old Lady Farrington’s release from confinement; then, with her, concocted a scheme of which I have only to-day learnt the real intent. This letter from the lawyers is nothing more or less than a notice to quit—a regular notice of ejectment, in favour of Herbert Farrington, son of Herbert of the same name, and grandson of the last baronet.’
‘It’s a swindle, of course, from beginning to end; a trumped-up story. You won’t submit, father, I trust, to such a barefaced imposition?’
Letitia was in arms at once; for the threatened action struck at her more, perhaps, than any one else.
‘I shall defend myself and you, you may depend upon it. I shall not submit tamely to any attempt at extortion. It is really life and death to me.’
‘Is it not the same to me, and to my children—to my Rupert, who some day will be your heir? Are we to be robbed with impunity? Certainly not.’
‘They have not told me much of their case, of course; a mere outline, nothing more. But it is evidently a strong one. They have discovered, so they say, old Herbert Farrington’s marriage—if it’s a bona fide discovery we are bound to accept it, after due verification, at least.’
‘What do they pretend?’
‘That the real Herbert Farrington, when serving in the 12th Lancers as Corporal Smith, married Ann Orde, and had issue.’
‘This Larkins? Sergeant Larkins of the Duke’s Own? I’ll never believe it; not if I live to a hundred. But, father, what do you mean to do? You will resist, surely; for my sake—for that of my children, you will not give in?’
‘If we could effect a compromise—’
‘Never!’ cried Letitia. ‘Never, with my consent. I protest against any compromise at all.’
‘It might be wise.’
Was it possible that Sir Rupert had reasons for dreading a law-suit? No one knew more about the case than himself. Was he in possession of any 佛山桑拿体验 information—damaging facts—which he had so far kept secret, but which would be certain to come out on a trial?
‘But a long law-suit! It would eat up the whole estate. No doubt this pretender, this Mr. Larkins, would gladly come to terms. A few thousands paid on the nail would silence him for good.’
‘Don’t, father; don’t dream of making such concessions,’ Letitia almost shrieked. The idea of parting thus coolly with thousands out of the future heritage of her children! ‘No, no; better to fight it out, to resist to the bitter end.’
‘I think I must consult your mother and Conrad.’
‘What have they to say to it? I am the person principally concerned—I and mine—we shall be the greatest sufferers.’
‘Letitia,’ said her father very gravely to her, ‘it was not only to speak to you concerning this letter that I asked you to come 佛山桑拿按摩qqhere; it was to break some worse news.’
‘Us all, but more particularly you.’
‘Go on; quick, father.’
‘Till very lately I had thought that after me
there would be an end of the Farringtons. You would be sole heiress to the estates, to which your children would succeed, but the title would become extinct, and the name, unless specially assumed. Within the last month or two I have discovered that I have a lawful male heir, who must inevitably come between you in the entail. Ernest, poor Ernest, left a son.’