"nothing you do surprises me, jasper," grandmother interrupted his desperate flow of babbling incoherence, "but this time you have gone too far. please be gone from the house in one hour, and do not return, ever."
"but, where - "
"do not return, ever."
45. a declaration
"now, young man, i hope we can proceed with our business - your business, for i am not sure it is any of mine - without further interruption."
"indeed. i will come straight to the point. my name is hartley rogers, and i am the rightful heir of madwood - and the fotherinton estate. "
46. an unexpected event
hardly had the astonishing declaration left the young visitor's mouth,
when grandmother fotherinton had gasped, and fallen backward in her chair.
the young man jumped up and rushed to the chair.
the old woman had fallen over on her right side, mouth agape.
should he call for help?
she was lifeless, insensitive.
quite dead, in fact.
"lord help us!"
hartley rogers - for convenience's sake, dear reader , we will invest the young man with the cognomen he declared to the late grandmother fotherinton - after his initial shock had passed, felt - completely and utterly bewildered.
how could such a thing have happened?
after all his careful planning and preparation?
it just wasn't fair!
what was he to do?
48. the cousin
"considering the low spirits i was in at the prospect of my departure," the mysterious young lady continued her tale to mr barbourforth, "it continues to surprise me that i had the presence of mind to bid the coachman wait until my aunt perused the letter brought by the postman."
"the letter was from a cousin in south america whose existence i had previously been unaware of."
"if you do not mind my asking, " mr barbourforth interrupted, "how was it that you were ignorant of this most fortuitous personage?
everything has converged on this moment, thought garland.
she had felt that something momentous happened.
and she had surmised correctly that grandmother fotherinton - being the spider in the center of the web - was involved.
having made her way down the corridor to grandmother's study, she paused.
50. no surrender
"come, fellow, pull yourself together," hartley rogers counseled himself sternly. "what would nelson have done, in this situation, or sir francis drake? no one ever won a battle by surrendering."
could he simply leave, and leave the body to be found later?
for it might well be sometime later. and no one could then definitely connect his visit with the old woman's demise.
but what did he know of the old woman's habits? the whole accursed family might well be expecting her for something or other at this minute.
no, best to sound the alarm, and let the situation play out.