WHAT HE LEFT.
BY FRANCES HENSHAW BADEN.
"I know not of the truth, d'ye see,
I tell the tale as 'twas told to me."
Mark Brownson was dying, slowly, but surely, so
the physician told his wife, and advised that if he
had any business to settle, it should not be delayed.
"He is sinking, and even now I see his mind is, at
times, a little clouded. However, I suppose there is nothing
of importance that he should consider," said the
"He has made no will," said Mrs. Brownson,
"Is that necessary? I did not know—"
"I think it is very necessary, doctor, for his children's
welfare. Not that I think it at all likely there can be any
contest about what Mr. Brownson has. Yet to provide
against any future troubles, it would be prudent, I think."
The good doctor assented, but looked much surprised.
And well he might. No one imagined old Mark Brownson
had anything to will. But he was a very eccentric
man; and the economical style of his establishment was
likely one of his notions.
"Are you suffering much pain now, Mark?" asked Mrs.
Brownson, a few moments after, when she was seated at
her husband's bedside.
"Yes, yes; give me my composing draught—the opium—anything
to relieve me," answered the suffering man.
His wife obeyed, and after his groaning and restlessness
had ceased, she said:
"I want to talk to you, Mark. Can you listen now?"
A nodded assent gave her permission to proceed.
"Do you not think it would be as well for you to express
your wishes with regard to the disposition of your stocks
and other effects? You may outlive me, Mark, and this
thing not be necessary, still I think it better to attend
to such business," said Mrs. Brownson, closely watching
the effect her words might have on the sufferer.
She had feared possibly they might shock him severely,
but depending much on the favorable influence of the
opiate, she had ventured on the business she considered so
A look of satisfaction replaced the anxiety of a moment
before. She had no longer cause for fear. Calmly Mark
Brownson heard her suggestion, and said, in a feeble
"What have I to will?"
"Why, dear, you forget. Your long sickness and the
opium—no wonder! There is the stock in the 'Liverpool
Steamship Company,' and that in the 'Australian Mining
Company.' Surely you have not forgotten your large
amount in our State bonds? And how much you have
in 'Fire and Life Insurance stock' I cannot just remember
now. However, by reference to the papers I can tell."
Again she watched her husband's face. It only expressed
a rather puzzled brain, as though he was trying to
"You have such papers? I cannot think," he said.
"Don't try to, dear. It is not necessary. I will just
look over your papers, and make a statement; and when
I read them over to you in presence of the lawyer, you can assent.
You wish an equal division between myself and
our daughters, I know. Is it not so?"
"Yes, yes. You are always right," murmured her husband.
"There, dear, go to sleep now. Some time when you
are easy we will fix this," said Mrs. Brownson.
And the next day, at an hour when she knew her husband's
mind was best prepared, a lawyer was summoned,
and a statement of stocks and bonds to the amount of two
hundred thousand dollars placed before him, and Mark
Brownson expressed his wish to have an equal division
of his effects made between his wife and two children.
The will was made, and duly signed and witnessed by
two of the nearest neighbors and the only domestic, a
worthy woman who had been with Mrs. Brownson for
A few days more, and Mark Brownson had passed from
Many wondered at the very quiet and unostentatious
style of the last services for him; but the widow had said:
"In death it shall be with him as he always preferred
And then when all was over, and the summer months
were coming, Mrs. Brownson sold out the modest little establishment,
and, with her daughters and their faithful
servant, went to board by the seashore, at a very fashionable
resort; but, of course, not to mingle in the gay
festivities of the season, only to recruit her health, which
was very much impared by long attention to her suffering
husband, and to have the girls escape the heat and dust
of the city.
A few days after they were settled in their new abode,
Mrs. Brownson said to her attendant:
"Margaret, you were very much surprised by hearing
Mr. Brownson's will."
"Oh, yes, ma'am, indeed I was."
"Well, Margaret, I do not wish you to mention anything
about it down here. Mr. Brownson, you know,
never let it be known to the world. And so it must be
for the present. I do not wish my daughters to be married
for anything but their own good qualities. They are
good and beautiful enough to marry well, without having
any other inducements for suitors. Now, Margaret, you
know just how I feel, and what I mean?" said the anxious
"Certainly I do! And I feel as much concerned about
my beautiful young ladies as you do, ma'am. Never fear
but I will look out for their interest," answered the worthy
And to do as she said, to the best of her understanding,
Margaret set out for a walk on the beach, with some of
the other servants and their escorts, the waiters from the
hotel. And before the next noon it was well known what
a good chance there was for two young men to win as
beautiful wives as ever were seen, to say nothing of the
other greater attractions.
And very soon the sisters, Maud and May, were objects
of universal observation. Yet it was very difficult to get
an introduction, the young gentlemen all found; for the
widow kept the beautiful girls very much secluded.
Numberless were the delicate attentions paid them, in
the way of bouquets, books, and so on, sent by Margaret;
and several cards to Mrs. Brownson, with the request for
an introduction, accompanied by references—among which
came those of Vernon Wadsworth and Harry Bennett.
The first one Mrs. Brownson knew well by reputation.
He was a young physician of very fine promise, and, being
of one of the best families in the State, she considered him
worthy of her attention. The other, she had heard since
her arrival there, was the possessor of a very fair amount
of worldly goods, the life-long accumulation of an old
miser uncle. So, from the many aspirants, Mrs. Brownson
selected these two to present to her daughters.
Just at this time, Doctor Alton, Mrs. Brownson's friend
and the physician who had attended her husband, arrived
at the sea-shore; and through him, without any more
trouble or waiting the mother's pleasure, young Doctor
Wadsworth obtained an introduction, and presented his
And although both of these young men did their best to
keep back all others by various manoeuvres, many more
became acquainted with the lovely sisters, who soon,
much to their own surprise, became decidedly the belles
of that resort.
Carefully Mrs. Brownson had guarded her secret from
her girls, fearing, perhaps, it would have a prejudicial
effect, changing their sweet, unassuming manner, which
was one of their greatest charms; or, perhaps, for other
motives best known to herself.
Although Doctor Wadsworth and young Bennett very
much feared the approach of other suitors, it was quite
needless, for the girls were best pleased with the first who
had sought them and drawn them forth from their seclusion.
The older one, Maud, a brilliant brunette, received with
undisguised pleasure the devoted attention of Harry Bennett;
while gentle little May, so fair and timid, always
greeted the handsome doctor by a rosy flush suffusing her
beautiful face; and then, from a shy, quick glance from
the eyes, that had drooped at his approach, he would see
the glad light that told how welcome his coming was.
"We must win them, now, doctor; you see how much
they are admired and sought here. What will it be when
they are out of their mourning robes and in the gayeties
of the city? This is our best chance. What say you?"
asked young Bennett, a fortnight after their introduction.
"Say! That the very idea of even losing sight of that
gentle, beautiful May for a day, fills my heart with misgiving
and great anxiety. I tell you, I began this affair
rather in fun—"
"You mean after funds, perhaps!" interrupted Bennett.
A flush suffused Doctor Wadsworth's face for an instant,
and he answered:
"Well, I'll admit that is not at all objectionable; but
really, now that I know May Brownson, I would not be
willing to resign her to another man, even if she had not
a dollar in the world."
There was an expression about Harry Bennett's mouth
that looked as if his lips wanted to say: "I don't believe
you"—only they did not just dare to. Harry Bennett
was as much in love as he could be with any one other
than himself, still he was not going to leap without looking.
So, after learning a little more than he had already
heard from Margaret, he was called, very urgently, to the
city. After an absence of only two days he was back
again, and stated to Doctor Wadsworth his knowledge of
Mark Brownson's possessions. That evening Mrs. Brownson
received proposals for both of her daughters.
She must consider the matter, and consult with her
friends, the prudent mother thought and said to the
This made them each more determined to secure the
"Dear May, plead with your mother for me!" said the
ardent young doctor.
"Mamma will consent after a while," answered the
"After a while! Why not now? I am going away
next month for a long time. I cannot leave you, May.
Would you wish me to?"
May turned pale at the thought, and raised her pleading
eyes to her mother.
It was enough. Doctor Wadsworth had used the surest
weapon. A separation was dreaded by both mother and
daughter, and each for different reasons. And then it
was an easier thing for Harry Bennett to obtain the
mother's consent, to claim his love at the same time.
Mrs. Brownson, after giving her consent, requested a
private interview with her prospective sons-in-law. The
girls were sent from the room, and then Mrs. Brownson
"I have thought possibly, gentlemen, that a very foolish
rumor may have reached your ears respecting the wealth
possessed by my daughters, and that—excuse me, but I
must allude to it—this may in a measure have influenced
your selecting them from the many young girls here—"
"Oh, madam!" both men exclaimed simultaneously.
"If I tell you they have nothing but their pure hearts
and loving natures, will you not be disappointed?"
"No, madam. How can you judge me so?" exclaimed
"I am glad it is so. I would not have you marry my
daughters under false impressions."
"When May is mine, I shall think I have secured the
most valuable fortune any man can have," said the doctor,
with a really honest look in his eyes.
"When Maud is mine, I shall know I have secured all
I would wish," added Harry Bennett, with rather a sly
twinkle in his eyes.
And so it was agreed that they should be united there,
and after a very private wedding leave for an extensive
"The old fox! Is she not a sly one? She thought to
throw us off, I do believe. But I am as bright as she,"
said Harry Bennett, after the interview.
"Really, Bennett, that is not a very respectful way of
speaking of the mother of your promised wife," replied
"Well, no; you are right. But just to think of her
talking so to us!" answered Harry, with an air of injured
The ceremony was over. After an acquaintance of less
than six weeks, Doctor Wadsworth and Harry Bennett
had won their wives.
And while the brides had retired to change their dress
for the travelling-suit, the happy young husbands requested
to speak a moment with their mother-in-law.
"Indeed you must speak; I will not," said Doctor Wadsworth,
in a low tone, as he closed the door, and with Bennett
approached Mrs. Brownson.
After a moment's hesitation, Harry Bennett said:
"Now, Mrs. Brownson, that we have proved our sincerity
and real love for your daughters, there is no reason
for any longer concealment."
"About what, sir?" asked his mother-in-law.
"Come, my dear madam; this is entirely useless. You
have tried and proved us. Now to business."
"Really, Mr. Bennett, I am at a loss to understand you!
Will you please to be explicit?"
"Well, madam, then I must tell you that I am perfectly
well aware that my wife is entitled to the one-third of two
hundred thousand dollars left by her father. Now, my
dear madam, we are going on a very long and expensive
trip, and may need more than I have in ready money.
Now, that is just the whole truth," said Harry, who had
gotten over his slight embarrassment, and then spoke in a
very business sort of manner.
Not so Doctor Wadsworth; he seemed very much mortified,
and looked as if he wished he was away from that
"Mr. Bennett, I spoke to you about this report, and told
you how false it was, did I not?"
"Oh, yes, madam; but you see—"
"You still believe this, even when I again tell you that
neither I nor my daughters have a dollar in the world
beyond the small amount I have now from the sale of my
household effects? I assure you, sir, I speak the truth,"
said Mrs. Brownson, in a tone and manner that would
have enforced belief.
But Harry Bennett said, triumphantly:
"Madam, I have seen Mr. Brownson's will."
"That will, my dear sir, is not worth the paper it is written
on. Mr. Brownson was out of his head, and imagined
he was possessed of that sum in bonds and stock. If
you can find any such possession, no one would welcome
it more gladly than I. You can readily prove the
Harry Bennett gazed bewildered from his mother-in-law
to Doctor Wadsworth, and then said in a low voice, as if
"Caught and caged."
"And I am glad of it," exclaimed the doctor, who was
truly glad of anything to end that very embarrassing interview.
"Come, Bennett, we must arrange our trip to suit
the extent of our purse, and be happy with the prizes we
"Well, madam, I must say that the old gentleman's will
was worth something. For I'll own up now, it helped
very much to secure you one very nice young man for
your son. I'll speak a word for him, although he has
been done up to a very Brown son! I'm ready now, Wadsworth,
and we won't shorten our trip one mile; for I've got
a fortune, thanks to my old uncle. Yes, and another, I'll
have to admit (there she is now), thanks to her father's
Mrs. Brownson could not resist a smile. She had no
misgivings about her children's future happiness. If they
had not already secured their husbands' affection, she
knew they would soon; for who could help loving such