Contributed by Franklin Blake
In the spring of the year eighteen hundred and forty-nine I was wandering in the
East, and had then recently altered the travelling plans which I had laid out some
months before, and which I had communicated to my lawyer and my banker in
This change made it necessary for me to send one of my servants to obtain my
letters and remittances from the English consul in a certain city, which was no
longer included as one of my resting-places in my new travelling scheme. The
man was to join me again at an appointed place and time. An accident, for which
he was not responsible, delayed him on his errand. For a week I and my people
waited, encamped on the borders of a desert. At the end of that time the missing
man made his appearance, with the money and the letters, at the entrance of my
"I am afraid I bring you bad news, sir," he said, and pointed to one of the letters,
which had a mourning border round it, and the address on which was in the
handwriting of Mr. Bruff.
I know nothing, in a case of this kind, so unendurable as suspense. The letter
with the mourning border was the letter that I opened first.
It informed me that my father was dead, and that I was heir to his great fortune.
The wealth which had thus fallen into my hands brought its responsibilities with it,
and Mr. Bruff entreated me to lose no time in returning to England.
By daybreak the next morning, I was on my way back to my own country.
The picture presented of me, by my old friend Betteredge, at the time of my
departure from England, is (as I think) a little overdrawn. He has, in his own
quaint way, interpreted seriously one of his young mistress's many satirical
references to my foreign education; and has persuaded himself that he actually
saw those French, German, and Italian sides to my character, which my lively
cousin only professed to discover in jest, and which never had any real
existence, except in our good Betteredge's own brain. But, barring this drawback,
I am bound to own that he has stated no more than the truth in representing me
as wounded to the heart by Rachel's treatment, and as leaving England in the
first keenness of suffering caused by the bitterest disappointment of my life.
I went abroad, resolved--if change and absence could help me--to forget her. It
is, I am persuaded, no true view of human nature which denies that change and
absence DO help a man under these circumstances; they force his attention
away from the exclusive contemplation of his own sorrow. I never forgot her; but
the pang of remembrance lost its worst bitterness, little by little, as time, distance,
and novelty interposed themselves more and more effectually between Rachel