The Malefactor HTML version

II.16. A Deed Of Gift
Wingrave threw the paper aside with an impatient exclamation. A small notice in an
obscure corner had attracted his attention; the young man, Richardson, had been fished
out of the river half drowned, and in view of his tearful and abject penitence, had been
allowed to go his way by a lenient magistrate. He had been ill, he pleaded, and
disappointed. His former employer, in an Islington emporium, gave him a good character,
and offered to take him back. So that was an end of Mr. Richardson, and the romance of
his days!
A worm like that to have brought him--the strong man, low! Wingrave thought with
sullen anger as he leaned back in his chair with half-closed eyes. Here was an undignified
hiatus, if not a finale, to all his schemes, to the even tenor of his self-restrained,
purposeful life! The west wind was rippling through the orchards which bordered the
garden. The muffled roar of the Atlantic was in his ears, a strange everlasting background
to all the slighter summer sounds, the murmuring of insects, the calling of birds, the
melodious swish of the whirling knives in the distant hayfield. Wingrave was alone with
his thoughts, and he hated them!
Even Mr. Pengarth was welcome, Mr. Pengarth very warm from his ride, carrying his hat
and a small black bag in his hand. As he drew nearer, he became hotter and was obliged
to rest his bag upon the path and mop his forehead. He was more afraid of his client than
of anything else in the world.
"Good afternoon, Sir Wingrave," he said. "I trust that you are feeling better today."
Wingrave eyed him coldly. He did not reply to the inquiry as to his health.
"You have brought the deed?" he asked.
"Certainly, Sir Wingrave."
The lawyer produced a roll of parchment from his bag. In response to Wingrave's gesture,
he seated himself on the extreme edge of an adjacent seat.
"I do not propose to read all that stuff through," Wingrave remarked. "I take it for granted
that the deed is made out according to my instructions."
"Certainly, Sir Wingrave!"
"Then we will go into the house, and I will sign it."