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时间:2021-10-19

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    星球国际官方网站Sophy was satisfied with the new arrangement. She was glad to know that, at any rate, he was now safe at home of an evening. It relieved her from the anxiety with which she had sat, sometimes for hours, listening for his heavy, and usually unsteady, footfall. So after that Robert, whenever he could, stayed at home, drank large quantities of spirits, and smoked moodily; arousing himself sometimes to talk with Sophy, who would sit by working, and always ready to answer with a cheerful smile. Occasionally he brought home some book or paper about Australia, and Sophy looked through it and read out to him such parts as she thought would interest him; and then he would leave his spirits untasted for a while, and listen to the accounts of the struggles of the back-wood settler, of the clearings in the dark forests, and of the abundant return nature gave for the labour; and his eye would brighten, and his finger tighten as if on the handle of an axe, and he longed for the time to come when he too would be there, away from all debasing associations, and out of reach of the spirit-bottle. And sometimes he told Sophy that perhaps, after all, he should not wait as long as he had said, but might start in the early spring. The spirits he drank of an evening had little effect upon his hardened frame, and he generally went to bed, if not quite sober, at any rate not very drunk.

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    1."It would be a very delicate matter indeed," Mr. Petersfield said, "very delicate; but still not impossible. By the 7 and 8 statute of the 14 of George, chapter 29, s. 22, it is enacted that if any person shall either during the lifetime or after the death of any person steal, or for any fraudulent purpose conceal any will, codicil, or other testamentary instrument, they shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof, be liable to various punishments. And by the same statute, chapter 29, s. 63, it says if any credible witness shall prove upon oath before a justice of the peace, a reasonable cause to suspect that any person has in his possession, or on his premises, any property whatsoever, or in respect to which any such offence (such as stealing a will, &c.,) shall have been committed, the justice may grant a warrant to search for such property, as in the case of stolen goods. Now by this Act it is clear that a warrant could be obtained upon an affidavit that you believed, as you do believe, that the will exists; but that would not allow you to pull the house to pieces, and it is quite certain that in no other way would you discover a chamber built for the purpose of concealment, and which you say baffled the priest-hunters of the old time—men who were pretty well accustomed to the finding of this sort of hiding-place, and who knew exactly where they were likely to be situated. You would never find it; and even while you were searching for it, Miss Harmer might enter by the secret door—wherever that may be—and abstract or destroy the will, without your being one bit the wiser; or, at any rate, she would be certain after you had given up the hopeless search and left, to destroy the will to prevent the possibility of your ever trying again with better fortune. No, your best course is to find out, first, where the chamber is; next, how to get into it; and when these two points are discovered, we can arrange about going in and taking possession of the will without asking any one's leave in the matter. That is, I believe, our only chance of recovering it—by strategy. Take one of the servants into your pay, and get her to search for the chamber. This I leave to you, as of course you are acquainted with some of the domestics. I do not know that I have anything more which I can suggest at present. Should anything strike me, I will write from town, and, as I go by the early train, I will now, with your permission, retire to bed. You will of course write to me immediately you find out anything which may seem to you to have the smallest bearing upon the affair. I should especially advise that you do not hint to any one your belief in the existence of the will, as it may get to Miss Harmer's ears; and although, if she believes that no search is being made for it, she may be content to let it remain for years concealed as at present, you may be assured that should she believe that you are working to find it, either she or the priest will destroy it at once." We all agreed in the propriety of following this advice, and then separated for the night.
    2.
    3.CHAPTER XIV.
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