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In the Family
by [?]

The oldest inhabitant of Claybury sat beneath the sign of the “Cauliflower” and gazed with affectionate, but dim, old eyes in the direction of the village street.

“No; Claybury men ain’t never been much of ones for emigrating,” he said, turning to the youthful traveller who was resting in the shade with a mug of ale and a cigarette. “They know they’d ‘ave to go a long way afore they’d find a place as ‘ud come up to this. ”

He finished the tablespoonful of beer in his mug and sat for so long with his head back and the inverted vessel on his face that the traveller, who at first thought it was the beginning of a conjuring trick, colored furiously, and asked permission to refill it.

Now and then a Claybury man has gone to foreign parts, said the old man, drinking from the replenished mug, and placing it where the traveller could mark progress without undue strain; but they’ve, generally speaking, come back and wished as they’d never gone.

The on’y man as I ever heard of that made his fortune by emigrating was Henery Walker’s great-uncle, Josiah Walker by name, and he wasn’t a Claybury man at all. He made his fortune out o’ sheep in Australey, and he was so rich and well-to-do that he could never find time to answer the letters that Henery Walker used to send him when he was hard up.

Henery Walker used to hear of ‘im through a relation of his up in London, and tell us all about ‘im and his money up at this here “Cauliflower” public-house. And he used to sit and drink his beer and wonder who would ‘ave the old man’s money arter he was dead.

When the relation in London died Henery Walker left off hearing about his uncle, and he got so worried over thinking that the old man might die and leave his money to strangers that he got quite thin. He talked of emigrating to Australey ‘imself, and then, acting on the advice of Bill Chambers—who said it was a cheaper thing to do—he wrote to his uncle instead, and, arter reminding ‘im that ‘e was an old man living in a strange country, ‘e asked ‘im to come to Claybury and make his ‘ome with ‘is loving grand-nephew.

It was a good letter, because more than one gave ‘im a hand with it, and there was little bits o’ Scripture in it to make it more solemn-like. It was wrote on pink paper with pie-crust edges and put in a green envelope, and Bill Chambers said a man must ‘ave a ‘art of stone if that didn’t touch it.

Four months arterwards Henery Walker got an answer to ‘is letter from ‘is great-uncle. It was a nice letter, and, arter thanking Henery Walker for all his kindness, ‘is uncle said that he was getting an old man, and p’r’aps he should come and lay ‘is bones in England arter all, and if he did ‘e should certainly come and see his grand-nephew, Henery Walker.

Most of us thought Henery Walker’s fortune was as good as made, but Bob Pretty, a nasty, low poaching chap that has done wot he could to give Claybury a bad name, turned up his nose at it.

“I’ll believe he’s coming ‘ome when I see him,” he ses. “It’s my belief he went to Australey to get out o’ your way, Henery. ”

“As it ‘appened he went there afore I was born,” ses Henery Walker, firing up.

“He knew your father,” ses Bob Pretty, “and he didn’t want to take no risks. ”

They ‘ad words then, and arter that every time Bob Pretty met ‘im he asked arter his great-uncle’s ‘ealth, and used to pretend to think ‘e was living with ‘im.

“You ought to get the old gentleman out a bit more, Henery,” he would say; “it can’t be good for ‘im to be shut up in the ‘ouse so much— especially your ‘ouse. ”