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Squire Toby’s Will
by [?]

Years flew, and brought no healing on their wings. On the contrary, the deep corrosion of this hatred bit deeper by time. Neither brother married. But an accident of a different kind befell the younger, Charles Marston, which abridged his enjoyments very materially.

This was a bad fall from his hunter. There were severe fractures, and there was concussion of the brain. For some time it was thought that he could not recover. He disappointed these evil auguries, however. He did recover, but changed in two essential particulars. He had received an injury in his hip, which doomed him never more to sit in the saddle. And the rollicking animal spirits which hitherto had never failed him, had now taken flight forever.

He had been for five days in a state of coma  absolute insensibility  and when he recovered consciousness he was haunted by an indescribable anxiety.

Tom Cooper, who had been butler in the palmy days of Gylingden Hall, under old Squire Toby, still maintained his post with old-fashioned Fidelity, in these days of faded splendor and frugal house-keeping. Twenty years had passed since the death of his old master. He had grown lean, and stooped, and his face, dark with the peculiar brown of age, furrowed and gnarled, and his temper, except with his master, had waxed surly.

His master had visited Bath and Buxton, and came back, as he went, lame, and halting gloomily about with the aid of a stick. When the hunter was sold, the last tradition of the old life at Gylingden disappeared. The young squire, as he was still called, excluded by his mischance from the hunting Field, dropped into a solitary way of life, and halted slowly and solitarily about the old place, seldom raising his eyes, and with an appearance of indescribable gloom.

Old Cooper could talk freely on occasion with his master; and one day he said, as he handed him his hat and stick in the hall:

"You should rouse yourself up a bit, Master Charles!"

"It’s past rousing with me, old Cooper. "

"It’s just this, I’m thinking: there’s something on your mind, and you won’t tell no one. There’s no good keeping it on your stomach. You’ll be a deal lighter if you tell it. Come, now, what is it, Master Charlie?"

The squire looked with his round gray eyes straight into Cooper’s eyes. He felt that there was a sort of spell broken. It was like the old rule of the ghost who can’t speak till it is spoken to. He looked earnestly into old Cooper’s face for some seconds, and sighed deeply.

"It ain’t the first good guess you’ve made in your day, old Cooper, and I’m glad you’ve spoke. It’s bin on my mind, sure enough, ever since I had that fall. Come in here after me, and shut the door. "

The squire pushed open the door of the oak parlor, and looked round on the pictures abstractedly. He had not been there for some time, and, seating himself on the table, he looked again for a while in Cooper’s face before he spoke.

"It’s not a great deal, Cooper, but it troubles me, and I would not tell it to the parson nor the doctor; for God knows what they’d say, though there’s nothing to signify in it. But you were always true to the family, and I don’t mind if I tell you. "

" ‘Tis as safe with Cooper. Master Charles. is if ’twas locked in a chest, and sunk in a well. "

"It’s only this," said Charles Marston, looking down on the end of his stick, with which he was tracing lines and circles, "all the time I was lying like dead, as you thought, after the fall, I was with the oldmaster. " He raised his eyes to Coopers’s again as he spoke, and with an awful oath he repeated  "I was with him, Cooper!"