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PAGE 3

The Will
by [?]

“‘These are my last thoughts, and my last wish.

“‘MATHILDE DE CROIXLUCE.'”

“Monsieur de Courcils had risen and he cried:

“‘It is the will of a madwoman.’

“Then Monsieur de Bourneval stepped forward and said in a loud, penetrating voice: ‘I, Simon de Bourneval, solemnly declare that this writing contains nothing but the strict truth, and I am ready to prove it by letters which I possess.’

“On hearing that, Monsieur de Courcils went up to him, and I ‘thought that they were going to attack each other. There they stood, both of them tall, one stout and the other thin, both trembling. My mother’s husband stammered out: ‘You are a worthless wretch!’ And the other replied in a loud, dry voice: ‘We will meet elsewhere, monsieur. I should have already slapped your ugly face and challenged you long since if I had not, before everything else, thought of the peace of mind during her lifetime of that poor woman whom you caused to suffer so greatly.’

“Then, turning to me, he said: ‘You are my son; will you come with me? I have no right to take you away, but I shall assume it, if you are willing to come with me: I shook his hand without replying, and we went out together. I was certainly three parts mad.

“Two days later Monsieur de Bourneval killed Monsieur de Courcils in a duel. My brothers, to avoid a terrible scandal, held their tongues. I offered them and they accepted half the fortune which my mother had left me. I took my real father’s name, renouncing that which the law gave me, but which was not really mine. Monsieur de Bourneval died three years later and I am still inconsolable.”

He rose from his chair, walked up and down the room, and, standing in front of me, said:

“Well, I say that my mother’s will was one of the most beautiful, the most loyal, as well as one of the grandest acts that a woman could perform. Do you not think so?”

I held out both hands to him, saying:

“I most certainly do, my friend.”