But his conscience was clear, and his spirit high. "Unjust idiot!" he muttered, and locked her letter up in his desk.
Next morning he received a letter from Joseph Little, in a clear, stiff, perpendicular writing:
"SIR,--I find my sister-in-law wrote you, yesterday, a harsh letter, which I do not approve; and have told her as much. Deceased's affairs were irretrievable, and I blame no other man for his rash act, which may God forgive! As to your kind and generous invitation, it deserves her gratitude; but Mrs. Little and myself have mingled our tears together over my poor brother's grave, and now we do not care to part. Before your esteemed favor came to hand, it had been settled she should leave this sad neighborhood and keep my house at Birmingham, where she will meet with due respect. I am only a small tradesman; but I can pay my debts, and keep the pot boiling. Will teach the boy some good trade, and make him a useful member of society, if I am spared.
"I am, sir, yours respectfully,
"Sir,--I beg to acknowledge, with thanks, your respectable letter.
"As all direct communication between Mrs. James Little and myself is at an end, oblige me with your address in Birmingham, that I may remit to you, half-yearly, as her agent, the small sum that has escaped bricks and mortar.
"When her son comes of age, she will probably forgive me for declining to defraud him of his patrimony.
"But it will be too late; for I shall never forgive her, alive or dead.