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35. CHAPTER XXXV (continued)
"Let him make his mistakes," she said, "upon the money his grandfather left him. I am no prophet, but even I can see that it will take that boy many years to see things as his neighbours see them. He will get no help from his father and mother, who would never forgive him for his good luck if I left him the money outright; I daresay I am wrong, but I think he will have to lose the greater part or all of what he has, before he will know how to keep what he will get from me."
Supposing he went bankrupt before he was twenty-eight years old, the money was to be mine absolutely, but she could trust me, she said, to hand it over to Ernest in due time.
"If," she continued, "I am mistaken, the worst that can happen is that he will come into a larger sum at twenty-eight instead of a smaller sum at, say, twenty-three, for I would never trust him with it earlier, and--if he knows nothing about it he will not be unhappy for the want of it."
She begged me to take 2000 pounds in return for the trouble I should have in taking charge of the boy's estate, and as a sign of the testatrix's hope that I would now and again look after him while he was still young. The remaining 3000 pounds I was to pay in legacies and annuities to friends and servants.
In vain both her lawyer and myself remonstrated with her on the unusual and hazardous nature of this arrangement. We told her that sensible people will not take a more sanguine view concerning human nature than the Courts of Chancery do. We said, in fact, everything that anyone else would say. She admitted everything, but urged that her time was short, that nothing would induce her to leave her money to her nephew in the usual way. "It is an unusually foolish will," she said, "but he is an unusually foolish boy;" and she smiled quite merrily at her little sally. Like all the rest of her family, she was very stubborn when her mind was made up. So the thing was done as she wished it.
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