Morley Ernstein by G P R James Page 1 of 572
"Indeed!" said Morley, with his curiosity somewhat excited; "pray, who do they belong to?"
"Oh, as nice a young lady, sir, as ever lived!" replied the man. "Her father was a clergyman, and her mother a lady of good fortune, and amongst the tip-top of the world; but there was a law-suit about the mother's fortune, to whom these ear-rings belonged, I have heard, and that ruined her husband, and broke her heart.
She died first, and the parson not long after; and they left this daughter and a boy, who is a wild one, with about a couple of hundred between them, and some nic-nacs.
Well, the boy soon got through his money, and his sister's too; and from time to time he came to me, with a lot of things to sell: His sister, he let out the other day, had kept him and herself too by teaching; but now she hasn't had much to do for some time, because she fell ill in the winter, and so lost her pupils.
They are well nigh starving, the boy tells me, and in the end she is driven to sell her mother's ear-rings. She only asks forty pounds for them, sir--I think they are worth a hundred."
The story had every appearance of truth about it to the mind of Morley Ernstein. Such things were very likely to happen; and the man told it, too, like a true story.
After asking why Mr. Higgins did not buy the diamonds himself, and receiving the satisfactory answer, that he had bought just such a pair before from Lord ----'s young lady, and could not afford to buy two, as well as having received truth-like replies to one or two other questions, Morley made up his mind somewhat precipitately to do three things: to purchase the ear-rings, to find out the brother, and to see if, through him, he could not do something for the sister.
"Pray, where does this young man live?" he said, after having concluded the purchase; "do you think he will have any objection to speak with me about his affairs?"