‘No, that doesn’t satisfy me. Tell me the truth,’ I insisted, putting myself between him and the door.
‘Well, I’d rather not tell you just now, but I suppose you’ll discover it sooner or later. Did you know that my full name is St John Eyre Rivers?’
‘No, I didn’t! But then what-‘ And I stopped as light flooded my mind and I saw clearly the chain of circumstances which connected us. But St John continued his explanation.
‘My mother’s name was Eyre,’ he said. ‘She had two brothers, one, a vicar, who married Miss Jane Reed of Gateshead, and the other, John Eyre of Madeira. Mr. Briggs, Mr. Eyre’s lawyer, wrote to us telling us that our uncle had died, and left all his property, not to us, because of his quarrel with our father, but to his brother’s daughter. Then Mr. Briggs wrote again later, saying this girl could not be found. Well, I’ve found her.’ He moved towards the door, his hat in his hand.
‘Wait a moment, just let me think,’ I said. ‘So you, Diana and Mary are my cousins?’
‘We are your cousins, yes,’ he said, waiting patiently. As I looked at him, it seemed I had found a brother and sisters to love and be proud of for the rest of my life. The people who had saved my life were my close relations! This was wealth indeed to a lonely heart, brighter and more life-giving than the heavy responsibility of coins and gold.
‘Oh, I’m glad — I’m so glad!’ I cried, laughing. St John smiled. ‘You were serious when I told you had inherited a fortune. Now you’re excited about something very unimportant.’
‘What can you mean? It may mean nothing to you. You already have sisters and don’t need any more family. But I had nobody, and now I suddenly have three relations in my world, or two, if you don’t want to be counted.’ I walked rapidly round the room, my thoughts rising so fast I could hardly understand them. The family I now had, the people who had saved me from starvation, I could now help them. There were four of us cousins. Twenty thousand dollars, shared equally, would be five thousand dollars each, more than enough for each one of us. It would be a fair and just arrangement, and we would all be happy. I would no longer have the worry of controlling a large amount of money, and they would never have to work again. We would all be able to spend more time together at Moor House.
Naturally, when I made this suggestion to St John and his sisters, they protested strongly, and it was with great difficulty that I finally managed to convince them of my firm intention to carry out this plan. In the end they agreed that it was a fair way of sharing the inheritance, and so the legal steps were taken to transfer equal shares to all of us.