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"No," replied the Major, a little gruffly, as if he suspected a latent rebuke in the question; "but they spoiled twenty or thirty acres of the best corn-land on the plantation, and were very valuable for timber, besides. And, about that time, I was bent on lifting a certain old mortgage off from the place, and getting generally forehanded with the world, at any sacrifice, short of selling land. However," he continued, his face clearing again, "if you will stay here, Harry, you shall replant the avenue, just as soon as you like, if that is your pleasure. The trees will not grow large enough to do much damage, in my time;—besides, I can afford the land now,—and almost anything else that you may happen to fancy. I have not saved and slaved all these years for nothing;—you may be certain of that. And, as I've said before, I don't believe in half-way work. If you stay here, it will be as my adopted son; and I mean to show myself an indulgent father."
Under cover of these festivities important political matters were discussed. The question of the partition of Poland arose, and arrangements were made for another interview. Soon after this, Frederick sent to Catharine a sketch of a plan for partitioning several provinces in Poland—Russia, Prussia, and Austria each taking a share. “To which Petersburg, intoxicated with its own outlooks on Turkey, paid not the least attention.”179 The second interview, of five days, commenced on the 3d of September, 1770, at Neustadt, near Austerlitz, which has since become so famous.
That it did so, Bergan felt intuitively. In return, he did what he could to vivify with his single personality its whole wide indoor world. Having received unlimited discretionary powers from his uncle, in regard to choice of rooms and furniture, as well as the most unrestrained privilege of exploration, he went from room to room, ransacking and arranging, here picking up a quaintly carved chair, and there an absurdly contorted little table, and setting wide open doors and windows wherever he could find a reasonable excuse for doing so. He even mounted to the garret, a great twilight-hall, stored with the lumber of many vanished generations, and dived into nooks of dingiest obscurity, with the eager zeal of a discoverer; coming forth covered with dust and cobwebs, and laden with spoils. File upon file of yellow papers, having a possible interest as family annals, a curiously gnarled and twisted genealogical tree, a dust-choked flute, several Spanish songs in manuscript, a discolored sketch-book, and a quaint old secretary, from the innumerable pigeon-holes of which sprang a whole colony of alarmed mice,—these were among the treasures that he unearthed, and transferred to his own room for examination or use. Every hour, the home-feeling grew upon him. Despite the gray and dripping sky, and the disconsolate, water-soaked earth, these days had their own peculiar illumination and charm. Oldness and newness combined to produce one rich—albeit, a little heavy—atmosphere of enjoyment.
Bergan forebore to reply. He was learning that it was his wisest course—at least, so he thought—to take no notice of his uncle's bitter wrath and prejudice, since he could not sympathize with them. If his growing wish to possess Bergan Hall lay at the bottom of this silence, he was as yet unconscious of it.