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"Surely I have a right to my own property," said the showily dressed lady in a tone of authority, which quite imposed upon the weak-minded salesman.
"I dare say you are right, ma'am," said he, hesitatingly.
"Of course I am," said she.
"If you give her those pearls, which belong to my mother, I will have you arrested," said Grant, plucking up spirit.
"Hoity-toity!" said the lady, contemptuously. "I hope you won't pay any regard to what that young thief says."
The clerk looked undecided. He beckoned an older salesman, and laid the matter before him. The latter looked searchingly at the two. Grant was flushed and excited, and the lady had a brazen front.
"Do you claim these pearls, madam?" he said.
"I do," she answered, promptly.
"How did you come by them?"
"They were a wedding present from my husband."
"May I ask your name?"
The lady hesitated a moment, then answered:
"Where do you live?"
There was another slight hesitation. Then came the answer:
Now Madison Avenue is a fashionable street, and the name produced an impression on the first clerk.
"I think the pearls belong to the lady," he whispered.
"I have some further questions to ask," returned the elder salesman, in a low voice.
"Do you know this boy whom you charge with stealing your property?"
"Yes," answered the lady, to Grant's exceeding surprise; "he is a poor boy whom I have employed to do errands."
"Has he had the run of your house?"
"Yes, that's the way of it. He must have managed to find his way to the second floor, and opened the bureau drawer where I kept the pearls."
"What have you to say to this?" asked the elder salesman.
"Please ask the lady my name," suggested Grant.
"Don't you know your own name?" demanded the lady, sharply.
"Yes, but I don't think you do."
"Can you answer the boy's question, Mrs. Simpson?"
"Of course I can. His name is John Cavanaugh, and the very suit he has on I gave him."
Grant was thunderstruck at the lady's brazen front. She was outwardly a fine lady, but he began to suspect that she was an impostor.
"I am getting tired of this," said the so-called Mrs. Simpson, impatiently. "Will you, or will you not, restore my pearls?" "When we are satisfied that they belong to you, madam," said the elder salesman, coolly. "I don't feel like taking the responsibility, but will send for my employer, and leave the matter to him to decide."
"I hope I won't have long to wait, sir."
"I will send at once."
"It's a pretty state of things when a lady has her own property kept from her," said Mrs. Simpson, while the elder clerk was at the other end of the store, giving some instructions to a boy.
"I don't in the least doubt your claim to the articles, Mrs. Simpson," said the first salesman, obsequiously. "Come, boy, you'd better own up that you have stolen the articles, and the lady will probably let you off this time."
"Yes, I will let him off this time," chimed in the lady. "I don't want to send him to prison."
"If you can prove that I am a thief, I am willing to go," said Grant, hotly.
By this time the elder salesman had come back.
"Is your name John Cavanaugh, my boy?" he asked.
"Did you ever see this lady before?"
The lady threw up her hands in feigned amazement.
"I wouldn't have believed the boy would lie so!" she said.
"What is your name?"
"My name is Grant Thornton. I live in Colebrook, and my father is Rev. John Thornton."
"I know there is such a minister there. To whom do these pearls belong?"
"To my mother."
"A likely story that a country minister's wife should own such valuable pearls," said Mrs. Simpson, in a tone of sarcasm.
"How do you account for it?" asked the clerk.
"They were given my mother years since, by a rich lady who was a good friend of hers. She has never had occasion to wear them."
Mrs. Simpson smiled significantly.
"The boy has learned his story," she said. "I did not give you credit for such an imagination, John Cavanaugh."
"My name is Grant Thornton, madam," said our hero, gravely.
Five minutes later two men entered the store. One was a policeman, the other the head of the firm. When Grant's eye fell on the policeman he felt nervous, but when he glanced at the gentleman his face lighted up with pleasure.
"Why, it's Mr. Clifton," he said.
"Grant Thornton," said the jeweler, in surprise. "Why, I thought--"
"You will do me justice, Mr. Clifton," said Grant, and thereupon he related the circumstances already known to the reader.
When Mrs. Simpson found that the boy whom she had selected as an easy victim was known to the proprietor of the place, she became nervous, and only thought of escape.
"It is possible that I am mistaken," she said. "Let me look at the pearls again."
They were held up for her inspection.
"They are very like mine," she said, after a brief glance; "but I see there is a slight difference."
"How about the boy, madam?" asked the elder clerk.
"He is the very image of my errand boy; but if Mr. Clifton knows him, I must be mistaken. I am sorry to have given you so much trouble. I have an engagement to meet, and must go."
"Stop, madam!" said Mr. Clifton, sternly, interposing an obstacle to her departure, "we can't spare you yet."
"I really must go, sir. I give up all claim to the pearls."
"That is not sufficient. You have laid claim to them, knowing that they were not yours. Officer, have you ever seen this woman before?"
"Yes, sir, I know her well."
"How dare you insult me?" demanded Mrs. Simpson; but there was a tremor in her voice.
"I give her in charge for an attempted swindle," said Mr. Clifton.
"You will have to come with me, madam," said the policeman. "You may as well go quietly."
"Well, the game is up," said the woman, with a careless laugh.
"It came near succeeding, though."
"Now, my boy," said the jeweler, "I will attend to your business. You want to sell these pearls?"
"Yes, sir; they are of no use to mother, and she needs the money."
"At what do you value them?"
"I leave that to you, sir. I shall be satisfied with what you think them worth."
The jeweler examined them attentively. After his examination was concluded, he said: "I am willing to give four hundred dollars for them. Of course they cost more, but I shall have to reset them."
"That is more than I expected," said Grant, joyfully. "It will pay all our debts, and give us a little fund to help us in future."
"Do you wish the money now? There might be some risk in a boy like you carrying so much with you."
"What would you advise, Mr. Clifton?"
"That you take perhaps a hundred dollars, and let me bring the balance next Saturday night, when I come to pass Sunday at Colebrook."
"Thank you, sir; if it won't be too much trouble for you."
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