Chapter 24




MR. MONTGOMERY'S ARREST

Having shaken off his country acquaintance, of whom he had no further need, Mr. Montgomery started to return to his lodgings. On the whole, he was in good spirits, though he had not effected the sale of the ring. But it was still in his possession, and it had a tangible value.

"I am sorry you did not sell the ring," said Mrs. Montgomery.

"So am I," said her husband. "We may have to sell it in some other city."

"We can't leave the city without money."

"That's true," returned her husband, rather taken aback by what was undeniably true.

"We must sell the ring, or raise money on it, in New York."

"I don't know but you are right. The trouble is, there are not many places where they will buy so expensive an article. Besides, they will be apt to ask impertinent questions."

"You might go to a pawnbroker's."

"And get fleeced. If I got a quarter of the value from a pawnbroker, I should be lucky."

"We must do something with it," said Mrs. Montgomery, decidedly.

"Right, my dear. We must get the sinews of war somewhere. Richard will never be himself again till his pocketbook is lined with greenbacks. At present, who steals my purse steals trash."

"Suppose you try Tiffany's?"

"The ring has already been offered there. They might remember it."

"If they do, say that he is your son."

"A good thought," answered the husband. "I will act upon it. But, on the whole, I'll doff this disguise, and assume my ordinary garments. This time, my dear, I shall not need your assistance."

"Well, the sooner it's done the better. That's all I have to say."

"As soon as possible."

Mr. Montgomery returned to his lodgings in Amity street, and, taking off his clerical garb, appeared in the garb in which we first made his acquaintance. The change was very speedily effected.

"Wish me good luck, Mrs. M.," he said, as he opened the door. "I am going to make another attempt."

"Good luck to you, Tony! Come back soon."

"As soon as my business is completed. If I get the money, we will leave for Philadelphia this evening. You may as well be packing up."

"I am afraid the landlady won't let us carry away our baggage unless we pay our bill."

"Never mind! Pack it up, and we'll run our chance."

Felix Montgomery left the house with the ring carefully deposited in his vest pocket. To judge from his air of easy indifference, he might readily have been taken for a substantial citizen in excellent circumstances; but then appearances are oftentimes deceitful, and they were especially so in the present instance.

He made his way quickly to Broadway, and thence to Tiffany's, at that time not so far uptown as at present. He entered the store with a nonchalant air, and, advancing to the counter, accosted the same clerk to whom Paul had shown the ring earlier in the day.

"I have a valuable ring which I would like to sell," he said. "Will you tell me its value?"

The clerk no sooner took it in his hand than he recognized it.

"I have seen that ring before," he said, looking at Mr. Montgomery keenly.

"Yes," said the latter, composedly; "this morning, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

"My boy brought it in here. I ought not to have sent him, for he came very near losing it on the way home. I thought it best to come with it myself."

This was said so quietly that it was hard to doubt the statement, or would have been if information had not been brought to the store that the ring had been stolen.

"Yes, boys are careless," assented the clerk, not caring to arouse Mr. Montgomery's suspicions. "You wish to sell the ring, I suppose."

"Yes," answered the other; "I don't like to carry a ring of so great value. Several times I have come near having it stolen. Will you buy it?"

"I am not authorized to make the purchase," said the clerk. "I will refer the matter to Mr. Tiffany."

"Very well," said Mr. Montgomery. "I am willing to accept whatever he may pronounce a fair price."

"No doubt," thought the clerk.

He carried the ring to his employer, and quickly explained the circumstances.

"The man is doubtless a thief. He must be arrested," said the jeweler.

"If I go for an officer, he will take alarm."

"Invite him to come into the back part of the shop, and I will protract the negotiation while you summon a policeman."

The clerk returned, and at his invitation Mr. Montgomery walked to the lower end of the store, where he was introduced to the head of the establishment. Sharp though he was, he suspected no plot.

"You are the owner of this ring?" asked Mr. Tiffany.

"Yes, sir," said the adventurer. "It has been in our family for a long time."

"But you wish to sell it now?"

"Yes; I have come near losing it several times, and prefer to dispose of it. What is its value?"

"That requires some consideration. I will examine it closely."

Mr. Montgomery stood with his back to the entrance, waiting patiently, while the jeweler appeared to be engaged in a close examination of the ring. He congratulated himself that no questions had been asked which it might have been difficult for him to answer. He made up his mind that after due examination Mr. Tiffany would make an offer, which he determined in advance to accept, whatever it might be, since he would consider himself fortunate to dispose of it at even two-thirds of its value.

Meanwhile the clerk quietly slipped out of the store, and at a short distance encountered a policeman, upon whom he called for assistance. At the same moment Paul and Mr. Preston came up. Our hero, on being released from arrest, had sought Mr. Preston, and the latter obligingly agreed to go with him to Tiffany's, and certify to his honesty, that, if the ring should be brought there, it might be retained for him. Paul did not recognize the clerk, but the latter at once remembered him.

"Are you not the boy that brought a diamond ring into our store this morning?" he asked.

"Into Tiffany's?"

"Yes."

"Have you seen anything of it?" asked our hero, eagerly. "I am the one who brought it in."

"A man just brought it into the store," said the clerk.

"Is he there now?"

"He is talking with Mr. Tiffany. I came out for a policeman. He will be arrested at once."

"Good!" ejaculated Paul; "I am in luck. I thought I should never see the ring again. What sort of a man is he?"

From the description, Paul judged that it was Felix Montgomery himself, and, remembering what a trick the adventurer had played upon him at Lovejoy's Hotel, he felt no little satisfaction in the thought that the trapper was himself trapped at last.

"I'll go along with you," he said. "I want to see that man arrested."

"You had better stay outside just at first, until we have secured him."

Meanwhile Mr. Tiffany, after a prolonged examination, said: "The ring is worth two hundred and fifty dollars."

"That will be satisfactory," said Mr. Montgomery, promptly.

"Shall I give you a check for the amount?" asked the jeweler.

"I should prefer the money, as I am a stranger in the city, and not known at the banks."

"I can make the check payable to bearer, and then you will have no difficulty in getting it cashed."

While this conversation was going on, the clerk entered the store with the policeman, but Mr. Montgomery's back was turned, and he was not aware of the fact till the officer tapped him on the shoulder, saying: "You are my prisoner."

"What does this mean? There is some mistake," said the adventurer, wheeling round with a start.

"No mistake at all. You must come with me."

"What have I done? You take me for some one else."

"You have stolen a diamond ring."

"Who says so?" demanded the adventurer, boldly. "It is true I brought one here to sell, but it has belonged to me for years."

"You are mistaken, Mr. Montgomery," said Paul, who had come up unperceived. "You stole that ring from me this morning, after dosing me with chloroform at Lovejoy's Hotel."

"It is a lie," said the adventurer, boldly. "That boy is my son. He is in league with his mother to rob me. She sent him here this morning unknown to me. Finding it out, I took the ring from him, and brought it here myself."

Paul was certainly surprised at being claimed as a son by the man who had swindled him, and answered: "I never saw you before this morning. I have no father living."

"I will guarantee this boy's truth and honesty," said Mr. Preston, speaking for the first time. "I believe you know me, Mr. Tiffany."

"I need no other assurance," said the jeweler, bowing. "Officer, you may remove your prisoner."

"The game is up," said the adventurer, finding no further chance for deception. "I played for high stakes, and I have lost the game. I have one favor to ask. Will some one let my wife know where I am?"

"Give me her address," said Paul, "and I will let her know."

"No. —— Amity street. Ask her to come to the station-house to see me."

"I will go at once."

"Thank you," said Mr. Montgomery; "as I am not to have the ring, I don't know that I am sorry it has fallen into your hands. One piece of advice I will venture to offer you, my lad," he added, smiling. "Beware of any jewelers hailing from Syracuse. They will cheat you, if you give them a chance."

"I will be on my guard," said Paul. "Can I do anything more for you?"

"Nothing, thank you. I have a fast friend at my side, who will look after me."

The officer smiled grimly at the jest, and the two left the store arm in arm.

"Do you still wish to sell this ring?" asked Mr. Tiffany, addressing Paul.

"Yes, sir."

"I renew my offer of this morning. I will give you two hundred and fifty dollars."

"I shall be glad to accept it."

The sale was quickly effected, and Paul left the store with what seemed to him a fortune in his pocket.

"Be careful not to lose your money," said Mr Preston.

"I should like to place a hundred and fifty dollars in your hands," said Paul, turning to Mr. Preston.

"I will willingly take care of it for you, and allow you interest upon it."

The transfer was made, and, carefully depositing the balance of the money in his pocketbook, our hero took leave of his friend and sought the house in Amity street.



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