Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND.
"Your uncle in the city?" said Mr. Ferguson, in surprise.
"Yes, sir. I met him, only a short time since, on Vine street."
"How did you know him?"
"By the scar on his cheek. But I think I would have known him at any rate. I have a good memory for faces."
"How did he receive you?" asked Mr. Ferguson, with curiosity.
"He didn't seem very glad to see me," answered Gilbert, smiling. "He insisted that his nephew is dead, and called me an impostor."
"He must have seen the resemblance between you and his brother. You will make just such a looking man as your father."
"I hope I sha'n't look like my uncle."
"Your father and your uncle did not resemble each other. There might have been a slight family likeness, but it was very slight."
"So much the better."
"You don't think you shall like your uncle?"
"I am sure I shall not. First, he cheated me out of my property, and now, because I claim it, he calls me an impostor."
"So that was the way the interview terminated, was it?"
"Not exactly. When I told him I had old Jacob's confession, and threatened to put it into the hands of a lawyer, he said he would like to see it, and asked me to call with it at the Burnet House this afternoon."
"Humph!" said Mr. Ferguson, thoughtfully. "Did you promise to do it?"
"Then I will give you a piece of advice."
"What is it, sir?"
"Don't carry the original paper with you."
"Why not, sir?"
"It is best to be on the safe side. Your uncle is an unscrupulous man. This paper is of the utmost importance to you, since it proves your identity, and lays bare the conspiracy against you. Just in proportion as it is valuable to you, it is also valuable to your uncle."
"I understand," said Gilbert, nodding. "You think he has laid a trap for me, in order to get hold of the paper."
"It looks very much like it. At any rate, it is best to be on your guard."
"I don't think he would find it easy to get it away from me," said Gilbert, with the confidence of youth.
"You are too confident, Gilbert. You are but a boy, and he is a strong man. Besides, he will want to take it in his hands."
"Would you not advise me to carry it then, sir?"
"Not the original. Can you not make a copy of the paper?"
"But I am to call at three."
"You will have time enough. It is not long."
"Then I shall be obliged to neglect my duties here."
"Oh! as to that, in a matter of such importance, I will readily excuse you. You can go home at once, and get to work."
"Thank you, sir."
Gilbert lost no time in availing himself of the permission accorded to him. Reaching his boarding-house—the same one to which the reader has already been introduced—he took the important paper from its secure resting-place in his trunk, and, seating himself at the table, began to copy it rapidly. When he first entered Mr. Ferguson's establishment, he could scarcely write at all; but he knew how important a good handwriting was, to one who aspired to be a business man, and he therefore soon commenced taking lessons. Now he was master of a handsome hand. Jacob, too, was a good writer, with a handwriting quite similar to his, so that, without any great effort, he succeeded in producing a document very nearly resembling the original.
"Now, Uncle James, I am ready to meet you," he said to himself, with satisfaction, as he compared the two papers, and then carefully laid away the first in its old place of concealment. "You are welcome to destroy this, if you think it will do you any good."
It was still early, for the paper was not long, and Gilbert decided to go back to the store, and resume his duties until it should be time to start for the Burnet House.
"Where have you been, Gilbert?" asked Maurice Walton, crossly.
"I have been home—to my boarding-house."
"I shouldn't think Mr. Ferguson would like your leaving his business to run home in the middle of the fore-noon."
"He advised me to go."
"I suppose you pretended to have a headache, or something of that kind," said Maurice, with a sneer.
"No, I didn't. I was never better in my life."
"What did you go for, then?"
"It seems to me you are very curious, Maurice," said Gilbert, good-naturedly. "If you must know, I went home on a little private business of my own."
"Very important, I suppose."
"Yes, it was important."
"Mr. Ferguson is very partial to you, that's all I can say. He wouldn't let me be away for a couple of hours, in the morning, even if I did have important business."
"I have no doubt he would. I hope you won't be disturbed if I tell you that I am going out again this afternoon."
"And you get twice as much pay as I," said Maurice, with dissatisfaction. "I say it's a shame."
"You must remember, Maurice, that I don't fix the salaries. If I could fix it so, your salary should be raised at once, so as to equal mine."
"It's easy to say that," said Maurice Walton, discontentedly.
Gilbert, in spite of the discontent of his fellow-clerk, took his hat at half-past two, and left the store. He reached the Burnet House about ten minutes of three, and went at once to the reading-room, where he was to meet his uncle.
Mr. Grey was already in waiting. He was seated in an arm-chair, looking over a file of the New York Herald.
"I have come, Mr. Grey," said Gilbert, "as you proposed."
"Humph! Have you the paper?"
Here Mr. Grey showed signs of satisfaction, as Gilbert was quick-sighted enough to perceive.
"We will go up stairs to my room," said his uncle, rising, and laying down the paper. "We shall be more private there."
"Perhaps he thinks he can get hold of the paper better," thought our hero, though, of course, he kept his thought to himself.
"Follow me," said Mr. Grey. "Give me the key to No. 157," he said, to the hotel clerk.
Gilbert followed him up several flights of stairs till he reached his room.
"Enter," he said, unlocking the door.
Gilbert did so, feeling, at the same time, a queer sensation, as he thought of the attempt that might be made at violence. However, he was not wanting in courage, and did not deign to give audience to fear.
"Sit down," said Mr. Grey, abruptly.
Gilbert seated himself near the door. His uncle drew up a chair for himself, but, as our hero noted, placed it between him and the door.
"He wants to cut me off from escape," he thought. "Never mind; he'll let me go when he finds he can't make anything by keeping me."
"Well," said his uncle, when they were seated, "let me know all about this precious plot you have been hatching."
"I am engaged in no plot, Mr. Grey," said Gilbert, steadily.
"Of course not. Conspirators are the last to admit the real character of their designs. But that don't alter the fact. You have laid a plot for getting possession of my property, and, to this end, have forged a paper, which you think will help you."
"You are quite mistaken, Mr. Grey. I have Jacob Morton's written confession of his agency in carrying me away from Cincinnati. I knew nothing of it till he spoke to me on this subject, and placed the paper in my hands."
"Have you the paper with you?"
Gilbert didn't answer this question, since he could not have said truly that he had Jacob's confession with him. It was merely his own copy. But he drew the paper from his breast-pocket, and handed it to his uncle.
Mr. Grey took the paper, and ran his eye rapidly over it. His countenance changed, for he saw that it would have great weight in a court of justice, completely substantiating Gilbert's claims to the estate which he wrongfully held.
"Well," he said, looking up, after he had finished reading the paper, "I have read this document, and I have no hesitation in pronouncing it a vile forgery. It shall meet the fate it merits."
So saying, he hastily tore it across the middle, and proceeded to tear it into still smaller pieces.
"Now, young man," he said, sarcastically, "as I have no further business with you, I will bid you a very good-day," and he bowed, mockingly.
"I think you are mistaken about our business being settled," said Gilbert, quietly.
"Your forged document will help you little," said Mr. Grey, triumphantly. "I have torn it into a hundred pieces."
"It is of no consequence," said our hero, calmly. "It is only a copy of the original paper."
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.