Poems & Short Stories: 4,271
Forum Members: 70,634
Forum Posts: 1,033,546
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
HUGH BETRAYS HIS PRINCIPAL.
"Follow me!" said Hugh Trimble to Gilbert.
"Where are you going to lead me?"
"Never you mind. Come along."
Gilbert saw that resistance would be useless, and he obeyed. His companion plunged into the woods, looking back occasionally to see that he was following. He kept on for about half a mile as near as Gilbert could judge, when they came to a small clearing, in the midst of which was a dilapidated log hut. It was no longer occupied, but had been deserted by the former occupant, who had gone across the Mississippi to regions yet unexplored years before.
"Go in there," said Hugh.
He saw nothing but bare walls, all furniture having been removed when it was deserted.
Our hero looked around him curiously, and then at his conductor inquiringly. He was not long in doubt as to his intention.
Hugh drew a strong cord from his pocket, and drew near him.
"What are you going to do?" asked Gilbert.
"Tie your hands and feet," was the reply.
Gilbert shrank back.
"Don't do that," he said.
"I ain't goin' to have you run away," growled Hugh.
"I won't run away. I shall be released this afternoon at any rate, and I can stand captivity till then."
"How do you know you will get free this afternoon?"
"You promised to let me go when my uncle brought the money."
"Your uncle?" repeated Hugh, exhibiting surprise, fixing his eyes keenly upon our hero.
"Yes, he is my uncle, but he does not acknowledge me yet."
"Humph!" said Hugh, thoughtfully to himself. "Suppose he does own you, what then?"
"It is a secret."
"You'd better tell me. I have a reason for asking."
"I have a claim to the property which my uncle possesses."
"That's it. I understand it now."
"What do you understand?"
"Suppose you was to die, what then?"
"There would be nobody to disturb my uncle in the possession of his property."
"He wouldn't cry much if you was to die."
"What do you mean?" asked Gilbert, unpleasantly impressed by the man's tone.
"He wants you dead—that's the long and short of it."
"I can't believe it," said Gilbert, shuddering. "You can have no cause to say this. He can't be so wicked."
"Look here, young one," said Hugh, "I'll tell you a secret. You take me for a robber, don't you?"
"In course you do. Now I'm going to surprise you. My stopping your mouth to-day was all a put-up job."
"You don't mean that my uncle engaged you to do it?"
"Yes, I do."
"What was his object?"
"He don't mean to come back for you. He wants me to kill you."
"You don't mean that?" said Gilbert, horror-struck.
"Yes, I do. He's goin' to give me a thousand dollars."
"And you agreed to do it?"
"Yes, I agreed to do it."
"Would you stain your hands with murder for a thousand dollars?" asked Gilbert, solemnly.
"What can I do? I'm a poor man. Fortune has gone agin me all my life. There ain't no other way I can get money. If I was well off I wouldn't do it."
"Good Heaven! To think my uncle should be capable of such wickedness."
"It's just as bad for him, ain't it? He hires me to kill you for the sake of money. What's the odds?"
"He is worse than you. He knows that I would not strip him of everything, even if I succeed."
"What's your chances, young one? Have you got a good case?"
"If I hadn't, he wouldn't conspire for my death."
"That's so. Now, young chap, shall I kill you or not?"
"Of course I don't want to be killed, but you are too strong for me. I am in your power."
"Swear, if I spare your life, will you see that I don't lose by it?"
Gilbert caught his meaning and snatched at the chance of safety.
"If you let me go, you shall have the same amount my uncle promised you, and will have no stain of murder on your hands."
"Have you got the money?"
"Nearly all. The rest I can raise. But I will do better than that, on one condition."
"If you will let me call you as a witness, to prove that my uncle engaged you to kill me, I shall be sure to recover my property, and the day I come into possession I will pay you over two thousand dollars."
Hugh's eyes sparkled, but he answered cautiously:
"Won't there be no risk? Can't they shut me up?"
"No; you can say that you entered into the plan in order to entrap my uncle."
"Will you swear to do that?"
"Then it's a bargain. Now, what shall we do first?"
"I want you to go with me to St. Louis, but my uncle must not know that I have escaped. How can we manage that?"
"We can go up north afterward and take the boat from there. When we pass this place on the river, we'll stay down below."
"That is a good plan. When we get to St. Louis I will see a lawyer at once, and put the matter in his hands."
"I don't like to come before the court," said Hugh, reluctantly, "but I will if you say so."
"I don't think it will be necessary. When my uncle learns that his conspiracy is likely to be made known, he will be glad to compromise without a contest."
"You know best. If you'll come round with me to my hut, I'll tell the old woman what's up, and then we'll strike for the river. You won't go back on me?"
"No—that isn't my way; besides, your testimony is too valuable for me. I'll stand by you if you'll stand by me. Give me your hand."
"I'll trust you, young one," he said.
Before the sun set they were passengers on a river steamer, bound for St. Louis.
|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.