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- Hector's Inheritance - 40/41 -
"But I am safe enough," he said to himself; "even if Hector discovered anything, something might happen to him, so that he might be unable to return."
"Father," said Guy, who had just dispatched an egg, "I want ten dollars this morning."
"Ten dollars!" said his father, frowning. "How is this? Did I not give you your week's allowance two days since?"
"Well, I've spent it," answered Guy, "and I need some more."
"You must think I am made of money," said his father, displeased.
"It's pretty much so," said Guy, nonchalantly. "Your income must be ten thousand a year."
"I have a great many expenses. How have you spent your allowance?"
"Oh, I can't tell exactly. It's gone, at any rate. You mustn't become mean, father."
"Mean! Don't I give you a handsome allowance? Look here, Guy, I can't allow such extravagance on your part. This once I'll give you five dollars, but hereafter, you must keep within your allowance."
"Can't you make it ten?"
"No, I can't," said his father, shortly.
Guy rose from the table, and left the room, whistling.
"The old man's getting mean," he said. "If he doesn't allow me more, I shall have to get in debt."
As Guy left the room, the mail was brought in. On one of the envelopes, Mr. Roscoe saw the name of his lawyer. He did not think much of it, supposing it related to some minor matter of business. The letter ran thus:
"ALLAN ROSCOE, ESQ.:
"DEAR SIR: Be kind enough to come up to the city at once. Business of great importance demands your attention.
"Yours respectfully, TIMOTHY TAPE."
"Mr. Tape is unusually mysterious," said Allan Roscoe to himself, shrugging his shoulders. "I will go up to-day. I have nothing to keep me at home."
Mr. Roscoe ordered the carriage, and drove to the depot. Guy, noticing his departure, asked permission to accompany him.
"Not to-day, Guy," he answered. "I am merely going up to see my lawyer."
Two hours later Mr. Roscoe entered the office of his lawyer.
"Well, Tape, what's up?" he asked, in an easy tone. "Your letter was mysterious."
"I didn't like to write explicitly," said Mr. Tape, gravely.
"The matter, you say, is of great importance?"
"It is, indeed! It is no less than a claim for the whole of your late brother's estate."
"Who is the claimant?" asked Allan Roscoe, perturbed.
"Your nephew, Hector."
"I have no nephew Hector. The boy called Hector Roscoe is an adopted son of my brother."
"I know you so stated. He says he is prepared to prove that he is the lawful son of the late Mr. Roscoe."
"He can't prove it!" said Allan Roscoe, turning pale.
"He has brought positive proof from California, so he says."
"Has he, then, returned?" asked Allan, his heart sinking.
"He is in the city, and expects us to meet him at two o'clock this afternoon, at the office of his lawyer, Mr. Parchment."
Now, Mr. Parchment was one of the most celebrated lawyers at the New York bar, and the fact that Hector had secured his services showed Allan Roscoe that the matter was indeed serious.
"How could he afford to retain so eminent a lawyer?" asked Allan Roscoe, nervously.
"Titus Newman, the millionaire merchant, backs him."
"Do you think there is anything in his case?" asked Allan, slowly.
"I can tell better after our interview at two o'clock."
At five minutes to two Allan Roscoe and Mr. Tape were ushered into the private office of Mr. Parchment.
"Glad to see you, gentlemen," said the great lawyer, with his usual courtesy.
Two minutes later Hector entered, accompanied by Mr. Newman. Hector nodded coldly to his uncle. He was not of a vindictive nature, but he could not forget that this man, his own near relative, had not only deprived him of his property, but conspired against his life.
"Hector," said Allan Roscoe, assuming a confidence he did not feel, "I am amazed at your preposterous claim upon the property my brother left to me. This is a poor return for his kindness to one who had no claim upon him."
"Mr. Parchment will speak for me," said Hector, briefly.
"My young client," said the great lawyer, "claims to be the son of the deceased Mr. Roscoe, and, of course, in that capacity, succeeds to his father's estate."
"It is one thing to make the claim, and another to substantiate it," sneered Allan Roscoe.
"Precisely so, Mr. Roscoe," said Mr. Parchment. "We quite agree with you. Shall I tell you and your learned counsel what we are prepared to prove?"
Mr. Roscoe nodded uneasily.
"We have the affidavits of the lady with whom your brother boarded in Sacramento, and in whose house my young client was born. We have, furthermore, the sworn testimony of the clergyman, still living, who baptized him, and we can show, though it is needless, in the face of such strong proof, that he was always spoken of in his infancy by Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe as their child."
"And I have my brother's letter stating that he was only adopted," asserted Allan Roscoe.
"Even that, admitting it to be genuine," said Mr. Parchment, "cannot disprove the evidence I have already alluded to. If you insist upon it, however, we will submit the letter to an expert, and--"
"This is a conspiracy. I won't give up the estate," said Allan, passionately.
"We also claim that there is a conspiracy," said Mr. Parchment, smoothly, "and there is one circumstance that will go far to confirm it."
"What is that?" demanded Allan Roscoe.
"It is the attempt made upon my young client's life in San Francisco by an agent of yours, Mr. Roscoe."
"It is a lie!" said Allan, hoarsely, shaking, nevertheless, with fear.
At a sign from Mr. Parchment, Hector opened the door of the office to give admission to Reuben Pearce.
At a sight of this man Allan Roscoe utterly collapsed. He felt that all was lost!
"Gentlemen," he said, "I will give up the estate, but for Heaven's sake, don't prosecute me for this!"
There was an informal conference, in which it was agreed that Allan Roscoe should make no resistance to Hector's claim, but restore the estate to him. Hector promised, though this was against his lawyer's advice, to give his uncle, who would be left penniless, the sum of two thousand dollars in cash, and an allowance of a hundred dollars per month for his life. He appointed Mr. Newman his guardian, being a minor, and was once more a boy of fortune. He resolved to continue his studies, and in due time go to college, thus preparing himself for the high position he would hereafter hold.
As for Allan Roscoe, he and his son, Guy, lost no time in leaving the neighborhood. Guy was intensely mortified at this turn of the wheel, which had again brought his cousin uppermost, and was quite ready to accompany his father to Chicago, where they are living at present. But he had formed extravagant tastes, and has been a source of trouble and solicitude to his father, who, indeed, hardly deserves the comfort of a good son.
Hector lost no time, after being restored to his old position, in re-engaging Larry Deane's father, who had been discharged by his uncle.
He paid him his usual wages for all the time he had been out of place, and considerably raised his pay for the future.
"Larry shall never want a friend as long as I live," he assured Mr. Deane. "He was a friend to me when I needed one, and I will take care to give him a good start in life." He redeemed this promise by securing Larry a place in Mr. Newman's employ, and voluntarily
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