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- Struggling Upward - 41/41 -

"Will you not have him arrested?" asked Mr. Gay.

"No, he has every reason to keep faith with me."

It was rather late in the day when Mr. Armstrong, accompanied by Tony Denton, made their appearance at the house of Prince Duncan. When the banker's eyes rested on the strangely assorted pair, his heart sank within him. He had a suspicion of what it meant.

"We have called on you, Mr. Duncan, on a matter of importance," said Mr. Armstrong.

"Very well," answered Duncan faintly.

"It is useless to mince matters. I have evidence outside of this man's to show that it was you who robbed the bank of which you are president, and appropriated to your own use the bonds which it contained."

"This is a strange charge to bring against a man in my position. Where is your proof?" demanded Duncan, attempting to bluster.

"I have Mr. Denton's evidence that he obtained two thousand-dollar bonds of you."

"Very well, suppose I did sell him two such bonds?"

"They were among the bonds stolen."

"It is not true. They were bonds I have had for five years."

"Your denial is useless. The numbers betray you."

"You did not have the numbers of the bonds."

"So you think, but I have obtained them from an old book-keeper of mine, now at the West. I sent a special messenger out to obtain the list from him. Would you like to know who the messenger was?"

"Who was it?"

"Luke Larkin."

"That boy!" exclaimed Duncan bitterly.

"Yes, that boy supplied me with the necessary proof. And now, I have a word to say; I can send you to prison, but for the sake of your family I would prefer to spare you. But the bonds must be given up."

"I haven't them all in my possession."

"Then you must pay me the market price of those you have used. The last one given to this man is safe."

"It will reduce me to poverty," said Prince Duncan in great agitation.

"Nevertheless, it must be done!" said Mr. Armstrong sternly. "Moreover, you must resign your position as president of the bank, and on that condition you will be allowed to go free, and I will not expose you."

Of course, Squire Duncan was compelled to accept these terms. He saved a small sum out of the wreck of his fortune, and with his family removed to the West, where they were obliged to adopt a very different style of living. Randolph is now an office boy at a salary of four dollars a week, and is no longer able to swagger and boast as he has done hitherto. Mr. Tomkins, Linton's father, was elected president of the Groveton Bank in place of Mr. Duncan, much to the satisfaction of Luke.

Roland Reed, much to the surprise of Luke, revealed himself as a cousin of Mr. Larkin, who for twenty-five years had been lost sight of. He had changed his name, on account of some trouble into which he had been betrayed by Prince Duncan, and thus had not been recognized.

"You need be under no anxiety about Luke and his prospects," he said to Mrs. Larkin. "I shall make over to him ten thousand dollars at once, constituting myself his guardian, and will see that he is well started in business. My friend Mr. Armstrong proposes to take him into his office, if you do not object, at a liberal salary."

"I shall miss him very much," said Mrs. Larkin, "though I am thankful that he is to be so well provided for."

"He can come home every Saturday night, and stay until Monday morning," said Mr. Reed, who, by the way, chose to retain his name in place of his old one. "Will that satisfy you?"

"It ought to, surely, and I am grateful to Providence for all the blessings which it has showered upon me and mine."

There was another change. Mr. Reed built a neat and commodious house in the pleasantest part of the village and there Mrs. Larkin removed with his little daughter, of whom she still had the charge. No one rejoiced more sincerely at Luke's good fortune than Linton, who throughout had been a true and faithful friend. He is at present visiting Europe with his mother, and has written an earnest letter, asking Luke to join him. But Luke feels that he cannot leave a good business position, and must postpone the pleasure of traveling till he is older.

Mr. J. Madison Coleman, the enterprising drummer, has got into trouble, and is at present an inmate of the State penitentiary at Joliet, Illinois. It is fortunate for the traveling public, so many of whom he has swindled, that he is for a time placed where he can do no more mischief.

So closes an eventful passage in the life of Luke Larkin. He has struggled upward from a boyhood of privation and self-denial into a youth and manhood of prosperity and honor. There has been some luck about it, I admit, but after all he is indebted for most of his good fortune to his own good qualities.

Struggling Upward - 41/41

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