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- Try and Trust - 40/42 -
of what I say," said Ralph firmly.
"Do you remember a man named David Marston?"
"He is dead," said Mr. Stanton, hastily.
"So you have supposed," said Ralph; "but you were deceived. He is not dead. I only encountered him a week since, quite by accident, in my Western home. He was your confidential clerk, you remember, and fully acquainted with all your business transactions at the time of which I am speaking. From him I learned how basely I had been deceived, and with what deliberate cruelty you conspired to rob the son of your dead friend."
"I don't believe David Marston is alive," said Mr. Stanton, hoarsely, with a certain terror in his face. "Indeed, I have proof that he is dead."
"I know the character of your proof. A paper was forwarded to you from Australia, whither you had sent him, containing the record of his death."
"Yes? What have you to say against this?"
"That the publication was a mistake. He was dangerously sick, and it was falsely announced that he was dead. That notice was sent to you, and you believed it to be true."
"I believe it now," said Mr. Stanton, doggedly. "Why should I not?"
"If you wish to be convinced, proof is at hand. Wait a moment."
Ralph Pendleton rose from his seat and left the counting-room. Two minutes had not passed when he returned with an elderly man, thin of face and wasted in figure, looking twenty years older than Mr. Stanton, though really of about the same age.
"This is David Marston," said Ralph--"the living proof that I have told you the truth."
Mr. Stanton gazed at him wildly, for to him it was as the face of one risen from the dead.
"How do you do, Mr. Stanton?" said David Marston, humbly. "It is many, many years since we met, sir."
"Are you really David Marston?" demanded Mr. Stanton, never taking his eyes off the shrunken figure of his old clerk.
"I am, sir; greatly changed indeed, but still the David Marston who was formerly in your employ. Time hasn't treated me as well as it has you, sir. I've been unlucky, and aged fast."
"I am afraid your mind is also affected. You have been telling strange stories to Mr. Pendleton here."
"True stories, sir," said David, firmly.
"Come, come, how much is he going to give you for this evidence of yours?"
"Stop, Mr. Stanton! You insult us both," said Ralph Pendleton, sternly. "I am not the man to buy false evidence, nor is David Marston the man to perjure himself for pay. David, I want you, in Mr. Stanton's presence, to make a clear statement of his connection with the mining company by which I lost my fortune."
David Marston obeyed, and in a few words as possible unfolded the story. It is not necessary to repeat it here. Enough that it fully substantiated the charge which Ralph had brought against his early guardian,
When he had finished, Ralph said, "You can judge what weight Marston's testimony would have before a court of justice, and whether it would help your commercial standing to have his story made public."
"What is it you want of me?" said Mr. Stanton, sullenly.
"I want restitution, dollar for dollar, of my lost money. I will waive interest, though I might justly claim it. But, were it all paid, interest and principal, the wrong would not be redressed. You cannot restore the bride who would have been mine but for your villainy."
How much time will you give me to pay this money?" asked the merchant, moodily.
"It is a short time."
"It must suffice. Do you agree?"
"Bind yourself to that, and for ten days I leave you free."
Satisfactory security was given that the engagement would be met, and Ralph Pendleton left the counting-room. But his countenance was scarcely more cheerful than that of the man he had conquered.
"I am rich," he said to himself; "but of what avail is it? Whom can I benefit with my wealth?"
This thought had scarcely crossed his mind when he came face to face with Herbert, walking with a sad and downcast face in the opposite direction.
A FRIEND IN NEED
Herbert left Mr. Godfrey's counting-room very much depressed in spirits. But an hour before he had rejoiced in his excellent prospects, and, depending on the favor of his employer and his own fidelity, had looked forward to a bright future. Now all was changed. He was dismissed from his situation in disgrace, suspected of a mean theft. He had, to be sure, the consciousness of innocence, and that was a great deal. He was not weighed down by the feeling of guilt, at least. Still his prospects were dark. Suppose the matter should not be cleared up, and he should still remain under suspicion? How could he hope to obtain another place without a recommendation from his late employer? No; he must resign all hope of a position and adopt some street occupation, such as selling papers or vending small articles in a basket, as he had seen boys of his own age doing. He did not doubt but that in some way he could get a living, but still he would be under suspicion, and that was hard to bear.
While these things were passing through his mind he walked down Broadway, with his eyes fixed upon the sidewalk. All at once he started to hear his name called, and, looking up, to his unbounded astonishment he saw before him Ralph the Ranger, whom he had supposed a thousand miles away in his cabin in the Ohio woods.
The sight of a friendly face was most welcome to him at such a time, and Ralph's face was friendly.
"Ralph!" he exclaimed, seizing the Ranger's hand. "How did you come here? When did you arrive? You are the last person I expected to see."
"And you are the one I most wanted to see," said Ralph, his tone unconsciously softened by his friendly interest in the boy before him.
"I can say the same, Ralph," said Herbert, soberly, "for I am in trouble."
"In trouble, boy? I am sorry for that. Is it money? I can get you out of that trouble."
"It is not that exactly, Ralph. If you will come into the City Hall Park and sit down on a bench with me I will tell you all about it."
"Instead of that, let us go into the Astor House," said Ralph. "It is where I am stopping."
"You are stopping at the Astor House?" said Herbert, in momentary surprise. "Perhaps you do not know that there are cheaper hotels. Shall I direct you to one?"
"No, Herbert, I am not poor, as you perhaps think. I suppose I should be called rich; but that I can explain afterwards. For the present your affairs require attention. Come in."
They went up the steps of the Astor House, and Ralph led the way to his room, an apartment of good size and handsomely furnished.
"Now, Herbert, take a chair and tell me all," he said.
To repeat Herbert's story here is unnecessary. Ralph listened with attention, and when it was concluded he said: "The main thing is to account for the money in your possession. Do you think you should remember the policeman who aided you in recovering your money?"
"I am sure I should."
"Did he know how much money you recovered?"
"Yes, for he saw me count the bills."
"Then we must seek him out and induce him to go with us to Mr. Godfrey's counting-room and give his testimony."
"I never thought of that," said Herbert, his face brightening. "When shall we go?"
"Now. I have nothing else to occupy me, and the sooner you are righted the better."
They went out together, and made their way at once to the spot where Herbert had encountered Greenleaf. They had to wait but a brief time when the policeman came up.
"Do you remember me?" asked Herbert, going up to him.
"Yes," he replied; "you are the boy that overhauled a thief the other
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