MoboReader> Literature > Plane and Plank; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic


Plane and Plank; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic By Oliver Optic Characters: 10968

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

I was not suspicious; I had no idea that any one intended to wrong me. I was even willing to believe that Morgan Blair was sincere, and really thought that I ought to advance him money from the estate of his uncle, even before he had proved his claim. After all, it is pleasant to believe that no one intends to injure you; it is even better to be occasionally deceived than to be always suspicious.

I went up the stairs in the house to which the note from Mr. Lamar had given me the address without a suspicion that anything was, or could be, wrong. I had never before seen the handwriting of my correspondent, and had no reason to suppose that the note was a fraud upon me. Though I had had a sharp experience of the villany of men since I came from my home in the wilderness, I was still a child in the ways of the great world.

I entered the room to which I had been conducted by the man in a white jacket, and the door was instantly closed behind me and locked. The apartment was an attic chamber, on the fourth floor of the house, and contained the ordinary furniture of a bedroom. Mr. Leonidas Lynchpinne, otherwise Lynch, sat in a rocking-chair, smoking a cigar. Blair had slipped in behind me when I entered in order to secure the door; and having done this, he took a chair near the blackleg. On a small table, over which hung the gas-light, was a silver box, such as I had seen in the hands of Redwood at Leavenworth. It contained a pack of cards, and another lay upon the table. There was also a dice-box, and some other gambling implements, of which I do not even know the names. I concluded, from the position of the parties and the articles on the table between them, that Lynch had been giving the young man a lesson in the art of winning money.

"How are you, Phil Farringford?" said Lynch, with a sort of triumphant smile, which indicated the pleasure he felt at the success of his trick.

"How are you, Mr. Leonidas Lynchpinne?" I replied, cheerfully; for I felt it to be my duty to demonstrate that I was not alarmed at my situation.

The demonstration was not a feint, either. I felt an utter contempt for Lynch, and, now that I realized his rascality, for Morgan Blair. I had fought the savage Indians in the forest, which had developed my courage, if nothing more. I glanced around the room, and saw at the grate an iron poker, with which I thought I might neutralize the odds against me, in case the interview resulted in anything more dangerous to life and health than mere words. The letter, in its postscript, as though it had been an afterthought, requested me to bring Mr. Gracewood's note. Blair had asked me to give it up to him. I was inclined to think that the parties before me wanted this note, though I could not imagine what earthly use it could be to them.

"You need not call me by that name any longer," added Lynch, biting his lip, and evidently vexed to find that I was not intimidated by my situation.

"As you gave me the name of Leonidas Lynchpinne, I shall consult my own inclination, rather than yours, in the use of it."

"You will change your tune before you are an hour older, Phil."

"If I do I shall take the pitch from you."

"You are here at my summons, my lad."

"I see now that I am; brought here by a lie and a swindle, which seem be your stock in trade."

"Don't be impudent, Phil."

"If you speak to me like a gentleman, I will answer you in the same way. You need not put on airs."

"I have business with you, Phil."

"I have no business with you; and I respectfully decline having anything whatever to do with you."

"Your declination is not accepted. I want to tell you that I never forget a friend or forgive an enemy."

"I have fought Indians before, and though I don't like the business, I can do it again."

"Do you call that talking like a gentleman, Phil?"

"No gentleman ever utters an Indian sentiment."

"You are in my power, Phil, and you had better come down from that high horse."

"I'm not in your power, and never shall be till I become a thief, a blackleg, and a swindler," I replied, calmly, as I glanced at Morgan Blair, who, I thought, was completely in his power.

"What!" exclaimed Lynch, springing to his feet, his face red with anger.

I fell back two or three steps, and quietly took up the poker, which rested against the bracket at the side of the grate.

"What are you going to do with that?" demanded he.

"That will depend upon circumstances."

"Drop that poker!"

"For the present I shall regard this poker as a part of myself; and I hope you will so regard it."

"You impudent puppy!"

"Foul words are cheap, defiling only him who utters them," I added, quoting a sentence from the instructions of Mr. Gracewood.

"I'm not to be trifled with, Phil," said Lynch, taking a small Derringer pistol from his pocket.

"That's just my case," I answered, elevating the poker.

"Look here, Lynch," interrupted Morgan Blair, rising from his chair in evident alarm, "if you are going to use pistols and such things, I won't have anything to do with the scrape."

"Shut up, Blair!" replied Lynch.

"I won't!"

"You are a fool!" exclaimed the older villain, dropping into his rocking-chair with an expression of utter disgust upon his face.

I felt that I was fighting my battle very well indeed, and I was encouraged in the course I had chosen.

"I don't want any shooting where I am," said Blair. "I'm willing to lick him within

an inch of his life, if he don't play fair, but I don't want him shot."

Phil defies Lynch. Page 224.

"I don't intend to shoot him, unless he attacks me with that poker. I want to show him that two can play at his game," added Lynch. "Will you drop that poker, Phil?"

"I will not."

"If you undertake to use it, I want you to understand that pistol balls travel faster than pokers."

"Very true; and if you are satisfied with your pistol, I am with my poker. I am ready to end this meeting at any time."

"I am not ready to end it. I have business with you. I don't forgive an enemy."

"I do, when he deserves to be forgiven."

"None of your cant! I'm not going to a prayer-meeting with you now."

"It would do you good to go to one; and I know of no one who needs to go any more than you."

"If you can hold your tongue long enough, we will proceed to business, Phil."

"I have no business to proceed to; and I'm going to speak as I feel inclined," I replied, resting the poker in a chair near me.

"I have business with you, if you have not with me. As I told you, I never forgive an enemy."

"As I told you before, that is an Indian sentiment."

"Will you hold your tongue?"

"No, sir, I will not."

"You knocked me down in the street, and took my money from me."

"At your request I took it; and you were kind enough to pay me the balance in my favor when we parted at the police station," I replied.

"You must give me back that money, Phil."

"Not if I know it. Let me remind you that the money belonged to me, and that I did not charge you any interest upon it for the time you had it."

"The money wasn't yours. It belonged to Matt Rockwood. You stole it; and I intended to get all I could for my friend here, Morgan Blair, to whom all of it belongs."

"You and your friend seem to understand each other very well, except so far as the pistol is concerned."

"I act for him. He is a young fellow, and don't know much about the ways of the world."

"He appears to be learning very rapidly."

"He is the rightful heir of the man up the river, whose money you have. I expect you to give it up to him."

"And I expect to do so myself, just as soon as he proves the claim. Though I think I have a better right to the money than he has, I will give it up whenever he satisfies me that he is the nephew of Matt Rockwood. If this is your business with me, you can't get ahead any farther with it to-night."

"Have you the note with you-the note of Mr.-What's his name?"

"Mr. Gracewood," added Blair.

"I respectfully decline to answer," I replied.

"But you must give it up before you leave this house."

"Then I shall stay here longer than you will want to board me."

"I don't intend to board you," sneered Lynch. "You will neither eat nor drink till you give up this note, and the hundred dollars you got out of me at the police station."

"So far as the money is concerned, I spent a part of it, and the rest I left at my boarding-house."

"You can give me an order on your landlady for what you have left, and Blair will go and get it."

"I will not give him that trouble."

"You prefer to stay here-do you?"

"I do; this isn't a bad place to stay, and I can stand it here a while."

"Consider well your situation, Phil. This is my room. I board here when I am in town, and-"

"It's good enough for me, if it is for you."

"It is a gambling-house, and the people who live here are my friends. I can bring in half a dozen men to help me."

"Bring them in," I replied, laughing, though I confess that I was not very much amused.

"It's no joke."

"It will not be for you when you are done with it. When my father misses me, he will be very likely to send for our friends, Mr. Lamar and Mr. Gray."

"In a word, Phil, will you give me that note."

"In a word, I will not; and in another word, I will fight just as long as I have a breath in my body, if you or anybody else attempts to meddle with me."

"Phil, you go to prayer-meetings, and claim to be honest," continued Lynch, changing his tone when he found that he did not terrify me.

"I do go to prayer-meetings when I can, and I try to be honest."

"I hope you will keep on trying. By the merest accident Blair stumbled upon you, and turns out to be the heir of the man whose money you have. He is the last of the Rockwoods. Do you think it is honest to keep him out of his money?"

"I'm not so sure now that he stumbled upon me."

"Didn't he ask you something about the upper Missouri, and tell you he had an uncle there? and didn't he tell you the name of his uncle before you had mentioned it?"

"He certainly did; but since I have found out what company he keeps, I begin to think you posted him up, and sent him to stumble upon me."

"That's absurd."

"Not at all. Didn't you hear me tell the whole story in the police station, Mr. Leonidas Lynchpinne?"

"I never saw him till after that," replied Lynch, angrily, as he picked up the pistol, which he had laid upon the table. "It is useless to reason with you. Come, Blair, we will leave him here to think about it till morning."

The villain moved towards the door, pointing his pistol at me. It was capped, and I supposed it was loaded. Blair unlocked the door, and retreated into the entry. Lynch followed his example, and as it was possible that he might fire at me, I did not deem it prudent to be the aggressor. I heard the door locked upon me.

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