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   Chapter 32 MR. BOLTON AS A HUSTLER.

The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 8933

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


When Benjamin Bolton left the house of Stephen Ray with a hundred dollars in his pocket, it was with the clearly-defined purpose in his mind to find the boy who had been so grossly wronged, and force the present holder of the Ray estate to make restitution. But he was not yet in a position to move in the matter.

Only a few hours previous he had been nearly penniless. Even now, though he was provided with a sum of money that made him feel comparatively rich, he knew that it would not last very long. Clearly he must obtain employment.

He provided himself with a respectable suit of clothing, and took the next train for New York. He had been in the metropolis two or three times in the course of his life, but he knew no one there. He must push his own way without help.

While other paths might be open to him, for he was a man of education and worldly experience, he felt that he should like to get back into his own profession. He flattered himself that if properly started he could make himself valuable to an established attorney in the way of hunting up cases, and taking part in any description of legal work that might be intrusted to him.

But how could he, a man altogether unknown, recommend himself to any lawyer whose standing and business would make a connection with him desirable? Perhaps in any other business there would be less difficulty in making a start.

But Mr. Bolton was resolute and determined, and fortune favored him.

Within thirty miles of the city a stout gentleman of perhaps fifty entered the car and sat down beside him. He looked like a well-to-do business man, prosperous and free from care, but for the anxious expression on his face. He appeared like a man in trouble who stood in need of advice.

The train had gone several miles before he made up his mind to confide in the quiet-looking man who sat beside him. He had already taken stock of Bolton in several furtive glances before he decided to speak of the matter that troubled him.

"There is something on his mind," thought Bolton. "He looks as if he wished to speak to some one."

He addressed a casual remark to his companion, who instantly responded.

"I don't like to trouble you," he said, "but I am somewhat perplexed."

"My dear sir, if in any way I can help you I shall be glad to do so," answered Bolton. "I am a lawyer--"

"Are you?" said the other eagerly. "I want to meet a good, honest, and smart lawyer, who will undertake a case for me."

Bolton pricked up his ears. This seemed to be a providential opportunity of which he resolved to avail himself.

"I should not like to praise myself," he said modestly, "but I think you would find me faithful to your interests."

"No doubt of it, sir. Are you a New York lawyer?"

"I am about to connect myself with a law firm in the city," answered Bolton, heartily hoping that this statement might prove accurate.

"Then you will be able to help me."

"State your case, if you don't mind." Bolton took out a small memorandum book, and, pencil in hand, sat ready to take down the important points.

"You must know, sir, that twenty years ago my father died, leaving an estate of fifty thousand dollars. It was divided equally between my sister Martha and myself. I married, and Martha, for the last twenty years, has been a member of my family. Being a spinster, with only herself to provide for, her property has doubled, while I, having several children, have barely held my own. Of course I expected that my children and my self would inherit Martha's money when she died."

"Very natural, sir, and very just."

"Well, Martha died last August. Imagine my dismay when her will was opened and proved to bequeath her entire estate to various charities in which she never took any particular interest when living."

"Do you suspect any one of influencing her to this disposition of her property?"

"Yes, she had had various conversations with a collector for these societies, who resided in the town during the summer, and who sought an introduction when he learned that she was a lady of independent fortune. He called frequently, and flattered up my poor sister, who, between ourselves, had lately shown signs of mental weakness."

"Did she cut off your family entirely in her will?"

"Yes; she didn't leave even a dollar to any one of my children, though one of my daughters was named for her."

"Was the collector entitled to a commission on sums secured

for the societies which he rep resented?"

"Yes, that is the cause of his zeal. He would make a very handsome percentage on an estate as large as my sister's."

"But for him would she have been likely to cut off her relatives?"

"No; we should probably have received every dollar."

"Do you think the collector cherished any matrimonial designs with reference to your sister?"

"I did think so at one time, but Martha's condition as an invalid led her to discourage his attentions, though she was evidently flattered by them."

"Of course you wish to break the will?"

"Yes. Do you think it can be done?"

"Upon the basis of what you have told me I should think the chances were greatly in your favor."

His companion brightened up very perceptibly at this assurance.

"Have you ever been employed in any similar cases?" he asked.

"My dear sir, I have an important case of the kind on my hands at this moment. The amount involved is a quarter of a million dollars."

Mr. Bolton rose greatly in the estimation of his new client after he had made this statement.

"Is the case at all similar?"

"Hardly. It is the case of a will concealed, or rather suppressed, and acting upon a will previously made. I cannot go into details for obvious reasons, as I wish to keep our enemy in the dark."

"I understand. Have you your card with you, so that I can call at your office?"

This was a puzzling question for Bolton, but he was equal to the occasion.

"Tell me what hotel you propose to stop at, and I will call upon you at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning."

"I don't know much about the New York hotels."

"Then let me recommend a house," naming a comfortable but not expensive hostelry on upper Broadway.

"I will go there."

"I think you have not yet mentioned your name."

"My name is Ephraim Paulding."

Bolton noted it down in his memorandum-book, and soon after the train ran into the station at Forty-second Street.

There was no time to be lost. Bolton made inquiries and obtained the name of a successful, go-ahead lawyer, having an office at 182 Nassau Street. He did not wait till the next day, but made a call that same evening at his house on Lexington Avenue.

Mr. Norcross, the lawyer, entered the parlor with Bolton's card in his hand and a puzzled expression on his face.

"Have I ever met you before, Mr. Bolton?" he asked.

"No, sir."

"Please state your business."

"I should like to enter your office. I am a lawyer with fifteen years experience."

"I should hardly think so, considering the strange, and I may say unprecedented, proposal you are making."

"I am quite aware that it seems so, but I can make it worth your while."

"How?"

"By bringing you business. I can put in your hands now a will case involving an estate of fifty thousand dollars, and further on probably a much more important case."

"You seem to be a hustler."

"I am."

"Where has your professional life been spent?" asked Norcross.

"At Elmira. Now I wish to remove to this city. It will give me a larger and more profitable field."

"Give me some idea of the case you say you can put in my hands."

Bolton did so. His terse and crisp statement--for he was really a man of ability--interested the lawyer, and disposed him favorably toward the matter.

The result of the interview was that he engaged Bolton at a small salary and a commission on business brought to the office for a period of three months.

"Thank you," said Bolton, as he rose to go. "You will not regret this step."

The next morning Bolton brought his rail road acquaintance to the office, and Mr. Norcross formally undertook his case.

"I think we shall win," he said. "It is an aggravated case of undue influence. Mr. Bolton will from time to time communicate to you the steps we have taken."

It is unnecessary to go into details. It is enough to say that the will was broken, and a goodly sum found its way to the coffers of lawyer Norcross.

By this time Benjamin Bolton had established himself in the favor of his employer, who, at the end of three months, made a new and much more advantageous arrangement. Bolton had not as yet taken any steps in Ernest's case, but he now felt that the time had come to do so. He wrote to the postmaster at Oak Forks, inquiring if he knew a boy named Ernest Ray, but learned, in reply, that Ernest had left the place some months before, and had not since been heard from.

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