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The Young Bank Messenger By Jr. Horatio Alger Characters: 4835

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"A gentleman to see you, sir." This was the message brought to Stephen Ray by the servant one morning.

"Did he give his name?"

"No, sir."

"Very well; bring him up."

Mr. Ray was sitting at the desk in his library. He was looking over some plans for the improvement of his already handsome residence.

He proposed to enlarge a lower room by a bay-window, and to carry the piazza round on each side. It would cost something, but his income was ample--at least four times his expenditure.

He looked up as a handsomely dressed gentleman entered the room.

"What is your business, sir?" asked Stephen Ray, formally.

The visitor smiled.

"You don't recognize me, Stephen Ray?" he said.

"Benjamin Bolton!" exclaimed the other, his countenance changing.

"The same."

"I judge from your appearance that your circumstances have improved," said Mr. Ray, coldly.

"Fortunately, yes."

"You have probably come to receive my congratulations. Well, I congratulate you."

"Thank you. The money you kindly loaned me when I was last here did me a great deal of good."

"I presume you have come to repay it," said Ray, with a sneer.

"You are right," and Bolton drew from his pocket two fifty-dollar bills, which he tendered to his host.

Stephen Ray was fond of money, and he received the notes with satisfaction.

"You have acted honorably," he said more graciously. "Are you located in the neighborhood, Mr. Bolton?"

"No, in New York City. I am in a law office there."

"I am pleased with your success. I would ask you to remain, but I am busy this morning."

"Excuse me, Mr. Ray, but the repayment of the loan was not my only errand. I am here on more important business."

Stephen Ray's countenance changed. He began to fear that Bolton had found Ernest.

"Well?" he said stiffly.

"When I was here last year you told me that Dudley Ray's son Ernest was dead."

"Yes, he died in Alabama."

"When I was here before you told me he died in Georgia."

"I believe it was in Georgia," said Stephen Ray, disconcerted.

"You will be glad to hear that it is a mistake--about his death, I mean. He is as much alive as you are."

"Mr. Bolton," said Ray angrily, "you are trying to impose upon me. The boy is dead, I tell you."

"And I tell you he is not dead. I saw him only yesterday."

"You may have seen some one who pretended to be Ernest Ray."

"I should not be ea

sily deceived. He is the image of his father."

"I don't believe the boy is alive."

"Shall I bring him here?"

"You need not trouble yourself. I can have nothing to say to him, whether he is really Ernest Ray or an impostor."

"I beg your pardon. If he is Ernest Ray, under the will which I have in my possession he is the owner of this property."

Bolton spoke firmly, and looked Ray resolutely in the eye.

Stephen Ray flushed and then paled. There was a great fear in his heart, but he resolved to brave it out.

"This is a base conspiracy," he ejaculated. "Your share in it ought to land you in State's prison."

"I am willing to take my chance of it," said the lawyer calmly. "Didn't you recognize the boy when you saw him?"

"What do you mean?"

"You saw him in the hotel at Buffalo. He recognized you, and had a conversation with your son."

"Had a conversation with Clarence? That is a lie. Clarence never spoke to me about it."

"You had better question him. But there is no need of sparring. I tell you confidently that Ernest Ray is alive, and demands the estate which you hold, under his grandfather's will."

"This is simply ridiculous. Of course there is but one answer to such a proposal."

"And what is that?"

"I refuse absolutely to make any concession to an impostor."

"That is your final answer?"

"It is."

"Then I give you notice that the boy will at once bring suit for the restoration of the estate and the vindication of his rights."

"I suppose you are his lawyer," sneered Ray.

"The firm with which I am connected has undertaken the case."

"What is the firm?" asked Stephen Ray, with an anxiety which he could not conceal.

"Norcross & Co.," answered Bolton.

Great drops of perspiration appeared on the brow of Stephen Ray. He knew very well the high reputation and uniform success of the firm in question.

He did not immediately answer, but began to pace the room in agitation. Finally he spoke.

"I don't know what to say. This has come upon me as a surprise. I thought the boy dead. I may be willing to make some arrangement. Bring him here some day next week say Tuesday and we will talk the matter over."

"You must do something more than talk the matter over, Stephen Ray. A great injustice has been done, and the wrong must be righted."

"Come here next Tuesday," was the only answer made.

The lawyer bowed and withdrew.

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