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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 6 of 6||
"One hundred dollars will do."
"Not a copper, if it were to save you from the nether regions!" cried Jasper, his anger and indignation o'erleaping the boundaries of self-control.
He was alone in the next moment. As his excitement cooled down, he felt by no means indifferent to the consequences which might follow this rupture with Martin. More than one thought presented itself, which, if it could have been weighed calmly a few minutes before, would have caused a slightly modified treatment of his unwelcome visitor.
But having taken his position, Jasper determined to adhere to it, and brave all consequences.
While Claire was yet seated at the breakfast-table on the next morning, word was brought that a gentleman was in the parlour and wished to see him.
On entering the parlour, he found there a man of exceedingly ill appearance, both as to countenance and apparel.
"My name is Martin," said this person--"though you do not, I presume, know me."
Claire answered that he was to him an entire stranger.
"I have," said the man, speaking in a low, confidential tone of voice, "became cognisant of certain facts, which it much concerns you, or at least your adopted daughter, Fanny Elder, to know."
For a few moments, Claire was overcome with surprise.
"Concerns Fanny Elder to know! What do you mean, sir?"
"Precisely what I say. There has been a great fraud committed; and I know all the ins and the outs of it!"
"By whom?" asked Claire.
"Ah!" replied the visitor, "that we will come to after a while."
"Upon whom, then?"
"Upon the estate of Ruben Elder, the father of your adopted daughter."
Not liking either the man's appearance or manner, Claire said, after a moment's reflection--
"Why have you called to see me?"
"To give the information I have indicated--provided, of course, that you desire to have it."
"On what terms do you propose to act in this matter? Let us understand each other in the beginning."
"I can put you in the way of recovering for Miss Elder from twenty to a hundred thousand dollars, out of which she has been cheated. But, before I give you any information on the subject, I shall require an honourable pledge on your part, as well as written agreement, to pay me twenty per cent. of the whole amount recovered. Will you give it?"
Claire bent his head in thought for some moments. When he looked up he said--
"No, sir. I can make no compact with you of this kind."
"Very well, sir. That closes the matter," replied Martin, rising. "If you will not buy a fortune at so small a cost, you deserve to be poor. How far your conscience is clear in respect to Miss Elder, is another matter. But, perhaps you don't credit what I say. Let me give you a single hint. Fanny Elder was missing once for three days. I had a hand in that affair. Do you think she was carried off, and taken to another city for nothing? If so, you are wonderfully mistaken. But good morning, sir. If you should, on reflection, change your mind, you can hear of me by calling at the office of Grind, the lawyer."
"Good morning," returned Claire, showing not the least disposition to retain the man, toward whom he experienced a strong feeling of dislike and sense of repulsion.
Martin lingered a few moments, and then went out, leaving Claire bewildered by a rush of new thoughts.
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