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|True Riches||T.S. Arthur|
|Page 4 of 6||
"Well, what did he say?"
"Oh, he blustered, and made covert threats of exposure, of course."
"The scoundrel!" said Grind, fiercely.
"He's a villain double-dyed. I have never ceased to regret that we brought him into this business. We should have had a man of better spirit--of a nicer sense of honour."
"Yes, Mr. Jasper, that is true enough," replied Grind; "but the mischief is, your men of nicer honour are too squeamish for the kind of work in which we employed him. This is the defect in all such operations. Men cannot be thoroughly trusted."
The merchant sighed. He felt too deeply the force of Grind's remark.
"You know," said he, "this Martin better than I do. What is his character? Is he a mere blusterer, whose bark is worse than his bite; or is he vindictive and unscrupulous?"
"Both vindictive and unscrupulous. I must warn you not to provoke his ill-will. He would take delight in exposing all he knows about this business, if he is once fairly turned against you. A fast friend--he is a bitter enemy."
"But see what a price he demands for his friendship! I have already given him some five thousand dollars for his services, and now he demands ten more. In a year he will be back, and coolly seek to levy a contribution of twenty thousand dollars."
"I understood you to say that he only asked for a loan," remarks the lawyer.
"A loan! That's mere mockery. If you placed ten thousand dollars in his hands, would you ever expect to see the first copper of it again?"
Grind shrugged his shoulders.
"Of course you would not. It's a levy, not a loan--and so he, in his heart, regards it."
"He's a dangerous man," said the lawyer, "and it's to be regretted that you ever had any thing to do with him. But, now that your hand is in the lion's mouth, the wisest thing is to get it out with as little detriment as possible."
"Ten thousand dollars!" ejaculated the merchant. "Why, it's downright robbery! He might just as well stop me on the highway."
"It's a hard case, I must own, Mr. Jasper. You might resist him, and, at least not let him obtain what he demands without a struggle; but the question is, may you not receive a mortal wound in the contest."
"Ah! that is the rub, Grind. Rather than meet the exposure he could make, I would give twenty thousand dollars; yea, half, if not all I am worth."
Can wealth, held on such a tenure, and in such a state of mind, be called riches? Ah, no. How the possession is changed from a blessing into a curse!
"Then, Mr. Jasper," replied the lawyer, "there is but one course plain before you. If you make this man your enemy, he will surely pursue you to the death. There is no pity in him."
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