The Plaintiff Nonsuited
THIS was the tenth and last day of a criminal case which I was reporting. There had been a comfortable crowd each morning, — one just overflowing the benches, and rippling about the doorway ; but this closing scene had drawn and packed two crowds into one, — a dense mass, anxious and silent, waiting for the jury to bring in their verdict. It was very uncomfortable, even to those inside the bar.
“We shall have to stay here ten hours yet,” said one of the lawyers. “ Suppose we adjourn to the judge’s room, with the reporters, and have some refreshments and a story.” So we all rose, much to the surprise of the spectators, whose anxious eyes followed us, and walked out of the stifling atmosphere into the library, where we made ourselves comfortable in the spacious chairs and sofas.
“ I call on the counsel who closed for the defence,” said the first speaker, “ for a story.”
Thus appealed to, the gentleman, an intellectual, keen-eyed man, with a kindly expression on his thoughtful face, dallied with a pencil on the table a moment and said, smiling : “ Gentlemen, how can you hope for or expect a good story from me, when you know I am neither a woman nor a free-thinker? However, my wife is a woman, fortunately, and I will admit, in strict professional confidence, that she is pretty free in expressing her thoughts on all subjects ; so perhaps you may see fit to waive these primary objections, and listen to me.” Here he looked at my pencil racing over the paper, and hesitated a moment; then sighed, like one submitting to inevitable destiny, and launched out as follows : —
“It is unnecessary, perhaps, for me to tell any of my legal brothers here, that the summer in Nassau Street is hot; but I may be allowed to say, in passing, that it was very hot in my office in Nassau Street on one particular August afternoon, a dozen years since. In fact, I was sitting very unprofessionally in my shirtsleeves, when Mr. Lockshaw — firm of Phillips and Lockshaw—came into the office, rather red, and much excited.
“ ' Mr. Riley,’ said he, ‘ you must go to Wisconsin to-night.’
“ 'To-night! Do you think I am a carrier-pigeon, Mr. Lockshaw ? It will take thirty hours at least, with the best possible appliances of our fleet friend the steam-horse.’
“' We have,’ he continued, not heeding my remarks, ‘ fifteen thousand dollars due us there from Wells & Co., and we learn from private advices that they are going to sell out, and run away to California. Now what can we do, except attach their property ? ’
“ ‘ Nothing,’ I replied, ' and you will be very fortunate it you do that before they assign.'
“ His finger trembled at this suggestion, as he moved it slowly over the map ; and, stopping suddenly, he said : ' Here it is, on the Fox River, about a day’s drive back from Lake Michigan. There is no town marked on the map, but you can’t miss it. We will give you a thousand dollars extra, beside your expenses and regular fee.'
“‘Well, Mr. Lockshaw, I suppose there is no use in refusing, so get your notes ready, and I ’ll leave on the next train.’
“ He had not been gone ten minutes when up came Mr. Wolfe, an old friend and client ; and, what was much more important to me, the father of Fanny Wolfe, who, according to a mutual agreement, was to become Mrs. Riley two months from that date.
“ ' Well, Riley, I’m glad to find you in,’ said he, with something of the patronizing air of a prospective fatherin-law, ' you must go to Wisconsin lor me.’
“ ' Wisconsin ! What is the matter there, sir?'
“‘A good deal,’ said he; ' fifteen thousand dollars at least, and hanging by a single thread, too.’
“‘Fifteen thousand dollars! Why, you surprise me ; though I know there is a great deal of money hanging by single threads all over the country. What shape is it in?’ said I. ‘Who owes it to you ?'
“ ‘ Wells & Co.,’ he replied. ‘ Why, what’s the matter, Riley ? Are they friends of yours ? '
“ You will excuse me, gentlemen, for having been so unprofessional, on this occasion, as to allow my tace to betray my feelings,” said Riley to us, “but I recovered immediately, and replied to Wolfe that they were not my friends, and asked him where Wells & Co. lived.
“ ' About a clay’s drive back from Lake Michigan, on the Fox River,’ said he, ‘and you must attach their goods. They have a large stock I’m told, — some forty thousand dollars’ worth.’
“ ' I am very sorry, Mr. Wolfe, that it so happens,’ said I, greatly perplexed at the unpleasant position I was in, ‘ but I cannot go for you.’
“ ‘ You must,’ said he, positively ; ‘ I depend on it. You are not going somewhere else, are you ? ’
“ ‘ No, not exactly,’ said I, anxiously, for he was not a man to be trifled with, and I felt uneasy when I thought of Fanny. ‘ But I’m going to be busy, — very busy, — in fact entirely absorbed in a case for another client.’
“ ' Who is it ? ’ said he. ‘ You must put him off. This is too important, and must be attended to. I will give you twenty-five hundred dollars and your expenses, if you 'll go.'
“ ' But I cannot attend to it, I assure you, unless my other clients release me. I will send them a note, and they can decide while I am getting ready to go.’
“ So I wrote a note to Phillips and Lockshaw, stating the case, and urging them to unite with Mr. Wolfe, and let me collect on account of both claims, as Mr. Wolfe said he understood there was forty thousand dollars’ worth of goods in Wells & Co.’s store.
“When I had finished writing, the errand-boy was gone. Here was a dilemma, for I had no time to see my clients in person, and Mr. Wolfe was pacing the room much excited. He had long been my client, and I had made a thousand dollars from his business where I had a hundred dollars from Phillips and Lockshaw ; besides, I was to be one of his family in two months ; but I had been retained by the other parties, and professional honor, of course, demanded my utmost exertions in their behalf, against all opponents whatsoever.
“ 'Well,’ said he, turning sharp on his heel, seeing me holding the note by one corner, ‘ how is it ?'
“Why, my boy is gone, and I cannot get this delivered, nor have I time to see them, for I must go off on the next train, and need all my time to get ready in. You must employ some other lawyer this time.'
“‘ Here,’ said he, ' I ’ll deliver the noted
“ ' No, sir,’ said I, fearful of an interview between him and Lockshaw ; ' I wouldn’t think of allowing you to do that.’
“‘Yes,’ he insisted; ‘pass it over, and I ’ll deliver it. I’m good at skipping these streets. I have done it ever since I was big enough to dodge an omnibus. Let me have it, quick ! ’
“ I hesitated a moment, then handed him the note.
Phillips and Lockshaw ! ’ said he, his gray eyes snapping, and he scowled a little. ‘ Well, I’ll probably be here when you get back.’
“ I returned very soon, but he was not there. Phillips and Lockshaw were both there, and very red in the face, too, for a wholesale firm. They resembled a pair of rose peonies, freshly plucked ; only peonies are fragrant, and do not sweat, and my clients did sweat profusely.
“ ‘ Did Mr. Wolfe bring you a note from me ? ’ I inquired.
“ ‘ Yes,’ replied my clients, both in the same breath.
“ ‘ What was your answer ?
“‘Well, you see, he asked me,’ said Lockshaw, ‘ before I saw the note, if we could let you off from our engagement, whatever it was, for a few days. I told him that we could n't possibly release you, because we wanted you to go to Wisconsin and attach some goods. The minute I said that, he threw down the note and went out of our office almost on a run.’
“‘You have defeated yourselves!' said I, to the great terror of the wholesale firm. ‘ He will get ahead of us, sure.’
“‘But you must run!’ said Mr. Lockshaw.
“ ‘ You must n’t sleep nor eat day nor night ! ’ said Phillips, in his excitement, anxious to contribute his utmost to assist me.
“ ‘ Gentlemen,’ said I, ‘ you had better see Mr. Wolfe, and agree to have me collect for all of you. In the mean time, I will get on the train, and you can come there to report.’
“ I had been aboard about ten minutes, when, just as the cars were moving off, my clients came running up, and being unable to explain in words, they did so by signs ; Mr. Phillips shaking his head, which I interpreted to mean that I was to neither eat nor sleep, and that he had not agreed with Wolfe. Mr. Lockshaw, at the same time, was nodding vigorously, and moved me on with his hands ; which I took to mean that he approved of me, indorsed my course, wished to convey the company’s blessings, and desired me, without fail, to outstrip Wolfe’s man, and circumvent all their enemies.
“ ‘ A bothering pair,’ said I to myself,— ‘a couple of skrimpy patterns, cut out of poor cloth. Both of their bodies and brains are not worth the little finger of old Wolfe,-—the hothead ! '
“ I felt unpleasant and dissatisfied ; because, if I succeeded in Phillips and Lockshaw’s case, I would most likely fail in my own suit with Wolfe’s daughter, for he was a man of strong passion, and Fanny had plenty of her father’s spirit.
“What added to my anxiety was the fact that Mr. Wolfe had met with some Western losses, and did not feel very amiable. He had always relied on me in difficult cases, and 1 felt now as if my position would not be fully understood,— that he could not, or would not, look on professional honor as i did.
“ But the cars soon shook these thoughts out of me, as we banged along through dust and dirt all night and next day ; and the next night we came into the range of the cool lake winds, and so on to Chicago,— hungry, flaccid, and sleep)-.
“ I had looked through the train for Mr. Wolfe’s lawyer, but failed to find any one I knew, and concluded that I was ahead, thus for at least; so I registered my name in full, and went to bed.
“‘My friend,’ said I, speaking to the clerk in a style somewhat prevalent thereabout, as I came down rather late next morning, — ' my friend, why did n’t you call me as I ordered ? I wanted to take the Lake Shore train for Wisconsin.’
“ ' You changed your order, sir,’ said the clerk. ' You told us you did not want to go.’
“ ' No, sir,’ said I, ‘begging your pardon, I did not change my order.’
“ ' It is so marked here,’ he replied, showing me the slate, ' Order changed, — need n’t call, — stays to-morrow.’
“‘You have made an entry against the wrong name,’ said I.
“ ' This is not the gentleman,’ said another clerk, coming up. ' The gentleman who changed Mr. Riley’s order paid his bill, and has taken the Lake Shore train. Here is his name, — C. Wakefield, New York.’
“Wakefield and I had never met, though he knew Fanny. He was undoubtedly Wolfe’s lawyer, and had got ahead of me. ' Give me my bill, quicker than lightning,’ said I.
“ ' But don’t you want your breakfast ?’ replied the clerk ; ' the train has gone.’
“ ' No, I want my bill ; that’s all I want in this house.’
“ ' It was a mistake, sir, that no one could help,’ said he, writing.
“ ' I understand what it was,’ said I,
' but I '11 try to help it, if you will give me my bill,’ — and, throwing down the money, I seized my valise and started.
“ ' Here, take me to the Lake Shore train on a dead run, and don’t stop for anything,’ said I to a coachman at the foot of the stairs. ' Ten dollars if you make the train,’ I shouted through the front window of the coach after I got in. He did not hear, and I punched him. He came to a dead stop of course.
' Ten dollars if you reach the train,’ I repeated. It is wonderful, now I think of it coolly, what a difference that made. He had been figuring it up, and concluded that by missing the train he would get a fare back; but now, by reaching it, he would get five fares in one. It seemed as if the coach and the horses heard my offer, and instantly put forth individual exertions, somewhat in harmony with the driver, to earn the money; for I commenced rocking, dancing, and jumping about, like an acrobat trying to dive through both doors and the front window at one leap.
“ I think the people in the streets must have had a vague idea that the coach contained a pair of boots wrestling with a hat, — the boots being, most of the time, on top. People at crossings dodged out of the way in angry amazement, and the very dogs ran into the gutters, looking back over their shoulders, wondering what ailed the coach.
“ ' Hold on, driver ! ’ said I, punching him again. ' I don’t want a funeral in our family just yet.’
“‘All right,’ said he, whipping his horses, thinking I was urging him on.
“ ' Hold on ! hold on ! You fool ! ’ I shouted, pulling his coat-tails through the window and tugging at them.
' You ’ll kill me.’
“ ' Yes,’ he yelled, ' I ’ll kill ’em or make it ! ’ and, jumping to his feet, he lashed his horses to the highest pitch, and brought me alongside the moving train.
“ ' Now then ! ’ he cried, tearing open the door; and, jumping out, I clambered on the platform, and threw down a twenty-dollar bill, which he picked up, tipping his hat in acknowledgment.
“ ' Well, Mr. C. Wakefield, what do you think of this ? ’ said I, soliloquizing as I cuddled down in my seat.
' If I do not beat you, then my name is not Riley, and there are no snakes in Texas.’
“ I had hoped, until now, that Wells & Co. would pay up and save trouble, or that some sort of a compromise would be made between the New York claimants ; but it was idle to hope any longer. I must be prepared to meet and overcome all sorts of schemes and games ; and, as the first discreditable trick to detain me in Chicago, by changing my order so that I should miss the train, had failed of its object, and exposed Mr. C. Wakefield’s presence and designs, I must expect to meet almost any obstacle that could be placed in my way lor a less sum than fifteen thousand dollars.
“ That was the prize for which we now both struggled, and half an hour’s delay might defeat me ; so I called up the conductor, and questioned him particularly about the place where we were to stop. I found out where to go for a good dinner, the best livery team, and the sharpest lawyer.
“ I walked back to the hind platform of the last car, and slipped oflf with my valise before the train had fairly stopped. 1 went directly to a comfortable little public house, frequented by farmers, principally, and, ordering dinner, I immediately consulted Mr. Benway, the best lawyer to be found, paying him one hundred dollars clown, with assurances of more. In two hours the papers were drawn ; dinner was over, and we were riding across the prairie toward Wells & Co.’s store. I had fairly distanced Wakefield, and felt good. Added to this emotion of triumph was an indescribable sense of freedom from restraint, and an exhilarating feeling of roominess, in the wide, grassy, echoless plain ; and there was a tonic, too, in the winds that blew out of the boundless horizon.
“ ' Mr. Benway, I believe I should like to live in that lonely farm-house all my days,’ said I. ' Do you ever get homesick here ? ’
“ ‘ No,’ said he, ‘ T never have regular nostalgia, — which, I take it, is an excessive inflammation of the memory ; but I sometimes feel an almost insatiable longing for pine-trees, and crows, and mountains ; and when it gets too strong for me, I come out here with my bird-dog, and shoot prairie-chickens, singing and shouting to scare off the blues. You can’t imagine, unless you've tried it, how much good it does a man to sing old hymns, and boyhood songs, for instance ; and yell fire, if so disposed, till his throat is sore, without fear of policemen. It keeps alive the spirit of liberty and love of nature in a man’s heart.’
We both laughed, and, breaking into Old Hundred, sung at the top of our voices, filling at least half a mile of space with noise not entirely unmelodious. I was at my highest pitch, with my mouth wide open, when I saw a man standing on a knoll, some distance to the right, shouting and beckoning us that way.
“ ' It is the sheriff,’ said Benway, as we drew near, ' and he has got something over in the slough, — a deer or a horse-thief, I ’ll bet, for he is death on both.’
“We rode up on the rise of ground, and, looking over into the slough, saw two horses mired, and on the other side was a man covered with mud, and limping off through the grass, evidently quite lame.
“ ' What’s the matter ? ’ said Benway.
“ ‘ That’s a counterfeiter,’ replied the sheriff. ' I was chasing him, and we both rode down in there, pellmell, and got mired, — blast his pictur'.'
“ The counterfeiter’s horse had struggled out to our side, and was shaking himself.
“‘Here,’ said the sheriff, taking the horse by the bridle, and pulling a pistol from the saddle-pocket, ' you go around, Benway, and head him off. No, you need n’t, though, for I understand his dodges, and can do better. You two stay here’; — and, mounting the counterfeiter’s horse, he rode around the end of the slough, a hundred rods off, and came up in front of the man, who turned back towards us again.
‘“Now, see here,’ said the fellow, cocking a large revolver, 'you’d better keep off.’
“‘No, I guess not,’ said the sheriff, ' I think I’d better keep on. I ’ve been hunting you too long. I ’ve grown fond of you, and fairly hanker after your fascinating face. I could n’t think of giving up my game just as it is ready to bag, you know.’
“ ‘ But you may go into the bag, that ’s all,’ said the man. ‘ I ’ll shoot, if you don't keep off.’
“‘No, now,’ replied the sheriff, riding up nearer; ‘ you wouldn’t do that before witnesses.’
“ The fellow looked over at us ; and a sullen face it was too, his coarse, black eyebrows covering a third of his forehead, and growing clear across the top of his nose ; then he turned suddenly to the sheriff and fired. The horse jumped as if he had been shot at before, and, wheeling about, threw his rider on the ground, and the counterfeiter started on a run again.
“ ‘ So that :.s your game, is it ? ’ said the sheriff. ' I only want to know what your game is, so as to play according to rule’; — and, drawing his pistol, he snapped it at the fellow, but it missed fire. Throwing it down, he dashed after the man, and, coming up to him as lie struggled through the tall tangled grass, near the slough, he seized him by his arms behind, and threw him down. We had started on a run too, and, coming up, we tied his arms with a handkerchief.
“ In the grass close by, Benway and I found two fifteen-thousand-dollar packages of counterfeit bills, which we claimed as our share of prize money. In the fellow’s saddle-pockets the sheriff found plates, engraving tools, and dies.
“ ‘ You are a captain, I guess,’ said the sheriff. ‘ Hold out your hands here, and let me put on these bracelets. There you are now,’ continued he, standing back to admire him, as if he had been a statue of the Greek Slave, —' there you are now, all ready for court, with your regular uniform on, and the jury won’t disagree a minute when they come to see your face, I think.'
“‘Won’t they, though?’ said the man between his teeth. ‘Well, I'll agree to pay you for this, and give good interest too, some time ! ’
“ ‘ Of course,’ retorted the sheriff, ‘ that’s what all you fellows promise me when I first catch you. You are fellows of great promise, — but I take it out as I go. I 'm for prompt pay, you know.’
“‘ Well now, Benway,’ said he, turning to us, ‘ what have you got to drink, and where are you going ? ’
“ Having satisfied the sheriff on the first point, Benway said. ‘ We are going out to attach Wells & Co.’s goods, and you must go with us.’
“ ‘ Their store is closed,’ replied the sheriff; ‘ I just came through there.’
“ ‘ Then we must break down the door,’ said Benway.
“ ‘ But can you give bonds ? ’ he inquired.
Yes, I represent the house of Phillips and Lockshaw, good for a hundred thousand dollars, and I have one thousand here in my pocket, just to make things go easy.'
“‘All right,’ said the sheriff, briskly, — ‘ down goes their door. Now one of you take our handsome friend into the buggy, while the other rides his nag.’ So I mounted the horse ; the sheriff caught and mounted his; and falling into line, with the buggy ahead, we moved on again.
“ What we had most to fear now was that Wells & Co. would make an assignment, and leave us to fight it out with a mob of claimants, and get little or nothing at last. So we hurried along ; but it soon came on dark, then darker, and finally black ; and we lost our way.
“ ‘ I believe we are going round and round,’ said the sheriff.
“ ‘No, I think we must be all right,’ said Benway, ‘ for the mud has come on the left side of my face ever since dark.’
“ ' See here, my friend, you are a night-bird,’ said the sheriff to the counterfeiter. ' Can’t you do something handsome, and smell your way out of this scrape ? ’
“ ' Yes,’ said he, ‘ if you ’ll let me get on my horse, he and I can take you to the Fox Crossing on a bee-line.’
“ ‘ You are a very intellectual young man, considering your occupation,’ said the sheriff, ‘ and your kind intentions do you honor ; but I guess we ’ll take the will for the deed, and find our own way out.’
“4 What are you doing now?’ inquired Benway of the sheriff, who was dismounted, and down in the grass.
“ ‘ Spreadinga newspaper,’ he replied.
‘ I want to see if we shall come to it again, for I believe we are playing circus here ’; — and about a hundred yards farther on he spread out the other half of the paper.
“We went on again, through the endless, everlasting grass, and in about an hour came to the paper, — the horses snorting and turning one side to avoid it ; and then we came to the Other piece.
“ ‘ This won’t do,’ said the sheriff. ‘We have beat down a road, and the horses have followed it round and round. Let us camp’; — and, spreading his horse-blanket, we sat down on it near the buggy.
‘“Not quite so noisy as New York,’ said he, after a long silence, ‘but it’s better. I 've tried ’em both, and just for a place to live in, now, I would n't give this prairie for the whole island, from Spuyten Duyvil down.’
“ Then we sat there a long time, silently watching the sky ; and presently, where the clouds grew thin and vapory, the moon came slowly out, shining full in our faces.
“ ‘ Good morning, good morning ! ’ said the sheriff, kissing his hand to her, as he rose to his feet. ‘ Now let’s face about.’ he continued, ‘ and keep the good old girl straight behind us, and we shall go all right.’
“ We had gone but a short distance when he said : ‘ I hear horses behind, and I guess they are counterfeiters, come to rescue the prisoner. If they are part of your gang,’ said he to the counterfeiter, ‘ and attempt to rescue you, I give you fair notice that the father of your children may get hurt unless you keep quiet.’ The man did not speak, but I heard the chain on his handcuffs rattle a little.
“‘Who is that?’ asked one of the horsemen, riding up behind.
“ ‘ Some travellers,’ replied the sheriff.
“ ‘ You are out rather late. Have you met the sheriff? ’ asked the horseman.
“ ‘Ah, ha ! ’ said that official, in a low voice, drawing his pistol, and cocking it ; ‘ I ’ve a devilish good mind to pepper the scoundrels. Are you loaded, Benway ?’
“‘No, I have no pistol,’ he replied, in a low tone.
“ ' I ’m sorry, because we could n't very well hit amiss among them fellows,’ said the sheriff, ' for they are a desperate gang. I believe it would save the county several thousand dollars’ expense of grand and petit jurors, and board in jail, if I could only make a centre shot, now.’
“ ‘ I say, have you seen the sheriff? ’ said the horseman again, riding still nearer, but keeping within easy reach of his companions.
“ ‘ See here ! ’ said the sheriff, reining his horse suddenly around in the path before them. ‘ I 'm the sheriff of this county, myself; and I weigh a hundred and eighty pounds, when I’m light ! I’ve got one of your gang in irons, — the Great Mugwump himself, I reckon, — strongly guarded by men armed to the teeth ; so you just ride up here and surrender, or we ’ll blow you through, and kill old Mug too. Ride up here now, or we ’ll fire.’
“ Instead of obeying this sanguinary order, one of the party sang out, ‘ Ho-ho-hold on now, she-sheriff! don’t shoo-shoot your friends ! ’
“‘Bah !’ said the sheriff, lowering his pistol and turning about disgusted, ‘it’s Old Royce. I wonder what’s up now.’
“ ‘ Who is it ?’ said I to Benway.
“‘It is Roswell Lewis, a lawyer,’ he replied. ‘ We call him Old Royce. He ’s out on that attachment suit against Wells & Co., and your friend Wakefield is with him, probably. Here, sheriff,’ said Benway, ‘ride back and give him this bottle: that will unlock his brains if anything can.’
“ ' That ’s pretty good,’ said Old Royce, ' and tastes like imported. My friend Wakefield here never takes anything ; so I guess I ’ll drink for him. I’ve always had to do double duty in the world. By the way,’ he continued, ' I must tell you a good dodge that my friend here came on a pigwidgeon lawyer down in Chicago. This lawyer was trying to get ahead of my friend here, and had left orders to be called for the morning train, but what does my friend here do but go and have the order changed,—do you see? — and so the little pigwidgeon is left behind, it’s just such little touches of genius as that, sheriff, that redeems human nature, and makes us more than brutes. He 'll make fifteen thousand dollars by it. Hallo, what’s your hurry, sheriff?
I can’t keep up if you ’re going to trot, you know. This horse was made on purpose for a circus, I guess. He’d do all the square jumping up and down to music, but he ain’t worth shucks to go ahead. He’s a humpy horse, and I believe my brains would all be shaken into my boots if I rode him another day’; —and he grumbled away in the same strain till we got out of hearing, and afterward, I presume.
“In two hours more we reached the Fox, and forded it, and found a sleepy ostler in the hotel; but on looking in the buggy for my valise, I found it was gone, and it contained all my papers. We had probably left it by the slough. Here was a bad fix ; for when it came daylight, Wakefield would attach, of course.
“‘What shall we do, Benway?’ said I. ' Can’t you invent some plausible story to detain them ? ’
“ ' It looks to me,’ he replied, ' as if we were to be defeated at last. I ’ll send some men to look for the valise, and we Ti see what can be done after that; but I know old Royce well, and when his head is clear again he 'll be sharp enough—to use his own phrase — to shave hogs with a feather.’
“I felt desperate now, for I had come to look on the matter as fairly under my control, and had already set Wakefield down as defeated ; but here the tables were to be turned with a vengeance, and my enemy was to triumph.
“ ' Benway,’ said I, when he came back, 'I have got them, I guess. You say that Wells boards in this house and that you are intimate with him. Go to him with this fifteen thousand dollars in counterfeit money, and tell him that Old Royce is going to attach his goods. Then give him the money, with instructions to be counting it over in his room, while you tell Royce that now is his time to attach, because Wells has sold out and is counting his money up stairs. Tell Wells that, if he plays his part properly, he will settle the Wolfe claim very soon.’
“ Benway hesitated a moment, then said, ' Well, under the circumstances I guess I will, for we are dealing with unscrupulous fellows.’ So when breakfast was over 1 saw Benway talking with Wells, and soon after with Royce, who immediately went to the deputysheriff.
44 4 Now then,’ said Royce to this official, after getting him out in the horse-shed, with Wakefield, ' what we want is grit. We must break down the door and grab all the money we see ; and mind you, if he puts it in his pocket we must pull it out of his pocket, that’s all. Business is business, and this is big business, and you must be gritty. There are moments of destiny,’ said he, pulling a bottle from his pocket, and taking a long drink, ' and this is one of ’em.’
“ The whole party came back looking pale, and the deputy started ahead, old Royce Lewis following next, and Wakefield closing up the rear on the stairway. Shortly after they disappeared we heard the door crashed in, and a scrambling rush followed.
44 We afterwards learned from the deputy, a jovial fellow, that Old Royce was the first man in the room, and that, after grabbing what money he could hold in each hand, he knocked the balance on to the floor and sat down on all he could cover, shouting to the deputy, 'I ’ve got the pile ; attach me ! attach me!’ — moving his elbows up and down, meanwhile, like a young crow trying in vain to fly. When they came down stairs, flushed with triumph, Mr. Lewis took occasion to recount his twenty-five years’ experience at the bar, which seemed to have been years of triumphs for him, and an uninterrupted series of defeats for all his opponents. After this more conviviality, more stories, more triumphs at the bar, but no one suspected the money.
“ Meantime the men returned with the valise just as Royce Lewis, Wakefield, and the deputy were leaving town with the money, and they had but fairly crossed the river when Wells invited us all up to his store to celebrate the success of the trick just played.
“ Wells was very jolly ; and that mysterious and hitherto invisible being called ‘Co.’ came out strong. He even went so far as to say that he guessed ' Wells did n’t eat no snow,’ which meant, probably, that he slaked his thirst and satisfied his appetite by the more economical and time-saving methods usual among men. But the exact import of his words cannot be known in this world, for he disappeared down cellar after uttering them, and never came up again, to my knowledge.
“ ' Here, take some more all around,’ urged Wells. ' This last drive was the best I ever came on any one.’
“ ' Yes,’ said Benway, walking up to the desk and looking at the papers, sharply, ' it was good,—first-rate,—even for the West, where we manage to keep ahead in business ; but I believe the sheriff can show you a better one.’
“ ' I should n’t wonder if I could,’ replied the sheriff, walking up to Wells and serving the papers.
“ The man who ' did n’t eat no snow ’ looked so white for a moment that a stranger would have thought that snow was his regular food, —in fact that he ate nothing else. But the next moment he turned to Benway, fiercely, and said, ‘You scoundrel, you got in here by fraud; it ’s a swindle ; I won’t stand it. I 've a mind to knock you down, sir.’
“ ' No, don’t now, Wells,’ said Benway ; ' it is too expensive for you, under your present circumstances, We should have got in here any way, and you merely saved a door by the operation ; that’s all.’
“ ' Not all, exactly,’ said Wells ; ' for I should have made an assignment and beaten you.’
“ ' Yes, I see it is all ready,’ said Benway, taking up some papers from the desk ; ' but I ’m pleased to notice that your very valuable autographs are not attached. Wells, you are a gentleman, and I ’m sorry you ’ve had bad luck ; but you ’ll come out.’
“ After securing two trusty men to take charge of the store, we hunted, fished, smoked, and talked away the day. I never felt better in my life. The air was delicious, and, riding back to the lake over the prairie next day, I had a long talk with Benway on philosophy. He had much help in him, and so my soul waxed fat. The first man we saw was old Royce Lewis.
“ ' Where is your friend Wakefield ?’ inquired Benway.
“ ' The man who came that stunning game over the pigwidgeon lawyer,’ said the sheriff.
“ ' Why, he went off on the morning train, with orders to have the money deposited here in bank,’ replied Royce.
“ ' So he thinks it’s all right, then,’ said the sheriff.
“ ' Yes,’ replied Royce, contemptuously ; ' but I understood it all the minute my hands touched the money. The paper was too limpsy. But I made sure of my fee out of the case, though, — game or no game.’
“ ' Yes,’ said the deputy, coming up,
' you were so very smart that you took your fee out of the counterfeit money.’ " This came so unexpectedly, and was received with such shouts of laughter, that the old man, for the first time in his life, perhaps, had nothing to say, and hurried off without attempting a reply.
“ I finished my business, and took the next train East. I found Phillips and Lockshaw excited, as usual. They had learned from Mr. Wolfe that his claim had been collected in money, and they were much relieved, if not pleased, on hearingthe true state of the case.
“ I met Wolfe on the street near my office.
“ ' So I beat you, Riley, after all,’ said he ; ‘ but allow me to say, sir, that I don’t think you did the fair thing by me. You might have said at once that you were going out there for Phillips and Lockshaw.’
“ ' But, sir,’ I replied, ‘I had been retained by them in the case, and was bound to protect them by concealing their designs.’
“ ‘ I don’t think so,’ he replied ; ‘ besides, they could stand the loss, and I can’t.’
“ ' Mr. Wolfe,’ said I, ‘ I should as soon think of embezzling my client’s money, as I would of intentionally revealing any of the secrets confided to me as a lawyer.’
“ Next morning, when I met Wolfe, he not only refused to acknowledge my salutation, but was actually almost purple with rage. He had received a letter from Royce Lewis, stating that the money was counterfeit.
“ I lost no time in calling on Fanny, but found her not at home. I excused that, thinking she might have been out ; but the next day I saw her in the street, and she avoided me.
“ I wrote her a brief, but vigorous note, explaining my position, and endeavoring to impress upon her the necessity I felt of maintaining my professional honor stainless, and above suspicion even. This came back indorsed, ‘ Riley versus Wolfe, The plaintiff nonsuited.’
“ ‘ The visible tracks of my respected would-be father-in-law,’ I said, examining the note closely for other writing, but there was nothing else to be found.
“ I admired spirit, when it was spirit, instead of impertinence, selfishness, or some other small sin ; but I certainly did not admire Wakefield, and he was now Fanny’s suitor. If I could not gain her for myself, I felt bound to save her from him, and went to work for that purpose.
“The chief obstacle to all my plans was the old gentleman, who seemed to be hastening matters to a crisis. I heard that Fanny was soon to become Mrs. Wakefield.
“ I had kept up a correspondence with Benway in the Phillips and Lockshaw matter, and had learned from his last letter that Wells & Co. owned a branch store up the country farther, which was filled with goods, and they were doing finely.
“ I immediately sent a legal acquaintance to Mr. Wolfe, with instructions to offer him a thousand dollars for the Wells claim, which was gladly accepted, for the Phillips and Lockshaw suit had been compromised for ten thousand dollars, and it was supposed that Wells & Co. could not pay one per cent to any other claimant.
“ I forwarded the notes to Fenway, with instructions to attach the new store of goods, if possible, and then compromise for twelve thousand dollars,— intending to lower the demand to six thousand, if necessary.
“ In reply, I received a letter from Fenway, telling me confidentially that Wells was really one of the best-hearted men in the world, and would, when he got on his feet, pay every cent. If, however, I would take ten thousand dollars down, he would send me a draft for that. In two weeks the draft came for ten thousand dollars, less exchange, and I enclosed it to Mr. Wolfe, duly indorsed over to him by me, with my compliments.
“He came to my office, but I was out; he went to my hotel, and I was out ; but he found me in the street.
“ I bowed to him coldly and was passing on, for I knew my man, but he grasped my hand, and said : ' My dear Riley, I beg your pardon. I have not done you justice. Fut the fact is, that Wisconsin loss almost ruined me. It would have ruined me, I believe, if this draft bad not come just as it did. It’s your money, Riley, and I would not take it under any other circumstances, or now, even, only on condition that I may pay it back when I get my matters straightened up, and collections made.’
“ ‘ I’m glad to hear. sir. that it has helped you so much,’ said I. ' The money is yours, of course. Good morning, sir,’ and I attempted to pass on.
“ ' But I cannot permit this, Riley,’ said he, impulsively; ' you must come over to dinner.’
“ I made some lame excuse, but he insisted.
“ ‘ We shall all expect you,’ he said, ‘ for to tell the truth, Riley, we have been gloomy enough of late, — Fanny particularly. My financial difficulties depressed the whole household. Come to dinner to-morrow.’
“ "I nodded, having suddenly become a little too much choked up to talk much, and walked away.
“I went there at the appointed time, of course, for Wolfe always had one acceptable thing at his table, and that was good-humor. He was princely at his repasts. At first we felt formal, but it would n’t do ; we broke down, and presently found our old selves again. She was engaged to Wakefield, and I was too much of a gentleman to be otherwise than jolly over it, — so very merry, indeed, that she didn’t seem to like it.
“ She had expected sentimental sighs, sheep’s eyes, allusions to old times, and such things. But the old gentleman poured forth a deluge of fun, and I joined him in increasing the good feeling. I have since been confidentially informed that I was never so brilliant in my life, — in fact, perfectly fascinating ! I went there regularly to dinner, and often met Wakefield, whose day of destiny was drawing near. They were to be married in a month, — that was fixed. I learned afterwards that it had been adjourned over a short time, and I could n’t find out the reason. So I went up to Mr. Wolfe’s house and settled Mr. C. Wakefield at one blow.
“ Gentlemen, I could n’t help it. There is a statute against cruelty to animals, and lie was suffering.
“ It is a peculiarity of mine, perhaps, that, when a case is decided against me, I bear no ill-will; and when it is for me, I always pity my opponent. Therefore it was, that ' as a man and a brother ’ lawyer I felt sorry for poor Wakefield when Fanny entered on her docket, ' Wakefield versus Wolfe. The plaintiff nonsuited.’
“ But my grief was transient, for in that case, as in all cases against her, I was then, and still remain, the defendant’s attorney, in fact and in law.”