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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Cousin's Conspiracy: A Boy's Struggle For An Inheritance - Chapter 36. Stephen Ray Alarmed
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A Cousin's Conspiracy: A Boy's Struggle For An Inheritance - Chapter 36. Stephen Ray Alarmed Post by :tuamigo Category :Long Stories Author :Horatio Alger Date :May 2012 Read :2781

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A Cousin's Conspiracy: A Boy's Struggle For An Inheritance - Chapter 36. Stephen Ray Alarmed

CHAPTER XXXVI. STEPHEN RAY ALARMED

"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 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."

"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?"

"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 quite 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.

"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 Georgia," said Stephen Ray, disconcerted.

"You will be glad to hear that it is a mistake--about the 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 easily 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 paled. There was a great fear in his heart, but he resolved to brave it out.

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

"I am willing to take my chance of it," said the lawyer. "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 under his grandfather's will, which you hold."

"This is ridiculous. There is but one answer to such a proposal."

"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 brows of Stephen Ray. He knew 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.

"This has come upon me as a surprise. I thought the boy dead. I may be willing to make some arrangement. Bring him here next week--say Tuesday--and we will talk the matter over."

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

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

The lawyer bowed and withdrew.

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CHAPTER XXXVII. ERNEST COMES INTO HIS OWNOn Tuesday Bolton returned with Ernest. Two hours were spent in conference with Stephen Ray. The latter fought hard, but yielded at last. He understood the strength of his opponent's case. Ernest consented to receive the estate as it was bequeathed to his father, without any demand for back revenues. Whatever Stephen Ray had accumulated besides, he was allowed to retain. As this amounted to a hundred thousand dollars, Ray felt that it might have been worse. Had he not been dissuaded by Bolton, Ernest would have consented to share the estate with the usurper,
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CHAPTER XXXV. MR. BOLTON AND HIS CLIENTBenjamin Bolton sat at his desk in the law office of Albert Norcross, on Nassau Street. He was well, even handsomely dressed, and looked very unlike the shabby tramp who had called months before at the house of Stephen Ray. He was really a man of ability which his employer had found out. He had raised Bolton's salary to a liberal figure, and felt that in securing his services he had made a real acquisition. Bolton was absorbed in preparation for a case which had been assigned to him, when a boy came to his
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