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Paul the Peddler or the Fortunes of a Young Street Merchant by Horatio Alger, Jr.

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"If you did," said Paul, "I'd tell him that you were anxious to
get the ring, though you believed it to be stolen. Perhaps he
might have something to say to you."

Eliakim perceived the force of Paul's argument, for in law the
receiver of stolen goods is as bad as the thief, and there had
been occasions when the pawnbroker had narrowly escaped
punishment for thus indirectly conniving at theft.

"If you say you got it honestly, I'll buy it of you," he said,
changing his tune. "What will you take?"

"I don't care about selling to-day," answered Paul.

"I'll give you twenty-five dollars."

"I can't sell without consulting my mother. It belongs to her."

Reluctantly Eliakim gave back the ring, finding his wiles of no

"Bring your mother round to-morrow," he said. "I'll give you a
better price than you will get anywhere else."

"All right," said Paul. "I'll tell her what you say."

The old pawnbroker followed Paul with wistful glances, vainly
wishing that he had not at first depreciated the ring to such an
extent, that his subsequent advances had evidently excited his
customer's suspicion that it was more valuable than be supposed.
He felt that he had lost it through not understanding the
character of the boy with whom he had to deal.

"Well, Paul, what news of the ring?" asked Mrs. Hoffman, as he
re-entered the room.

"I was offered twenty-five dollars for it," said Paul.

"Did you sell it?"

"No, mother."

"Why not?" asked Jimmy. "Twenty-five dollars is a lot of

"I know it," said Paul; "but the ring is worth a great deal

"What makes you think so, Paul?"

"Because the offer was made by a pawnbroker, who never pays
quarter what an article is worth. I am sure the ring is worth a
hundred dollars."

"Yes, I am sure it is worth all that."

"A hundred dollars!" repeated Jimmy, awestruck at the magnitude
of the sum.

"What shall we do about it, Paul?" asked his mother. "A hundred
dollars will do us more good than the ring."

"I know that, mother. What I propose is, to carry it to Ball &
Black's, or Tiffany's, and sell it for whatever they say it is
worth. They are first-class houses, and we can depend upon fair

"Your advice is good, Paul. I think we will follow it. When
will you go?"

"I will go at once. I have nothing else to do, and I would like
to find out as soon as I can how much it will bring. Old
Henderson wanted me to think, at first, that it was only
imitation, and offered me twenty shillings on it. He's an old
cheat. When he found that I wasn't to be humbugged, he raised
his offer by degrees to twenty-five dollars. That was what made
me suspect its value."

"If you get a hundred dollars, Paul," said Jimmy, "you can buy
out the stand."

"That depends on whether mother will lend me the money," said
Paul. "You know it's hers. She may not be willing to lend
without security."

"I am so unaccustomed to being a capitalist," said Mrs. Hoffman,
smiling, "that I shan't know how to sustain the character. I
don't think I shall be afraid to trust you, Paul."

Once more, with the ring carefully wrapped in a paper and
deposited in his pocketbook, Paul started uptown. Tiffany, whose
fame as a jeweler is world-wide, was located on Broadway. He had
not yet removed to his present magnificent store on Union Square.

Paul knew the store, but had never entered it. Now, as he
entered, he was struck with astonishment at the sight of the
immense and costly stock, unrivaled by any similar establishment,
not only in the United States, but in Europe. Our hero walked up
to the counter, and stood beside a richly-dressed lady who was
bargaining for a costly bracelet. He had to wait ten minutes
while the lady was making her choice from a number submitted to
her for inspection. Finally she selected one, and paid for it.
The clerk, now being at leisure, turned to our hero and asked:--

"Well, young man, what can I do for you?"

"I have a ring which I should like to show you. I want to know
how much it is worth."

"Very well. Let me see it."

When Paul produced the diamond ring, the clerk, who had long been
in the business, and perceived its value at once, started in

"This is a very valuable ring," he said.

"So I thought," said Paul. "How much is it worth?"

"Do you mean how much should we ask for it?"

"No; how much would you give for it?"

"Probably two hundred and fifty dollars." Paul was quite
startled on finding the ring so much more valuable than he had
supposed. He had thought it might possibly be worth a hundred
dollars; but he had not imagined any rings were worth as much as
the sum named.

"Will you buy it of me?" he asked.

The clerk regarded Paul attentively, and, as he thought, a little

"Does the ring belong to you?" he asked.

"No, to my mother."

"Where did she buy it?"

"She didn't buy it at all. She found it one day at Central Park.

It belongs to her now. She advertised for an owner, and examined
the papers to see if it was advertised as lost, but could hear
nothing of the one to whom it belonged."

"How long ago was this?"

"Two years ago."

"I will show this ring to Mr. Tiffany," said the clerk.

"Very well."

Paul took a seat and waited.

Soon Mr. Tiffany came up.

"Are you the boy who brought in the ring?" he asked.

"Yes, sir."

"You say your mother found it two years ago in Central Park?"

"Yes, sir."

"It is a valuable ring. I should be willing to buy it for two
hundred and fifty dollars, if I were quite certain that you had a
right to dispose of it."

"I have told you the truth, Mr. Tiffany," said Paul, a little
nettled at having his word doubted.

"That may be, but there is still a possibility that the original
owner may turn up."

"Won't you buy it, then?" asked Paul, disappointed, for, if he
were unable to dispose of the ring, he would have to look
elsewhere for the means of buying out Barry's street stand.

"I don't say that; but I should want a guaranty of indemnity
against loss, in case the person who lost it should present a

"In that case," said Paul, "I would give you back the money you
paid me."

Mr. Tiffany smiled.

"But suppose the money were all spent," he suggested. "I suppose
you are intending to use the money?"

"I am going to start in business with it," said Paul, "and I hope
to add to it."

"Every one thinks so who goes into business; but some get
disappointed. You see, my young friend, that I should incur a
risk. Remember, I don't know you. I judge from your appearance
that you are honest; but appearances are sometimes deceitful."

"Then I suppose you won't buy it?" said Paul, who saw the force
of this remark.

"If you can bring here any responsible gentleman who knows you,
and is willing to guarantee me against loss in the event of the
owner's being found I will buy the ring for two hundred and fifty

Paul brightened up. He thought at once of Mr. Preston, and, from
the friendly interest which that gentleman appeared to take in
him, he judged that he would not refuse him this service.

"I think I can do that," he said. "Do you know Mr. Andrew
Preston? He is a wealthy gentleman, who lives on Madison avenue,
between Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth streets."

"Not personally. I know him by reputation."

"Will he be satisfactory?"

"Entirely so."

"He knows me well," said Paul. "I think he will be willing to
stand security for me. I will come back in a day or two."

Paul took the ring, and left the store. He determined to call
that evening on Mr. Preston, and ask the favor indicated.



Paul had an errand farther uptown, and, on leaving Tiffany's
walked up as far as Twenty-third street. Feeling rather tired,
he got on board a University place car to return. They had
accomplished, perhaps, half the distance, when, to his surprise,
George Barry entered the car.

"How do you happen to be here, at this time, Barry?" he asked.
"I thought you were attending to business."

"I closed up for a couple of hours, having an errand at home.
Where have you been?"

"To Tiffany's."

"What, the jewelers?"


"To buy a diamond ring, I suppose," said Barry, jocosely.

"No--not to buy, but to sell one."

"You are joking," said his companion, incredulously.

"No, I am not. The ring belongs to my mother. I am trying to
raise money enough on it to buy you out."

"I didn't know your mother was rich enough to indulge in such
expensive jewelry."

"She isn't, and that's the reason I am trying to sell it."

"I mean, I didn't think she was ever rich enough."

"I'll explain it," said Paul. "The ring was found some time
since in Central Park. As no owner has ever appeared, though we
advertised it, we consider that it belongs to us."

"How much is it worth?"

"Mr. Tiffany offered two hundred and fifty dollars for it."

Barry uttered an exclamation of surprise.

"Well, that is what I call luck. Of course, you accepted it."

"I intend to do so; but I must bring some gentleman who will
guarantee that I am all right and have the right to sell it."

"Can you do that?"

"I think so! I am going to ask Mr. Preston. I think he will do
me that favor."

"Then there's a fair chance of your buying me out."

"Yes. I guess I can settle the whole thing up to-morrow."

"Have you got the ring with you?"


"I should like to see it, if you have no objection."

Paul drew it from his pocket, and passed it over to Barry.

"It's a handsome one, but who would think such a little thing
could be worth two hundred and fifty dollars?"

"I'd rather have the money than the ring."

"So would I."

On the right of Paul sat a man of about forty, well-dressed and
respectable in appearance, with a heavy gold chain ostentatiously
depending from his watch pocket, and with the air of a
substantial citizen. He listened to the conversation between
Barry and Paul with evident interest, and when Barry had returned
the ring, he said:

"Young gentleman, would you be kind enough to let me look at your
ring? I am myself in business as a jeweler in Syracuse, and so
feel an interest in examining it."

"Certainly, sir," said Paul, the stranger's explanation of his
motives inspiring him with perfect confidence.

The jeweler from Syracuse took the ring in his hands and appeared
to examine it carefully.

"This is a handsome ring," he said, "and one of great value. How
much were you offered for it at Tiffany's?"

"Two hundred and fifty dollars."

"It is worth more."

"Yes, I suppose so," said Paul; "but he has to sell it, and make
a profit."

"He could do that, and yet make a profit. I will pay you two
hundred and seventy-five dollars, myself--that is, on one

"I don't object to getting twenty-five dollars more," said Paul.
"What is the condition?"

"I have an order from a gentleman for a diamond ring for a young
lady--an engagement ring, in short. If this suits him, as I
think it will, I will pay you what I said. I can easily get
three hundred and twenty-five from him."

"How are you going to find out whether it will suit him?"

"Easily. He is stopping at the same hotel with me."

"What hotel is that?"

"Lovejoy's. If you can spare the time and will come with me now,
we can arrange matters at once. By the way, you can refer me to
some responsible citizen, who will guarantee you. Not, of
course, that I have any doubts, but we business men are forced to
be cautious."

Paul mentioned Mr. Preston's name.

"Quite satisfactory," answered the jeweler. "I know Mr. Preston
personally, and as I am pressed for time, I will accept his name
without calling upon him. What is your name?"

"Paul Hoffman."

"I will note it down."

The gentleman from Syracuse drew out a memorandum book, in which
he entered Paul's name.

"When you see Mr. Preston, just mention my name; Felix

"I will do so."

"Say, if you please, that I would have called upon him, but,
coming to the city strictly on business, was too hurried to do

This also Paul promised, and counted himself fortunate in falling
in with a friend, or, at all events, acquaintance of Mr. Preston,
since he was likely to make twenty-five dollars more than he
would otherwise have done.

When he got out of the car at the Astor House, the stranger said:

"It will be half an hour before I can reach Lovejoy's, as I have
a business call to make first. Can you call there, say, in
three-quarters of an hour?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, then, I will expect you. Inquire for me at the desk,
and ask the servant to conduct you to my room-- you remember my

"Yes, sir--Mr. Felix Montgomery."

"Quite right. Good-by, then, till we meet."

Mr. Felix Montgomery went into the Astor House, and remained
about five minutes. He then came out on the steps, and, looking
about him to see if Paul was anywhere near, descended the steps,
and walked across to Lovejoy's Hotel. Going up to the desk, he

"Can you accommodate me with a room?"

"Yes, sir; please enter your name."

The stranger entered his name with a flourish, as Felix
Montgomery, Syracuse.

"Room No. 237," said the clerk; "will you go up now?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Any luggage?"

"My trunk will be brought from the St. Nicholas in the course of
the afternoon."

"We require payment in advance where there is no luggage."

"Very well. I will pay for one day. I am not sure but I shall
get through my business in time to go away to-morrow."

Here the servant appeared to conduct Mr. Montgomery to his room.

"By the way," he said, turning back, as if it were an
afterthought, "I directed a boy to call here for me in about half
an hour. When he comes you may send him up to my room."

"Very well, sir."

Mr. Montgomery followed the servant upstairs to room No. 237.
It was rather high up, but he seemed well pleased that this was
the case.

"Hope you won't get tired of climbing, sir," said the servant.

"No--I've got pretty good wind."

"Most gentlemen complain of going up so far."

"It makes little difference to me."

At length they reached the room, and Mr. Montgomery entered.

"This will answer very well," he said, with a hasty glance about
him. "When my trunk comes, I want it sent up."

"Yes, sir."

"I believe that is all; you can go."

The servant retired and Mr. Felix Montgomery sat down upon the

"My little plot seems likely to succeed," he said to himself.
"I've been out of luck lately, but this boy's ring will give me a
lift. He can't suspect anything. He'll be sure to come."

Probably the reader has already suspected that Mr. Felix
Montgomery was not a jeweler from Syracuse, nor had he any claim
to the name under which he at present figured. He was a noted
confidence man, who lived by preying upon the community. His
appearance was in his favor, and it was his practice to assume
the dress and air of a respectable middle-aged citizen, as in the
present instance. The sight of the diamond ring had excited his
cupidity, and he had instantly formed the design of getting
possession of it, if possible. Thus far, his plan promised

Meanwhile, Paul loitered away the time in the City Hall Park for
half an hour or more. He did not care to go home until his
negotiation was complete, and he could report the ring sold, and
carry home the money.

"Won't mother be astonished," he thought, "at the price I got for
the ring? I'm in luck this morning."

When the stipulated time had passed, Paul rose from the bench on
which he was seated, and walked to Lovejoy's Hotel, not far

"Has Mr. Felix Montgomery a room here?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the clerk. "Did you wish to see him?"

"Yes, sir."

"He mentioned that a boy would call by appointment. Here, James,
show this boy up to No. 237--Mr. Montgomery's room."

A hotel servant appeared, and Paul followed him up several
flights of stairs till they stood before No. 237.

"This is the room, sir," said James. "Wait a minute, and I'll

In answer to the knock, Mr. Montgomery himself opened the door.

"Come in," he said to Paul; "I was expecting you."

So Paul, not suspecting treachery, entered No. 237.



"Take a seat," said Mr. Montgomery. "My friend will be in
directly. Meanwhile will you let me look at the ring once more?"

Paul took it from his pocket, and handed it to the jeweler from
Syracuse, as he supposed him to be.

Mr. Montgomery took it to the window, and appeared to be
examining it carefully.

He stood with his back to Paul, but this did not excite suspicion
on the part of our hero.

"I am quite sure," he said, still standing with his back to Paul,
"that this will please my friend. From the instructions he gave
me, it is precisely what he wanted."

While uttering these words, he had drawn a sponge and a vial of
chloroform from his side pocket. He saturated the former from
the vial, and then, turning quickly, seized Paul, too much taken
by surprise to make immediate resistance, and applied the sponge
to his nose. When he realized that foul play was meditated, he
began to struggle, but he was in a firm grasp, and the chloroform
was already beginning to do its work. His head began to swim,
and he was speedily in a state of insensibility. When this was
accomplished, Mr. Felix Montgomery, eyeing the insensible boy
with satisfaction, put on his hat, walked quickly to the door,
which he locked on the outside, and made his way rapidly
downstairs. Leaving the key at the desk, he left the hotel and

Meanwhile Paul slowly recovered consciousness. As he came to
himself, he looked about him bewildered, not at first
comprehending where he was. All at once it flashed upon him, and
he jumped up eagerly and rushed to the door. He tried in vain to
open it.

"I am regularly trapped!" he thought, with a feeling of mingled
anger and vexation. "What a fool I was to let myself be swindled
so easily! I wonder how long I have been lying here insensible?"

Paul was not a boy to give up easily. He meant to get back the
ring if it was a possible thing. The first thing was, of course,
to get out of his present confinement. He was not used to hotel
arrangements and never thought of the bell, but, as the only
thing he could think of, began to pound upon the door. But it so
happened that at this time there were no servants on that floor,
and his appeals for help were not heard. Every moment that he
had to wait seemed at least five, for no doubt the man who had
swindled him was improving the time to escape to a place of
safety. Finding that his blows upon the door produced no effect,
he began to jump up and down upon the floor, making, in his heavy
boots, a considerable noise.

The room directly under No. 237 was occupied by an old gentleman
of a very nervous and irascible temper, Mr. Samuel Piper, a
country merchant, who, having occasion to be in the city on
business for a few days, had put up at Lovejoy's Hotel. He had
fatigued himself by some business calls, and was now taking a
little rest upon the bed, when he was aroused from half-sleep by
the pounding overhead.

"I wish people would have the decency to keep quiet," he said to
himself, peevishly. "How can I rest with such a confounded
racket going on above!"

He lay back, thinking the noise would cease, but Paul, finding
the knocking on the door ineffectual, began to jump up and down,
as I have already said. Of course this noise was heard
distinctly in the room below.

"This is getting intolerable!" exclaimed Mr. Piper, becoming
more and more excited. "The man ought to be indicted as a common
nuisance. How they can allow such goings-on in a respectable
hotel, I can't understand. I should think the fellow was
splitting wood upstairs."

He took his cane, and, standing on the bed, struck it furiously
against the ceiling, intending it as signal to the man above to
desist. But Paul, catching the response, began to jump more
furiously than ever, finding that he had attracted attention.

Mr. Piper became enraged.

"The man must be a lunatic or overcome by drink," he exclaimed.
"I can't and I won't stand it."

But the noise kept on.

Mr. Piper put on his shoes and his coat, and, seizing his cane,
emerged upon the landing. He espied a female servant just coming

"Here, you Bridget, or Nancy, or whatever your name is," he
roared, "there's a lunatic upstairs, making a tremendous row in
the room over mine. If you don't stop him I'll leave the hotel.
Hear him now!"

Bridget let fall her duster in fright.

"Is it a crazy man?" she asked.

"Of course he must be. I want you to go up and stop him."

"Is it me that would go near a crazy man?" exclaimed Bridget,
horror-struck; "I wouldn't do it for a million dollars; no, I

"I insist upon your going up," said Mr. Piper, irritably. "He
must be stopped. Do you think I am going to stand such an
infernal thumping over my head?"

"I wouldn't do it if you'd go down on your knees to me," said
Bridget, fervently.

"Come along, I'll go with you."

But the terrified girl would not budge.

"Then you go down and tell your master there's a madman up here.
If you don't, I will."

This Bridget consented to do; and, going downstairs, gave a not
very coherent account of the disturbance. Three male servants
came back with her.

"Is that the man?" asked the first, pointing to Mr. Piper, who
certainly looked half wild with irritation.

"Yes," said Bridget, stupidly.

Immediately Mr. Piper found himself pinioned on either side by a
stout servant.

"What have you been kickin' up a row for?" demanded the first.

"Let me alone, or I'll have the law take care of you," screamed
the outraged man. "Can't you hear the fellow that's making the

Paul, tired with thumping, had desisted for a moment, but now had
recommenced with increased energy. The sounds could be
distinctly heard on the floor below.

"Excuse me, sir. I made a mistake," said the first speaker,
releasing his hold. "We'll go up and see what's the matter."

So the party went upstairs, followed at a distance by Bridget,
who, influenced alike by fear and curiosity, did not know whether
to go up or retreat.

The sounds were easily traced to room No. 237. In front of
this, therefore, the party congregated.

"What's the matter in there?" asked James, the first servant,
putting his lips to the keyhole.

"Yes," chimed in Mr. Piper, irritably; "what do you mean by such
an infernal hubbub?"

"Open the door, and let me out," returned Paul, eagerly.

The party looked at each other in surprise. They did not expect
to find the desperate maniac a boy.

"Perhaps there's more than one of them," suggested the second
servant, prudently.

"Why don't you come out yourself?" asked James. "I am locked

The door was opened with a passkey and Paul confronted the party.

"Now, young man, what do you mean by making such a disturbance?"
demanded Mr. Piper, excitably. "My room is just below, and I
expected every minute you would come through."

"I am sorry if I disturbed you, sir," said Paul, politely; "but
it was the only way I could attract attention."

"How came you locked up here?"

"Yes," chimed in James, suspiciously, "how came you locked up

"I was drugged with chloroform, and locked in," said Paul.

"Who did it?"

"Mr. Felix Montgomery; or that's what he called himself. I came
here by appointment to meet him."

"What did he do that for?"

"He has carried off a diamond ring which I came up here to sell

"A very improbable story," said Mr. Piper, suspiciously. "What
should such a boy have to do with a diamond ring?"

Nothing is easier than to impart suspicion. Men are prone to
believe evil of each other; and Paul was destined to realize
this. The hotel servants, ignorant and suspicious, caught the

"It's likely he's a' thafe," said Bridget, from a safe distance.

"If I were," said Paul, coolly, "I shouldn't be apt to call your
attention by such a noise. I can prove to you that I am telling
the truth. I stopped at the office, and the bookkeeper sent a
servant to show me up here."

"If this is true," said Mr. Piper, "why, when you found yourself
locked in, didn't you ring the bell, instead of making such a
confounded racket? My nerves won't get over it for a week."

"I didn't think of the bell," said Paul; "I am not much used to

"What will we do with him?" asked James, looking to Mr. Piper
for counsel.

"You'd better take him downstairs, and see if his story is
correct," said the nervous gentleman, with returning good sense.

"I'll do it," said James, to whom the very obvious suggestion
seemed marked by extraordinary wisdom, and he grasped Paul
roughly by the arm.

"You needn't hold me," said our hero, shaking off the grasp. "I
haven't any intention of running away. I want to find out, if I
can, what has become of the man that swindled me."

James looked doubtfully at Mr. Piper.

"I don't think he means to run away," said that gentleman. "I
begin to think his story is correct. And hark you, my young
friend, if you ever get locked up in a hotel room again, just see
if there is a bell before you make such a confounded racket."

"Yes, sir, I will," said Paul, half-smiling; "but I'll take care
not to get locked up again. It won't be easy for anybody to play
that trick on me again."

The party filed downstairs to the office and Paul told his story
to the bookkeeper.

"Have you seen Mr. Montgomery go out?" asked our hero.

"Yes, he went out half an hour ago, or perhaps more. He left his
key at the desk, but said nothing. He seemed to be in a hurry."

"You didn't notice in what direction he went?"


Of course no attempt was made to detain Paul. There could be no
case against him. He went out of the hotel, and looked up and
down Broadway in a state of indecision. He did not mean to sit
down passively and submit to the swindle. But he had no idea in
what direction to search for Mr. Felix Montgomery.



Paul stood in the street irresolute. He looked hopelessly up and
down Broadway, but of course the jeweler from Syracuse was not to
be seen. Seeking for him in a city containing hundreds of
streets and millions of inhabitants was about as discouraging as
hunting for a needle in a haystack. But difficult as it was,
Paul was by no means ready to give up the search. Indeed,
besides the regret he felt at the loss, he was mortified at
having been so easily outwitted.

"He's taken me in just as if I was a country boy," thought Paul.
"I dare say he's laughing at me now. I'd like to get even with

Finally he decided to go to Tiffany's, and ask them to detain any
one who might bring in the ring and offer it for sale. He at
once acted upon this thought, and, hailing a Broadway stage, for
no time was to be lost, soon reached his destination. Entering
the store, he walked up to the counter and addressed the clerk to
whom he had before shown the ring.

"Do you remember my offering you a diamond ring for sale this
morning?" he asked.

"Yes, I remember it very well. Have you got it with you?"

"No, it has been stolen from me."

"Indeed! How was that?" asked the clerk, with interest.

"I met in the cars a well-dressed man, who called himself a
jeweler from Syracuse. He examined the ring, and offered me more
than Mr. Tiffany, but asked me to bring it to him at Lovejoy's
Hotel. When I got there, he drugged me with chloroform, and when
I recovered he was gone."

"You have been unlucky. There are plenty of such swindlers
about. You should have been careful about displaying the ring
before strangers."

"I was showing it to a friend."

"Have you notified the police?"

"Not yet. I came here to let you know, because I thought the
thief might bring it in here to sell."

"Very likely. Give me a description of him."

Paul described Mr. Felix Montgomery to the best of his ability.

"I think I should know him from your description. I will speak
to Mr. Tiffany, and he will no doubt give orders to detain any
person who may offer the ring for sale."

"Thank you."

"If you will give me your address, we will notify you in case the
ring is brought in."

Paul left his address, and went out of the store, feeling that he
had taken one step toward the recovery of his treasure. He next
visited the police headquarters, and left a detailed description
of the man who had relieved him of the ring and of the
circumstances attending the robbery. Then he went home.

His mother looked up as he entered.

"Well, Paul?" she said, inquiringly.

"I've got bad news, mother," he said.

"What is it? Tell me quick!" she said, nervously.

"The ring has been stolen from me."

"How did it happen, Paul?"

"First, I must tell you how much the ring is worth. I went up to
Tiffany's, and showed the ring to Mr. Tiffany himself. He told
me that he would give me two hundred and fifty dollars for it, if
I would satisfy him that I had a right to sell it."

"Two hundred and fifty dollars!" repeated Mrs. Hoffman, in

"Yes, the diamond is very large and pure."

"Two hundred and fifty dollars would be a great help to us."

"Yes, mother, that is what makes me feel so bad about being
swindled out of it."

"Tell me how it happened. Is there no chance of recovering it?"

"A little. I shall do what I can. I have already notified the
police, and Mr. Tiffany."

"You have not told me yet how you lost it."

When Paul had told the story, his mother asked, "Did you mention
it in the cars that you had offered it at Tiffany's?"

"Yes, and I mentioned his offer."

"Perhaps the thief would be cautious about going there, for that
very reason. He might think the ring would be recognized."

"He would go to a large place, thinking that so valuable a ring
would be more readily purchased there."

"He might go to Ball & Black's."

"That is true."

"It would be well to give notice there also."

"I will go up there at once. I only wish I could meet Mr. Felix
Montgomery; I don't think he would find it so easy to outreach me
a second time."

"Take some dinner first, Paul."

"Then I must hurry it down, mother; I don't want to run the risk
of getting too late to Ball & Black's. I can't help thinking
what a splendid thing it would be if we had the two hundred and
fifty dollars. I would buy out Barry's stand, and I would get a
sewing-machine for you, and we could live much more comfortably.
It makes me mad to think I let that villain take me in so! He
must think me jolly green."

"Anybody might have been deceived, Paul. You mustn't blame
yourself too much for that."

Leaving Paul on his way to Ball & Black's, we return to Mr. Felix
Montgomery, as we shall continue to call him, though he had no
right to the name. After stupefying Paul, as already described,
he made his way downstairs, and, leaving his key at the desk,
went out.

"I hope my young friend will enjoy himself upstairs," he chuckled
to himself. "He's quite welcome to the use of the room till
to-morrow morning. It's paid for in advance, and I don't think I
shall find it convenient to stop there."

He took the ring from his vest pocket and glanced at it

"It's a beauty," he murmured, complacently. "I never saw a
handsomer ring of the size. What was it the boy said he was
offered for it? Two hundred and fifty dollars! That'll give me
a lift, and it doesn't come any too soon. My money is pretty

He walked across the City Hall Park, and at Barclay street
entered a University place car.

"Evenin' paper, mister?" said a ragged newsboy, whose garments
were constructed on the most approved system of ventilation.

"What have you got?"

"Evenin' Post, Mail, Express!"

"Give me an Express. Here's ten cents."

"I haven't got but three cents change, mister."

"Never mind the change," said Mr. Montgomery, in a fit of
temporary generosity, occasioned by his good luck.

"Thank you, sir," said the newsboy, regarding Mr. Montgomery as a
philanthropist worthy of his veneration.

Felix Montgomery leaned back in his seat, and, with a benevolent
smile, ran his eyes over the columns of the Express. Among the
paragraphs which attracted his attention was one relating to a
comrade, of similar profession, who had just been arrested in
Albany while in the act of relieving a gentleman of his

"Jerry always was a bungler," said Mr. Montgomery, complacently,
to himself. "He can't hold a candle to me. I flatter myself
that I know how to manage a little affair, like this, for
instance, as well as the next man. It'll take a sharp detective
to lay hold of me."

It might have been thought that the manner in which he had gained
possession of the ring would have troubled Mr. Montgomery, but it
was many years since he had led an honest life. He had made a
living by overreaching others, and his conscience had become so
blunted as to occasion him little trouble. He appeared to think
that the world owed him a living, and that he was quite justified
in collecting the debt in any way he could.

About twenty minutes brought the car to Amity street and Mr.
Montgomery signaled the conductor, and, the car being stopped, he
got out.

He walked a few rods in a westerly direction, and paused before a
three-story brick house, which appeared to have seen better days.

It was now used as a boarding, or rather lodging-house. The
guests were not of a very high character, the landlady not being
particular as long as her rent was paid regularly. Mr.
Montgomery ascended the steps in a jaunty way, and, opening the
door with a passkey, ascended the front staircase. He paused
before a room on the third floor, and knocked in a peculiar

The door was opened by a tall woman, in rather neglected attire.

"So you're back," she said.

"Yes, my dear, home again. As the poet says, 'There is no place
like home.' "

"I should hope there wasn't," said Mrs. Montgomery, looking about
her disdainfully. "A very delightful home it makes with such a
charming prospect of the back yard. I've been moping here all

"You've found something to console you, I see," said her husband,
glancing at the table, on which might be seen a bottle of brandy,
half-emptied, and a glass.

"Yes," said Mrs. Montgomery; "I felt so bad I had to send out for
something. It took every cent I had. And, by the way, Mrs.
Flagg sent in her bill, this morning, for the last two weeks'
board; she said she must have it."

"My dear," said Mr. Montgomery, "she shall have it."

"You don't mean to say you've got the money, Tony!" exclaimed
his wife, in surprise.

"No, I haven't got the money; but I've got what's just as good."

"What have you got?"

"What do you say to this?" and Mr. Montgomery drew from his
pocket the diamond ring, whose loss was so deeply felt by our

"Is that genuine?" asked the lady.

"It's the real thing."

"What a beauty! Where did you get it?"

"It was kindly presented me by a young man of the tender age of
fifteen or thereabouts, who had no further use for it."

"You did him out of it, that is. Tell me how you did it."

Mr. Montgomery told the story. His wife listened with interest
and appreciation.

"That was a smart operation, Tony," she said.

"I should say it was, Maria."

"How much is the ring worth?"

"Two hundred and fifty dollars."

"Can you get that for it?"

"I can get that for it."

"Tony, you are a treasure."

"Have you just found that out, my dear?"



It will be inferred, from the preceding conversation, that Mrs.
Montgomery was not likely to be shocked by the lack of honesty in
her husband. Her conscience was as elastic as his; and she was
perfectly willing to help him spend his unlawful gains.

"How soon are you going to sell the ring?" she asked.

"I should like to dispose of it at once, Maria."

"You will need to. Mrs. Flagg wants her bill paid at once."

"I quite understand the necessity of promptness, my dear. Only,
you know, one has to be cautious about disposing of articles
obtained in this way."

"You say you left the boy locked up. It seems to me, you'd
better sell the ring before he has a chance to get out and

"I don't know but you're right, my dear. Well, we'll get ready."

"Do you want me to go with you?"

"Yes; it will disarm suspicion if you are with me. I think I'll
go as a country parson."

"Country parsons are not apt to have diamond rings to dispose

"Very true, my dear. The remark does credit to your good
judgment and penetration. But I know how to get over that."

"As how?"

"Be a little more particular about your speech, my dear.
Remember, you are a minister's wife, and must use refined
expressions. What is easier than to say that the ring was given
me by a benevolent lady of my congregation, to dispose of for the
benefit of the poor?"

"Well thought of, Tony. You've got a good head-piece."

"You're right, my dear. I don't like to indulge in self-praise,
but I believe I know a thing or two. And now for the masquerade.

Where are the duds?"

"In the black trunk."

"Then we'd better lose no time in putting them on."

Without describing the process of transformation in detail, it
will be sufficient to say that the next twenty minutes wrought a
decided change in the appearance of Mr. and Mrs. Felix
Montgomery. The former was arrayed in a suit of canonical black,
not of the latest cut. A white neckcloth was substituted for the
more gaudy article worn by the jeweler from Syracuse, and a pair
of silver-bowed spectacles, composed of plain glass, lent a
scholarly air to his face. His hair was combed behind his ears,
and, so far as appearance went, he quite looked the character of
a clergyman from the rural districts.

"How will I do, my dear?" he asked, complacently.

"Tiptop," answered the lady. "How do I look?"

Mrs. Montgomery had put on a dress of sober tint, and scant
circumference, contrasting in a marked manner with the mode then
prevailing. A very plain collar encircled her neck. Her hands
were incased in brown silk gloves, while her husband wore black
kids. Her bonnet was exceedingly plain, and her whole costume
was almost Quaker-like in its simplicity.

Her husband surveyed her with satisfaction.

"My dear," he said, "you are a fitting helpmeet for the Rev. Mr.
Barnes, of Hayfield Centre. By Jove, you do me credit!"

" 'By Jove' is not a proper expression for a man of your
profession, Mr. Barnes," said the new minister's wife, with a

"You are right, my dear. I must eschew profanity, and cultivate
a decorous style of speech. Well, are we ready?"

"I am."

"Then let us set forth on our pilgrimage. We will imagine, Mrs.
Barnes, that we are about to make some pastoral calls."

They emerged into the street. On the way downstairs they met
Mrs. Flagg, the landlady, who bowed respectfully. She was
somewhat puzzled, however, not knowing when they were let in.

"Good-morning, madam," said Mr. Barnes. "Are you the landlady of
this establishment?"

"Yes, sir."

"I have been calling on one of your lodgers--Mr. Anthony Blodgett
(this was the name by which Mr. Felix Montgomery was known in the
house). He is a very worthy man."

Now, to tell the truth, Mrs. Flagg had not been particularly
struck by the moral worth of her lodger, and this testimony led
her to entertain doubts as to the discernment of her clerical

"You know him, then?"

"I know him as myself, madam. Have you never heard him mention
the name of Rev. Mr. Barnes, of Hayfield Centre, Connecticut?"

"I can't say I have," answered the landlady.

"That is singular. We were always very intimate. We attended
the same school as boys, and, in fact, were like Damon and

Mrs. Flagg had never heard of Damon and Pythias, still she
understood the comparison.

"You're in rather a different line now," she remarked, dryly.

"Yes, our positions are different. My friend dwells in the busy
metropolis, while I pass a quiet, peaceful existence in a
secluded country village, doing what good I can. But, my dear,
we are perhaps detaining this worthy lady from her domestic
avocations. I think we must be going."

"Very well, I am ready."

The first sound of her voice drew the attention of the landlady.
Mrs. Felix Montgomery possessed a thin somewhat shrill, voice,
which she was unable to conceal, and, looking attentively at her,
Mrs. Flagg penetrated her disguise. Then, turning quickly to the
gentleman, aided by her new discovery, she also recognized him.

"Well, I declare," said she, "if you didn't take me in

Mr. Montgomery laughed heartily.

"You wouldn't know me, then?" he said.

"You're got up excellent," said Mrs. Flagg, with a slight
disregard for grammar. "Is it a joke?"

"Yes, a little practical joke. We're going to call on some
friends and see if they know us."

"You'd do for the theatre," said the landlady, admiringly.

"I flatter myself I might have done something on the stage, if my
attention had been turned that way. But, my dear, we must be
moving, or we shan't get through our calls."

"I wonder what mischief they are up to now," thought Mrs. Flagg,
as she followed them to the door. "I know better than to think
they'd take the trouble to dress up that way just to take in
their friends. No, they're up to some game. Not that I care, as
long as they get money enough to pay my bill."

So the worldly-wise landlady dismissed them from her thoughts,
and went about her work.

Mr. Barnes and his wife walked up toward Broadway at a slow,
decorous pace, suited to the character they had assumed. More
than one who met them turned back to look at what they considered
a perfect type of the country minister and his wife. They would
have been not a little surprised to learn that under this quiet
garb walked two of the most accomplished swindlers in a city
abounding in adventurers of all kinds.

Mr. Barnes paused a moment to reprove a couple of urchins who
were pitching pennies on the sidewalk.

"Don't you know that it's wrong to pitch pennies?" he said

"None of your chaff, mister," retorted one of the street boys,
irreverently. "When did you come from the country, old Goggles?"

"My son, you should address me with more respect."

"Just get out of the way, mister! I don't want to hear no

"I am afraid you have been badly brought up, my son."

"I ain't your son, and I wouldn't be for a shillin'. Just you go
along, and let me alone!"

"A sad case of depravity, my dear," remarked Mr. Barnes to his
wife. "I fear we must leave these boys to their evil ways."

"You'd better," said one of the boys.

"They're smart little rascals!" said Mr. Montgomery, when they
were out of hearing of the boys. "I took them in, though. They
thought I was the genuine article."

"We'd better not waste any more time," said his wife. "That boy
might get out, you know, and give us trouble."

"I don't believe he will get out in a hurry. I locked the door
and he'd have to pound some time before he could make any one
hear, I declare, I should like to see how he looked when he
recovered from his stupor, and realized that his ring was gone."

"What sort of boy was he, Tony?"

"Better not call me by that name, my dear. It might be heard,
you know, and might not be considered in character. As to your
question, he was by no means a stupid boy. Rather sharpish, I
should say."

"Then how came he to let you take him in?"

"As to that, I claim to be rather sharp myself, and quite a match
even for a smart boy. I haven't knocked about the world
forty-four years for nothing."

They were now in Broadway. Turning the corner of Amity street,
they walked a short distance downtown, and paused before the
handsome jewelry store of Ball & Black.

"I think we had better go in here," said Felix Montgomery--(I
hesitate a little by which of his numerous names to call him).

"Why not go to Tiffany's?"

"I gather from what the boy told me that the ring has already
been offered there. It would be very likely to be recognized and
that would be awkward, you know."

"Are you sure the ring has not been offered here? asked his

"Quite sure. The boy would have mentioned it, had such been the

"Very well. Let us go in then."

The Rev. Mr. Barnes and his wife, of Hayfield Centre; entered
the elegant store, and ten minutes later Paul Hoffman entered
also, and took his station at the counters wholly unconscious of
the near proximity of the man who had so artfully swindled him.



On entering the large jewelry store Mr. Montgomery and his wife
walked to the rear of the store, and advanced to the counter,
behind which stood a clerk unengaged.

"What shall I show you?" he inquired

"I didn't come to purchase," said Mr. Montgomery, with suavity,
"but to sell. I suppose you purchase jewelry at times?"

"Sometimes," said the clerk. "Let me see what you have."

"First," said the adventurer, "let me introduce myself. I am the
Rev. Mr. Barnes, of Hayfield Centre, Connecticut. You perhaps
know the place?"

"I don't think I remember it," said the clerk, respectfully.

"It is a small place," said Mr. Montgomery, modestly, "but my
tastes are plain and unobtrusive, and I do not aspire to a more
conspicuous post. However, that is not to the purpose. A lady
parishioner, desiring to donate a portion of her wealth to the
poor, has placed in my hand a diamond ring, the proceeds to be
devoted to charitable objects. I desire to sell it, and, knowing
the high reputation of your firm feel safe in offering it to you.

I know very little of the value of such things, since they are
not in my line, but I am sure of fair treatment at your hands."

"You may depend upon that," said the clerk, favorably impressed
with the appearance and manners of his customer. "Allow me to
see the ring."

The brilliant was handed over the counter.

"It is quite valuable," said he, scrutinizing it closely.

"So I supposed, as the lady is possessed of wealth. You may rely
upon its being genuine."

"I am not authorized to purchase, said the clerk, "but I will
show it to one of the firm."

Just at that moment, Mr. Montgomery, chancing to look toward the
door, was startled by seeing the entrance of Paul Hoffman. He
saw that it would be dangerous to carry the negotiation any
farther and he quickly gave a secret signal to his wife.

The hint was instantly understood and acted upon.

Mrs. Montgomery uttered a slight cry, and clung to her husband's

"My dear," she said, "I feel one of my attacks coming on. Take
me out quickly.

"My wife is suddenly taken sick," said Mr. Montgomery, hurriedly.

"She is subject to fits. If you will give me the ring, I will
return to-morrow and negotiate for its sale."

"I am very sorry," said the clerk, with sympathy, handing back
the ring. "Can I get anything for the lady?"

"No, thank you. The best thing to do is to get her into the open
air. Thank you for your kindness."

"Let me help you," said the clerk, and coming from behind the
counter he took one arm of Mrs. Montgomery, who, leaning heavily
on her husband and the clerk, walked, or rather was carried, to
the street door.

Of course, the attention of all within the store was drawn to the

"What was the matter?" inquired a fellow-clerk, as the salesman

"It was a clergyman from Connecticut, who wished to sell a
diamond ring, given to him for charitable purposes. His wife was
taken suddenly sick. He will bring it back to-morrow."

"Was the ring a valuable one?"

"It must be worth in the neighborhood of three hundred dollars."

Paul listened to this explanation, and a sudden light flashed
upon him, as he heard the estimated value of the ring. There had
been something familiar in the appearance of the adventurer,
though, on account of his successful disguise and his being
accompanied by a lady, he had not before felt any suspicion as to
his identity with the man who had swindled him. Now he felt
convinced that it was Mr. Felix Montgomery, and that it was his
own appearance which had led to the sudden sickness and the
precipitate departure.

"That trick won't work, Mr. Montgomery," he said to himself.
"I've got on your track sooner than I anticipated, and I mean to
follow you up."

Reaching the sidewalk, he caught sight of Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery
just turning the corner of a side street. The pair supposed they
were safe, not thinking that our hero had recognized them, and
the lady no longer exhibited illness, and was walking briskly at
her husband's side. Paul hurried up and tapped the adventurer on
the shoulder. Mr. Montgomery, turning, was annoyed on finding
that he had not yet escaped. He determined, however, to stick to
his false character, and deny all knowledge of the morning's

"Well, my young friend," he said, "do you want me? I believe I
have not the pleasure of your acquaintance."

"You are mistaken there, Mr. Felix Montgomery," said Paul,

"By what name did you address me?" said the swindler, assuming a
tone of surprise.

"I addressed you as Mr. Felix Montgomery."

"You have made a mistake, my good friend. I am an humble
clergyman from Connecticut. I am called the Rev. Mr. Barnes.
Should you ever visit Hayfield Centre, I shall be glad to receive
a call from you."

"When I last met you, you were a jeweler from Syracuse," said
Paul, bluntly.

Mr. Montgomery laughed heartily.

"My dear," he said, turning to his wife, "is not this an
excellent joke? My young friend here thinks he recognizes in me
a jeweler from Syracuse."

"Indeed, you are quite mistaken," said the lady. "My husband is
a country minister. We came up to the city this morning on a
little business."

"I understand on what business," said Paul. "You wanted to
dispose of a diamond ring."

Mr. Montgomery was disposed to deny the charge, but a moment's
reflection convinced him that it would be useless, as Paul had
doubtless been informed in Ball & Black's of his business there.
He decided to put on a bold front and admit it.

"I suppose you were in Ball & Black's just now," he said.

"I was."

"And so learned my business there? But I am at a loss to
understand why you should be interested in the matter."

"That ring is mine," said Paul. "You swindled me out of it this

"My young friend, you must certainly be insane," said Mr.
Montgomery, shrugging his shoulders. "My dear, did you hear

"He is an impudent boy," said the lady. "I am surprised that you
should be willing to talk to him."

"If you leave here I will put a policeman on your track," said

He looked so determined that Mr. Montgomery found that he must

"You are under a strange hallucination, my young friend," he
said. "If you will walk along with me, I think I can convince
you of your mistake."

"There is no mistake about the matter," said Paul, walking on
with them. "The ring is mine, and I must have it."

"My dear, will you explain about the ring? He may credit your

"I don't see that any explanation is necessary," said the lady.
"However, since you wish it, I will say that the ring was handed
you by Mrs. Benton, a wealthy lady of your parish, with
instructions to sell it, and devote the proceeds to charitable

"Is that explanation satisfactory?" asked Mr. Montgomery.

"No, it is not," said Paul, resolutely. "I don't believe one
word of it. I recognize you in spite of your dress. You gave me
chloroform this morning in a room in Lovejoy's Hotel, and when I
was unconscious you made off with the ring which I expected to
sell you. You had better return it, or I will call a policeman."

"I am not the person you take me for," said Felix Montgomery.

"You are the jeweler from Syracuse who swindled me out of my

"I never was a jeweler, and never lived in Syracuse," said the
adventurer, with entire truth.

"You may be right, but that is what you told me this morning."

"I wish you would go away, and cease to annoy us," said the lady,

"I want my ring."

"We have no ring of yours."

"Show me the ring, and if it is not mine I will go away."

"You are a very impudent fellow, upon my word," said Mrs.
Montgomery, sharply, "to accuse a gentleman like my husband of
taking your ring. I don't believe you ever had one."

"My dear," interposed her husband, mildly, "I dare say my young
friend here really thinks we have his ring. Of course it is a
great mistake. Imagine what our friends in Hayfield Centre would
think of such a charge! But you must remember that he is
unacquainted with my standing in the community. In order to
satisfy his mind, I am willing to let him see the ring."

"To let him see the ring?" repeated the lady, in surprise.

"Yes. Here, my lad," taking the ring from his pocket, "this is
the ring. You will see at once that it is not yours."

"I see that it is mine," said Paul, taking the proffered ring,
and preparing to go, astonished at his own good fortune in so
easily recovering it.

"Not so fast!" exclaimed Mr. Montgomery, seizing him by the
shoulder. "Help! Police!"

An officer had turned the corner just before, and it was this
that had suggested the trap. He came up quickly, and, looking
keenly from one to the other, inquired what was the matter.

"This boy has just purloined a ring from my wife," said Mr.
Montgomery. "Fortunately I caught him in the act."

"Give up the ring, you young scoundrel!" said the officer,
imposed upon by the clerical appearance of the adventurer.

"It is mine," said Paul.

"None of your gammon! Give up the ring, and come with me."

The ring was restored to Mr. Montgomery, who overwhelmed the
officer with a profusion of thanks.

"It is not a diamond, only an imitation," he said, "but my wife
values it as the gift of a friend. Don't be too hard on the boy.

He may not be so bad as he seems."

"I'll attend to him," said the policeman, emphatically. "I'll
learn him to rob ladies of rings in the street. Come along,

Paul tried to explain matters, but no attention was paid to his
protestations. To his anger and mortification he saw the
swindler make off triumphantly with the ring, while he, the
wronged owner, was arrested as a thief.

But at the station-house he had his revenge. He was able to
prove to his captor that he had lodged information against Mr.
Montgomery, and the policeman in turn was mortified to think how
readily he had been imposed upon. Of course Paul was set free,
but the officer's blundering interference seemed to render the
recovery of the ring more doubtful than ever.



"Well, that was a narrow escape," said Mr. Montgomery, with a
sigh of relief. "I think I managed rather cleverly, eh?"

"I wanted to box the boys ears," said Mrs. Montgomery, sharply.

"It wouldn't have been in character, my dear. Ha, ha!" he
laughed, softly, "we imposed upon the officer neatly. Our young
friend got rather the worst of it."

"Why don't you call things by their right names? He isn't much
of a friend."

"Names are of no consequence, my dear."

"Well, what are you going to do next?" asked the lady, abruptly.

"About the ring?"

"Of course."

"I hardly know," said Mr. Montgomery, reflectively. "If it were
not for appearing too anxious, I would go back to Ball & Black's
now that our young friend is otherwise engaged, and can't
interrupt us."

"Suppose we go?"

"Well, you see, it might be considered rather soon for you to
recover from your fit. Besides, I don't know what stories this
boy may have thought fit to tell about us."

"He didn't have time to say anything."

"Perhaps you are right."

"We want to dispose of the ring as soon as possible, and leave
the city."

"That is true. Well, if you say so, we will go back."

"It seems to me now is the best time. The boy will tell his
story to the officer and we may be inquired for."

"Then, my dear, I will follow your advice."

Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery turned, and directed their steps again
toward Broadway. The distance was short, and fifteen minutes had
scarcely elapsed since they left the store before they again
entered it. They made their way to the lower end of the store
and accosted the same clerk with whom they had before spoken.

"Is your wife better?" he asked.

"Much better, thank you. A turn in the air always relieves her,
and she is quite herself again. I have returned because it is
necessary for me to leave the city by the evening train, and my
time is, therefore, short. Will you be kind enough to show the
ring to your employer, and ask him if he will purchase?"

The clerk returned, and said that the firm would pay two hundred
and fifty dollars, but must be assured of his right to dispose of

"Did you mention my name?" asked the adventurer.

"I mentioned that you were a clergyman. I could not remember the

"The Rev. Mr. Barnes, of Hayfield Centre, Connecticut. I have
been preaching there for--is it six or seven years, my dear?"

"Seven," said his wife.

"I should think that would be sufficient. You may mention that
to Mr. Ball or Mr. Black, if you please. I presume after that he
will not be afraid to purchase."

Mr. Montgomery said this with an air of conscious respectability
and high standing, which might readily impose upon strangers.
But, by bad luck, what he had said was heard by a person able to
confute him.

"Did you say you were from Hayfield Centre?" asked a gentleman,
standing a few feet distant.

"Yes," said Mr. Montgomery.

"I think you said your name was Barnes?"

"Yes, sir."

"And that you have been preaching there for the last seven

"Yes, sir," answered Mr. Montgomery, but there was rather less
confidence in his tone. In fact he was beginning to feel uneasy.

"It is very strange," said the other. "I have a sister living in
Hayfield Centre, and frequently visit the place myself, and so of
course know something of it. Yet I have never heard of any
clergyman named Barnes preaching there."

Mr. Montgomery saw that things looked critical.

"You are strangely mistaken, sir," he said. "However, I will not
press the sale. If you will return the ring (to the clerk) I
will dispose of it elsewhere."

But the clerk's suspicions had been aroused by what had been

"I will first speak to Mr. Ball," he said.

"There is no occasion to speak to him. I shall not sell the ring
to-day. To-morrow, I will come with witnesses whose testimony
will outweigh that of this gentleman, who I suspect never was in
Hayfield Centre in his life. I will trouble you for the ring."

"I hope you don't intend to give it to him," said the gentleman.
"The presumption is that, as he is masquerading, he has not come
by it honestly."

"I shall not deign to notice your insinuations," said Mr.
Montgomery, who concealed beneath a consequential tone his real
uneasiness. "The ring, if you please."

"Don't give it to him."

As the clerk seemed disinclined to surrender the ring, Mr.
Montgomery said: "Young man, you will find it to be a serious
matter to withhold my property."

"Perhaps I had better give it to him," said the clerk, imposed
upon by the adventurer's manner.

"Require him to prove property. If it is really his, he can
readily do this."

"My dear," said the Rev. Mr. Barnes, "we will leave the store."

"What, and leave the ring?"

"For the present. I will invoke the aid of the police to save me
from being robbed in this extraordinary manner."

He walked to the street door, accompanied by his wife. He was
deeply disappointed at the failure of the sale, and would gladly
have wreaked vengeance upon the stranger who had prevented it.
But he saw that his safety required an immediate retreat. In
addition to his own disappointment, he had to bear his wife's

"If you had the spirit of a man, Mr. Montgomery," she commenced,
"you wouldn't have given up that ring so easily. He had no
business to keep it."

"I would have called in a policeman if I dared, but you know I am
not on the best of terms with these gentlemen."

"Are we to lose the ring, then?"

"I am afraid so, unless I can make them believe in the store that
I am really what I pretend to be."

"Can't you do it?"

"Not very easily, unless stay, I have an idea. Do you see that
young man?"

He directed his wife's attention to a young man, evidently fresh
from the country, who was approaching, staring open-eyed at the
unwonted sights of the city. He was dressed in a blue coat with
brass buttons, while his pantaloons, of a check pattern,
terminated rather higher up than was in accordance with the

"Yes, I see him," said Mrs. Montgomery. "What of him?"

"I am going to recover the ring through his help."

"I don't see how."

"You will see."

"How do you do?" said the adventurer, cordially, advancing to
the young man, and seizing his hand.

"Pretty smart," said the countryman, looking surprised.

"Are your parents quite well?"

"They're so's to be around."

"When did you come to the city?"

"This mornin'."

"Do you stay any length of time?"

"I'm goin' back this afternoon."

"You didn't expect to meet me now, did you?" asked Mr.

"I s'pose I'd orter know you," said the perplexed youth, "but I
can't think what your name is."

"What! Not know Mr. Barnes, the minister of Hayfield Centre?
Don't you remember hearing me preach for your minister?"

"Seems to me I do," answered the young man, persuading himself
that he ought to remember.

"Of course you do. Now, my young friend, I am very glad to have
met you."

"So am I," said the other, awkwardly.

"You can do me a favor, if you will."

"Of course, I will," said Jonathan, "if it's anything I can do."

"Yes, you will have no trouble about it. You see, I went into a
jeweler's near by to sell a valuable ring, and they wanted to
make sure I was really a minister, and not intending to cheat
them. If you will go in with me, and say that you have often
heard me preach, and that I am the Rev. Mr. Barnes, of Hayfield
Centre, I won't mind paying you five dollars for your trouble."

"All right; I'll do it," said the rustic, considering that it
would be an unusually easy way of earning few dollars.

"You'll remember the name, won't you?"

"Yes--Parson Barnes, of Hayfield Centre."

"That is right. The store is near by. Walk along with us, and
we will be there in five minutes."



"I believe your name is Peck?" said Mr. Montgomery, hazarding a

"No, it's Young, Ephraim Young."

"Of course it is. I remember now, but I am apt to forget names.
You said your parents were quite well?"

"Yes, they're pretty smart."

"I am glad to hear it; I have the pleasantest recollections of
your excellent father. Let me see, didn't you call there with me
once, Mrs. Barnes?"

"Not that I remember."

"You must go with me the next time. I want you to know the
parents of our young friend. They are excellent people. Do you
go back this afternoon, Mr. Young?"

"Yes, I guess so. You don't know of any sitooation I could get
in a store round here, do you?"

"Not at present, but I have some influential friends to whom I
will mention your name. Suppose, now, I could obtain a situation
for you, how shall I direct the letter letting you know?"

"Just put on the letter 'Ephraim Young.' Everybody in Plainfield
knows me."

"So he lives in Plainfield," said Mr. Montgomery to himself.
"It's as well to know that." Then aloud: "I won't forget, Mr.
Young. What sort of business would you prefer?"

"Any kind that'll pay," said the gratified youth, firmly
convinced of his companion's ability to fulfill his promise.
"I've got tired of stayin' round home, and I'd like to try York a
little while. Folks say it's easy to make money here."

"You are right. If I were a business man, I would come to New
York at once. For a smart young man like you it offers a much
better opening than a country village."

"That's what I've told dad often," said the rustic, "but he's
afraid I wouldn't get nothing to do and he says it's dreadful
expensive livin' here."

"So it is expensive, but then you will be better paid than in the
country. However, here we are. You won't forget what I told

"No--I'll remember," said the young man.

The reappearance of Mr. Barnes and wife so soon excited some
surprise in the store, for it had got around, as such things
will, that he was an impostor, and it was supposed that he would
not venture to show his face there again. The appearance of his
rustic companion likewise attracted attention. Certainly, Mr.
Montgomery (it makes little difference what we call him) did not
exhibit the slightest appearance of apprehension, but his manner
was quite cool and self-possessed. He made his way to that part
of the counter attended by the clerk with whom he had before
spoken. He observed with pleasure and relief that the man who
had questioned his identity with any of the ministers of Hayfield
Centre was no longer in the store. This would make the recovery
of the ring considerably easier.

"Well, sir," he said, addressing the clerk, "I suppose you did
not expect to see me again so soon?"

"No, sir."

"Nor did I expect to be able to return for the ring before
to-morrow, not supposing that I could bring witnesses to prove
that I was what I represented. But fortunately I met just now a
young friend, who can testify to my identity, as he has heard me
preach frequently in Plainfield, where he resides. Mr. Young,
will you be kind enough to tell this gentleman who I am?"

"Parson Barnes, of Hayfield Centre," said the youth, confidently.

"You have heard me preach, have you not, in Plainfield?"

"Yes," said the young man, fully believing that he was telling
the truth.

"And I have called on your parents?"


"I think," said the adventurer, "that will be sufficient to
convince you that I am what I appear."

It was hard to doubt, in the face of such evidence. Ephraim
Young was so unmistakably from the rural districts that it would
have been absurd to suspect him of being an artful city rogue.
Besides, Mr. Barnes himself was got up so naturally that all the
clerk's doubts vanished at once. He concluded that the customer
who had questioned his genuineness must be very much mistaken.

"I ought to apologize to you, sir," he said, "for doubting your
word. But in a city like this you know one has to be very

"Of course," said the adventurer, blandly, "I do not blame you in
the least. You only did your duty, though it might have cost me
some trouble and inconvenience."

"I am sorry, sir."

"No apologies, I beg. It has all turned out right, and your
mistake was a natural one. If you will kindly return me the
ring, I will defer selling it, I think, till another day."

The clerk brought the ring, which he handed back to Mr.
Montgomery. The latter received it with so much the more
satisfaction, as he had made up his mind at one time that it was
gone irrevocably, and put it away in his waistcoat pocket.

"I had intended to buy some silver spoons," he said, "but it will
be necessary to wait until I have disposed of the ring. However,
I may as well look at some, eh, Mrs. Barnes?"

"If you like," assented the lady.

So the pair examined some spoons, and fixed upon a dozen, which
they said they would return and buy on the next day, and then,
with a polite good-by, went out of the store, leaving behind, on
the whole, a favorable impression.

Ephraim Young accompanied them out, and walked along beside them
in the street. He, too, was in good spirits, for had not his
companion promised him five dollars for his services, which he
had faithfully rendered? Five dollars to the young man from the
rural districts was a very considerable sum of money--quite a
nugget, in fact--and he already enjoyed in advance the pleasure
which he anticipated of telling his friends at home how easily he
had earned such a sum in "York." He walked along beside the
adventurer, expecting that he would say something about paying
him, but no allusion was made by the adventurer to his promise.
Indeed, five dollars was considerably more than he had in his
possession. When they reached Amity street, for they were now
proceeding up Broadway, he sought to shake off the young man,
whose company he no longer desired.

"This is our way," he said. "I suppose you are going further. I
am very glad to have met you, Mr. Young. I hope you will give
our regards to your excellent parents;" and he held out his hand
in token of farewell.

"Ain't you goin' to pay me that money?" said Ephraim, bluntly,
becoming alarmed at the prospect of losing the nugget he had
counted on with so much confidence.

"Bless me, I came near forgetting it! I hope you will excuse
me," and to Ephraim's delight he drew out his pocketbook. But
the prospect of payment was not so bright as the young man

"I don't think I have a five-dollar bill," said Mr. Montgomery,
after an examination of the pocketbook. "Mrs. Montgomery, do you

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