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Horatio Alger.

Hector's Inheritance, Or, the Boys of Smith Institute online

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brother's estate."

"Who is the claimant?" asked Allan Roscoe, perturbed.

"Your nephew, Hector."

"I have no nephew Hector. The boy called Hector Roscoe is an adopted son
of my brother."

"I know you so stated. He says he is prepared to prove that he is the
lawful son of the late Mr. Roscoe."

"He can't prove it!" said Allan Roscoe, turning pale.

"He has brought positive proof from California, so he says."

"Has he, then, returned?" asked Allan, his heart sinking.

"He is in the city, and expects us to meet him at two o'clock this
afternoon, at the office of his lawyer, Mr. Parchment."

Now, Mr. Parchment was one of the most celebrated lawyers at the New
York bar, and the fact that Hector had secured his services showed Allan
Roscoe that the matter was indeed serious.

"How could he afford to retain so eminent a lawyer?" asked Allan Roscoe,
nervously.

"Titus Newman, the millionaire merchant, backs him."

"Do you think there is anything in his case?" asked Allan, slowly.

"I can tell better after our interview at two o'clock."

At five minutes to two Allan Roscoe and Mr. Tape were ushered into the
private office of Mr. Parchment.

"Glad to see you, gentlemen," said the great lawyer, with his usual
courtesy.

Two minutes later Hector entered, accompanied by Mr. Newman. Hector
nodded coldly to his uncle. He was not of a vindictive nature, but he
could not forget that this man, his own near relative, had not only
deprived him of his property, but conspired against his life.

"Hector," said Allan Roscoe, assuming a confidence he did not feel, "I
am amazed at your preposterous claim upon the property my brother left
to me. This is a poor return for his kindness to one who had no claim
upon him."

"Mr. Parchment will speak for me," said Hector, briefly.

"My young client," said the great lawyer, "claims to be the son of the
deceased Mr. Roscoe, and, of course, in that capacity, succeeds to his
father's estate."

"It is one thing to make the claim, and another to substantiate it,"
sneered Allan Roscoe.

"Precisely so, Mr. Roscoe," said Mr. Parchment. "We quite agree with
you. Shall I tell you and your learned counsel what we are prepared to
prove?"

Mr. Roscoe nodded uneasily.

"We have the affidavits of the lady with whom your brother boarded
in Sacramento, and in whose house my young client was born. We have,
furthermore, the sworn testimony of the clergyman, still living, who
baptized him, and we can show, though it is needless, in the face of
such strong proof, that he was always spoken of in his infancy by Mr.
and Mrs. Roscoe as their child."

"And I have my brother's letter stating that he was only adopted,"
asserted Allan Roscoe.

"Even that, admitting it to be genuine," said Mr. Parchment, "cannot
disprove the evidence I have already alluded to. If you insist upon it,
however, we will submit the letter to an expert, and - "

"This is a conspiracy. I won't give up the estate," said Allan,
passionately.

"We also claim that there is a conspiracy," said Mr. Parchment,
smoothly, "and there is one circumstance that will go far to confirm
it."

"What is that?" demanded Allan Roscoe.

"It is the attempt made upon my young client's life in San Francisco by
an agent of yours, Mr. Roscoe."

"It is a lie!" said Allan, hoarsely, shaking, nevertheless, with fear.

At a sign from Mr. Parchment, Hector opened the door of the office to
give admission to Reuben Pearce.

At a sight of this man Allan Roscoe utterly collapsed. He felt that all
was lost!

"Gentlemen," he said, "I will give up the estate, but for Heaven's sake,
don't prosecute me for this!"

There was an informal conference, in which it was agreed that Allan
Roscoe should make no resistance to Hector's claim, but restore the
estate to him. Hector promised, though this was against his lawyer's
advice, to give his uncle, who would be left penniless, the sum of two
thousand dollars in cash, and an allowance of a hundred dollars per
month for his life. He appointed Mr. Newman his guardian, being a minor,
and was once more a boy of fortune. He resolved to continue his studies,
and in due time go to college, thus preparing himself for the high
position he would hereafter hold.

As for Allan Roscoe, he and his son, Guy, lost no time in leaving the
neighborhood. Guy was intensely mortified at this turn of the wheel,
which had again brought his cousin uppermost, and was quite ready to
accompany his father to Chicago, where they are living at present. But
he had formed extravagant tastes, and has been a source of trouble and
solicitude to his father, who, indeed, hardly deserves the comfort of a
good son.

Hector lost no time, after being restored to his old position, in
re-engaging Larry Deane's father, who had been discharged by his uncle.

He paid him his usual wages for all the time he had been out of place,
and considerably raised his pay for the future.

"Larry shall never want a friend as long as I live," he assured Mr.
Deane. "He was a friend to me when I needed one, and I will take care
to give him a good start in life." He redeemed this promise by securing
Larry a place in Mr. Newman's employ, and voluntarily allowed him as
large a weekly sum as the merchant paid him in addition, so that Larry
could live comfortably in the city. I am glad to say that Larry has
shown himself deserving of this kindness, and has already been promoted
to an important and better paid position.

A word about Smith Institute. It never recovered from the blow that it
had received at the time when Hector found himself forced to leave it.
One after another the pupils left, and Mr. Smith felt that his race as
a schoolmaster was run. He advertised the institute for sale, and who do
you think bought it? Who but Hector Roscoe, who probably paid more for
it than anyone else would.

My readers will hardly suppose that he wanted it for himself. In a
cordial letter he presented it to Mr. Crabb, the late usher, when he had
finished his engagement with Walter Boss, and the name was changed to
"Crabb Institute." It was not long before it regained its old patronage,
for Mr. Crabb was not only a good scholar, but was fair and just to
the pupils, ruling them rather by love than fear. He has married the
daughter of a neighboring clergyman, who is a judicious helper and
contributes to the success of the school.

As for Jim Smith, the last heard of him was to this effect: He had
strayed out to St. Louis, and, after a few months of vicissitude, had
secured the position of bartender in a low liquor saloon. He has very
little chance of rising higher. The young tyrant of Smith Institute has
not done very well for himself, but he has himself to blame for it.

To return to Hector. I think we are justified in predicting for him a
prosperous future. He behaved well in adversity. He is not likely to be
spoiled by prosperity, but promises to grow up a good and manly man, who
will seek to do good as he goes along, and so vindicate his claim to the
exceptional good fortune which he enjoys.

THE END.







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Online LibraryHoratio AlgerHector's Inheritance, Or, the Boys of Smith Institute → online text (page 12 of 12)