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Phil. A. (Philip Augustus) Rush.

The teller's tale; a banking story for bankers, a law story for lawyers, a love story for lovers online

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The courts said that the law, so far as
it related to infants, was not of practical
application, and the forfeiting of their
property by means thereof did not con-
stitute "due process of law."

Furthermore, inasmuch as the law
referred to the person making the de-
posit, and not to his executor, adminis-
trator, heirs, or assigns, it could not be
extended to them, whether adults or
infants; furthermore, that a rule which



In the Toils 179

should undertake to include even an
adult heir, would not be constitutional
unless the terms on which the money had
been deposited were made known to
them and an opportunity given them to
protect their rights, for the reason that
such proceeding would not be due process
of law.

The Supreme Court also sustained the
plea that the publications made would
not affect Mrs. Wilmot (if living) or her
daughter, because neither Section 4 nor
Section 7 had been complied with by the
bank, which twofold failure on its part
was fatal to its plea for a discharge.

This was correct: the pass-book fur-
nished Mrs. Wilmot did not have the
rules of the bank pasted in it, and no
notice was given her as required by Sec-
tion 4 of the bank publication law; on
which facts the court commented, as
showing a premeditated design on the
part of some one to defraud her.

As to the non-liability of the bank to
adults who live in the community where
the publications are made, the Supreme



i8o The Teller's Tale

Court held that the law was constitu-
tional being due process of law and
practical, as to them. The court said
that those adults who signed the con-
tract of deposit and agreed to be bound
by the rules, would be bound, no matter
where they resided, while those who re-
sided in the community would be bound
by publications, duly made, whether
they had signed a contract or not.




CHAPTER XXV

WEEPING AT NIGHT

the date of that decision there
was no hope whatever for any
abatement of the prosecution of the case
of embezzlement against Arthur St. John.
Most of the sixty thousand dollars had
been embezzled under such circum-
stances that the depositors would have
to lose it, according to the decision of
the court, and it represented mainly the
savings for which poor old men and
women had toiled for many weary years :
and neither they nor the public could
see any reason why this young "Psalm-
singing hypocrite" (as they called Ar-
thur) should not be dealt with according
to the terms of the highly penal statutes
which had been passed for the punish-
1*1



182 The Teller s Tale

ment of just such a wilful and criminal
breach of an important trust as this
was shown to be; he was undoubtedly
guilty, and must therefore suffer the
consequences.

I had procured a continuance of Ar-
thur's case until the hearing of the case
on the constitutionality of the law, hoping
that a compromise might be made with
the bank in case they had to stand the
loss, and that they would show mercy
to an employee and his mother, notwith-
standing the idea (generally accepted)
that "corporations have no souls"; or
that the chief witnesses, being then no
longer interested in the prosecution and
some of them being residents of other
States, would probably not attend the
trial.

But these were not all the barriers to
freedom. As already stated, so long as
Mrs. Ward lived, Arthur's compact with
the dead prevented him from producing
the indisputable evidences of his inno-
cence. Surely, "His ways are past find-
ing out " ; and, though, it is said, we may



Weeping at Night 183

see by faith, what is it that we see ? Our
will? Nay verily. We see in the place
of our will, the will of God, in which
alone we have pleasure, no matter what
burden He may place upon us; and this
reconciliation is the first fruits of faith.

Mrs. Ward was surprisingly healthful,
considering her bereavements and the
fact that she, seemingly, had nothing to
live for. She divided her time between
caring for her flowers and chickens, and
making daily visits to the grave of Albert
whose praises she sang in continued
numbers, whenever and wherever she
found some one to give her audience.
She showed Mrs. St. John every kindness,
though there was an air of patronizing
condescension running through her gen-
erosity.




CHAPTER XXVI

TRUTH MOVES UNSEEN

ALL efforts at a further continuance of
Arthur's case proved useless, and it
was scheduled to begin on the second
Monday of the approaching term. Jus-
tice seemed to cry aloud for the victim,
like a hungry wolf waiting for its prey;
and it seemed better for the defendant
that no further delay motion should be
interposed.

When court opened the room was filled
to its full capacity, there being present,
besides the general curious public and
parties litigant, members of the press,
visiting attorneys, and candidates for
State, district, and county offices.

The morning hour of the court hav-
ing been given over to the candidates in
184



Truth Moves Unseen 185

the presentation of their claims to their
fellow citizens, Arthur's case was called
immediately after the noon recess, a jury
was empanelled, and the expert who had
examined the books of the bank was
placed on the stand as the chief witness
for the prosecution. He testified as to
the condition of the bank's affairs on the
day Arthur was arrested, and named the
accounts in which the discrepancies ex-
isted. The pass-books of such accounts
showed one set of balances ; the books of
account of the bank showed a different set.
The entries in the pass-books had been
made mainly by Arthur, for they were in
his know r n handwriting. He had brought
down many of the balances in the de-
positors' books, and in statements made
to the depositors ; and he had knowledge
of the balances in the portfolios of the
bank. There were differences in the two
sets of balances, amounting, so the ex-
pert said, to more than sixty thousand
dollars. Arthur knew these differences
existed ; his silence showed that he origi-
nated them. Nothing could be plainer.



1 86 The Teller's Tale

On my cross-examination the expert
admitted that he did not know whether
the abstractions were made by Arthur,
or by another with his knowledge.

Just as I concluded my cross-examina-
tion, my assistant, Mr. Bryan, was
granted the privilege of propounding a
few questions, which he did, as per the
following dialogue between him and the
witness :

Q. These embezzlements occurred
from transferring funds from certain ac-
counts, either arbitrarily by somebody
in charge of the business, or by the use of
forged checks in the hands of some out-
side person, did they not?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you observe any checks-
fraudulent checks in any of these short
accounts?

A. I did not.

Q. When did such discrepancies occur?
I mean between the pass-books of certain
depositors you have mentioned, and the
books of the bank?

A. I do not know. I did not extend



Truth Moves Unseen 187

the examination, in this particular, far
enough back to discover when they
occurred.

Q. Then do you know who made the
false entries or fraudulent transfers?

A. I do not except except

"That will do," said Mr. Bryan; and
before I realized what had occurred he
was on his feet asking for a jury and
verdict of "not guilty " on this testimony.
The district attorney, in his dilemma, at
once demanded that the jury be with-
drawn and the case continued, with di-
rections to the expert accountant to
carry his investigations back to the
beginning of the mischief. The court
sustained his motion, over our objection,
on the ground that nothing short of an
actual trial on the merits of the case
could be claimed as putting the de-
fendant in jeopardy and entitling him to
an acquittal. In this way the case went
over again for the term.

I did not know until some weeks after-
wards that Alice Wilmot, believing that
Arthur was innocent, and suspecting his



1 88 The Teller's Tale

reasons for not proclaiming his innocence
to the world, had discovered, through
Wilmot Ross, the new bookkeeper at the
bank, that the discrepancies in the ac-
counts occurred before Albert's death;
and, believing there was a possibility of
saving Arthur in spite of his apparent
guilt, she had taken Mr. Bryan into her
confidence, which resulted in his asking
the questions.

Certain it is, however, that if those
questions had not been asked, the jury
would have convicted Arthur by the
close of that day in spite of all that we
could do.

Of course, the reader knows that I was
forbidden by Arthur to ask any question
which might eventually reflect on Albert.

The victims of the frauds and their
friends, and the people generally, again
cried out "trick," "technicality," and
censured the court and all concerned at
the enforced delay not one of them sus-
pecting that there was the least merit on
the side of the defendant.

How often are we deceived by appear-



Truth Moves Unseen 189

ances ; and how often are we wholly mis-
taken, not only in our own beliefs, but
also in our most confident assumptions
of fact! Surely we ought to be patient,
all of us, everywhere and under all cir-
cumstances, unto the very end and con-
clusion of every matter.

It should be remembered that the evi-
dence on its face was so overwhelmingly
strong against Arthur that not even a
doubting Thomas could be found any-
where; for, in order to conceal the con-
nection of Albert with his fraud, Arthur
had surrendered all the original certi-
ficates of stock and caused new issues in
his own name, thereby destroying all evi-
dences in his possession, or about the
bank, that Albert had ever owned a share
of stock or speculated a dollar therein.

What need for an expert to go back
beyond such evidence as this, especially
when the mind is prepared to accept sur-
face indications as proof? And are not
most of us of that mind when it comes to
confirming evil report ? Why should it be
considered necessary to go back beyond,



190 The Teller's Tale

the present appearances, since Arthur had
not publicly denied his guilt, and there
did not seem to be even a pretence that
he was innocent of the charge? Under
such circumstances it is not to be won-
dered that the temper of the people was
sorely tried at the continued delays in
the hearing of the case.

But Mr. Adams, the expert, delved
among the books of the bank night after
night, and week after week, with the
persistence which is born of habit the
habit of looking beyond externalities,
and discovering first causes and hidden
motives. He looked in vain for any
hidden evidences any tangible proof-
that another than Arthur St. John was
responsible for, or instrumental in, the
embezzlement of the sixty thousand
dollars. The proof pointed to no other
person, he said; and it was with sorrow
that he prepared his report which con-
tained this information, for he had felt
all the while an indefinable leaning to
Arthur a subconsciousness that de-
clared him innocent.



Truth Moves Unseen 191

The stock and security turned over to
the bank by Arthur as security for the
sums embezzled, were put up and sold to
the highest bidder after the decision of
the Court on the test case, and they were
bought in for a considerable sum, much
to the surprise of every one as to the
price, I mean, by a prominent broker,
who declined to give the name of his
principal.




CHAPTER XXVII

THE WASTE-BASKET

AS Mr. Adams sat at a desk in the
bank, waiting to submit his type-
written report to Mr. Price before filing it
in court, he reached down into the waste-
basket for paper to scribble on. What a
strange thing happened! How wonder-
ful that out of all the cast-off and worth-
less paper, scraps, and circulars, he
should have selected a letter from Bul-
lock & Co. of Denver, addressed to
Albert Ward, which had been thrown
away because of its resemblance to the
ordinary circulars sent out by brokers.

This letter stated, among other things,

that "The shares of Gold Coin with

which you have shown much patience,

are certain to improve in value soon, as

192




Mr. Adams reached down into the waste basket for paper to
scribble on.



The Waste-Basket 193

there are indications of a rich vein near
the north tunnel, and we are anxious
that you should increase your holdings
to double your present shares, which you
may do on the inclosed blank, etc."
Adams had examined the stock certi-
ficates. Gold Coin, like the others, was
issued to Arthur St. John; but here was
proof that it was sold to Albert Ward!

In less than a week Adams had the
original of every certificate that had
figured in the case, and they proved to
be in the name of Albert Ward. The
correspondence itself, which occurred at
the time of the purchases, was resur-
rected all of which was with, and by,
Albert Ward!

And as conclusive proof that these
stocks had been purchased by Albert
with the money of the bank, the dates of
their purchase and the amounts paid for
them corresponded with the dates and
amounts of the embezzlements from the
bank.

Truth indeed is stranger than fiction.
Neither Wilmot Ross nor the bank's



194 The Teller's Tale

shrewd detective-accountant had been
able to discover these things in the bank ;
and but for this hybrid correspondence-
half circular, half letter, lying in a
mass of nothingness, and the accidental
thought which prompted its discovery,
this book would have been written a differ-
ent way, if at all, for it would have taken
some other intervention of Providence to
save Arthur St. John from a felon's cell.

It is a long lane that never turns,
thought Alice Wilmot when Wilmot Ross
came in on his way from the bank to
tell them what Mr. Adams had found in
the waste-basket.

Believing strongly that Alice was be-
hind the herculean efforts being made to
prove him guiltless, although no one had
intimated as much to him, Arthur called
to see her at once, and said, "How can
you do this, Alice, when you know it will
kill her?"

"Whom do you refer to?" said Alice.

"To Mrs. Ward, the proud mother of
him who was your lover my friend."

"Yes," she said, "but there are others



The Waste-Basket 195

just as proud as she. There are heart-
strings, sore with aching, whose joy will
know no bounds when they are assured
that this great incubus the accusation
against you is lifted from your life and
theirs forever. Are you not willing that
I should comfort them?"

"Why do you say 'they' and 'them,'
Alice? Do you not know that mother is
all I have? I have not seen Mary Blair
since the opera party, the night before
the awful discovery at the bank. She
went away without a word to me sail-
ing with her parents for France a short
while thereafter, never granting me an
opportunity to assert my innocence or
explain my position, even if I had chosen
to do so. She was, as you know, the
woman I expected to drink with me
from any cup bitter or sweet which
might be mine. But her revealed weak-
ness in failing to meet love's test at the
critical time, has taken her out of my
life as completely as if she had never
been in it.

"Since that time I have lived to carry



196 The Teller's Tale

out the pledge to dear Albert, and to
make his loved ones happy by shielding
his name. His faults were not selfish
ones. Had it not been for the love he
bore others, the sins which did so easily
beset him would never have taken hold
of his life. Pardon me, but I know how
dearly you love his memory, and how
your heart is entwined about his good
mother. I also know that your womanly
intuition and sympathetic motives have
led you unerringly to a knowledge of the
truth.

"Why do you make this discovery
known at this time? Why do you de-
prive me of the privilege of immolating
myself on the altar of friendship, and of
keeping my solemn vows to the dead?"

Confusion of thought may come from
that joyous fulness of heart which with-
holds the blood from the brain and makes
speech impossible. Confusion of speech
may come from a modesty which forbids
the tongue give utterance to thought.

Alice Wilmot was confused. Had she
been a man that confusion would have



The Waste-Basket 197

been routed in a moment. Her hair put
on a brighter gloss, her blue eyes seemed a
deeper blue, and her lithe figure looked
more queenly in the soft Southern twi-
light, as, with diplomatic parries, she
evaded Arthur's questions with such re-
sources as she could command.

At last she said, "Let the dead past
bury its dead; whatever is finished is
finished. Nothing we can do can change
the trend or purpose of a life already
spent. Our duty is to the living. I did
not love Albert Ward. I loved what I
hoped he would be what I tried to be-
lieve he was, not what he really was,
or would have been had his life been free
from the positive sins which I now know
lay at his door. I could never love a
selfishness which accepts from another
the sacrifice which I have reason to be-
lieve he accepted from you which he
requested you to make."

Arthur and Alice both realized at one
time, and for the first time, that each
loved the other and had done so for
years. Nothing but the unselfishness



198 The Teller's Tale

of true love could have blinded them
so long. Alice had presumed that Arthur
was faithful to Mary Blair, and she to
him, although he had not mentioned
her in many a day. And Arthur had
taken for granted that the heart of Alice
of late so tender and gentle in all her
ways and words was lying beneath
Bethesda's sod, where, under the touch
of fair hands, flowers bloomed in peren-
nial glory.

Did Alice know it was not Albert nor
his memory she adored, but rather the
association of his life with Arthur's life?
No; she did not realize that her heart
was expressing a metonymy of love.
She did not know that there are figures
of feeling or heart -knowledge stronger
than any figures of speech.

That Arthur and Alice had sacrificed
themselves for a principle, and were true
to a love which promised no fruition, are
proofs that there are yet some flowers
of Eden undefiled by the trail of the
serpent.

Each now realized the destiny of the



The Waste-Basket 199

hour, and with the words "Alice,"
"Arthur," trembling for utterance, they
surrendered to a love which had made
them one of heart long before. And this
was love's awakening. The mind was
taught of the heart in the language of
affection which needed not the conven-
tionalities of speech to give it expression.

"My dearest ^\lice," said Arthur after
a while, "in spite of my efforts to con-
ceal the real offender against the law,
and in spite of my earnest efforts to be
true to him who trusted his secret to me,
the curtain is about to be drawn aside
to reveal some of the unseen things of
this life ; and I pray God that, with your
love and strength to help me, I may be
as true to you in my new life of self -de-
velopment, as I have been to another these
many days in sacrifice and immolation."

"I trust you implicitly," she said,
"for in your devotion to others, in your
suffering for principle's sake, you have
shown yourself worthy to receive unto
your keeping my life and my love, and to
mould them both for their highest good."



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE DEATH OF MRS. WARD

"Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;

Do noble things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make life, death, and that vast forever
One grand, sweet song."

BEFORE the dawn of the day on
which Mr. Adams filed his report
with the clerk of the court, Mrs. Ward
lay stricken with paralysis; and in spite
of the best medical attention she passed
away on the second day of her illness.
Mrs. St. John, Alice, and Arthur tried to
comfort her in the last hours of her life;
and, in half -consciousness, she seemed
to realize the bond between the lovers,
and gave them, kneeling at her bed, the
blessing of her last breath murmuring
the name of Albert, as if she gave his



The Death of Mrs. Ward 201

blessing with her own, or thought it was
he who was making a happy marriage.

Mrs. Ward being the last of her family,
her death had in it a touch of sadness
which appealed to us with the thought
that she died not for herself alone, but
that with her perished the hopes, the
aspirations, and the possibilities of a
long line of ancestors who had fur-
nished to the world, in their time, both
brain and brawn to make it better.

Without the cottage, nature was joy-
ous in the light of spring. How out of
harmony with the sorrow we felt within !
For the watchers by the side of death,
even in the light of faith, can catch but
feeble glimpses of the glories which
await a redeemed soul in the world
beyond.

And as Mrs. Ward lay in her little
parlor shrouded in the emblem of purity,
and loving hands were weaving the
jasmine and the rose into garlands for
her grave, tearful eyes looked upon her
for the last time, and voices, tender with
emotion, recalled her virtues in a flood



202 The Teller's Tale

of pathetic memories which clustered
about her life. While, far down the
street, where busy throngs were hurrying
to and fro intent upon the duties of the
day, the voice of the newsboy was heard
crying the Morning News which was
publishing to the world the story of
Albert Ward and his crime.

Arthur St. John heard this cry, and,
turning, looked upon the placid features
of her who was now beyond the pale of
pain or the portals of poverty, and who
had gone, without a final sorrow, to meet
her God in peace ; and he would not have
given his approving conscience, in that
hour, for all the acclaim a world might
bestow.

No ; not even the story of his faithful-
ness and innocence, which newsmongers
were bartering for pennies and half -dimes
on the streets of many cities, could com-
pare with the satisfaction he felt in
knowing that, through his suffering, this
poor woman had been saved the pangs
of despair and her life allowed to go out
in peace.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE TOILS UNWOUND

THE day following the funeral of Mrs.
Ward was one long to be remem-
bered. From morning till night men and
women were calling to express to Arthur
and his mother their great satisfaction
with the report of Mr. Adams and its
relation to him, at the same time praising
him for the noble manner in which he had
borne himself throughout the trouble and
his sacrificing devotion to his friend.

And although many desirable positions
were offered him by men of business, with
the fullest expression of confidence in his
ability and integrity, he declined all their
offers, for the reason that he was still
under conviction for the smaller offence,
and there were other indictments of the
203



204 The Teller's Tale

same kind against him ; and, being tech-
nically guilty, he wished to absolve him-
self from all charges before he was willing
to assume any other responsibility.

Not only this, but he also had the one
controlling determination of a business
nature to replace to those who had lost
their money in the bank, so much of it as
might have been saved had he reported
to his employers, in the beginning, each
and every doubtful transaction which
came under his observation; and he
wished to do nothing which might in-
terfere with this determination.

He wished to pay this money as a
matter of principle, and there were
reasons why he wished to do so at once.
It is true that the tide of public opinion
had set so steadily toward him that there
would have been no danger of another
conviction, even if the district attorney
had insisted on another trial; and it
was also true that if the Court had
passed sentence on him for the conviction
already had the governor would at once
have pardoned him; nevertheless, his



The Toils Unwound 205

conscience told him that it was more
honorable to pay the penalty for the
wrong done than to avoid punishment,
so long as a wrong of his had resulted
in injury to others, and that he could
redeem himself only by making them
whole.

How he was to undo such wrong and
thus satisfy his conscience in time for the
next term of court, was a question he
despaired of answering, for he knew not
how it could be done. The toils of the
law were no longer about him and no
longer feared, but the sense of right and
wrong within him (the higher law) had
yet to be satisfied.

The law of conscience is older than the
Decalogue. By it we are acquitted or
condemned according to the quality of
each act; and a jury's verdict can no
more reverse its decrees than the statutes
of man can repeal the commandments of


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Online LibraryPhil. A. (Philip Augustus) RushThe teller's tale; a banking story for bankers, a law story for lawyers, a love story for lovers → online text (page 8 of 9)