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The Left-handed Thief

The Left-handed Thief image
Parent Issue
Day
6
Month
September
Year
1861
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

" How, many young men have been njured, perbaps ruined by false suspicion," remarked my mcrcantile triend, as we were conversing upon the subect of the "panio," a few evenings nee. tíuspicion is Jike the assassin in he dark. It stabs ita viotirn, and he jnows not whenco the blow comes. - iut I believe I never told you of the nly time that suspicion of evil was ver fastened upon me. When a mere youth I was placed in ne store of Joseph Warton, who was merchant doing good business. I was frugal, industrious and faithlul, nd at the age of 21 I was advanced o the post of book-keepcr, with a good alary. I had charge of the books nd safe and all the money Jeft over fter banking hours was siso in my are. I tried to do my business faith'ully and think I succeeded. Mr. Varton was a close, methodical man, with a quick eye and ready undertanding of business, and as I fanc'ied ie was satisfijd, I feit muoh pleased. I had been a book-keeper a year 'hen I thought my omployer's manncr oward me began to change. He eemed to treat me more coolly, and inally. I was sure he watched my Tiovements with distrustful glances. - became nervous and uneasy, for I eared I had offended him. But the ling carne to a head at length. One vening when I was alone in the store ngaged ín making up my cash account, Mr. Warton carne to me with a troubed look, and epoke. His voice was remukus, and I could see that he was eoply aftected. " George," Raid he, " I ara sorry for ie conviction ihat has been forctd npn me. 1 fear you hare not been reating me as you ehould." I asked in astonishraent what he meant. " I fear you are not honest !" was lis reply. Had a thunderbolt fallen upon me, could not have been more startled. - STot hocest ! And thore I had been or years making it my chief aim and tudy how to serve him, most faithfully ! do not remember what I said at first. only know that tears came into my yes- that my limbs trembled - that tterance was almost checked. How ong had he held &uch suspicions? I sked him, and he told me ior more han two months. 'Good God? You have suspected, ne thus ond still k-ft me in the dark ? After serving you so long - After givng to your interest all my energies - alter striving for faith and honor that E might win your love and esteem - to ook upon me as a thief and yet not teil me ! I would not have beheved t." " Let us talk the matter over calmly," said the merchant, his old kind tone coming back. He was touched by my agony, and I could sea that he was wavering. " You have spent considerable money of late," said he. "How?" I askcd. " Have you not built a house ?" " Yes, sir and paid for it, too, and have thus given to rny mother a comiortable home." Mr. Warton was staggered for a moment by my frank and leeling reply but he asked, " What did the house coat you ?" " Just fifteen hundred dollars. My rnother owned tho land. And 1 suppose you would know where 1 got the money. You, sir, taught me how to save it, I have boen with you eix years. The first year you paid me fifty dollars, and I laid up twenty-five of it, The second and third year you gave me a hundred ; and of that I laid up eixty dollars a year. The fourth year you made me a clerk and gave me five hundred. Motber was able to feed me, and as our littlo cot answered forthe time, I got alongthat year upon an expense ot seventy-tive dollars. - The noxtyear you paid me six hundred on condition that I would keep your books. I saved five hundred f that. This last year you paid me one thousand dollars, and I have only spent the interest oí what I had previously invested, so that the thousand was not touched. üf course my mother had worked, but ehe wished to do it. I have paid fifteen hundred dollars cash for my house, and bave over five hundred in the savings bank. This is a plain statement of aflairs." My employer scemed more puzzlec than before. " Now," eaid I, " I havo given you a honeet account, and will you be equall frank and teil me all that has happened to excite this suspicion ?" "I will," he replied, taking a seat near me. " Within the laat year I must have lost over two thouaand dollars ! I knovv this, for I know the amount of goods which has been sold, and I know how much cash I have received. I began to be watehful four months ago. Two months ago a man paid me in the afternoon, five hundred dollars. I put it in the drawer, and on the next morning, before you carne, I looked at your cash account and found only two ot that set down. From that timo I have been very watehful, and have detected a dozen similar cases. I have noticed every dollar that came in after the bank account was mado up, and havo also taken note of the amount entered upon the book; and during that time there has been a leaking of over even hundred dollars! Now wbo has access to that drawer and to the safe ?" I was astonished. I could only assure my ernployer ihat I knew nothing of it; and I saw ihat he wanted to believe me. I asked him if he had spoken to any one of this but me. He said, " No."" I then said : " Mr. Warton, could I be made to believe that even ignorautly I had wronged you to the valué ol a dollar I should not fcel the perfect consciousness of honor I now feel. There must be a thief somewhere Are you willing1 to let the matter rest for a few days. I will strain every nerve to defect the evil doer." He consented, and promised not to lisp a word upon the subject to any one, and to leave the matter wholly to me for a week. On the following morning I entered the store with my mindcentered on the work before me, There were four clerks or salesmen, and one boy, beside8 myself, in censtant attendance, and all money received had to pass through my hands. Sometimos I had made up my cash account at night, and sometimes not till the next morning. In the latter case I generally put the monev drawer into the safe, and locked t up. The key to the safe was kopt in a small drawer to which there were two keys, ooe of which I kept, and Mr. W. the other. The only other aerson who ever hclped us in the store, was Henry, Mr. Warton's son a young man tweuty years old. He was preparing for college, under a private ;utor, but tound time to help us when Dusiness was driving. He was a kindlearted, generous fellotv, and a strong attachment had grown up between us. Atfirstl thought of getting him to assist me in finding the thief; but as VIr. Warton had promised to speak to no one olse upon the subject, I conclued to keep silent, also. Tbat night I counted my money, but nade no entry of the account. There were three hundred and forty odd dolars. I put it into a new calf-skin )ocket-book, placed it in the moneyrawer, and locked the wliole up in ie safe. On the following morning I 'ound fifty dollars gone ! My suspiions took a very unwelcome turn. During the day I pondered upon the ubject and finally hit upon the folowing experiment. When I had ocked up the safe for the night, I iread upon the knob of the door, and pon the money-drawer, some palo red ead, üeing careful not to get enough n to be easily ncticed. I had left ie cash account open, to be closed op n the morning. When I next opened ie safe, all wae as I had left it. The ext night I fixed the knob in the same manner, and on the following morning found forty dollars gone ! Upon the jocket-book were finger-marks oí red ed, and when I carne to open my cash)ook 1 found the same kind of rnarks lere. Bo I had learned one thing, ie thief knew enougli to see whether ny occount had been made of the uoney before he took it ! I feit more npleasanlly than before, for my vélenme suspicions were being conirrned. There was a peculiarity in the ed finger-inarks whioh tnld me a sad tory. Still I vvished to try further. For two nights aftor tfats the safe emained undisturbed, but on the third ight I missod sevonty-five dollars, and , had now set my trap more caref'ully. be red pigment was not only usud, ut I had p'.it a private mark upon very bilí in the dravver. The pocket )ook and cash-book was fingered as jcíore, and tbe rnarks were elear and listinct. When the week was up, Mr. Warton carne and asked me what I had found. " Ah," said he as he noticed the sorrowful expression upon my countenance, " you have fuiled to discorer anything." " Alas ! I wish I could say so," I replied. I havo discovered too mueh. In the firet place, the money had been taken from the safe, and the key left in its proper drawer and locked up as usual. Also, the cash-book has been examined each tma to see if' any entry bas been made of the money. There has been one hundred and sixty-five dollars in all, taken." " But how do you know tbe caahbook has been examined ?" askcd Warton. Producing the book, I said, " Do you not see those red marks ? I fixod a red pigment upon tho door-knob of the safe, and also upon tho edges of tho money-drawer. You can see the marks !" " Yes," he whispered. " And now," I continued, "just examine them carefully. See hovv the leaves of the cash-book were turned over, and also see how the strap of the pocket-book was turned into its place. Do you see aDything peculiar about it?" " Only that the finger marks are very plain.1' " But can you not distinguish the thurnb marks from thoso made by the fingere ?" " Yes- I can." "Then teil me this," said I: "Which hand was used to make those marks ?" Walton guzed upon the marks and finally said- "Tho left!" " Yes," said I, " and all tho marks have been made tho same. Tho theif is a lefl-handed one, and must be acquainted with the store and with our books, and can gain easy access here. But I have yet another mark. Tlie last bilis wore all marked with a small red cross upon the numerical figure in the right hand, and upper corner. - You can follow those up, for have neither had the courage, nor heart to doit." The merchant sank back as pale as death. ' Henry is the only left handed person upon the premisos!" he groaned. gazing on me as though he wished me to deny the statement ; but I could not, for'indeod he was the guilty party. 11 Ask me no more, I said, with teara in my eyes - for the father's agony deepiy moved me. " The secret is locked up in my ovvn breast, and neither to you or any living being, will I ever eall the name of him I suspect." The stricken man, with sobs and tears, grasped my hand, begged me to pardon him for the wrong ho had dono me, and blessecl me for the assurance I had given him. On the following morning he brought me fifty dollars, in eight different bilis, uil rnarkod with the red cross " I know all novv," he vvhispered,- " Be kind to me, and let this not go out to the vvorid I" 1 kept my promise, and lived to see the old man smile again ; for when Henry savv the agony of his father, his beart was touched, and he not only acknovvledged all his wild siria, and humbly begged pardon, but he becamo a good and true man, and an ornament to society.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus