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My Counting-house

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I. It carne about in Uu's way. I liad married and was going to make my fortune, aDd tberefor (having that laudable eud in view) leít a good situation iu Yorkshire to settle down in Liverpool, as a merchaut "on my owu account," and commeoce to make ie without delay. I laü not mucil oapital, and so resolved o economiza at first. In coursu of iaie I imagined tbe tidy brougham and he country house acroes the Mersey would certamly come ; aod ono sereoe September evening, inany years ago, I waa walking up and dowo Si.. George's landing-stage, building castles in tho air, wondenng whetfcer renta were higb at liew BrightoD, and whetber Kate would refer a pony phaeton to a brougham. am iiot sorry to add that I still reside n a modest house up Edge Hill way, ud that I cume to business as Ca3ar went to Rome, according to Joe Miller, summa diligeutia," on tbe top of an mnibus. I was waiting for Mr. Moss Hoees to return to his office n a street ïard by, - cali it Mersoy Street, and for be reasoo that Mr. Moss Moscs had a urnished place to lot, which his adertieement ealled "two epaeioua countng-roünis," - goodness kuows I tiever ouuted much thcre in the shape of oio ; and 1 did not liko the situation ; nor the narrow, dark staircase; nor the ook of the boy of Hebrew extraction wbo bawled "Uub d," when I knoeked, nd told me that "Mr. Moses would bo n at eight o'olock ;" but twenty-five tound a year was very cheap, so I told my young friend that I would cali at bat time, and look at the "couutingooms." How well I remeinbered that night ! 'he furry-boats from tho Cheshiro sliore liding along with their lights twinkling ke glow-worms, the vast huil of the Great Eastern just visiblo in the Sloyne, ae squared yards, and all a-taut look of seventy-four of the old school, showng black and distinct against the aftodil sky, and the lap of the Ewell the under timbera of the stüge - wus iucliued to be sentimental ; but Ir. Moss Mises claimed my atteution, nd once more I entered his office and 'ound biin awaiting mo. He was a lite, fat, good-tempered Jew, who spoke ecent English ; and who, I afierwards bund out, was constantly afliruiing in eason, and out of season, that hewasno escendant of Abraham. "Hillo, Brunton," he cried, jumping 'rom his chair, "My lad told meyou'd een hero ; where haveyou been these wo months and more? Look here, old ellow, I've advertised your place ; but 'Ou can have iton the old terms." "öome mistake, sir, 1 believe;" and I )anded him a card bearing tho inscripïon "Charles Harker." He took it and held it to thegaslight, ooked at the back, considered it endways, and pondered over it upside down. 'hen taking the candle bis clerk had )rought, held it close to my face. "If you are not disposed to proceed ,o business, I will bid you good uight," aid I, greatly annoyed at his mannor. "It's him, and it aiu't hiin," he said loud ; ''Cari never could look a man iu the face as thisone does. And yet I lon't see my way through the features." "Tbere s do ueceesity for you to roublo yourself about my featurep," I exclaimed, opening tho door, - 'good nigbt." "Stop, stop, my good sir, and don't be offended. It was a mistako. All Isaac's iuistake, upon my honor." "All u niistake," echoed young Isaac. My curiosity was excited, and besidoe I really wunted the offices; aud I thercfore allowed myself to be persuaded into mounting tbc narrow staircase, until we faced a door bearing the uarnc of Bruuton on t in white letters, aud having tho iwo upper panels glazod, more, I gliould imagiue, tosupply light to the Btaircase, tban for admissiou of light to the office. Mr. Moas produced a kcy, and turning to me with a good-naturcd smile said, "I'd bave sworn you wero Brunton five minutes ago, but I am uure cow that I was wroDg. Cari always swore as ho came up siairs, and you havcu't. It'a Brunion's face a}l hut the eyes, and I'd swear to thp eyes anywhere. That s to the twiofcle of 'eni, you know." And be un}a?5ced the door an4 iavited me within. Walking to a table on which he bat placed the ligh,t, 1 took a chair, an(l pro duoed my pocket-book. "Bofore we gp further, Mr. Moeg, Ie us quite uoderstnnd each other. I bave no wisb to derive any benefit from an; virtues Mr. Brunton may possess, and am going to couvinee you that I am what I represent mynelf to be. Bp gooc enough to real that letter." It was from a merchant in the North only reoeived that mprning, and neption ed ciroumstahoes which were sufficieu to geitle aDy ubtB as (o my identitv Mr. Moss read it, fulded it up briskly, and preseuted it lo me wíth a bow. ' Sir, I apolngizf. I confesa that up to tli ir inuinenc I fuucied it was Cari but what puzzlod ino was, that Buch a Eurly fellow ehould tuke lo lurking anc playing tlie fool. You uru very much iko my last tooaDt, eir, tbat is ull." Vary vvell ; uow tliat matter iseettlcd, lot UB luok at tliu rooms." The liglited gas showed me a largo ono and very barcly furnished. Thcre was a largo leuthercovered lable uilh a desk ou it, fuur chaira, an iakstand, and a partially lilled wuste-papnr basket, and that ñus all. "Jluther ineagre, Mr. Moss." "Now, my dear, sir, what more could you waut Ï Would you liko a sale ? I've got ono lo spure down staira and you shall have it, aud a dow mat ior your fuet, thoro uow, I hato baggling." "Let me seo tho other room, please.'' It was ono which a persou fitting at the tablo would have right opposite to him, and it had no door. "It wa8 a clerk's oüice " Mr. Moss said, "and you wanted your eye on such chaps." I BUggcsted that tbe principal might souietimes want privacy, whercupon ho eaid, "he had the door down stairs and it should be hung at onco if I wished it." But having no inteution of engaging a clerk at present I told him it was of no consequenco. Tbu room was about half the size of ;he outer one, aud coutaiued a desk and stool. There was a large closet for coal nnd such like mntters, and a good a'lowance of dust and cobwebs all over. "111 havo it cleaned up to-morfcw," said Mr. Moss. ''It looks boautiful when clean, and you II iiud the desk to be real Spnnish mahogany." They woiild suit me wcll enougli, and I told Mr. Moss 80 ; paid him a quarter's rent in advauce, and rose to depart. "O, by the way, Mr. Moss," I cxclaimed, a sudden thought strikincr me ; "I will send a man to paiut my uame on the door, and on the wall down stairs." "Very good, air ; I would do it at once f I were you. Cari was a loóse fish, and, if you delayed it until you got here you miglit be anuoyed." "How so ? What was he ?" "Tak a cigar first, Mr. Harker, you'll find 00 better in Liverpool. Lord, how ike him you do look when I dou't sae rour eyes." "And yet I havo notbeon thought to resemble a loóse fish before.Mr. Moss." "I didu't mean tliat. Haveyou never seen ao ugly pereon resembla a very hnndsume one ? I have many a time. Well, about Cari; Le was here about two ycars, and cali ine a Jew if I could reckou hiin up. lio used to como bero about noot!, and work up to cight or nine o'clock at night; butwbat business ho worked ut I could never find out. l know be had a big ledger, and two or throa Buch books; but a big ledger won't make a business any more t han a big carpet-bag wilt, and he always carried ooe. He would como and smoke a oigar with me uow and then ; but 1 uever carue up here during nll tliis time, and ho kept ibis door locked. He always seonied to be cxpeoting a blow did poor Cari, more liko a rat in a corner tlian auything else, pnor beggor. Well, sir, one morning I tound the kov on my mat, and found the phioe just as you see it, aud have never 6een Cari since. One or two queer-lookiiig mon havo inquired about him, and asked if he was coming back, and I eaid most likoly he would, and likely euough ho will." "Not at all an inleresting story," I boucht, and I feit uclined to yawu in Wr. Moes' face; but I thanUed bim for lis inforuiation, and proinised to tuko jossession in three days, which I spent n prosenting my letters of introduction, nd making othcr urrangcments for the trosecution of my plans. At length the eventful day arrived, nd I stood in my own office, with my ame emblazoned on the door and pasage wall. I w:is waiting for a friend o cali on me (ho, by the way, promised 0 put me in tho way of doing somo busiess that very day), and feit impatieut or his arrival iu cousecjuence. The office was clean and tidy, and the oors had boen well 6crubbed. Why hadn't they empticd the wastc):ipcr basket of all that luinber? 'J'he oflic.e-keeper had lighted a fire, ud I took up the basket to perform the operation myself ; but from some cause or otber I placed it on the table and began idly to burn tho scrapa one by one. I had Dearly disposed of thera all when a scrap attracted my attentiou, and 1 read it. It was torn so as to leave a few words intact, and it run thus : "Louise has given your description, and you may rely on our finding you. Forward the plats at once, or- " Then aoother pieco of mysterious papor, apparently a plan of somo place or 01 hfj. What did this mean. Uut I had no time to consider, for my frieud entercd, and putting tho two piuccs of paper in my drawer, I emptied the basket in the fire, aad went out with him to do a good day 's work. Eeturning lato ia tho evening, I relit the fire, aud addressed myself to the wriiing of two important lettere to bo posted by 11:30 that night, in order to be in timo for tho Cunard liner, which sailed earjy in the tiiorniiig; and then it wüb that ibe black darkness of the doorlesa room opposite to me bcgaa to trouble me mo6t, It had trouhlcd me bofore, but on this night it troubled iuo tetifud. From childhood I Jiavo been iaiaginative, and knowing this, I stirred the fire, called myself un ass, nnd went on witli my letter, liut not for long. My even wandercd to the black durknesg of tiio doorway, and I begau to ransnek my niemory for statistjcs of men who could toll by sorne occult power ifuuy ouc woro hid den in the room thpy ontored and I laughed aloud wheu I remeiubered tha I hud heard of one sensitiva geutleman who by tliis Bame o.-cult sen.e had fouud that a mirgeou'a ekeloton was in a closet behind hint, I own I dislike being in tho durk, but I will do myself the justice to say that I hai'e resolution enough to overeóme the dislike. Therefore I proposed to royself to very quietly walk oto tho dark room which troubled rae (and vithout a ■ j litflu), look out of the windows, aud slovvly return. I went. The -ery first step beyond the Ibreuhold dispelled niy fears. I could seo the glimmer of the itarg through the gluss, liear the rnttle of the cabs outside. Why, it was quite a cheerful plaoe, after all. Ha ! there was a shuffling noise there by the closet, and then niy leurs roturnud and overpowered me. I strove to wulk out liko a tragedy hero; but my pace quiukened as [ noared the door, und heurd the shuffling noise close to me, and the next moment a powerful band was at my throat, and helpless on the iioor with a cold muzzlc of a pistol pressed to niy head, I was bound and dragged into the outer office, thrust into my cliuir and confronted by two quietlookiug men, one of whom luid his revolver on the table saying at the same time with an ugly sneer, "So, Brunton, we have caught jou ut last " II. The speaker was a mild, intelligentlookiug man of about thirty-five. In a proper dress ho would have looked like a high churoh olergyman. His companion was evidently aforeigner, and I imagine tx Germán. He was about fifty yeari of agc, and worc spectacles, aod a profusión of beard and whiskors covered more tliao half bis face. But he had a winning smile and good teeth, which he often took an opportunity of showiDg. 'We hare you at last." I am thankful to say that I am not nervous when 1 see a danger, and I boldly replied. "My name is Harker and not Brunton ; Mr. Moss, the landlord of these premises, has uoticed my resemblance to las lato tenaot, and is satisfied tbat I am not the same. Depond upon it that I ehall make you repent thia outrage." I tried to rise to cali for help froin the streef, but the pistol was oouked and pointed at me, aud there was that in the man's face wbl'oh cautioned mo ngaiust rushness in my helpless positioo. "I will sit "down," I replied, "and i car vvhat you have to say; but if I choor-e to do it, I shall do my best to raise alarm in spite of your revolver." " Vell spoke, Cari," said the foreigner ; Louise always say he a plucky oue." "Now, then, Bruntou," whispered the other, ''let's ave no noosense. We íave not met before it is true, but Louise has sq well deseribed you, Ihat )utting anothcr naaie on your door vas simply idiotie. Besides one of ours las watched for your return, and we oinrmiuioated wiih him direetlv we anded. Gofroe, ifyou like, but we vill have the plates." "Dat's do matter vid us," echoed the Germán; "ve vill have the plates." "I know nothing of any plates," I inod, "nor of Louise, nor of you. All I know is, that you will see the inside of a prison very shortly." "And you think you can throw us, hrow mu over in tuis way. Do you hink you deal with children ?" . "I think I deal with a burglar. Most certainly with a rascal oí BJme sort or olher," llerc my two friends held a whispered couferenoe. Then he of the revolver urned sharply towards rue. "Will jou murry Louise ? Will you give up the plates, and marry my siser ?,' "She lofe you like old boota," added ,ho Germán; from whicb I opine tliat ie piided Litnself on aknowledge of the íngli!) idiom. In spite of my serious position I was getting thorüiighly anmsed. The dark doorwny held unkuowu terrors to my oxcited imagiuation; but two conimonlace fellows who had made a mistake mly causod a feeling of nierriment, even n spito of the revolver. 'lI am sorry I cunnot oblige you," I replied. "I am flattered by the lady's ire forence ; but having one wifa already . feor 1 must decline taking a second - and as for the plates, pleaso explaiu what you mean," The an6wer to this flippant speech was a blow on the face, which sent the )lood atroaming on the floor. 'ï'ou'll remember insulting the sister of Louis Orloff. Ilere, Baron, let ug gag him, and search ; he will be raieing au alarm presently." They thrust a pieca of rope botweeo my teeth, compressing my windpipe, to nake me open my moutb ; and there 1 sat helpless whilnt thej turned out the contenta of my desk and drawera, not forgettiug my cash box, whieh was opened with a key taken from my waistcoat pocket, and the contenta appropriated. Knowing that the tw scraps of japcr 1 had found in the waste-paptr jasket, and placed in my drawar, must ïave reference to their visit, I watched very anxiously when they opened t. I5ut they cscaped notice, and I feit that I had got some clow to the mystery, even if these meu escaped ; and I had quite determined that they should not escape, for I was insecurely bound, and had buen working hard to get my right hand free, and, thanks to having a very narrow ono, I now found myself able to slip it through the loop which encircled the wrist; but I "bided my time," for I üiiw that a faire more migbt bring a bullet through my head"Do plates is iu de odor room, Cari Brunton, mon ami," soid tbe Baron, smiÜDg, and patting my shoulder. "You do em so well, ve uo get any like dem. And you use dem yoursclf, and den, Ach üott ! you upset de cart ot de pple! "Yes," l thought ; "and U's odd to mo if I dou't upset your cart af de npple beforo long." "In dare ; in back room ?" aaked the Baron, wjtb another amiablo sinilö, I Baid '-(yos," with my eyos. ' Spe now, my L.ouis, you wero too rongh. Vou into biru pitoh like dam. So nee bitn amiable." Then to me, - 'lAud you vill marry Louise, who lofe you liko old boots?" My othcr hand was free now. I triet to speak, and implored with my eyegfor tho gng to be removed. Tho Barau romoved it, and while do ing so I resolved on a plan of opera tions "Yo wil} marry Louis and give u tbe plutes ?" "1 will give you eyery eatigfactioo. "That is business," said Louis Orlof coming forward. ''First the plateg Then you, return w;th us to JÍQT ork and keep your promise to Louiso. Why give uu this irouble f I teil you frankly tbnt tbe expenses wül be deductod from your bare, and that you will be strictly watcbed io future. I ehould have cut your tbroat but for my promisc to Louiss. Now, whero are the plates ?" "Look in the closet in the next room ; rake out tbe coala, and take what jou find." "Good. Come, Baron." And they left me to opérate on tbe coals. Springing up, I aeized the re volver, darted to the door, and in o moment had looked them in. Uut my triumph was of short duration; for Orloff was on tbe other side like lightning, tbo rotten Koodwork tore out udder bis vigorous wrench, and bis hand was on my thruat before I could grope my way to the stairs. Tbeu I knew that life depended on tbe struggle, and I fougbt Jiko ooe posse?sed for tbe revolver. ïho Baron came to his friend's help ; but I found time and opportuuity (o send bim reeling to the floor. Orloff was the weaker man, but be outdid me in skill ; and a dextrous feint threw me off my guard, leaving the revolver in bis bands. Purple with passion, be fired instantly, and I feit a sharp sting ia my lelt shoulder; and all earlhly tbiogs seemod to be fading away, and a world beyond opening to view. When I recovered, I iound myself laid on a mattresa on the office table, and my wifo tearfully bendiug over me. Thero was a calm-faced surgeon, too, who ebowed me the ball Le bad extraecd, and told me too cheer up, for I hould ba better in a few daya, for no damage tras done. Mr. Moss was there oo, and oame to my bed - I mean my able side, and whiapered bow he bad een called up by Ihe pólice, wbo, hearng a pistol shot, had como up stairs, aud arrested Orloff and the Baron, and, inding me on tho ground bleeding, bad ent for asurgeon and my wife, baving ound my private address from a letter o my pocket. I was only faint from loss of blood ; he bullet did little damage, and I preerred getting up, and then gave an acount of tho eveniug'i adventure, not oticing at the time that a tall inspector f polioe was in tbe room. "Will you kindly show me tbose rieses of paper ?" he said, advancing, I have the men in Mr. Moss' office ; ut boyond the assult on you 1 have no videLoa against them ; but I kuow bem well." Iproduced them, and the irepeoior astened on tbe one which seemea to bo plan, then lookiog around, said " This is a plan of your office." " Cali me a Jew if it ain't " exclaimd Mr. Mos, taking it. " Yes, it is oertainly a plan of your ffice. See, here is the doorway, and fiero comes the other room. Then here ie a cross against the fireplace in hi room, on what I judge from the nes to mean the fourth board from the ïearthstone, and unother cross agaiost ixtb from the bearthstone, in the other oom. Got a crowbar, Mr. Moss." " There's one down ttairs." I do believe that if you'd asked for a crooodile he would bare got odo down stairs." Crowbar and a poüceman to wield it were bood produced, and then tbe nayary was unravelled. Close to whcre 1 sat were uneartbed everal copper plates for the forging of iussian rouble notea of various amouuts ; nd in the taok room under the floorng, were foui.d several buodreds of wellexacuted forgeries, carefully soldred up in a yp case, together with corespondence nnplioating Orloff and nd BaroD. It appears tbat Brunton was engaged by a New York gang to ngrave the plates and tbat be had ever seen bis employers, the agent beween them being tbe Louise before mentioned, wbose fair band I bad been OMiipellu-.l to decline. Brunton had vidently bscome frightened, and had ed. He was no traitor, or be would ïave decamped with the platea. Perïaps the dread of having to espouse iouise may bave had somethiog to do witb hii fliglit. She was a bandsome voinan, if I may judge from a photo;rapb of her iound in the tin case, but ooked like one accustomed to rule, and wbo would not besitato to ad minister wholesome correotion to ber spouse. Assisted into a carriage which was waiting, I bad the satiafaction of eeetng be Baroo and Orloff brougbt down in ïandcuSs, the Baron regarding me witb sweet smile, and Orloff scowling on me like a fiend. I did not proseoute, or tbey were so well kiiown to the poice as forgers, that there was evidence nough for tbe Russian Embassy to proure a conviotion and a suntence of ten ears' penal servitudo; and in due time recovered, and dicniisscd tbe matter rom my mind. But I had not bcard the last of it. About twelve montbs after the trial and ondemnation of the Baron and bis riend, there carne one night a timid tnock at my office door, my clerk (for I ïad euch aluxury then) usuered in wbat, at ñrst eight, peemed to be a moving jundlc of rag, insistcd on seeingme, and ushercd itself in, f pito of all remonstrances. It came and stood before me and resolved itself into the semhlance of a man, a man lean, haggard, sonken.eyed, ragged and dirty, but with a face Bometbiog like my own ; and without putting a quegtion, I knew tbat I lood faco to face with Cari Brunton, and I addressed tbe rags by that name. " I took that name," tho poor, sbivoring thing replied, " but uiy name is - but no wattr. May I speak to jou ?" " Yos, go on." " Will you glvo me gome drink firct? I have had none to-day, and feel delirium tremen coming on. O, bow cold it is, and how I shiver." I sent the olork for some brandy, whtch he took raw, and with shaLing hand held out the glass for moro. " I imagine it is Mr Moi you want to see, i it not ? If so, you will liad hira to-morrow, at ten o'clook." " No, no, you, you I want- I- I am very poor, very poor. Will you gie me aixpenoe F1 I gave him balf a crown. " Now, what can I do for you ?" " I- I left sonue property here wben I went $way. Yoq woo't refuse to give t up ? I seem poor, but I am rioh ah ! so rich !- and I will pay you well." " You meao the furged rouble-notes and the plate you engraved them from?" " Ah ! Who told you that ? Then you have found them, and tieed them ? Í ran away from thoin, and wished to lead a better life, but they drow me back; aud now you have robbed me, and I shall starve." I explained to the poor wretch what had become of his possessions, and how they were ïouijd, aud inquired if he had noc heard of the fato oí hia accomplices. "No; I have been wnndering about the couutry living in hospitalsand woikhouses, becauso they hunt me down from plaoe;to plaoe. They will kill me as they killed the Poseo Jew and the engraver at Stockholm, all becauae tbey demauded a fair share. They are dogging me to-night - one of them is outside dow. Lot me see, what did I come here for 'Í O, aixpence. Lend me expenoe; 111 give you a hundred pounds lor it to-morrow ?" I mado a further donation, and, as ;he man waa eridently in a stato of deirium, I told my clerk to fetch a medioal mao. But beforo he could exocute he order, the buodle of rags crept down the narrow stair, aitting on eauh utep, and wripgliog by aid of his hind to thé uext below, whilst we, unable to pass lim, looked on, wondoring how it would all end. The street gaioed, he stood npright, ind, oasting a terrified glanoe arouüd, led away into the darkness, and we, ollowing in the direotion he had taken, earned shortly afterwards that a beg;ar had thrown hiraself into the Mersey rom St. George's landing stage, and had unk lo risa no moro. His body was never found, and I, havog had enough of Mersey Street, moved' my quartors, muoh to the regret of Mr. Hoss for, quoth he, " Two of 'em aro at, ï'ortland, and another at the bottom of he mer; so you may cali mo a Jew if auy ooe troublesyou again." But I went; aud the office is still without a tenant, and I ehudder when I )8sb through the street at night, and, ooking up, see the two black ehining windows, like two great ejes watching i)e, and fancy I oan tee a shadowy form n rags, pressing tg face to tbe glass, and gibberiog and mewing at the busy tream of human life which surges to nd fro forever.


Old News
Michigan Argus