The next morning Mr. Morton made inquiries of Frank respecting the mortgage. Frank explained that a loan of four hundred dollars would enable him to cancel it.
"That is very easily arranged, then," said Henry Morton.
He opened his pocketbook and drew out four crisp new United States notes, of one hundred dollars each.
"There, Frank," said he; "that will loosen the hold Squire Haynes has upon you. I fancy he will find it a little more difficult to extricate himself from my grasp."
"How can I ever thank you, Mr. Morton?" said Frank, with emotion.
"It gives me great pleasure to have it in my power to be of service to you, Frank," said his friend kindly.
"We will have a mortgage made out to you," continued Frank.
"Not without my consent, I hope," said Mr. Morton, smiling.
Frank looked puzzled.
"No, Frank," resumed Mr. Morton, "I don't care for any security. You may give me a simple acknowledgment of indebtedness, and then pay me at your leisure."
Frank felt with Justice that Mr. Morton was acting very generously, and he was more than ever drawn to him.
So passed the earlier hours of the forenoon.
About eleven o'clock Squire Haynes was observed approaching the house. His step was firm and elastic, as if he rejoiced in the errand he was upon. Again he lifted the knocker, and sounded a noisy summons. It was in reality a summons to surrender.
The door was opened again by Mrs. Frost, who invited the squire to enter. He did so, wondering at her apparent composure.
"They can't have raised the money," thought he apprehensively. "No, I am sure the notice was too short."
Frank was in the room, but Squire Haynes did not deign to notice him, nor did Frank choose to make advances. Mrs. Frost spoke upon indifferent subjects, being determined to force Squire Haynes to broach himself the business that had brought him to the farm.
Finally, clearing his throat, he said: "Well, madam, are you prepared to cancel the mortgage which I hold upon your husband's farm?"
"I hope," said Mrs. Frost, "you will give us time. It is hardly possible to obtain so large a sum in twenty-four hours."
"They haven't got it," thought the squire exultingly.
"As to that," he said aloud, "you've had several years to get ready in."
"Have you no consideration? Remember my husband's absence, and I am unacquainted with business."
"I have already told you," said the squire hastily, "that I require the money. I have a note to pay, and----"
"Can you give us a week?"
"No, I must have the money at once."
"And if we cannot pay?"
"I must foreclose."
"Will that give you the money any sooner? I suppose you would have to advertise the farm for sale before you could realize anything, and I hardly think that car be accomplished sooner than a week hence."
"The delay is only a subterfuge on your part," said the squire hotly. "You would be no better prepared at the end of a week than you are now."
"No, perhaps not," said Mrs. Frost quietly.
"And yet you ask me to wait," said the squire indignantly. "Once for all, let me tell you that all entreaties are vain. My mind is made up to foreclose, and foreclose I will."
"Don't be too sure of that," interrupted Frank, with a triumphant smile.
"Ha, young impudence!" exclaimed the squire, wheeling round. "Who's to prevent me, I should like to know?"
"I am," said Frank boldly.
The squire fingered his cane nervously. He was very strongly tempted to lay it on our hero's back. But he reflected that the power was in his hands, and that he was sure of his revenge.
"You won't gain anything by your impudence," he said loftily. "I might have got you a place, out of pity to your mother, if you had behaved differently. I need a boy to do odd jobs about the house, and I might have offered the place to you."
"Thank you for your kind intentions," said Frank, "but I fear the care of this farm will prevent my accepting your tempting offer."
"The care of the farm!" repeated the squire angrily. "Do you think I will delegate it to you?"
"I don't see what you have to do about it," said Frank.
"Then you'll find out," roared the squire. "I shall take immediate possession, and require you to leave at once."
"Then I suppose we had better pay the mortgage, mother," said Frank.
"Pay the mortgage! You can't do it," said the squire exultingly.
"Have you the document with you?" inquired Mrs. Frost.
"Name the amount due on it."
"With interest eight hundred and twenty-four dollars."
"Frank, call in Mr. Morton as a witness."
Mr. Morton entered.
"Now, Frank, you may count out the money."
"What!" stammered the squire, in dismay, "can you pay it."
"Why didn't you tell me so in the first place?" demanded Squire Haynes, his wrath excited by his bitter disappointment.
"I wished to ascertain whether your course was dictated by necessity or a desire to annoy and injure us. I can have no further doubt about it."
There was no help for it. Squire Haynes was compelled to release his hold upon the Frost Farm, and pocket his money. He had never been so sorry to receive money before.
This business over, he was about to beat a hurried retreat, when he was suddenly arrested by a question from Henry Morton.
"Can you spare me a few minutes, Squire Haynes?"
"I am in haste, sir."
"My business is important, and has already been too long delayed."
"Too long delayed?"
"Yes, it has waited twelve years."
"I don't understand you, sir," said the squire.
"Perhaps I can assist you. You know me as Henry Morton. That is not my real name."
"An alias!" sneered the squire in a significant tone.
"Yes, I had my reasons," returned the young man, unmoved.
"I have no doubt of it."
Henry Morton smiled, but did not otherwise notice the unpleasant imputation.
"My real name is Richard Waring."
Squire Haynes started violently and scrutinized the young man closely through his spectacles. His vague suspicions were confirmed.
"Do you wish to know my business with you?"
The squire muttered something inaudible.
"I demand the restitution of the large sum of money entrusted to you by my father, just before his departure to the West Indies--a sum of which you have been the wrongful possessor for twelve years."
"Do you mean to insult me?" exclaimed the squire, bold in the assurance that the sole evidence of his fraud was undiscovered.
"Unless you comply with my demand I shall proceed against you legally, and you are enough of a lawyer to understand the punishment meted out to that description of felony."
"Pooh, pooh! Your threats won't avail you," said the squire contemptuously. "Your plan is a very clumsy one. Let me suggest to you, young man, that threats for the purpose of extorting money are actionable."
"Do you doubt my identity?"
"You may very probably be the person you claim to be, but that won't save you."
"Very well. You have conceded one point."
He walked quietly to the door of the adjoining room, opened it, and in a distinct voice called "James Travers."
At the sound of this name Squire Haynes sank into a chair, ashy pale.
A man, not over forty, but with seamed face, hair nearly white, and a form evidently broken with ill health, slowly entered.
Squire Haynes beheld him with dismay.
"You see before you, Squire Haynes, a man whose silence has been your safeguard for the last twelve years. His lips are now unsealed. James Travers, tell us what you know of the trust reposed in this man by my father,"
"No, no," said the squire hurriedly. "It--it is enough. I will make restitution."
"You have done wisely," said Richard Waring. (We must give him his true name.) "When will you be ready to meet me upon this business?"
"To-morrow," muttered the squire.
He left the house with the air of one who has been crushed by a sudden blow.
The pride of the haughty had been laid low, and retribution, long deferred, had come at last.
Numerous and hearty were the congratulations which Mr. Morton--I mean Mr. Waring--received upon his new accession of property.
"I do not care so much for that," he said, "but my father's word has been vindicated. My mind is now at peace."
There was more than one happy heart at the farm that night. Mr. Waring had accomplished the great object of his life; and as for Frank and his mother, they felt that the black cloud which had menaced their happiness had been removed, and henceforth there seemed prosperous days in store. To cap the climax of their happiness, the afternoon mail brought a letter from Mr. Frost, in which he imparted the intelligence that he had been promoted to a second lieutenancy.
"Mother," said Frank, "you must be very dignified now, You are an officer's wife."
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