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wisdom. There was sufficient necessity for the road. Once built, it must pay a good per cent. on the cost. But Mordaunt well knew that before the road could be constructed, every dollar invested in the original securities of the company, would be irretrievably lost.
He now visited nearly every town on the main routes in southern and western New York. He made himself practically familiar with their localities, wants, and resources. Having matured his project, he next opened negotiations with the principal moneyed men, resident in the counties through which the road was to pass. Gaining their favor in its behalf, he enlisted the members of the press along the line to present the subject to the people. In a short time the bait took; every man, woman, and even child old enough to lisp railroad was talking about the immense value which the railroad would add to the land; ambitious young ladies asked pa for a little more expensive dresses on the strength of the rise; and foolish pas actually extended their family expenses a couple of hundred or more per annum. The whole community went railroad mad. Great railroad mass meetings were held by the people. Mordaunt was careful, however, never to have his name appear in any of the public calls. His plea with the managing gentlemen was, “Oh, I am no speaker. I promise, gentlemen, to take $300,000 first securities upon the road, as soon as you
have a subscription list of an equal amount. You can have my bond for the fulfillment of that promise with any sureties you may ask.”
The bond was duly prepared. Mordaunt was i laying a bold game; but he had fully calculated
his chances. With his aunt's name as security for his sureties, he had no difficulty in obtaining responsible names. Everything being fully ripe for starting the project, he applied to the legislature for a charter. For want of a better alias, for it will not suit our purpose to give the true name of this railroad company, as its present interests may be seriously affected by thus making an exposé of its early history, we shall call it “THE NEW YORK CATFISH RAILROAD Co.” Under that name it was duly chartered by the legislature. The stock list was rapidly filled up. The city of applied to the legislature for an act authorizing it to loan its credit to the road. By this means the company filled up the required $300,000. Before this was accomplished, however, the work of surveying, grading, etc., had been commenced, and steadily prosecuted. At this time, not a voice in any county, through which the road passed, could be found to decry, or even doubt the success of the road. Land had risen twenty-five per cent. in value, and some sales had actually been consummated at frightfully fabulous prices. Mordaunt carefully used every influence to obtain the assistance of the New York city press. Without that potent engine he well knew he stood little chance of disposing of his $300,000 worth of the stock.
The time came at last for him to fulfill the conditions of his bond. He nerved himself to the task. The bonds of the company were made out. He wished to throw the odium of the final collapse off from his shoulders, and accomplish the ruin of James H. Griswold.
Two years had passed since Mordaunt first started upon his scheme of revenge. During that time he had made frequent visits at Aurora; had twice ventured to press his suit with Bell. Mr. Mortimer had become interested in the railroad scheme, and had invested a small sum in the stock. He used every argument in his power to change Bell's decision in Mordaunt's favor. Mrs. Mortimer was equally his friend. Bell was inflexibly opposed to him.
Upon two occasions, during the second year, already mentioned, Mordaunt had met Griswold and Melville at Mr. Mortimer's residence. Their intercourse had been characterized by the utmost of seeming friendship. Rides, sailing parties, pic-nics, etc. etc., well known as among the amusements of the country, had been enjoyed together in profusion, without an exhibition of the slightest trace of that revenge which prompted James Mordaunt's every thought. Mr. Edgemonte, with his wife and daughter Clara, were in Europe. Thomas Griswold was reading law with a well known firm in New York city. George Melville was studying medicine at Pittsfield, Mass. Up to this time, Mordaunt had never intimated to Bell's parents that Griswold was her accepted lover In this he had acted contrary to his aunt's, Mrs. Tryon's, advice. On several occasions, he had seen enough to satisfy him, that Griswold was, indeed, the preferred lover. At all events he could watch. He could know. By any premature opening of this subject to the Mortimers, he would be unable to bring to bear in his own favor the effect of Mr. Griswold's bankruptcy. The sowing was nearly ripened for the harvest. One month was to elapse ere he would be called upon to fulfill his contract with the “New York Catfish Railroad Company."
“Now, aunt, the field is ripened for the sickle; I start for Aurora to-morrow, in the evening train. You are to accompany me, according to promise. We shall stop at the city of Auburn one day. I desire to visit the Auburn State Prison.'»
“Very well; that is all satisfactory. I shall be ready and willing. You well know, my dear James, I live only for your happiness.”
While Mordaunt and his aunt are pursuing their jaunt to the city of Auburn, we will take the reader back to Goat Island, at Niagara.
It was evening of the day subsequent to Mr. Mordaunt's departure for New York, after his interview with Frederick Mortimer, in the barber's saloon.
A carriage was slowly passing through the various winding paths of that island. Within it was seated a beautiful young lady. Her face, wreathed with smiles of sunshine, gave token of happy thought; the rich blood mounted from her beating heart, causing the crimson, tell-tale blushes to reveal the proud affection with which she gazes upon him to whom she has given her maiden heart, accompanying the gift with its pure and truthful devotion. Her fair white hand, freed from its tiny silken glove, was gently held by Thomas Griswold. Around her beautiful form his arm had gently entwined, and once again he fondly, ardently pressed the lovely being to his bosom, sealing anew his plighted vows.
“Dearest, dearest Clara, how sweet this cup of happiness after so long a separation! May kind Heaven grant that nothing shall ever disturb the quiet joy which now fills our hearts! Ilow strange our meeting! I wrote you from Clinton, that duty called me to accompany my friend Melville. IIe has a noble heart. His health was failing, and go upon this Quixotic adventure without me, he would not. I had a sore trial between love and duty. His father wrote, entreating me to accompany his son. Duty won the battle, and I wrote to you that we could not meet until the holidays."
“I wrote, dear Thomas, asking you to meet me here. That letter, with four pages of foolish affection, awaits your entrance upon senior dignity.”
“ The dignity has not come yet; true. I must not forget that fact,” said Griswold, fondly pressing his beautiful prize again to his bosom.
This scene is too sacred to be further revealed. Now that the reader has learned Clara's and Griswold's secret, we ask as an especial favor that it be kept a secret; at least please, do not inform any of the personages who figure in these pages. Such a revelation might create infinite mischief.