Bart Ridgeley eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Bart Ridgeley.

“Bart, you must always have been lucky,” said Ransom.

“I am doing my best not to be conceited and vain, and find it confounded hard work,” was the frank, good-natured reply.

CHAPTER XL.

THE DISGUISE.

Mrs. Ridgeley received the following: 

“JEFFERSON, June 8, 1838.

Dear Mother:—­A strange thing has happened to me, for which I am indebted to Henry; indeed, I am destined to trade upon his capital.  You remember how kind he said a Mr. Windsor was to him, employing him to transact small business matters for him, and paying him largely, besides making him useful and valuable presents?  He seems to have been dissatisfied with himself for not doing more, and I am to be the recipient of his bounty in full.

“He called to see me about a week ago; and then two or three days after, he sent a carriage for me, and I have just returned.  He is very wealthy, an old bachelor, lives elegantly, is a thoroughly educated man, and not eccentric, except in his liking to Henry, which he transfers to me.  He is without near relations, and has had a history.  Now he insists on advancing to me enough to carry me through, clothing me, and starting me with a fine library.  He says I must go East to a law school at least a year, and so start from a most favorable and advanced position.

“It took my breath away.  It seems fairly wrong that I should permit myself to take this man’s money, for whom I have done nothing, and to whom I can make no return, and whose money I might never repay.  He laughed, and said I was very simple and romantic.  Wasn’t the money his? and couldn’t he do what he pleased with it? and if he invested it in me, nobody was harmed by it.  I told him I might be; I am not sure that I should be safe with the pressure and stimulus of poverty removed from me.

“Moreover he had purchased an elegant watch, to be given to Henry, on his marriage with poor Miss Aikens, of whom I told you; and this he insists on my taking and wearing, with a chain big and long enough to hang me in.  I told him if he wanted to give it away, that it should, I thought, properly go to Miss A.—­to whom, by the way, I gave that beautiful pin.  I cannot wear anything that was Henry’s, and this would be one objection to wearing this watch.  Mr. Windsor said it certainly was never intended for Ida; that it had never been Henry’s, that it was mine, and I had to bring it away.  I feel guilty, and as if I had swindled or stolen, or committed some mean act; and as I hold it to my ear, its strong beat reproaches me like the throb of a guilty heart.

“What can I do?  Your feelings are right, and your judgment is good.  I can’t afford to be killed with a weight of obligation, nor must I remit or relax a single effort.  This may stimulate me more.  If I were to relax and lie down now, and let another carry me, I should deserve the scorn and contempt I have received.

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Bart Ridgeley from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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