A tall man, with a sallow complexion, and heavily-bearded face, stood on the deck of a Cunard steamer, only a few miles distant from New York harbor.
“It’s three years since I have seen America,” he said to himself, thoughtfully. “I suppose I ought to feel a patriotic fervor about setting foot once more on my native shore, but I don’t believe in nonsense. I would be content to live in Europe all my life, if my uncle’s fortune were once in my possession. I am his sole heir, but he persists in holding on to his money bags, and limits me to a paltry three thousand a year. I must see if I can’t induce him to give me a good, round sum on account—fifty thousand, at least—and then I can wait a little more patiently till he drops off.”
“When shall we reach port, captain?” he asked, as he passed that officer.
“In four hours, I think, Mr. Wade.”
“So this is my birthday,” he said to himself.
“Thirty five years old to-day. Half my life gone, and I am still a dependent on my uncle’s bounty. Suppose he should throw me off—leave me out in the cold—where should I be? If he should find the boy—but no, there is no chance of that. I have taken good care of that. By the way, I must look him up soon—cautiously, of course—and see what has become of him. He will grow up a laborer or mechanic and die without a knowledge of his birth, while I fill his place and enjoy his inheritance.”
At six o’clock the vessel reached the Quarantine. Most of the passengers decided to remain on board one night more, but John Wade was impatient, and, leaving his trunks, obtained a small boat, and soon touched the shore.
It was nearly eight when John Wade landed in the city. It was half-past eight when he stood on the steps of his uncle’s residence and rang the bell.
“Is my uncle is Mr. Wharton—at home?” he asked of the servant who answered the bell.
“I am his nephew, just arrived from Europe. Let him know that I am here, and would like to see him.”
The servant, who had never before seen him, having only been six months in the house, regarded him with a great deal of curiosity, and then went to do his biding.
“My nephew arrived!” exclaimed Mr. Wharton, in surprise. “Why, he never let me know he was coming.”
“Will you see him, sir?”
“To be sure! Bring him in at once.”
“My dear uncle!” exclaimed John Wade, with effusion, for he was a polite man, and could act when it suited his interests to do so, “I am glad to see you. How is your health?”
“I am getting older every day, John.”
“You don’t look a day older, sir,” said John, who did not believe what he said, for he could plainly see that his uncle had grown older since he last saw him.
“You think so, John, but I feel it. Your coming is a surprise. You did not write that you intended sailing.”