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"I can't marry William Broadhead.”
“What !” said Neaton, with surprise, “not marry him? How are you going avoid it? I had a long talk with him a few minutes ago, and he told me he thoug himself the most fortunate man in existence to secure so beautiful a girl as L Brandon. He told me all his plans and expectations, and said, moreover, he w coming here to-night to see you about them. What has happened, Lou, to occasio such a change in your views.”
“My views are not changed, John; but the fact is, I never cared enough about hii to marry him. He is well enough, I suppose; but I feel every day more and moi opposed to marrying into that family; and then, I tell you candidly, I can't mari a man out of mere respect.”
“You are, or ought to be, the best judge of that, Lou,” replied Neaton, thought fully; and after gazing into the fire a miuute, he added, “ but what is the advice you wished from me!”
“I want you to advise me how to break off this engagement,” she answered earnestly." There will be a tremendous excitement about it, I know, and his mother will be revenged on me in some way.”
"I can't, I'm sure, tell you how women manage such matters; Sarah can advise you better than I can. If I had such an affair on my hands, I'd take the shortest cut, and send him a note stating that my views had changed, or something to that effect, aud that I wished a release. No sensible man could fail to be thankful to escape in time from marrying a woman who cared nothing about him.”
“I believe that you are right, John," replied his sister-in-law ; " that plan suggested itself to me among others, but I had intended to go away soon, and pay no further attention to his letters or any communications from him. I know your plan is the only fair and honest one; but you see how we are sometimes influenced by one word from another to undertake what our own cominon sense should have indicated. The only proper way to discard him is to send this note—and I will do it at once."
After this reply, Mr. Neaton seemed for a few moments to be absorbed in intense thought; then, turning to his wife, who had returned while they were conversing, and taken a chair near him, after brushing up some specks of dirt which he had brought in on his boots, he said : "Sarah, this affair will certainly occasion a great deal of mischief. Lou has very properly decided to change her mind about William Broadhead ; and, to tell the truth, I am not sorry. I am becoming more satisfied every day that our intercourse with that family and our business relations with their establishments are detrimental to us in more ways than one. The old fellow is meditating mischief against our firm, in regard to those patent spindles. I believe this family affair has somewhat prevented him precipitating matters, but this unfortunate affair of Lou's will be a glorious opportunity for him to launch out - and now look out for squalls.”
“It's always my luck," exclaimed bis sister-in-law, vehemently, “ to be the occa. sion of trouble to my dearest friends! John, I'll postpone doing anything about this affair of mine - I'll procrastinate and make excuses, until you can ascertaiu how your business matters stand, and after you have settled everything securely, then I'll break this chain wbich galls me, for ever."
"Oh! no, no !" replied Neaton, “ you go on and act according to your sense of right and propriety, Lou, and leave me to manage this old reprobate. He may occasion us considerable expense and litigation, but we have him fast on his agreement, and in the end we'll pay him off for all the trouble he has put us to. There's the door bell—that's William Broadhead. I told you he was coming to-night."
“I can't see him to-night,” said Lou Brandon, resolutely. “Mary, tell Mr. Broadhead I'm sorry that I'm engaged this evening." When the disappointed lover had started homeward, his betrothed exclaimed
This is the first rebuff; thank heaven! I'll be free." The next minute the tea-bell rang. And thus commenced the great war of the diodles, amid the ringing of door bells and tea-bells.
Oh! woman! woman ! how many of earth's contests may be traced to thes!
THE CONSULTATION. A r2w Seks subsequent to the events just recorded, in the streets of a thronged city might have been seen an elderly man walking rapidly in the direction of the lower or business portion of the town. The night was dark and cold, and the wind whistled dismally along the deserted streets, for the hour was late, and no indications of burnan existence were abroad to cheer the solitary pedestrian, save an occasional uund of noisy mirth from the few taverns which still remained open. But the old man was apparently indifferent to the loneliness of the hour, and walked steadily on toward that part of the city which is usually entirely deserted by midnight. As ho went briskly on his way, the occasional stream of light from a gas-lamp fell full upon his countenance, revealing an expression of intense anxiety and trouble. A passerby would have taken him for a person belonging to the upper circles of society, for his loving cloak was apparently of fine cloth, as the flash of gaslight fell full upon it, and a gold-headed cane which he carried under his arm protruded several inches from its heavy folds. He soon paused before a row of four-story buildings, and, for a moment, seemed to be carefully reading the names upon the stone columns of the lower story. At length he discovered, by the aid of the street lamp, the word:, *S. Levins, Solicitor;” and pushing back a door, which admitted him into a narrow tall, he groped his way along it by the uncertain light which glimmered through the ventilator over a door at the extreme end. He knocked at this door, but without waiting for a reply, opened it, and walked in. A middle-sized man, who was sitting at a long table covered with loose sheets of paper and writing materials, looked up quickly, and said, with a look of astonishment
*What brought you here, Broadhead, at this time of night?”
The old man, throwing off his cloak and hat, and seating himself, with bis gold. hesied case, beside the fire, and looking everywhere but in the lawyer's face, said, Rettously, while his feet and hands and head performed every description of extraordinary evolutions, “I knew you worked late, Levins, and I expected--that is, I tidn't know but you might have considered -I mean, I suppose you had examineil tist paper sufficiently to advise me as to its effect. However, there's no particular
hurry for a few days. How do you think I can get out of my engagement with the company?—that is, how far am I bound by the contract ?"
“How,” exclaimed the lawyer, pushing his chair backwards and sidewise, until he had worked himself round to the fire, and facing Broadhead : “how am I to answer such a string of questions as that? Which suit are you talking about? The one the Vernon Company has commenced against you, or the one you wish to commence against Fornell, Horton, & Co. ?”
Oh, I mean the contract, Mr. Levins," replied the old man, holding up his right foot to the fire, and brushing back his thin hair with his large, coarse hand : “ there anything in it to deprive me of the exclusive use of my improvements in spindles? That is what I want to know, Mr. Levins," exclaimed Broadhead, emphatically, at the same time laying his cane on the chair behind him, and glancing bastily upon the scattered papers on the lawyer's table. “I want counsel, sir, as to my rights in my own patented invention. Is my horse my property, or the property of any man that chooses to claim him ? No, sir! God knows, I wouldn't take a pir that belonged to my neighbour, without paying him for it. A man's invention Levins, is his property; and no court of justice-of fair and equal justice-would allow any man to pirate my invention. Yes! pirate, that's the word the law uses Levins-pirating an invention. Why, the idea of these people pirating my inventior --my own patented invention-is simply preposterous. Yes, Levins, prepos. terous!” Saying which, Broadhead sprung up from his chair, and turned his back to the fire.
“Well !" said Levins, slightly entertained at the old man's method of stating his case; “your first point covers the whole ground of the matter upon which you desire my advice, which is briefly this : does that contract, executed by you and Fornell, Horton, & Co., give them a legal authority to use your patented improve ments in spindles ? I was examining the matter when you came in. Now, if you will sit down for a few minutes, and not interrupt me, I think I shall be soon ablo to answer that question for you.”
“I'm glad of that, Mr. Levins," said the old man, with evident satisfaction; “] shan't interfere with you ;" and he resumed his seat, while his lawyer turned agair to the table, and continued the investigation which had been so unexpectedly interrupted.
While Levins and his client are occupied in their respective meditations, we wil take the opportunity to scan the features and peculiarities of the two men, and detail some of the peculiar causes or motives which led to this midnight interview.
Alexander Broadhead had commenced life as a poor mechanic, destitute of friends and with a very limited fund of information on matters not connected witi his work-bench. But by industry, frugality, courtesy, and attention, coupled witi a determination to improve every opportunity to acquire information on useful sub jects, he had acquired affluence, and had been entrusted with the agency of a cotton manufacturing establishment, in which men of wealth had invested largely. His friends claimed for him inventive talent of a high order in all that related to the development and improvement in machinery; while those who had been associated in business with him, or had otherwise become prejudiced against him, denied emphatically these pretensions to originality, and asserted that his only ability in
matters of improvement consisted in the peculiar tact with which he appropriated the principles evolved by other minds, and made them appear as his own discoveries in machinery.
For several years he had been involved in litigation with various cotton manufactaring associations (and particularly with the firm of Fornell, Horton, & Co.), arising out of conflicting claims as to the invention of machines, which yielded immense profits to the manufacturers of cotton. He had, several years previous to the events recorded in our last chapter, commenced a suit against the last-mentioned firm for the infringement of a patent right to make the improved form of spindles. In their defence to this suit, the firm of Fornell, Horton, & Co. denied that the other party was the inventor, and claimed that the discovery of the improvement in spindles was made by a member of their own firm. After a protracted legal controversy between them, both parties arrived at the sensible conclusion that the Law Courts were poor places for cotton merchants to coin money in. They accordingly agreed to bury the hatchet, and in future to live on good terms with each other, and occasionally to give one another a slight lift in the way of sharing the execution of a good contract. After they had talked over and considered the preliminaries of peace, they both executed an instrument, in which the use of the patented spindles was left open to both parties. And then they all shook hands, and smiled upon each other
, and complimented each other; and all their ladies smiled too, and their children smiled, and all their clerks and employees smiled, and everybody around smiled, and even the lawyers, whose pockets their long litigation had stuffed, smiled -1 little sadly.
And then, with lightened hearts and confident expectations of coming wealth, they tumed their attention to speculation, and devoted their energies to business.
Years rolled on, and the firm of Fornell, Horton and Company, and the firm of Broadhead and Company, were rapidly gathering in golden harvests from the monopoly of the patented spindles. Their names became famous among the cotton men of all the cities of the United States, and their credit was esta ished even scuss the Atlantic. But one day the spirit of surprise glided into the countinghouze of Broadhead and tapped him quickly upon the shoulder. Broadhead looked up with a start, and was at once informed that he had been sued for a breach of matract by the Vernon Company, which claimed to recover damages of hiin for sobreying away to Fornell, Horton and Co., under the last contract, the use of the patented spindles. Under a former conveyance to them, the Vernon Company slained an exclusive right within the state to the use of Broadhead's patented brezhinery. Then trouble came into the counting-house of the manufacturer, and sat down beside him, and whispered disagreeable suggestions in his ear of coming be and probable disgrace. And when trouble had exhausted all her unpleasant ideas
, deceit stepped in and made a long call, and seemed to be a welcome visitor. While Broadhead was entertaining deceit, another spirit, not sufficiently known to suton dealers, denominated conscience, walked boldly in, but received very decided evidences of being unwelcome, and was not even invited to take a chair.
Hor after hour the manufacturer sat in his counting-house, devising plans to aroid the impending misfortune of a defeat in this untimely suit, which like a Jectre stretched out its bony hand to him for gold, gold. The darling pet, aye !
the life-blood even of his existence, had been the acquirement and accumulation gold--and how could he now, after such toil and anxious care to gain it, relinqui the precious coins by tens of thousands into the hands of this detested Vernon Co pany. But how was the payment of their legal claim to be avoided ? The id flitted across his brain, that he might successfully urge some reason why t exclusive use of the patented spindles was not intended to be included in his ca tract with the Vernon Company-and the thought drove him instantly to a sear among his papers for a copy of the contract. He found it, carefully folded up a tied with other documents of similar character; but when he had opened it a glanced across its carefully written pages, he knew full well there was no hope : him in phrases ambiguous or loosely worded, for that fatal word“ exclusive” gleam repeatedly upon the page, and blasted the last faint expectation of an exception his favour. Yes !-there was no escape from the conclusion which for years h dwelt within his mind, that he had transferred to the firm of Fornell, Horton, Co. the patent right to use those very spindles which he had promised above 1 name and seal to reserve in one state, exclusively for the benefit of the Verni Company. His avaricious soul made no distinction between the firms to whom had conveyed the right to use the spindles. He equally hated the one that claim a compensation out of his coffers for an injury done, and the other that had bafi him in his designs to have the exclusive benefit of a machine designed and modell by another man. A vague idea had existed in his mind for months, that he wou in some way endeavour to wrest from Fornell and Horton the vast profits 1 believed them to have made since he put his hand to the agreement. And no' with a lawsuit threatening his property on the part of the powerful corporati which claimed exclusive use of his invention, he was driven to a more attentive ai scrutinising consideration of the instrument by which he bad authorised Fornell ai Horton to set in motion the patent spindles. He could, from his supposi acquaintance with the technicalities of litigation, imagine difficulties in the constru tion of his agreement with the latter firm ; and his conceit was amply sufficient induce the belief that these difficulties were legally profound; but still he feart the judges might perhaps be too shallow to appreciate their weight, and therefo: deemed it advisable to consult a lawyer. Broadhead felt that the suit of the Vernd Compaay would have precipitated matters with the firm of Fornell and Horton, bı for one single consideration. His son was to be married to the sister-in-law Neaton, a prominent member of the latter firm; and believing the match to be, every sense, an advantageous one, he hesitated to hazard his son's interests by a co troversy.
A few days after the commencement of the suit against him, Broadhead wa informed that his son had been discarded by the young lady, in the note recom mended by Neaton, and instantly the purpose was formed in his mind to ascertai how far the law would sustain him in contesting the right of Neaton and his partner to use the patent spindles. If a flaw could be discovered in the agreement, h resolved to compromise with the Vernon Company, and win a fortune from th great house of Fornell and Horton, and at the same time revenge for the mortifica tion of his son.
He had left his papers, with a statement of his case, in the hands of the astut