« 이전계속 »
eaten into all classes of society in Turkey, until even women lisp, and the children prattle vengeance. It is so strong that it has made the Greeks hate one of the prettiest remaining costumes in the world, as a symbol of their most bitter and cruel servitude.
By-and-by, the Greek girl will grow old. From a household servant, she will then sink into a drudge, and her head will be always bound up as if she had a chronic toothache. You will see her carrying water en washing days, or groaning and squabbling upon others as she cleans the herbs for dinner. She will havo become so old even at thirty, that it is impossible to recognize her. Rouge and whitening will have so corroded her face, that it looks like a sleepy apple or a withered medlar. Her eyes are shriveled into nothing. Her teeth will have been eaten away by rough wine, and noxious tooth-powders. She will be bald when she does not wear a towering wig, that only comes .out on St. Everybody's days. The plump figure and all its bumps will have shriveled into a mere heap of aching old bones, and her only pleasures in this life will be scandal and curiosity.
You will find her croaking about, watching her neighbors at the most unseasonable times. She has wonderful perseverance in ferreting out a secret. She will thus know many more things than are true, and tell them with singular readiness and vivacity. She will be the terror of her neighborhood, and there is no conciliating her. Kindness, good humor, even money—which she prizes as much as she did when a girl, and grasps at it as eagerly—will have no effect on her. She must speak evil and hatch troubles, or she would die. The instinct of self-preservation is strong; so she will go upon her old course, come what may. She will be a terror even to her own daughter.
She has been reduced to this state by having been a thing of bargain and sale so long, that she has learned to consider money as the chief good. She has been subject to insult; to be beaten; to be carried away into the harem of a man she has never seen, and whose whole kind she despises; and has lost all natural feeling. All grace, tenderness, and affection, have been burnt out of her as with a brand. She has been looked upon as a mere tame animal until she has become little better. She has been doubted until deception has become her glory. She has been imprisoned and secluded until trickery has become her master passion. She has been kept from healthy knowledge and graceful accomplishments, from all softening influences and ennobling thoughts, until her mind has festered. When she is young, she is shut up until she becomes uncomfortable from fat; when she is old, she is worked until she becomes a skeleton. None have any respect or love for her, nor would she be now worthy of it, if they had.
But I drop the pen in weariness, only saying, that if a Greek girl be such as I have described her, what must a Greek boy be.
THE DURAND PROPERTY.
THE register of any lawyer in ordinary practice contains more records of the emotions and passions which sway human nature than any other sort of volume ever written or printed. To the eye of a stranger, indeed, these tines present only the abbreviated notes of ordinary office occurrences, or the condensed history of the progress of suits at law or in equity. But to the eye of the man who has made or directed the entries from day to day, a glance over the pages recalls a hundred strange and startling, and as many sad and sickening histories. It is no pleasant retrospect for a lawyer to review this book; and I believe it is seldom done except when absolutely required for business purposes. The private histories of many families—stories that men and women would give fortunes to have blotted out of their own and all other persons' memories—are in these pages; and when the possessor dies, the record becomes unintelligible, except as a memorandum that on such and such days such papers were filed or served, and such motions or decrees made.
For example, I open to one of the briefest pages in my old register, and find on it not more than a half dozen entries. The title of the cause is as follows: New York Supreme Court. John E. Durand vs. Stephen Halliday. We were plaintiff's attorneys.
The first entry is " March 18th. Ret'd by plff. in person."
He was a very old man. He came into the office with a feeble step, and with a humility that was painful. It is exceedingly unpleasant to sec an old man so broken down as to speak with an appearance of inferiority to mere boys; and yet he did so, and asked the clerks in the office if he was intruding, in a tone so meek and quiet, that I was shocked, and called out from my inner room to bid him walk in.
He was a very tall man, bowed down by his age, but with an eye that spoke a commingling of gentleness and of confidence which won you to him irresistibly. His story was brief. He desired to bring an action against a man named Halliday, to recover the value of a large estate, placed in his hands as trustee, but which he bad disposed of. The circumstances, as I afterward learned them, were these:
Mr. Durand was a man of large wealth, but of small financial ability. He had lived a peaceful and quiet life not far from the city; but when his family persuaded him to remove into New York, he had fallen into the speculating temptations of the city. A year or two passed, and he had made two or three very fortunate operations in stock and in real estate, which, like all gambling successes, whetted his appetite for other and bolder schemes. He formed new acquaintances, made many new alliances, and among them all attached himself with special confidence to one man, a real estate broker named Halliday, who so far ingratiated himself into the old man's favor as to win his complete confidence. Durand had made several purchases, in expectation of rapid sales at large advances, and had exhausted all his available means; and, without having become insolvent, he found himself in the very common position of speculators, with immense liabilities, and immense assets, but no ability to turn his assets into available funds. The usual consequence followed. His paper must be dishonored and his contracts unfulfilled. The immediate result would be disgrace in the business world, and he could not bear that. With the impetuosity of inexperience, he hastened to his friend Halliday, and besought his advice and help. Halliday held his paper to a larger amount than any other creditor, and recommended him to place his entire property in his hands, and permit him to settle up his affairs. The infatuated and frightened man assented to any thing that looked like getting him out of the personal difficulty of settling his own complicated affairs, and readily consented. His lands were conveyed by deeds, and his securities of every sort were made over to the broker, absolutely, and not a scrap of paper taken back for any of it.
A year of quiet passed, during which he had several suits at law commenced against him, but Halliday had agreed to take care of them all, and he was not annoyed. But one day, on calling at the office of the broker, he learned that he was out of town, and the next day he received the same answer. "He would not be back in a week, perhaps not in two." Two, three, and four weeks passed, and the truth began to dawn on the old man's mind, that his broker friend had left the country with the proceeds of his villainy. The old man shook under ths blow. He was left destitute and penniless, with heavy judgments hanging over him, which Halliday had allowed to accumulate, and the terrible nature of his position entirely broke down his constitution. For two yeara he lay sick and helpless. His creditors were merciful, and finding that he was unable to pay a cent in the dollar, fully released him from all claims. His wife had a small income of a few hundred dollars, on which they lived with their only grandehild, the daughter of a son who had died some years before, and ten years passed slowly away, and Mr. Durand had grown very old. During this time they lost two other children, who had married merchants in the city, and who died leaving no children; so that their hearth was desolate but for the bright-eyed girl that played around it and gladdened it, and grew up to young and beautiful womanhood in their lowly home.
At the time that Mr. Durand visited my office, Mr. Halliday had returned to the city; not secretly, but openly, and with a bold face—thereby indicating his determination to resist any claim that might be made on him for the property. In fact, it was a very doubtful case. There was not a particle of evidence that the sales to Halliday were not 607i4 fide sales for full value. It was evident that Halliday had large claims against Mr. Durand, and several creditors stated that he had bought Mr. Durand's protested notes from them a few days before the day of the transfer of
property. It had, therefore, a dark look on the face of it for the old man, and I was obliged to state as much to him frankly. He was prepared for that, however; and begged me to think the matter over, promising to call within a week and converse further on the subject. As he walked feebly toward the door of the office, I followed him with a melancholy gaze that he caught as he turned to bow his good-morning, and he answered it with a hopeful smile, which did more to give me confidence in him and in his hopes than a good witness to the facts would have done; but the next instant, when he was gone, I saw that his case was perfectly hopeless, and so dismissed it from my mind.
It was nearly a fortnight later that I found a lady in my room waiting my return from Court. She was young, and had a face of remarkable beauty and interest. Her features were perfectly regular, and her complexion white and pure. Her forehead was of medium height, her eyes blue, her chin small and admirably moulded; while her hair was plainly parted, showing a gleam of the white temple through the dark masses that were drawn back, but which refused to obey the comb. She was of the medium size, her form fully rounded and of exquisite proportions, and her hands and feet small and beautiful. Her air was graceful, yet somewhat constrained in a place where she was far from being at home, and I enjoyed for a moment the hesitation and embarrassment, which lent piquancy to her expressive countenance.
She was Mary Durand, and had come at her grandfather's request to see me. He was not well, and had desired her to call on me, and state some particulars of a conversation which she had overheard between her grandfather and Mr. Halliday.
It was the previous evening, and Mr. Halliday had called and asked for her grandfather, who was in his bedroom. The broker was admitted at Mr. Durand's request, and shown to his bedside; while the mother and granddaughter retired, the former to another part of the house, and the latter to tho next room, which was their usual sitting-room. Indeed it had once been part of the same room, but a thin partition had been put up, dividing it; but this was in fact only boards and paper, and the conversation in one room could be readily heard in the other.
Tho old man had lain silent when his former friend entered, and the latter appeared for a moment deeply moved at the situation in which he found his former client; but recovering himself, after a few phrases of condolence he led the conversation along into the ordinary channels, and carefully avoided any allusion to the past. But a chance remark on the state of the money market gave Mr. Durand the opportunity to recall the past, and he went into it with a suddenness and a calm severity that startled his visitor.
"Halliday, I am a very old man. I am nearly eighty years old. I am weak, feeble, sick, and, I believe, I am dying. I was rich, and am poor. I was honored, and am despised. I was respected, loved; and for ten years past I have walked j with my head bowed down to the ground, afraid to meet the gaze of my fellow-men—a poor, miserable, broken-hearted old man, tottering to the grave. And how happened this! Tell me, Stephen Halliday, how happened it?"
"How should I know, Mr Durand? When I left the country you were in an unfortunate position; but I certainly supposed that you would extricate yourself without difficulty. Did not your creditors release you?"
"Yes, all of them—to a man—except you. I have no release or receipt from you, although I owed you a hundred thousand dollars."
"But I was paid."
"And how? Did.I pay you, or did you pay yourself?"
"Why,both. You transferred property to me to pay your debts, and I paid myself first of all; certainly you designed that I should do so, did you not?"
"Yes, first, but not last."
"Why, there was hardly enough to pay myself."
"Was there not the Brooklyn property, and the up-town lots, and the store in Pearl Street, and the twenty houses on Chambers, Warren, and Murray Streets, and the old homestead farm?"
"Yes, all these."
"And what amount of stocks and bonds?"
"Some fifty thousand dollars worth."
"And these were hardly enough to pay your claim t You surely do not mean here, in my room, to claim that there was any other consideration for the conveyance of all that property to you, except solely the agreement you made to relieve me of the trouble of settling my own complicated affairs!"
"No, I do not deny that. But 1 say again, the property was hardly sufficient to pay my claim. It was all poor property, and I had to force it off from my hands immediately, or it would have sunk me. I did as well as I could, and I realized only enough to pay myself, and tho small balance which my clerk paid over to you after I left."
"He paid no balance to me."
"He did not! I am astonished. The scoundrel wrote to me that he had done so. It shall be paid immediately. It was a thousand and some odd dollars. I will call to-morrow evening and pay it to you. It will perhaps be a convenience to you. Believe me, Durand, I did the best I could for you. I will convince you of it, if you still doubt me, by showing you all the accounts of my sales. I left in haste, but I directed that clerk Johnson to exhibit every thing to you. I suspected him of cheating me, but not of cheating you, when he made me his final account."
This closed tho conversation, and had well nigh convinced the feeble old man of his old adviser's honesty. He had slept with somewhat more calmness than usual, and woke in the morning with a great fear that the lawyer he had consulted might take some step against Halliday, whom he was now ready to forgive; and he had
sent his granddaughter to relate this conversation to me, and to request me to take no further proceedings in the matter.
"I beg your pardon, Miss Durand; but do you concur in your grandfather's views of this matter?"
"I am not accustomed to judge of such subjects, sir."
"But you must have an opinion; have you not?"
"Mr. Leggett thought that Mr. Halliday's voice was not sincere."
"Who is Mr. Leggett?"
"A friend of my grandfather, who was with me in the sitting-room during this conversation. I should not have remained to listen, but that I had company, and we were forced to hear it all."
"Was any other person present?"
"Mr. Harrison also was with us."
"Who is he!"
"A friend of mine, a merchant in the city."
I smiled at the distinction she had made between the two gentlemen—one of whom was her grandfather's friend, and the other her own. But I certainly took a different view of Mr. Halliday's character and intentions from that of her grandfather, and I saw very clearly a design on Halliday's part to effect a complete and final settlement by paying Mr. Durand some sum of money and obtaining his receipt in full on account of these old transactions.
The more I reflected on the matter the clearer it became to me, and I resolved on a decided course of action. I cautioned Miss Durand to explain my ideas to her grandfather, and prepare him for the evening interview; and I also took the liberty of requesting Mr. Leggett and Mr. Harrison to call on me immediately, if convenient, and if not so, to let me see them at thoir respective places of business.
They were both in my office within a half hour, and I was glad to find them clear-headed, intelligent men. I could not conceal from myself the belief that they were both of them suitors of Miss Durand, yet there was no ill-feeling between them. They were evidently surprised at meeting, and still more so when I requested them to sit down and write out separate accounts of the conversation they had overheard the evening previous at the residence of Mr. Durand.
I was entirely satisfied with the exactness with which these accounts agreed with each other, and with Miss Durand's statements, and then I took the liberty of asking them to pass the evening with the same lady. They hesitated a little; but on my assuring them that they might be of great service to her, they consented, and I parted from them to meet them at my client's house.
It was a small house in a retired street, where he had gone to avoid the gaze of those who used to meet him in more fashionable parts of the city. There was a painful poverty in the appearance of the little door, the dark knocker, the small entry, and the simple furniture of the room into which I was shown, and where I found the gentfemen already arrived. I bad a brief interview with Mr. Durand, whom I found fully equal to the plan I proposed acting on; and when Mr. Halliday called, be was shown into the small room by another door, while I retired into the front sitting-room. The absorbing nature of his plan must have prevented the broker, on the previous evening, from knowing that he could be overheard; for every word he uttered was as plainly heard in our room as where he sat. He was in great haste to finish his business, and regretted if his old friend had suffered for want of the small sum he now brought, with the interest for ten years. It was altogether something like two thousand dollars, being the balance of moneys realized from the sale of the lands and securities which he had received from Mr. Durand wherewith to pay debts. The amount being barely sufficient to cover his own debt, he had thought it best to return the small balance, rather than pay it away on any large claim. Mr. Durand questioned him in a general way, and when Halliday expressed his haste there was a moment's silence, as if the old man were counting over his own old promissory notes and the money, or looking over the memoranda of sales that Halliday submitted to him. The latter then spoke:
"By-the-by, you may as well give me a little memorandum of this, and I will give you a full receipt for all claims. I will write it: I see you are too feeble. This scrap of paper will answer. No, no—don't trouble yourself about ink: my pencil will do. Something of this sort: 'Received of S. Halliday, two thousand one hundred and three, seventy-five one hundredths dollars, in full of his account as trustee for me in the sale of my lands and stocks, and payment of my debts,
in the year , the same being balance in my
favor, after paying his demands against me, and this being a full discharge therefor.' There, just sign that. Perhaps I had better ask your daughter to step in and witness it."
"Let us see first that it is all right, Mr. Halliday," said I, walking into the room, and taking the pencil memorandum from old Mr. Durand's hands.
Halliday started to his feet. He was keen enough to see the trap into which he had fallen, and he turned fiercely to the old man and uttered one furious oath, and then turned to the door.
I stopped him with my hand on his shoulder. "One moment, sir, if you please."
"Who are you, sir?"
"Just at present that does not matter much. Tou doubtless perceive the position in which you stand. Mr. Durand has abundant proof that you wore but his trustee in these affairs; that his conveyance to you was for the purpose of paying his debts. It is not a difficult matter to show that the property was worth ten times what you have here represented. I suppose you are aware that Mr. Durand can recover from you the entire value of the property." t
"Perhaps you will sue?"
"Perhaps I will."
"But you will havo to get something after you sue."
"Yes, I shall."
"I hope you may find it!" and a brutal laugh indicated the entire confidence which he had that his property was effectually concealed from the most searching sheriff's deputy He again attempted to go out, and I again stopped him.
"Frankly then, sir, I tell you that you are liable to arrest on this suit, and your person will be made responsible for the recovery. I have already a sufficient amount of information to assure me that I shall not throw away time in pursuing you. You have your choice. Proceed with me to such place as you may name, now, without delay, and pay over to me the entire value of the property you misappropriated, or abide the consequences of the refusal. I am ready to go with you."
"Go to the devil!" said he, with another brutal laugh, and ho stalked out of tho door and into the street. I hastened to the front window, but not soon enough to see the transaction which occurred as he left tho door-step. As he set foot on the pavement, a deputy sheriff laid his hand on his shoulder. "You are wanted," said be.
Halliday furiously demanded who he was. The accomplished officer muttered his reply: Lt' Durand versus Halliday. Warrant against [Halliday: go with me, down to the Park. Bail to-morrow."
Halliday saw that he was caught; bat in an instant he threw his foot out, and gave the deputy a side blow that might have felled an ox; bat he was an old hand, and knew that trip too welL He stood firm, and with a blow that seemed like a mere pat of his hand, but which was evidently the stunning force of the slung shot, he laid Halliday on the pavement, with the blood streaming from his face. All this had passed before wo reached the window, and I saw him beckon to a hackman, who assisted him in lifting his capture
into the carriage, and they drove off, while I turned back to the bedside of Mr. Durand.
The excitement of the whole scene had been too great for him, and I was startled at the paleness which had come over his features.
His eyes wandered painfully around the little room, and when we all gathered around his bed it was manifest that death was rapidly approaching.
There is something sublime and stately in the approach of a good old man to the world of spirits. Tho journey of life ended, tho labor of life over, the sorrows of life assuaged; the doubts, fears, and difficulties of life about to be solved: there is something majestic in tho tread of the old man as he solemnly approaches the unseen, and takes his leave of us, who remain to know the same trials from which he has gone. The death-bed of Mr. Durand had none of the accessories of luxurious splendor to rob death of its simple sublimity. There were no carved ceilings, no rich tapestries, no shaded lights, no heavy curtains. He lay on a low couch, his head supported on a pillow that was scarcely