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It was not long before the imbibing began to tell. Stories began to
crop up-those ever-enduring, droll stories which form the major
portion of the conversation among American men under such
Twelve oíclock arrived, the hour for closing, and with it the
company took leave. Hurstwood shook hands with them most
cordially. He was very roseate
physically. He had arrived at that state where his mind, though
clear, was, nevertheless, warm in its fancies. He felt as if his
troubles were not very serious. Going into his office, he began to
turn over certain accounts, awaiting the departure of the
bartenders and the cashier, who soon left.
It was the managerís duty, as well as his custom, after all were
gone to see that everything was safely closed up for the night. As
a rule, no money except the cash taken in after banking hours was
kept about the place, and that was locked in the safe by the
cashier, who, with the owners, was joint keeper of the secret
combination, but, nevertheless, Hurstwood nightly took the
precaution to try the cash drawers and the safe in order to see that
they were tightly closed. Then he would lock his own little office
and set the proper light burning near the safe, after which he
would take his departure.
Never in his experience had he found anything out of order, but
to-night, after shutting down his desk, he came out and tried the
safe. His way was to give a sharp pull. This time the door
responded. He was slightly surprised at that, and looking in found
the money cases as left for the day, apparently unprotected. His
first thought was, of course, to inspect the drawers and shut the
"Iíll speak to Mayhew about this to-morrow," he thought.
The latter had certainly imagined upon going out a half-hour
before that he had turned the knob on the door so as to spring the
lock. He had never failed to do so before. But to-night Mayhew
had other thoughts. He had been revolving the problem of a
business of his own.
"Iíll look in here," thought the manager, pulling out the money
drawers. He did not know why he wished to look in there. It was
quite a superfluous action, which another time might not have
happened at all.
As he did so, a layer of bills, in parcels of a thousand, such as
banks issue, caught his eye. He could not tell how much they
represented, but paused to view them. Then he pulled out the
second of the cash drawers. In that were the receipts of the day.
"I didnít know Fitzgerald and Moy ever left any money this way,"
his mind said to itself. "They must have forgotten it."
He looked at the other drawer and paused again.
"Count them," said a voice in his ear.
He put his hand into the first of the boxes and lifted the stack,
letting the separate parcels fall. They were bills of fifty and one
hundred dollars done in packages of a thousand. He thought he
counted ten such.
"Why donít I shut the safe?" his mind said to itself, lingering.
"What makes me pause here?"
For answer there came the strangest words:
"Did you ever have ten thousand dollars in ready money?"
Lo, the manager remembered that he had never had so much. All
his property had been slowly accumulated, and now his wife
owned that. He was worth more than forty thousand, all told-but
she would get that.
He puzzled as he thought of these things, then pushed in the
drawers and closed the door, pausing with his hand upon the
knob, which might so easily lock it all beyond temptation. Still he
paused. Finally he went to the windows and pulled down the
curtains. Then he tried the door, which he had previously locked.
What was this thing, making him suspicious? Why did he wish to
move about so quietly. He came back to the end of the counter as
if to rest his arm and think. Then he went and unlocked his little
office door and turned on the light. He also opened his desk,
sitting down before it, only to think strange thoughts.
"The safe is open," said a voice. "There is just the least little crack
in it. The lock has not been sprung."
The manager floundered among a jumble of thoughts. Now all the
entanglement of the day came back. Also the thought that here
was a solution. That money would do it. If he had that and Carrie.
He rose up and stood stock-still, looking at the floor.
"What about it?" his mind asked, and for answer he put his hand
slowly up and scratched his head.