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All well remember the disastrous period when the
Eastern Land Bubble exploded; when many who
thought themselves wealthy discovered their mistake,
and became plunged in irremediable ruin, either as principals
or as endorsers. It was a fearful time, and in the
change which occurred in the fortunes of such as had
been living in luxury was a depth of misery that knew
no relief. Families that had been reared in affluence
were reduced to poverty, and many fair eyes became
familiar with tears that had seldom known them before,
and many hearts ached as clouds of doubt fell upon a
future before bright and joyous.

It was on a fair morning, in the summer of 1836, that
Mr. Milling, the merchant, entered his counting-room,
and sat down to read the morning papers. His brow
was unruffled, and his spirit was calm. The money-market
was tight, but he had no notes to mature that he
could not meet, and there was paper due the concern
which was well endorsed, that could be counted on at
any moment. He did not notice that it was long
beyond the time when Mr. Upshur, his partner and confidential
clerk, was usually at his post, — Upshur, the
careful and prudent man, whose advice was always
taken, and whose shrewd business tact had done much


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to secure the position which the house of J. Milling &
Co. had attained, at home and abroad; Upshur, whose
assiduity, never tiring, had won the praise of all the
commercial community, and whose opinion was sought
by all in intricate matters of trade; Upshur, whose
honesty was as well established as his shrewdness, and
whose word alone had, in severe times, carried the
house he represented through monetary crises.

At length Mr. Milling looked up, and, missing his
partner from his accustomed desk, asked,

“Is Mr. Upshur ill to-day?”

“I don't know, sir,” replied one of the porters; “he
spoke, last night, about going down to ship the Manchesters
on board the Baltimore packet, this morning,
and he has n't been here yet.”

Mr. Milling read on, until, growing impatient, he

“Jones, go down to the packet, and see if you can
learn anything of Mr. Upshur. Something may have
happened to him.”

The young man did as he was directed, and returned,
soon after, bringing the intelligence that Mr. Upshur
had not been at the wharf all the morning, and that,
calling at his boarding-house on the way back to the
store, he had been informed that Mr. Upshur had not
been home during the entire night.

Mr. Milling was alarmed, and looked at his watch.
Eleven o'clock! He walked the floor, and appeared
troubled. There was a cloud on his heart that he could
not dispel, which reflected upon his brow, and flitted
across it like a shadow above a meadow. A vague and
undefined sense of impending trouble took possession
of him, and a boding of gloom, as if a dark spirit breathed
in his ear, made him thrill to his inmost core.


Page 225

“Mr. Milling seems troubled,” said Mr. Partelot, the
clerk who stood next in the rank of promotion, in the
event of Upshur's disappearance; “wonder what 's become
of Upshur?”

“Don't know, and don't care,” was the response from
the surly-spoken and rough-looking Mr. Savage, who
occupied a position by his side.

Mr. Partelot gave his companion a reproachful look,
and kept on with his writing and his secret thoughts,
occasionally glancing from the corner of his eyes at
Mr. Milling, who was seen, through the glass-door of the
little back counting-room, pacing backwards and forwards
with an anxious step.

“Mr. Partelot,” said Mr. Milling, opening the door,
“will you step in here for a moment?”

Mr. Partelot obeyed, and when the door was closed
behind him, Mr. Milling said,

“What do you think of Mr. Upshur's disappearance?”

“I trust he may be detained by something which can
be accounted for satisfactorily,” said Mr. Partelot.

“I hope he may; but I want you to examine his
books, and see that everything is right. I fear that he
has left us clandestinely, though it is but a suspicion as
yet. Read this note. It was received a year ago, and
has lain in my desk ever since.”

Mr. Partelot read:

Mr. Milling: Be wary of Upshur. A pitcher that
goes too often to the well may come back broken.



“Well, sir,” said Mr. Partelot, “did you pay any attention


Page 226
to the note? Did you detect any irregularity
in Mr. Upshur?”

“Not the least,” was the reply; “I have ever observed
the same prudence and care, and never have
wavered in my confidence in his integrity. And even
now I scarcely know what leads me to suspect, but
wish you to run over his books, and satisfy me that all
is right.”

Mr. Partelot promised so to do, and subsequently reported
that he could detect nothing which betokened
any carelessness on the part of Mr. Upshur; that all
appeared fair, straight, and methodical; and the mystery
was left to be unravelled by time.

“The old man seems queer enough,” said Partelot to
Savage, on his return to his desk, “about Upshur; and
it is rather strange his disappearing so, is n't it?”

“Don't bother,” said Savage, who was engaged in
casting up a column of figures.

“Do you know, Savage,” continued Partelot, “that
the old man suspects Upshur?”

“Of what?” asked Savage, abruptly, looking up.

“Twenty, and five are twenty-five, and seven are
thirty-two,” repeated Partelot, as if engaged in reckoning,
on seeing Mr. Milling close by his side.

“Partelot,” said his employer, in a whisper, “I shall
trust to your prudence. Make no talk about what has
transpired. It may be that Mr. Upshur will return, and
give satisfactory reasons for his absence. Say nothing
about the suspicion I have expressed.”

Mr. Milling left his counting-room, and his two posting
clerks at their books, while the great business of
selling was going on in the outer store, and went out
upon 'change. Change! a spot where the sensitive
spirit can detect a metallic ring in the contact of


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sharpened wits, and in the whisper of “exchange” the
rustle of bank-bills. Change! where a man coins his
blood for money, and becomes mammoned in the godless
whirl of speculation. Change! through whose mutations
the lord of wealth to-day becomes the slave of
wealth to-morrow. And here, for a while, Mr. Milling
partially forgot his anxiety, although occasionally the
thought of his missing partner, and the uneasy sensation
before experienced, would obtrude themselves, in despite
of all he could do. Even the excitement of a rise
in flour failed to move him, though he had thousands of
barrels upon his hands; even the failure of a firm that
owed his house thousands of dollars agitated him not.
The one idea at last took entire possession of him. He
walked the pave with an abstracted air, and men pointed
at him and spoke in whispers as they passed him.

He was at last aroused by one of his clerks, who
touched his arm, and said his attendance was immediately
wanted at the store.

“Has Mr. Upshur returned?” he inquired of the

“No, sir.”

“Any tidings of him?”

“Can't say, sir, but Mr. Partelot is in trouble about

Mr. Milling left the pave hastily, and walked by the
shortest path to his store. He saw through the window,
before he entered, that Mr. Partelot looked much disturbed,
and that a stranger was conversing with him.

“Glad you have come, sir,” said Mr. Partelot, as he
entered the counting-room door; “we have trace of
Upshur, sir.” There was, however, no joy in his tone,
even though he said he was glad.


Page 228

“What is it?” said Mr. Milling, his voice betraying
the deepest anxiety; “what trace?”

“Here, sir,” said the clerk, placing in his hands a
number of papers; “this, I think, explains his absence.”

Mr. Milling glanced at their purport. His brain
whirled with the intensity of his feeling, as he read. He
seized the back of a chair to support himself, the while
his form trembled with agitation.

“What is this?” said he; “obligations — J. Milling
& Co. — eastern lands! The firm never had a dollar in
that infernal bubble. What means this?”

“This gentleman can tell you,” said Mr. Partelot, turning
to the stranger. “The papers are made out in his
name. Mr. Barrus.”

“The same, at your service, sir,” said the stranger,
stepping forward. “Barrus, of the firm of Barrus &
Emms, Bangor, commissioners. These notes are the first
of a series made by J. Upshur, for Milling & Co., in
consideration of certain lands lying in Maine, purchased
by him. These for twenty thousand dollars have matured.
The balance to be paid monthly.”

“Perfidious! damnable!” cried Mr. Milling, grinding
his teeth with rage. “This explains the absence of Upshur!”
He fell into his chair, as he spoke, and groaned
in spirit. Starting to his feet, he demanded of the
stranger the full amount of the notes he held.

“One hundred and twenty thousand dollars,” was the
reply, “by our concern. There are other notes held by
other parties.”

“Ruined! ruined!” said Mr. Milling, “irredeemably
ruined by that rascal, whose friend I have been — whose
baseness has been returned for my constant kindness!
But I deserve it for not regarding the caution I received.”


Page 229

“Here is a letter, sir,” said the porter, handing a paper
to Mr. Milling. He took it in his trembling fingers,
and recognized the hand-writing of Upshur. He read
it to himself, and then handed it to Mr. Partelot. The
letter ran as follows:

Mr. Milling. — Sir: You may deem me a scoundrel;
but I am to be pitied. I have been led into the
temptation of speculation, have compromised our firm
in its prosecution, and have fled, like Cain, with the
brand of disgrace on my name. But, while thus leaving
like a thief, I solemnly promise that my future shall be
devoted to a reparation of the trouble I have caused.
You shall not hear from me until I am able to wipe the
stain from the name of yours, most ungratefully,

John Upshur.

“A dark affair, sir,” said Mr. Partelot, handing back
the letter.

“Well,” said Mr. Barrus, as he found attention diverted
from himself, “as we understand each other, I will
leave you, and hope this affair will all be settled satisfactorily.
There 's no use in worrying about it, anyhow,
and I guess it 'll all come out bright.”

With this sublimely philosophical remark, Mr. Barrus
left the counting-room of Milling & Co., his mind full of
visions of islands of dollars rising from submerged
lands, while all around them swam drowning men, with
haggard looks, grasping at straws as they sank beneath
the waves.

Mr. Milling sat late conferring with Mr. Partelot with
regard to the course to be pursued in the strait, and the
shadows of evening fell upon the street before the
merchant left his counting-room for home.