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33 CHAPTER VII. Portrait of a black sheep: how the lawyer cheated the carpenter: my acquaintance with Inez ripens marvellously. the character of Covert did not take me long to understand , particularly as Wigglesworth volunteered a good deal of information about him; and what I could not help seeing from day to day in the office, made up the rest. That he was an unprincipled man, with boundless selfishness and avarice, seemed sure enough; but whether he was a cunning villain, or no, puzzled me to tell. Covert, from what I had learned of Wigglesworth, had come reasonably by his swindling disposition. His father had given him lessons in it early, and he proved an apt scholar. One of his first tricks, when, as a young man, he entered upon the practice of the law, was as follows—the two arranging a plan to this effect. The father entered into a contract with an honest carpenter, who had got about enough ahead for him to take such a speculation, to build a house. The plan was decided on, the terms fixed, the pa- 34 pers drawn out, a day being mentioned in them with rigid conditions on which the house was to be completed—and the carpenter undertook his work. He had credit with the lumber, hardware, and other dealers; for he already possessed some little property of his own, and he hoped to satisfy a mortgage upon that, with the profits he should make out of Covert’s job; for he did a good deal of the work himself. He had a numerous family, and he was very anxious to have for them a permanent home. Well, the job went on swimmingly; the house being enclosed, and a great portion of the inside work done. But as it went on, the Coverts discovered that they wanted additional improvements made inside—various fine finishings , cornices, and etceteras, which could only be done slowly. The carpenter told the elder Covert that, in that way, the house could not be finished at the time specified; the answer was, (no one else being by,) not to mind, but to go on and do the work well, without troubling about the particular day it should be completed. Our carpenter was unsuspicious, and he took the matter very easily, until the arrival of the period mentioned in the contract.—The next day as he was at work in the house with his apprentices and journeymen, he was quite thunderstruck by the coming of two constables, who ordered the premises to be cleared, and then closed and nailed them up! The two scoundrels had taken their precautions, and prepared their way, but too well; they had the law on their 35 side, and the mechanic and his family were ruined.—For a trumpery claim of damages was established, and not a single dollar did Covert pay for the work. The lumber and hardwaremerchantsleviedfortheirbills,onthecarpenter’s own little property, all of which it took to pay them, and every dollar of his toil-earned savings was at once swept away. Such formed one of Lawyer Covert’s beginnings in life, under the tutoring of his precious parent—who was withal a sanctified man, wore a white neckcloth, and wouldn’t have taken the name of the Lord in vain, on any account. Whether the old fellow is alive yet I don’t know; but the son is—damn him! Covert—of course I am talking of the lawyer, now—had, among the forms of his selfishness, some political ambition .He had been up once already, for the State Legislature, but was defeated. At the present time he took some pains to get a nomination for the Assembly; our city members being then elected by general ticket, and he expected to be carried on the tide with the rest, for his party had shown a handsome working majority, as it is called, at the preceding contest. Wigglesworth could not say much about Covert’s pecuniary condition. He told me that the lawyer lived in good style, however, in an up-town street; that, although occasionally pinched for money, he managed to make both ends meet; and that his business was tolerably extensive. In his treatment of me the lawyer was civil, without paying any particular attention. He evidently didn’t consider 36 me worth taking much pains about, either to gain my friendship, or prevent my enmity; and doubtless troubled his mind little concerning me. It looked business...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781609385118
Related ISBN
9781609385125
MARC Record
OCLC
970693688
Pages
180
Launched on MUSE
2017-03-14
Language
English
Open Access
No
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