“I am above such trifling,” replied the doctor, in a tone that marked his real feelings on that subject. “A man who could thus wantonly injure and insult another for mere sport, must have something bad about him. I should not like to trust such a one.”
“Good morning, doctor,” said Bunting. The two gentlemen bowed formally and parted.
If the doctor did not send the letter, from whom could it have come? This was the question that Bunting asked himself immediately. But no satisfactory answer came. He was puzzled and uncomfortable. Moreover, the result of the doctor’s errand to New York–which had proved any thing but a fool’s errand–was something that he could not understand.
“I wonder if I hadn’t better call on Wilde & Lyon?” said he to himself, at length. “Perhaps the letter was no trick, after all.”
Bunting held a long argument, mentally, on the subject, in which all the pros and cons were fully discussed. Finally, he decided to call at the place referred to in his letter, and did so immediately on reaching this decision. Still, fearing that the letter might have been a hoax, he made some few purchases of articles for his store, and then gave his name.
“Thomas Bunting!” said the person with whom he was dealing. “Do you reside in the city?”
Bunting mentioned his place of residence.
“Did you never receive a letter from this house, desiring to see you?”
“I did,” replied Bunting; “but as it was dated on the first of April, I took it for the jest of some merry friend.”
“Very far from it, I can assure you,” answered the man. “An old gentleman arrived here from England about that time, who said that a brother and sister had come to this country many years ago, and that he was in search of them or their children. His name was Bunting. At his request, we made several advertisements for his relatives. Some one mentioned that a gentleman named Thomas Bunting resided in the town where you live; and we immediately dropped him a note. But, as no answer came, it was presumed the information was incorrect.”
“Where is he now?” asked Bunting.
“He is dead.”
“Yes. A letter came, some weeks after we wrote to you, from St. Louis, which proved to be from his sister, and to that place he immediately proceeded. Soon after arriving there, he died. He left, in money, about ten thousand dollars, all of which passed, by a will executed before he left this city–for in his mind there was a presentiment of death–to his new-found relative.”
“He was my uncle!” said Bunting.
“Then, by not attending to our letter, you are the loser of at least one-half of the property he left.”
Bunting went home in a very sober mood of mind. His aunt and himself were not on good terms. In fact, she was a widow and poor, and he had not treated her with the kindness she had a right to expect. There was no likelihood, therefore, of her making him a partner in her good fortune.
Bunting was the real April Fool, after all, sharp-witted and wide awake as he had thought himself. His chagrin and disappointment were great; so great, that it took all the spirit out of him for a long time; and it is not presumed that he will attempt an “April Fool” trick in the present year, of even the smallest pretensions.