Bexar Scrip No. 2692 (Henry)

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Bexar Scrip No. 2692
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A cunning land agent fraudulently claimed a widow's valuable property, but her son discovered the deception and confronted the agent, leading to a violent and tragic outcome.

In Austin, Texas, there was a medieval castle-like building that housed the General Land Office. This office contained the title deeds, patents, transfers, and legal documents connected with every foot of land owned in the state of Texas. Among the countless files, there was one called Bexar Scrip No. 2692, which had been missing for twenty years.

Twenty years ago, a shrewd land agent named Sharp discovered a fatal defect in the title of the land as on file in Bexar Scrip No. 2692 and placed a new certificate upon the survey in his own name.

Sharp — land agent; cunning, unscrupulous, and violent; high standing in the community.

The land was occupied by a widow and her only son, who believed their title was good.

The Widow — Edward's mother; owner of the valuable property; vulnerable.
Edward Harris — young man; son of the widow; keen, observant, and determined.

Sharp did not communicate with them until he had filed his papers and rushed his claim through the departments and into the patent room for patenting. Then he wrote them a letter, offering them the choice of buying from him or vacating at once.

One day, Sharp found the missing certificate in the wrong file. He knew that if this certificate was seen by the examining clerk, his own claim would be worthless. As he was about to remove the certificate from the file, a young man named Edward Harris, the son of the widow, confronted him. Harris suspected that Sharp had placed the certificate in the file and intended to remove it again. He took the file from Sharp and vowed to show it to the Commissioner the next day.

Give me that file, boy. I am no such fool, Mr. Sharp. This file shall be laid before the Commissioner to-morrow for examination.

In a fit of rage, Sharp attacked Harris and killed him with a knife.

Help! Help!

Sharp then hid Harris's body in a secret stairway within the Land Office building. Sharp went on to obtain the patent for the land and made a fortune from it. However, he lived the last two years of his life in a state of melancholy.

Years later, three young men discovered a buried box containing a human skeleton, later identified as Edward Harris, along with the blood-soaked papers of Bexar Scrip No. 2692.