Mr. Thurston leaned his head on his hands and thought of what he was missing, and he also thought of something else. A peculiar calculating expression appeared in his eyes and around the corners of his mouth. “There is some money to be had,” he said slowly, “if I can get hold of it.”
“Where?” asked Mr. Scovill eagerly. “If it’s to be had you may rest assured we’ll get hold of it by hook or crook.”
“You remember John Rogers?” asked Mr. Thurston. Mr. Scovill nodded. “When he died he left his daughters a fortune in stocks,” continued Mr. Thurston.
“Yes?” inquired Mr. Scovill encouragingly.
“Well,” said Mr. Thurston, with a glitter in his eye, “I was appointed guardian of those two girls.”
Mr. Scovill whistled. “Meaning to say------” he began.
“That I have the managing of their property until they come of age,” finished Mr. Thurston.
“Our fortune’s made,” said Mr. Scovill, shaking him by the hand.
“The only thing is,” said Mr. Thurston, scratching his head reflectively, “that the oldest girl comes of age in June, and there might be an awkward inquiry just at the wrong time. We can’t afford to have any investigations begun inside of the next six months if we expect to carry through the other scheme. Any breath of scandal would wreck our prospects.”
Mr. Scovill’s face fell. He saw only too clearly the truth of the other’s words. But where Mr. Thurston came to a halt in front of a dead wall, Scovill’s scheming mind saw the loophole. “But just suppose,” he said slowly, “that there shouldn’t be any investigation when the oldest girl comes of age? Suppose she should never put in a claim for her property?”
“What do you mean?” asked Mr. Thurston.
“Something like this,” said Mr. Scovill. “If she were to be kept shut up somewhere for a year or so until you have had time to make your fortune, it would be too late to hurt you with a disclosure after that. Where nobody asks questions there is no need of answering.”
Thurston saw the point, but he didn’t see how it was going to be done. It was Scovill who thought out the whole scheme. He had a large piece of land far outside the city limits on the lake front. There was an unoccupied house on the property. Here the girl could be kept locked up on the pretext that she was insane, with a certain woman he knew as keeper, a deaf-mute. He shared a secret with her and could use this knowledge to force her to serve him. The whole thing was very simple.
“But how are we going to keep the one locked up away from the other?” asked Mr. Thurston. “Her sister would have the whole country searching for her.”