“I do not, either,” said Keith.
“You was the only one as treated me as if I was—some’n’ I warn’t. I fought against you and tried to drive you out, but you stuck, and I knew then I was beat. I didn’t know ’twas you when I—made such a fool of myself that time—.”
“Well, I certainly did not know it was you.”
“No—I wanted you to know that,” she went on gravely, “because—because, if I had, I wouldn’ ‘a’ done it—for old times’ sake.” She felt for her handkerchief, and not finding it readily, suddenly caught up the bottom of her skirt and wiped her eyes with it as she might have done when a little girl.
Keith tried to comfort her with words of assurance, the tone of which was at least consoling.
“I always was a fool about crying—an’ I was thinkin’ about Bill,” she said brokenly. “Good-by.” She wrung his hand, turned, and walked rapidly out of the room, leaving Keith with a warm feeling about his heart.
THE DIRECTORS’ MEETING
Keith found, on his arrival in New York to meet his directors, that a great change had taken place in business circles since his visit there when he was getting up his company.
Even Norman, at whose office Keith called immediately on his arrival, appeared more depressed than Keith had ever imagined he could be. He looked actually care-worn.
As they started off to attend the meeting, Norman warned Keith that the meeting might be unpleasant for him, but urged him to keep cool, and not mind too much what might be said to him.
“I told you once, you remember, that men are very unreasonable when they are losing.” He smiled gloomily.
Keith told him of old Rawson’s offer.
“You may need it,” said Norman.
When Keith and Norman arrived at the office of the company, they found the inner office closed. Norman, being a director, entered at once, and finally the door opened and “Mr. Keith” was invited in. As he entered, a director was showing two men out of the room by a side door, and Keith had a glimpse of the back of one of them. The tall, thin figure suggested to him Mr. J. Quincy Plume; but he was too well dressed to be Mr. Plume, and Keith put the matter from his mind as merely an odd resemblance. The other person he did not see.
Keith’s greeting was returned, as it struck him, somewhat coldly by most of them. Only two of the directors shook hands with him.
It was a meeting which Keith never forgot. He soon found that he had need of all of his self-control. He was cross-examined by Mr. Kestrel. It was evident that it was believed that he had wasted their money, if he had not done worse. The director sat with a newspaper in his lap, to which, from time to time, he appeared to refer. From the line of the questioning, Keith soon recognized the source of his information.