The man turned and silently shuffled away, his face working and a glint in his bleared eye.
* * * * *
An evening or two later Dave Dennison reported to Keith that he had found Phrony. Dave’s face was black with hate, and his voice was tense with suppressed feeling.
“How did you find her?” inquired Keith.
“Shadowed the preacher. Knew he and that man had been confabbin’. She’s clean gone,” he added. “They’ve destroyed her. She didn’t know me.” His face worked, and an ominous fire burned in his eyes.
“We must get her home.”
“She can’t go. You’d never know her. We’ll have to put her in an asylum.”
Something in his voice made Keith look at him. He met his gaze.
“They’re getting ready to do it—that man and the preacher. But I don’t mean ’em to have anything more to do with her. They’ve done their worst. Now let ’em keep away from her.”
Keith nodded his acquiescence.
That evening Keith went to see a doctor he knew, and next day, through his intervention, Phrony was removed to the private ward of an asylum, where she was made as comfortable as possible.
It was evident that she had not much longer to stay. But God had been merciful to her. She babbled of her baby and her happiness at seeing it soon. And a small, strongly built man with grave eyes sat by her in the ambulance, and told her stories of it with a fertility of invention that amazed the doctor who had her in charge.
When Mr. Rimmon’s agents called next day to make the preliminary arrangements for carrying out his agreement with Wickersham, they found the room empty. The woman who had charge of the house had been duly “fixed” by Dave, and she told a story sufficiently plausible to pass muster. The sick woman had disappeared at night and had gone she did not know where. She was afraid she might have made away with herself, as she was out of her head. This was verified, and this was the story that went back to Mr. Rimmon and finally to Ferdy Wickersham. A little later the body of a woman was found in the river, and though there was nothing to identify her, it was stated in one of the papers that there was good ground for believing that she was the demented woman whose disappearance had been reported the week before.
THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
One day after Phrony was removed, Keith was sitting in the office he had taken in New York, working on the final papers which were to be exchanged when his deal should be completed, when there was a tap at the door. A knock at the door is almost as individual as a voice. There was something about this knock that awakened associations in Keith’s mind. It was not a woman’s tap, yet Terpy and Phrony Tripper both sprang into Keith’s mind.
Almost at the same moment the door opened slowly, and pausing on the threshold stood J. Quincy Plume. But how changed from the Mr. Plume of yore, the jovial and jocund manager of the Gumbolt Whistle, or the florid and flowery editor of the New Leeds Clarion!