“And not as much as you might have to stand, either, if I took it into my head to make matters lively for you,” jeered Evarts harshly. “Remember, man, you’ll do as I want you to do.”
“I’m willing to do what I can for you,” replied the president. “But—–”
“Now, don’t throw any of your ‘buts’ at me,” broke in the discharged foreman, roughly. “You failed me in one thing—–you didn’t make Reade take me back on the job, as I told you to do.”
“I couldn’t,” pleaded Mr. Bascomb. “Prenter stood with Reade and was against me.”
“You’re the president of the company, aren’t you?” Evarts demanded sullenly.
“Yes; but Prenter is a bigger man in the company, and he has more influence with the board of directors. If Prenter came out against me, and persuaded the other directors that I was a bad asset for the company, they’d act on Prenter’s suggestion and remove me from the presidency.”
“Humph!” jeered Evarts. “Then what would your directors do if they knew that—–.”
“Stop!” begged Mr. Bascomb hoarsely, “Don’t say a word further, man! Sometimes even the leaves on the trees have ears. Don’t breathe a word of what you were going to say just now.”
Even in the dark the two concealed watchers could see that Bascomb was glancing about him nervously.
“Now, what is up?” gasped Tom inwardly. “What part has Mr. Bascomb been playing in this mystery that he’s so afraid of having become public?”
EVARTS HEARS A NOISE
“I won’t shut up,” proclaimed Evarts.
“I don’t care who hears me.”
“But I care,” protested the president, in a trembling voice.
“Then you’ll have to reward me for whatever silence you want,” snarled the wretch.
“Is this blackmail never to cease?” groaned Mr. Bascomb.
“Yes, when you’ve used me right,” declared Evarts harshly.
“Didn’t I come forward promptly on your bail?” demanded Mr. Bascomb.
“Sure, for you didn’t dare do otherwise. But that only gave me liberty. It didn’t put any money in my pocket.”
“Are you going to jump your bail, and leave me to pay the bond?” asked Bascomb.
“Perhaps,” said Evarts lightly. “You can stand losing the money.”
“I suppose so.”
“But when I jump,” continued Evarts, “I’ll have to stay out of the country after that. It’ll take money—–and you’ll have to furnish me with it.”
“Well,” continued the foreman, craftily, “I wouldn’t leave the country with less than enough to set me up elsewhere. I’d need—–well, let me see. I couldn’t start in a new country on less than ten thousand dollars.”
“That would make fifteen thousand dollars, in all.” Mr. Bascomb finished his remark with a groan.
“Well, what are you howling about?” demanded Evarts unfeelingly. “You’ve got the money.”