“It will lower my holdings in the Melliston Company,” complained Mr. Bascomb bitterly “I’m not a rich man, and I haven’t any too much stock in the company at the present moment.”
“You’d have to sell it all out, if I gave the directors a chance to find out that you’re a jailbird—–that you did time as a younger man,” sneered Evarts.
“For goodness’ sake hold your tongue, man!” gasped Mr. Bascomb in accents of terror.
“Just think,” grinned Evarts heartlessly, “how delighted your directors would be to know that you had done time in prison.”
“Silence, man!” implored Bascomb. “It wasn’t altogether my fault, as you know. And the governor of the state discovered that I wasn’t as bad as the jury thought me. It all came through trying to help a worthless friend. Why, man, the governor pardoned me, when I had yet two years to serve and restored me to liberty.”
“But you’re a jailbird, just the same,” jeered the discharged foreman. “Let the directors find that out, and how quickly they’d drop you from your office!”
Mr. Bascomb buried his face in his hands and sobbed aloud.
“So,” continued Evarts, “I’ll give you forty-eight hours to raise the ten thousand dollars—–in good cash, mind you—–no checks! Then I’ll call on you to hand the money over to me. If you don’t, I’ll write a note to the directors, telling them to look up your name in the court records at Logville, Minnesota. Now, do you understand?”
“Yes,” nodded Mr. Bascomb brokenly.
“And you’ll have the money?”
“You’ll have the money—–by day after tomorrow!”
“Now clear out—–fast!”
“Eh?” inquired Mr. Bascomb, looking wildly at the wretch.
“Get out! Go back to the hotel in Blixton, and don’t try to slip away from me at any point in the game. Start—–now!”
“Good night!” said President Bascomb in a choking voice.
“Oh, cut out the civilities!” grunted Evarts turning on his heel.
Mr. Bascomb then silently left the spot. His footfalls made so little noise that their sound was soon lost to Dick and Tom.
Evarts appeared in no hurry to leave. On the contrary he drew out a pipe, filled it and lighted it. Then he threw himself down on the ground, puffing slowly.
“From the fact that he sent Mr. Bascomb away, and is himself remaining,” thought Tom Reade, “it is rather plain that this scoundrel, Evarts, is awaiting some one else.”
The same thought had occurred to Dick Prescott, though, as they lay within thirty feet of where Evarts reclined on the ground, the chums did not deem it wise to exchange even whispers.
After another half-hour Dick pressed Tom’s arm. Other footsteps were now near. Then Mr. Sambo Ebony slouched on to the scene.
“Hullo, Tar!” was the ex-foreman’s careless greeting.