Purdy in turn flushes, as he carefully scrutinizes Trueman’s serious face, which has grown suddenly pale. It is the first time his talented young protege has ever shown the white feather.
“Oh, yes, yes, Mr. Purdy—they—they can shoot too soon. Even deputy sheriffs cannot commit murder with impunity. Fight these men with the law. It’s all in your favor! Sheriff Marlin could not step out there in the street and shoot my fox terrier unless he could show someone’s life was in danger.”
With a show of impatience Gorman Purdy arises from his chair. He is displeased beyond measure with the attitude assumed by Trueman.
“Well, sir!” he says, “you should know there is a difference between Harvey Trueman’s fox terrier, so long as you are general counsel for the Paradise Coal Company, and a man who marches along the highway with a revolver in one hand and a torch in the other, his cowardly heart filled with murder and arson! I am greatly disappointed with your views. Perhaps it were better that I place the injunction proceedings in other hands!”
A sharp retort is on Trueman’s lips, words not sarcastic, but stinging in their earnest truthfulness, and wise beyond the years of the man about to utter them. Each man has discovered that which is repugnant to him in the other—that which has remained hidden through years of friendship.
The door of the office is unceremoniously opened, and a girlish voice says:
“Ah, father—I thought you must be keeping Mr. Trueman. Don’t you remember you promised me at breakfast you would not? Our ride was fixed for three o’clock. It is now nearly four. Why, you both look positively serious!”
Ethel Purdy, gowned in a black riding habit which displays a dainty, enamelled bootleg, and wearing a gray felt hat of the rough rider type, gracefully poised on one side of her head, smiles incredulously as she stands, one hand on the knob, looking in through the door at the two men.
A quiet afternoon at Woodward.
Ethel enters Harvey’s office just in time to avert a quarrel between the Coal King and his attorney. In her presence both men resume their normal reserve of manner.
“So you have come for your afternoon ride?” Purdy inquires, in a pleasant tone.
“Well, my dear, you shall not be disappointed. The matter Harvey and I were discussing can be deferred. Go and enjoy an hour’s exercise. I shall be home when you arrive.”
“Won’t you go with us, papa?”
“Not to-day. I have a Board meeting to attend.”
“I do wish you would pay as much attention to your health as you do to business. You are not looking well. Have you forgotten what the doctor told you about over-working?”
“No, my dear; I remember his advice; but he does not know what a responsibility rests upon me as the President of the Paradise Coal Company. If I did not attend to the details of this business, there would be a dozen competitors in the coal industry within a year. Even if I cannot go with you every day, you have Harvey as an escort. You two will not miss me. When I courted your mother, I should not have insisted upon a third party accompanying us on our rambles.”