Mr. Gordon’s frame of mind was unenviable. The Inside Room, moved by esoteric considerations, political and, more remotely, financial, had issued to him a managerial ukase; no police investigation if it could be avoided. Now, news was the guise in which Mr. Gordon sincerely worshiped Truth, the God. But Mammon, in the Inside Room, held the purse-strings Mr. Gordon had arrived at his honorable and well-paid position, not by wisdom alone, but also by compromise. Here was a situation where news must give way to the more essential interests of the paper.
“Mr. Banneker,” he said, “that investigation will take a great deal of your time; more, I fear, than the paper can afford to give you.”
“They will arrange to put me on the stand in the mornings.”
“Further, any connection between a Ledger man and the Enderby Committee is undesirable and injudicious.”
“I’m sorry,” answered Banneker simply. “I’ve said I’d go through with it.”
Mr. Gordon selected a fresh knuckle for his modified drumming. “Have you considered your duty to the paper, Mr. Banneker? If not, I advise you to do so.” The careful manner, more than the words, implied threat.
Banneker leaned forward as if for a confidential communication, as he lapsed into a gross Westernism:
“Mr. Gordon, I am paying for this round of drinks.”
Somehow the managing editor received the impression that this remark, delivered in just that tone of voice and in its own proper environment, was usually accompanied by a smooth motion of the hand toward the pistol holster.
Banneker, after asking whether there was anything more, and receiving a displeased shake of the head, went away.
“Now,” said he to the waiting Tommy Burt, “they’ll probably fire me.”
“Let ’em! You can get plenty of other jobs. But I don’t think they will. Old Gordon is really with you. It makes him sick to have to doctor news.”
Sleepless until almost morning, Banneker reviewed in smallest detail his decision and the situation to which it had led. He thought that he had taken the right course. He felt that Miss Camilla would approve. Judge Enderby’s personality, he recognized, had exerted some influence upon his decision. He had conceived for the lawyer an instinctive respect and liking. There was about him a power of attraction, not readily definable, but seeming mysteriously to assert some hidden claim from the past.
Where had he seen that fine and still face before?
Sequels of a surprising and diverse character followed Banneker’s sudden fame. The first to manifest itself was disconcerting. On the Wednesday following the fight on the pier, Mrs. Brashear intercepted him in the hallway.
“I’m sure we all admire what you did, Mr. Banneker,” she began, in evident trepidation.