OFF TO THE FARM
The next morning Bessie was doomed to be disappointed. She had looked forward confidently to seeing Zara’s father, and had come to believe that there was a good chance for her to clear away some of the mystery that hung so heavily over Zara’s affairs, even though she made no great progress toward straightening out her own confused ideas regarding herself and the reason for the disappearance of her parents. But, instead of the telephone call to Jamieson’s office, for which she had waited with poorly concealed impatience from breakfast until nearly noon, she had a visit from Jamieson himself. The lawyer looked discouraged.
“Bad news, Bessie,” he said, as soon as he saw her. She was waiting for him on the porch, and her eyes lighted with eagerness as soon as she saw him coming. “They’ve stolen a march on me.”
“Why, how do you mean? Won’t I be able to see Zara’s father, after all?”
“Not just yet. Brack is cleverer than I thought. He’s got a lot of political pull, and he got hold of a judge I thought was above stooping to anything wrong. So he was able to get this judge to sign an order putting him in my place as lawyer for Zara’s father. The only way you can see the prisoner now is for Brack to give you permission, and if I know Brack, that’s the last thing he’ll do.”
Bessie showed her discouragement.
“I’m afraid you’re right there,” she said. “I saw him yesterday, after I left you.”
“You did? Whew! There’s something queer here, Bessie. Now, try to remember just what was said and tell me all about it.”
It was not hard for Bessie, guided by a few questions from Jamieson, to do that, and in a few moments she had supplied him with a complete review of her interview with the shyster, Brack, He nodded approvingly when she had finished.
“You did just right,” he said, cheerfully. “I guess Mr. Brack won’t get much change out of you, Bessie. There’s one thing sure, you managed to acquire a lot of sense while you lived in Hedgeville. The sort we call common sense, though I don’t know why, because it’s the rarest sort of sense there is. Keep on acting just like that when people ask you questions and try to get you to tell them things.”
“Do you think anyone else is likely to do that, Mr. Jamieson?”
“You can’t tell. I’m all in the dark, you see. This thing acts just like a Chinese puzzle. They’re simple enough when you know how to fit the pieces together, and you wonder why they ever stumped you. But until you do guess them—” He stopped, with a comical shrug of his shoulders to indicate his helplessness and his bewilderment, and Bessie laughed.
Then Eleanor came out, and the story of Brack’s shrewdness had to be told to her.
“What are you going to do now?” she asked.
Jamieson threw up his hands with a laugh.