“Keep off!” warned the young minister, throwing himself into an attitude of defense.
“No, no,” protested Dr. Surtaine: “don’t think I meant that. I—I want to thank you.”
“Thank me?” The minister put his hand to his head. “I don’t understand.”
“For leaving my boy out of it.”
“Oh! That. I didn’t see the necessity of dragging him in.”
“That was kind. You handled me pretty rough. Well, I’m used to rough work. But the boy—look here, you knew all about this Milly Neal business, didn’t you?”
“Maybe you could tell me,” went on the old quack miserably. “I can understand Hal’s getting into a—an affair with the girl—being kinda carried away and losing his head. What I can’t get is his—his quittin’ her when she was in trouble.”
“I still don’t understand,” protested the minister. “My head isn’t very good. I’ve been ill, you know.”
“You let him off without telling his name to-night. And that made me think maybe he wasn’t in wrong so far as I thought. Maybe there were—what-ye-call-’em?—mitigating circumstances. Were there?”
A light broke in upon the Reverend Norman Hale. “Did you think your son was Milly Neal’s lover? He wasn’t.”
“Are you sure?” gasped the father.
“As sure as of my faith in Heaven.”
The old man straightened up, drawing a breath so profound that it seemed to raise his stature.
“I wouldn’t take a million dollars for that word,” he declared.
“But your own part in this?” queried the other in wonderment. “I hated to have to say—”
“What does it matter?”
“You have no concern for yourself?” puzzled the minister.
“Oh, I’ll come out on top. I always come out on top. What got to my heart was my boy. I thought he’d gone wrong. And now I know he hasn’t.”
The old charlatan’s strong hand fell on his assailant’s shoulder, then slipped down supportingly under his arm.
“You look pretty shaky,” said he with winning solicitude. “Let me take you home in my car. It’s waiting outside.”
The Reverend Norman Hale accepted, marveling greatly over the complex miracle of the soul of man—who is formed in the image of his Maker.
Tradition of the “Clarion” office embalms “the evening the typhus story broke” as a nightmare out of which was born history. Chronologically, according to the veracious records of Bim the Guardian of Portals, the tumult began at exactly 10.47, with the arrival of Mr. McGuire Ellis, traveling up the staircase five steps at a jump and calling in a strangled voice for Wayne. That usually controlled journalist rushed out of an inner room in alarm, demanding to know whether New York City had been whelmed with a tidal wave or the King of England murdered in his bed, and in an instant was struggling in the grasp of his fellow editor.