“He received but L2,000 for the mine, and he does not believe that a share of it was ever sold to any one but me. He was paid the L2,000 on the day I bought the first 50,000 shares. My money paid for the mine; then I bought it over again. I furnished the purchase money, and then I bought it again, paying an advance of 500 per cent. And the job was put up by the old duffers; Stetson was only let in to clear the old chaps when the truth should be known. And then Stetson wants to marry my Rose.
“But the man told me that the mine was just as described, only a nasty road would have to be built to it that would probably cost L80,000 or L100,000, and the mill would have to be built. It looks to me like a total loss, Jim; but the swindle is so manifest that I believe we can make the conspirators disgorge at least the last half that they robbed me of.”
The room was still for many minutes. Then Sedgwick said: “Jack, I thought those old men meant mischief to you when I first saw them. It was because of that—at least, in part that—that I remained. But one is your step-father—another the step-father of your affianced bride, and the other a mere stool-pigeon. There must be no scandal if we can help it. I believe the object on the part of Jenvie was to keep you from marrying Rose; what your step-father means I cannot understand. But anyway, if we can help it, there must be no scandal. We shared alike in Nevada. I have as much money left as both of us need. We share alike still. But no matter about that.”
“But I have been a hopeless idiot to let these men rob me,” said Jack, “and except for Rose, I would pull out for America to-morrow. I would, by Jove!”
“Your mistake was entirely natural,” said Sedgwick. “Had my father wanted all my money, he could have got it for the asking. Do not talk about going to America; that would be ’conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman’; it would be a cowardly desertion in the face of the enemy. Then, you have never been very well since your ducking down on the Sussex coast; and, besides, you have entered into obligations here so sacred that you must not permit a little whim, or even a great disappointment, to lead you to think about trying to break them. Let us go to sleep now. To-morrow we will talk over this matter more fully. I want a few more hours to think and to make up my mind what is best to do.” Jack returned to his room, and the lights were put out.
Tears and orange flowers.
In the morning Sedgwick got a cup of coffee early, and was just going out, when Grace came running up to him in the hall.
“I believe you were running away,” she said gaily, and, seizing his arm, declared that he was her prisoner.
He told her that it was true he was running away, but would be back before very long, and would then, he thought, explain everything.