His heart was very tender to her. “Whatever you say, sweetheart.”
BEE MAKES A MORNING CALL
Their chauffeur broke the speed laws getting them to the apartment house for bachelors where Bromfield lived.
His valet for once was caught off guard when he opened the door to them. Beatrice was inside before he could quite make up his mind how best to meet this frontal attack.
“We came to see Mr. Bromfield,” she said.
“Sorry, Miss. He’s really quite ill. The doctor says—”
“I’m Miss Whitford. We’re engaged to be married. It’s very important that I see him.”
“Yes, Miss, I know.”
The man was perfectly well aware that his master wanted of all things to avoid a meeting with her. For some reason or other, Bromfield was in a state of collapse this morning the valet could not understand. The man’s business was to protect him until he had recovered. But he could not flatly turn his master’s fiancee out of the apartment. His eye turned to Whitford and found no help there. He fell back on the usual device of servants.
“I don’t really think he can see you, Miss. The doctor has specially told me to guard against any excitement. But I’ll ask Mr. Bromfield if—if he feels up to it.”
The valet passed into what was evidently a bedroom and closed the door behind him. There was a faint murmur of voices.
“I’m going in now,” Beatrice announced abruptly to her father.
She moved forward quickly, before Whitford could stop her, whipped open the door, and stepped into the room. Her father followed her reluctantly.
Clarendon, in a frogged dressing-gown, lay propped up by pillows. Beside the bed was a tray, upon which was a decanter of whiskey and a siphon of soda. His figure seemed to have fallen together and his seamed face was that of an old man. But it was the eyes that held her. They were full of stark terror. The look in them took the girl’s breath. They told her that he had undergone some great shock.
He shivered at sight of her.
“What is it, Clary?” she cried, moving toward him. “Tell me—tell me all about it.”
“I—I’m ill.” He quaked it from a burning throat.
“You were all right, yesterday. Why are you ill now?”
He groaned unhappily.
“You’re going to tell me everything—everything.”
His fascinated, frightened eyes clung to this straight, slim girl whose look stabbed into him and shook his soul. Why had she come to trouble him this morning while he was cowering in fear of the men who would break in to drag him away to prison?
“Nothing to tell,” he got out with a gulp.
“Oh, yes, you have. Are you ill because of what happened at Maddock’s?”
He tried to pull himself together, to stop the chattering of his teeth.