The eyes of the girl were deadly weapons. They glittered like unscabbarded steel. In them was a contained fire that awed him.
He threw out his hand in a weak, impotent gesture of despair. “My God, how did I ever come to get into such a mix-up? It will ruin me.”
“How did you come to go?” she asked.
“He wanted to see New York. I suppose I had some notion of taking him slumming.”
Beatrice went up to him and looked straight into his eyes. “Then testify to that in court. It won’t hurt you any. Go down to the police and say you have read in the paper that they want you. Tell the whole truth. And Clary—don’t weaken. Stick to your story about the shots.” Her voice shook a little. “Clay’s life is at stake. Remember that.”
“Do you think it would be safe to go to the police?” he asked doubtfully.
Whitford spoke up. “That’s the only square and safe thing to do, Bromfield. They’ll find out who you are, of course. If you go straight to them you draw the sting from their charge that you were an accomplice of Clay. Don’t lose your nerve. You’ll go through with flying colors. When a man has done nothing wrong he needn’t be afraid.”
“I dare say you’re right,” agreed Bromfield miserably.
The trouble was that Whitford was arguing from false premises. He was assuming that Clarendon was an innocent man, whereas the clubman knew just how guilty he was. Back of the killing lay a conspiracy which might come to light during the investigation. He dared not face the police. His conscience was not clean enough.
“Of course Dad’s right. It’s the only way to save your reputation,” Beatrice cried. “I’m not going to leave you till you promise to go straight down there to headquarters. If you don’t you’ll be smirched for life—and you’d be doing something absolutely dishonorable.”
He came to time with a heart of heavy dread. “All right, Bee. I’ll go,” he promised. “It’s an awful mess, but I’ve got to go through with it, I suppose.”
“Of course you have,” she said with complete conviction. “You’re not a quitter, and you can’t hide here like a criminal.”
“We’ll have to be moving, Bee,” her father reminded her. “You know we have an appointment to meet the district attorney.”
Beatrice nodded. With a queer feeling of repulsion she patted her fiance’s cheek with her soft hand and whispered a word of comfort to him.
“Buck up, old boy. It won’t be half as bad as you think. Nobody is going to blame you.”
They were shown out by the valet.
“You don’t want to be hard on Bromfield, honey,” Whitford told his daughter after they had reentered their car. “He’s a parlor man. That’s the way he’s been brought up. Never did a hard day’s work in his life. Everything made easy for him. If he’d ever ridden out a blizzard like Clay or stuck it out in a mine for a week without food after a cave-in, he wouldn’t balk on the job before him. But he’s soft. And he’s afraid of his reputation. That’s natural, I suppose.”