Beatrice knew he was talking to save her feelings. “You don’t need to make excuses for him, Dad,” she answered gently, with a wry smile. “I’ve got to give up. I don’t think I can go through with it.”
“You mean—marry him?”
“Yes.” She added, with a flare of passionate scorn of herself: “I deserve what I’ve got. I knew all the time I didn’t love him. It was sheer selfishness in me to accept him. I wanted what he had to give me.”
Her father drew a deep breath of relief. “I’m glad you see that, Bee. I don’t think he’s good enough for you. But I don’t know anybody that is, come to that.”
“That’s just your partiality. I’m a mean little bounder or I never should have led him on,” the girl answered in frank disgust.
Both of them felt smirched. The behavior of Bromfield had been a reflection on them. They had picked him for a thoroughbred, and he had failed them at the first test.
“Well, I haven’t been proud of you in that affair,” conceded Colin. “It didn’t seem like my girl to—”
He broke off in characteristic fashion to berate her environment. “It’s this crazy town. The spirit of it gets into a person and he accepts its standards. Let’s get away from here for a while, sweetheart.”
“After Clay is out of trouble, Dad, I’ll go with you back to Denver or to Europe or anywhere you say.”
“That’s a deal,” he told her promptly. “We’ll stay till after the annual election of the company and then go off on a honeymoon together, Bee.”
INTO THE HANDS OF HIS ENEMY
Durand waited alone for word to be flashed him that the debt he owed Clay Lindsay had been settled in full. A telephone lay on the desk close at hand and beside it was a watch. The second-hand ticked its way jerkily round and round the circle. Except for that the stillness weighed on him unbearably. He paced up and down the room chewing nervously the end of an unlit cigar. For the good tidings which he was anxious to hear was news of the death of the strong young enemy who had beaten him at every turn.
Why didn’t Collins get to the telephone? Was it possible that there had been a slip-up, that Lindsay had again broken through the trap set for him? Had “Slim’s” nerve failed him? Or had Bromfield been unable to bring the victim to the slaughter?
His mind went over the details again. The thing had been well planned even to the unguarded door through which Collins was to escape. In the darkness “Slim” could do the job, make his getaway along with Dave, and be safe from any chance of identification. Bromfield, to save his own hide, would keep still. If he didn’t, Durand was prepared to shift the murder upon his shoulders.
The minute-hand of the watch passed down from the quarter to the half and from the half to the three quarters. Still the telephone bell did not ring. The gang leader began to sweat blood. Had some one bungled after all the care with which he had laid his plans?