“It won’t ever come out if you’re not here. But if you force my hand—well, that’s different.” Again Jerry’s grin slit his colorless face. He had this poor devil where he wanted him, and he was enjoying himself.
“What do you want me to do, then?” cried Bromfield, tiny beads of perspiration on his forehead.
“You’ll do as I say—beat it outa the country till the thing’s over with.”
“But Lindsay will talk.”
“The boob’s padlocked his mouth. For some fool reason he’s protectin’ you. Get out, an’ you’re safe.”
Bromfield sweated blood as he walked up and down the room looking for a way out of his dilemma. He had come to the parting of the road again. If he did this thing he would be a yellow cur. It was one thing to destroy Lindsay’s influence with Beatrice by giving her a false impression. From his point of view their friendship was pernicious anyhow and ought to be wiped out. At most the cattleman would have gone back unhurt to the Arizona desert he was always talking about. Nobody there would care about what had happened to him in New York. But to leave him, an innocent man, to go to his death because he was too chivalrous to betray his partner in an adventure—this was something that even Bromfield’s atrophied conscience revolted at. Clay was standing by him, according to Durand’s story. The news of it lifted a weight from his soul. But it left him too under a stronger moral obligation to step out and face the music.
The clubman made the only decision he could, and that was to procrastinate, to put off making any choice for the present.
“I’ll think it over. Give me a day to make up my mind,” he begged.
Jerry shrugged his heavy shoulders. He knew that every hour counted in his favor, would make it more difficult for the tortured man to come forward and tell the truth. “Sure. Look it over upside and down. Don’t hurry. But, man, what’s there to think about? I thought you hated this guy—wanted to get rid of him.”
“Not that way. God, no! Durand, I’ll give you any sum in reason to let him go without bringing me into it. You can arrange it.”
Jerry slammed down a fist heavily on the table. “I can, but I won’t. Not if you was to go fifty-fifty with me to your last cent. I’m goin’ to get this fellow. See? I’m goin’ to get him good. He’ll be crawlin’ on his hands and knees to me before I’m through with him.”
“What good will that do you? I’m offering you cold cash just to let the truth get out—that Collins was trying to kill him when he got hit.”
“Nothin’ doin’. I’ve been layin’ for this boob. I’ve got him now. I’m goin’ to turn the screws on and listen to him holler.”
Bromfield’s valet stepped into the room. “Mr. and Miss Whitford to see you, sir.”
BEATRICE QUALIFIES AS A SHERLOCK HOLMES