Jerry began to use his “pull.” There reached him presently that same sinking at the pit of the stomach he had known when Clay had thrashed him. He learned that when a lawbreaker is going strong, friends at court who are under obligations to him are a bulwark of strength, but when one’s power is shaken politicians prefer to take no risks. No news spreads more rapidly than that of the impending fall of a chieftain. The word was passing among the wise that Jerry Durand was to be thrown overboard.
The active center of the attack upon him was the group around Clay Lindsay. To it was now allied the office of the district attorney and all the malcontent subordinates of the underworld who had endured his domination so long only because they must. The campaign was gathering impetus like a snowslide. Soon it would be too late to stop it even if he could call off the friends of the Westerner.
Durand tried to make an appointment with Whitford. That gentleman declined to see him. Jerry persisted. He offered to meet him at one of his clubs. He telephoned to the house, but could not get any result more satisfactory than the cold voice of a servant saying, “Mr. Whitford does not wish to talk with you, sir.” At last he telegraphed.
The message read:
It was signed by Durand.
When Jerry called he was admitted.
Whitford met him with chill hostility. He held the telegram in his hand. “What does this message mean?” he asked bluntly.
“Your daughter’s engaged to Bromfield, ain’t she?” demanded the ex-prize-fighter, his bulbous eyes full on his host.
“That’s our business, sir.”
“I got a reason for asking. She is or she ain’t. Which is it?”
“We’ll not discuss my daughter’s affairs.”
“All right, since you’re so damned particular. We’ll discuss Bromfield’s. I warned him to keep his mouth shut or he’d get into trouble.”
“He was released from prison this afternoon.”
“Did I say anything about prison?” Durand asked. “There’s other kinds of grief beside being in stir. I’ve got this guy right.”
“Just what do you mean, Mr. Durand?”
“I mean that he hired me to get Lindsay in bad with you and the girl. He was to be caught at the Omnium Club with a woman when the police raided the place, and it was to get into the papers.”
“I don’t believe it,” said Whitford promptly.
“You will. I had a dictagraph in the room when Bromfield came to see me. You can hear it all in his own voice.”
“But there wasn’t any woman with Lindsay at Maddock’s when the raid was pulled off.”
“Sure there wasn’t. I threw Bromfield down.”
“You arranged to have Lindsay killed instead.”