“Forget that stuff. The point is that if you don’t call off the district attorney, I’ll tell all I know about son-in-law Bromfield. He’ll be ruined for life.”
“To hear you tell it.”
“All right. Ask him.”
“Conspiracy is what the law calls it.
Maybe he can keep outa stir.
But when his swell friends hear it they’ll turn their backs on
Bromfield. You know it.”
“I’ll not know it unless Mr. Bromfield tells me so himself. I don’t care anything for your dictagraph. I’m no eavesdropper.”
“You tell him what he’s up against and he’ll come through all right. I’ll see that every newspaper in New York carries the story if you don’t notify me to-day that this attack on me is off. I’ll learn you silk stockings you can’t make Jerry Durand the goat.”
“You can’t implicate him without getting yourself into trouble—even if your story is true, and I still don’t believe it.”
“You believe it all right,” jeered the crook. “And the story don’t hurt me a bit. I pretended to fall in with his plans, but I didn’t do it. The results show that.”
“They show me that you tried to do murder instead.”
“That’s all bunk. The evidence won’t prove it.”
Whitford announced his decision sharply. “If you’ll leave me your telephone number, I’ll let you know later in the day what we’ll do.”
He had told Durand that he did not believe his story. He had tried to reject it because he did not want to accept it, but after the man had gone and he thought it over, his judgment was that it held some germ of truth. If so, he was bound to protect Bromfield as far as he could. No matter what Clarendon had done, he could not throw overboard to the sharks the man who was still engaged to his daughter. He might not like him. In point of fact he did not. But he had to stand by him till he was out of his trouble.
Colin Whitford went straight to his daughter.
“Honey, this man Durand has just brought me a story about Clarendon. He says he paid him to get Clay into trouble at the Omnium Club in order to discredit him with us.”
“I’m going to see Clarendon. If it’s true I don’t want you to see him again. Authorize me to break the engagement for you.”
They talked it over for a few minutes. Beatrice slipped the engagement ring from her finger and gave it to her father with a sigh.
“You can’t do wrong without paying for it, Dad.”
“That’s right. Bromfield—”
“I’m not thinking of Clarendon. I’m thinking about me. I feel as if I had been dragged in the dust,” she said wearily.
ON THE CARPET
The question at issue was not whether Beatrice would break with her fiance, but in what way it should be done. If her father found him guilty of what Durand had said, he was to dismiss him brusquely; if not, Beatrice wanted to disengage herself gently and with contrition.