“I will be guided by your suggestion. Nothing would afford me greater pleasure than to find that I have been mistaken in assuming Paul’s guilt, though on evidence that seemed convincing.”
This conversation took place at the dinner-table. Mr. Danforth understood that no time was to be lost if he expected to gain any information from the movements of his clerk.
George Dawkins had ventured upon a bold act, but he had been apparently favored by fortune, and had succeeded. That he should have committed this crime without compunction could hardly be expected. His uneasiness, however, sprang chiefly from the fear that in some way he might yet be detected. He resolved to get rid of the money which he had obtained dishonestly, and obtain back from Duval the acknowledgment of indebtedness which he had given him.
You will perhaps ask whether the wrong which he had done Paul affected him with uneasiness. On the contrary, it gratified the dislike which from the first he had cherished towards our hero.
“I am well rid of him, at all events,” he muttered to himself, “that is worth risking some thing for.”
When office hours were over Dawkins gladly threw down his pen, and left the counting-room.
He bent his steps rapidly towards the locality where he had before met Duval. He had decided to wait some time before meeting that worthy. He had to wait till another day, when as he was emerging from the tavern he encountered the Frenchman on the threshold.
“Aha, my good friend,” said Duval, offering his hand, which Dawkins did not appear to see, “I am very glad to see you. Will you come in?”
“No, I have not time,” said Dawkins, shortly.
“Have you brought me my money?”
“Aha, that is well. I was just about what you call cleaned out.”
“Have you my note with you?”
Duval fumbled in his pocket-book, and finally produced the desired document.
“Give it to me.”
“I must have the money first,” said the Frenchman, shrewdly.
“Take it,” said Dawkins contemptuously. “Do you judge me by yourself?”
He tore the note which he received into small pieces, and left Duval without another word.
Sheltered by the darkness, Mr. Danforth, who had tracked
the steps of
Dawkins, had been an unseen witness of this whole transaction.
George Dawkins resumed his duties the next morning as usual. Notwithstanding the crime he had committed to screen himself from the consequences of a lighter fault, he felt immeasurably relieved at the thought that he had shaken himself free from the clutches of Duval. His satisfaction was heightened by the disgrace and summary dismissal of Paul, whom he had never liked. He decided to ask the place for a cousin of his own, whose society would be more agreeable to him than that of his late associate.