“How?” asked Compton.
“I would rather you would wait for the report of the C.P.A.’s,” returned Jimmy.
“I wish to know now,” said Compton, “how I am being robbed.”
Jimmy looked straight into the older man’s eyes. “Through the pay-roll,” he replied.
For a full minute Compton did not speak.
“You may continue with your work in the plant,” he said at last, “and we will keep the accountants, for a while at least. And now I am going to ask you to excuse me. I find that I tire very quickly since I have been threatened with influenza.”
Jimmy bid his employer good night, and Mr. Compton turned into the library as the former continued along across the hall to the entrance. He was putting on his overcoat when Elizabeth Compton emerged from the music-room and approached him.
“I overheard your conversation with father,” she said. “It seems to me that you are making a deliberate attempt to cause him worry and apprehension—you are taking advantage of his illness to frighten him into keeping you in his employ. I should think you would be ashamed of yourself.”
“I am sorry that you think that,” said Jimmy. “If it was not for your father and you I wouldn’t have urged the matter at all.”
“You are just doing it to hold your position,” retorted the girl, “and now, by threats of blackmail you prevent me from exposing you—you are a despicable cur.”
Jimmy felt the blood mounting to his face. He was mortified and angry, and yet he was helpless because his traducer was a woman. Unconsciously he drew himself to his full height.
“You will have to think about me as you please,” he said; “I cannot influence that, but I want you to understand that you are not to interfere with my work. I think we understand one another perfectly, Miss Compton. Good night.”
And as he closed the door behind him he left a very angry young lady biting her lower lip and almost upon the verge of angry tears.
“The boor,” she exclaimed; “he dared to order me about and threaten me.”
The telephone interrupted her unhappy train of thoughts. It was Bince.
“I am sorry, Elizabeth,” he said, “but I won’t be able to come up this evening. I have some important business to attend to. How is your father?”
“He seems very tired and despondent,” replied Elizabeth. “That efficiency person was here to dinner. He just left.”
She could not see the startled and angry expression of Bince’s face’ as he received this information. “Torrance was there?” he asked. “How did that happen?”
“Father asked him to dinner, and when he wanted to discharge the fellow Torrance told him something that upset father terribly, and urged that he be kept a little while longer, to which father agreed.”
“What did he tell him?” asked Bince.
“Oh, some alarmist tale about somebody robbing father. I didn’t quite make out what it was all about, but it had something to do with the pay-roll.”