Mr. Dinneford made no response.
“Gain lies on the other side. The secret is yours, if you will have it.”
“At what price?” asked Mr. Dinneford, without lifting his eyes.
“One thousand dollars, cash in hand.”
“On production of the child and proof of its identity?”
Mrs. Bray took time to answer. “I do not mean to have any slip in this matter,” she said. “It was a bad business at the start, as I told Mrs. Dinneford, and has given me more trouble than I’ve been paid for, ten times over. I shall not be sorry to wash my hands clean of it; but whenever I do so, there must be compensation and security. I haven’t the child, and you may hunt me to cover with all the police hounds in the city, and yet not find him.”
“If I agree to pay your demand,” replied Mr. Dinneford, “it can only be on production and identification of the child.”
“After which your humble servant will be quickly handed over to the police,” a low, derisive laugh gurgling in the woman’s throat.
“The guilty are ever in dread, and the false always in fear of betrayal,” said Mr. Dinneford. “I can make no terms with you for any antecedent reward. The child must be in my possession and his parentage clearly proved before I give you a dollar. As to what may follow to yourself, your safety will lie in your own silence. You hold, and will still hold, a family secret that we shall not care to have betrayed. If you should ever betray it, or seek, because of its possession, to annoy or prey upon us, I shall consider all honorable contract we may have at an end, and act accordingly.”
“Will you put in writing, an obligation to pay me one thousand dollars in case I bring the child and prove its identity?”
“No; but I will give you my word of honor that this sum shall be placed in your hands whenever you produce the child.”
Mrs. Bray remained silent for a considerable time, then, as if satisfied, arose, saying,
“You will hear from me by to-morrow or the day after, at farthest. Good-morning.”
As she was moving toward the door Mr. Dinneford said,
“Let me have your name and residence, madam.”
The woman quickened her steps, partly turning her head as she did so, and said, with a sinister curl of the lip,
“No, I thank you, sir.”
In the next moment she was gone.
NOTHING of all this was communicated to Edith. After a few weeks of prostration strength came slowly back to mind and body, and with returning strength her interest in her old work revived. Her feet went down again into lowly ways, and her hands took hold of suffering.
Immediately on receipt of Freeling’s letter and affidavit, Mr. Dinneford had taken steps to procure a pardon for George Granger. It came within a few days after the application was made, and the young man was taken from the asylum where he had been for three years.