“He did not get five thousand dollars by any honest means. The reputation of the family is in jeopardy just now, Miss Kilgour. I want to protect it for my own sake. He confessed to you, didn’t he?”
“I can better understand your sense of obligation now. When a man commits a crime for a woman she gets some fool notions into her head about standing by him. I know my nephew’s extravagances, Miss Kilgour. He had to steal to get five thousand dollars for your mother. There is just one handy place where he could steal. He took that money from the state treasury. He has told you so. Am I not right?”
Colonel Dodd turned his back on her and looked up at his bouquets.
Perspiration streaked his thick neck. His jowls trembled. She pitied this man, even in her own tribulation. She had never seen him moved before.
“How did you get this money, Miss Kilgour?” he asked, after a time, his voice very low.
“Must I tell you?”
“Certainly. We are going to the bottom of this thing.”
“I received a little legacy from my aunt a few years ago—I had put it away in the bank. I had saved some money from the wages I got here. My mother—I am sorry to say that she has been vain and extravagant, sir—she had wasted money on jewels and dress, and now she has sold everything. We have disposed of all our furniture and have gone to board in a very cheap place. I have been able to make out the amount of the debt. Here it is!” She placed it on his desk beside the flabby hand which lay there.
He did not speak for a long time. “I am sorry for you,” he said at last. “This is a wicked thing. But I know better than to tell you to keep this money.”
“Thank you,” she said, quietly. “I know you understand!”
“I will put it in the place where it belongs. That’s all!”
And when he kept his broad back to her she went out of the office, her feet making no sound on the thick carpet.
ALL THE WORLD OUTSIDE
A good lawyer can accomplish much when men are willing to listen to reason and to accept the proffer of reparation!
“All going to show,” declared the Honorable Archer Converse to his young protege, after they had parted at last from Morgan Bristol in the Western city, “that a thistle doesn’t hurt much, after all, if you grab it with all your might and vim. We have found honest gentlemen here, thank God! It has been made plain to me, my boy, that they all knew you better than you knew yourself and that’s why they waited so patiently. But, oh, that folly of yours!” However, he patted Thornton Bristol’s shoulder when he said it. “It’s a good thing for a young man to have a healthy debt when he starts out—a debt that’s a joy to pay. Just look on it as an incentive, boy! You simply mortgaged your future!”