“Does Mrs. Hazleton know of—of his reputed intimacy?”
“I can’t say that, either. I presume that she is no fool.”
Morton Hazleton, Jr., I knew, belonged to a rather smart group of young men. He had been mentioned in several near-scandals, but as far as I knew there had been nothing quite as public and definite as this one.
“Wouldn’t that account for her fears?” I asked.
“Hardly,” replied Butler, shaking his head. “You see, Mrs. Hazleton is a nervous wreck, but it’s about the baby, and caused, she says, by her fears for its safety. It came to us only in a roundabout way, through a servant in the house who keeps us in touch. The curious feature is that we can seem to get nothing definite from her about her fears. They may be groundless.”
Butler shrugged his shoulders and proceeded, “And they may be well-founded. But we prefer to run no chances in a case of this kind. The child, you know, is guarded in the house. In his perambulator he is doubly guarded, and when he goes out for his airing in the automobile, two men, the chauffeur and a detective, are always there, besides his nurse, and often his mother or grandmother. Even in the nursery suite they have iron shutters which can be pulled down and padlocked at night and are constructed so as to give plenty of fresh air even to a scientific baby. Master Hazleton was the best sort of risk, we thought. But now—we don’t know.”
“You can protect yourselves, though,” suggested Kennedy.
“Yes, we have, under the policy, the right to take certain measures to protect ourselves in addition to the precautions taken by the Hazletons. We have added our own detective to those already on duty. But we—we don’t know what to guard against,” he concluded, perplexed. “We’d like to know—that’s all. It’s too big a risk.”
“I may see Mrs. Hazleton?” mused Kennedy.
“Yes. Under the circumstances she can scarcely refuse to see anyone we send. I’ve arranged already for you to meet her within an hour. Is that all right?”
The Hazleton home in winter in the city was uptown, facing the river. The large grounds adjoining made the Hazletons quite independent of the daily infant parade which one sees along Riverside Drive.
As we entered the grounds we could almost feel the very atmosphere on guard. We did not see the little subject of so much concern, but I remembered his much heralded advent, when his grandparents had settled a cold million on him, just as a reward for coming into the world. Evidently, Morton, Sr., had hoped that Morton, Jr., would calm down, now that there was a third generation to consider. It seemed that he had not. I wondered if that had really been the occasion of the threats or whatever it was that had caused Mrs. Hazleton’s fears, and whether Veronica Haversham or any of the fast set around her had had anything to do with it.