“You are a card-sharp, and it will be easy enough to ruin you. Threaten Frederick Sutherland and in two weeks you will be boycotted by every club in this city. Twenty-five hundred dollars won’t pay you for that.”
This from a nondescript fellow with no grains of a gentleman about him in form, feature, or apparel! The captain stared nonplussed, too much taken aback to be even angry.
Suddenly he cried:
“How do you know all this? How do you know what is or is not in the letter I gave you?”
Sweetwater, with a shrug that in its quiet significance seemed to make him at once the equal of his interrogator, quietly pressed the quivering limb under his hand and calmly replied:
“I know because I have read it. Before putting my head in the lion’s mouth, I make it a point to count his teeth,” and lifting his hand, he drew back, leaving the captain reeling.
“What is your name? Who are you?” shouted out Wattles as Sweetwater was drawing off.
It was the third time he had been asked that question within twenty-four hours, but not before with this telling emphasis. “Who are you, I say, and what can you do to me—?”
“I am—But that is an insignificant detail unworthy of your curiosity. As to what I can do, wait and see. But first burn that letter.”
And turning his back he fled out of the building, followed by oaths which, if not loud, were certainly deep and very far-reaching.
It was the first time Captain Wattles had met his match in audacity.
On his way to the depot, Sweetwater went into the Herald office and bought a morning paper. At the station he opened it. There was one column devoted to the wreck of the Hesper, and a whole half-page to the proceedings of the third day’s inquiry into the cause and manner of Agatha Webb’s death. Merely noting that his name was mentioned among the lost, in the first article, he began to read the latter with justifiable eagerness. The assurance given in Captain Wattles’s letter was true. No direct suspicion had as yet fallen on Frederick. As the lover of Amabel Page, his name was necessarily mentioned, but neither in the account of the inquest nor in the editorials on the subject could he find any proof that either the public or police had got hold of the great idea that he was the man who had preceded Amabel to Agatha’s cottage. Relieved on this score, Sweetwater entered more fully into the particulars, and found that though the jury had sat three days, very little more had come to light than was known on the morning he made that bold dash into the Hesper. Most of the witnesses had given in their testimony, Amabel’s being the chief, and though no open accusation had been made, it was evident from the trend of the questions put to the latter that Amabel’s connection with the affair was