“Anthony? Oh yes,” wheezed the fat man. “I see you’ve got him at work.”
“You and he are friends, I believe. I thought you’d be interested to know he’s getting on well. In fact, he’s the best collector I have.”
“We’re hardly friends,” said the consul, cautiously. “I suppose he’s all right—must be or Cortlandt wouldn’t have taken him up; but there’s something about him I don’t understand. Either he’s on the level, or he’s got the nerve of a burglar.”
“Well, I know he isn’t what he claims to be—I have proof. He’s no more Darwin K. Anthony’s son than—”
“Darwin K. Anthony!” exclaimed the railroad man, in amazement. “Did he claim that?”
“He did, and he—” The speaker checked himself with admirable diplomatic caution. “Say, he’s taught me one thing, and that is that it doesn’t pay to butt into other people’s business. I played him to lose, and he won; and I got into a fine mess over it.” Weeks wrinkled his face into a ludicrous expression of mournful disgust. “I couldn’t pick a winner if there were two horses in the race and one of them had a broken leg. Whether his name is Anthony or Locke makes no difference to me. I got in ‘Dutch’ for meddling, and Alfarez lost his job for arresting him. It’s only a damn fool who gets stung twice in the same spot. I’m through.”
“You’ll get your money. Anthony told me he’d square up on pay-day.”
Weeks snorted at this. “Why, I’ve got it already. I’ve been paid. Mrs. Cortlandt sent me her check.” He stared at his companion curiously. “Funny, isn’t it, how I got called down and Ramen Alfarez got fired on his account? What does it mean?” He winked one red eye in a manner that set Runnels to thinking deeply.
For a few days after this conversation the Master of Transportation was in doubt as to what course he should pursue. In the end he did nothing, and the letter from St. Louis was permanently filed away. There were several reasons for this action. For one thing, he was a salaried man, and could not afford to lose his job. What influenced him most, however, was his genuine liking for Anthony. He could not bring himself to attach much weight to the suspicious circumstances connected with him. Being a man of sufficient courage to back his own judgment, he decided that no matter what might have been the past of Frank Wellar, alias Jefferson Locke, Kirk Anthony was entitled to another chance.
The first thing Kirk did when pay-day came was to enclose the greater part of his salary in an envelope and send it to John Weeks, with a note explaining that he had withheld only enough for his own actual needs, and promising to continue reducing his indebtedness by a like amount monthly. He was surprised beyond measure to have the remittance promptly returned. The brief letter that accompanied it brought him a flush of discomfort. What the deuce had made Mrs. Cortlandt do that? For a time he was undecided whether to be offended at her conduct or gratified, and he had not settled the matter to his satisfaction when he called upon her that evening.