“Oh, you’re mistaken, Mr. Mayor. I think you do. I would suggest that you take that car back to Pennington’s garage and leave it there. That would be the most profitable thing you could do.”
“Wha—what—what in blue blazes are you driving at?” the Mayor sputtered.
“I wouldn’t care to discuss it over the telephone. I take it, however, that a hint to the wise is sufficient; and I warn you, Mayor, that if you keep that car it will bring you bad luck. To-day is Friday, and Friday is an unlucky day. I’d get rid of that sedan before noon if I were you.”
There was a long, fateful silence. Then in a singularly small, quavering voice: “You think it best, Cardigan?”
“I do. Return it to No. 38 Redwood Boulevard, and no questions will be asked. Good-bye!”
When Shirley reached home at noon, she found her car parked in front of the porte cochere; and a brief note, left with the butler, informed her that after thinking the matter over, Mrs. Poundstone had decided the Poundstone family could not afford such an extravagance, and accordingly the car was returned with many thanks for the opportunity to purchase it at such a ridiculously low figure. Shirley smiled, and put the car up in the garage. When she returned to the house her maid Thelma informed her that Mr. Bryce Cardigan had been calling her on the telephone. So she called Bryce up at once.
“Has Poundstone returned your car?” he queried.
“Why, yes. What makes you ask?”
“Oh, I had a suspicion he might. You see, I called him up and suggested it; somehow His Honour is peculiarly susceptible to suggestions from me, and—”
“Bryce Cardigan,” she declared, “you’re a sly rascal—that’s what you are. I shan’t tell you another thing.”
“I hope you had a stenographer at the dictograph when the Mayor and your uncle cooked up their little deal,” he continued. “That was thoughtful of you, Shirley. It was a bully club to have up your sleeve at the final show-down, for with it you can make Unkie-dunk behave himself and force that compromise you spoke of. Seriously, however, I don’t want you to use it, Shirley. We must avoid a scandal by all means; and praise be, I don’t need your club to beat your uncle’s brains out. I’m taking his club away from him to use for that purpose.”
“Really, I believe you’re happy to-day.”
“Happy? I should tell a man! If the streets of Sequoia were paved with eggs, I could walk them all day without making an omelette.”
“It must be nice to feel so happy, after so many months of the blues.”
“Indeed it is, Shirley. You see until very recently I was very much worried as to your attitude toward me. I couldn’t believe you’d so far forget yourself as to love me in spite of everything—so I never took the trouble to ask you. And now I don’t have to ask you. I know! And I’ll be around to see you after I get that crossing in!”