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- Jane Cable - 10/52 -
with her, encountered difficulties which put him very much out of temper. For the first time, there was an apparent rift in her constancy; never before had she shown such signs of fluctuating. He could not understand it--in fact, he dared not understand it. "She was a most annoying young person," said Mr. Rigby to himself wrathfully, more than once after he went to bed that night. Anyhow, he could not see what there was about Howard Medford for any girl to countenance, much less to admire. Mr. Medford certainly had ruined the Cable dinner-party for Mr. Rigby, and he was full of resentment.
"Miss Keating!" called Mr. Rigby for the third time; "may I interrupt your conversation with Mr. Deever long enough to ask a question that has been on my mind for twenty minutes?"
Mr. Deever was the raw, young gentleman who read law in the office of Judge Smith, next door. Bobby maintained that if he read law at all, it was at night, for he wap too busy with other occupations during the day.
Miss Keating, startled, turned roundabout promptly.
"Yes, sir," at last, came from the pert, young woman near the window.
"I guess I'll be going," said Mr. Deever resentfully, rising slowly from the side of her desk on which he had been lounging.
"Wait a minute, Eddie," protested Miss Keating; "what's your hurry?" and then, she almost snapped out: "What is it, Mr. Rigby?"
"I merely wanted to ask if you have sufficient time to let me dictate a few, short letters that ought to go out to-day," said Bobby, sarcastically; and then added with mock apology: "Don't move, Mr. Deever; if you're not in Miss Keating's way, you're certainly not in mine."
"A great josher!" that young woman was heard to comment, admiringly.
"You may wake up some morning to find that I'm not," said Bobby, soberly. Whereupon, Miss Keating rose and strode to the other end of the room and took her place beside Bobby's desk.
Bobby dictated half a dozen inconsequential letters before coming to the one which troubled him most. For many minutes he stared reflectively at the typewritten message from New York. Miss Keating frowned severely and tapped her little foot somewhat impatiently on the floor; but Bobby would not be hurried. His reflections were too serious. This letter from New York had come with a force sufficient to drive out even the indignant thoughts concerning one Miss Clegg. For the life of him, Bobby Rigby could not immediately frame a reply to the startling missive. Eddie Deever stirred restlessly on the window ledge.
"Don't hurry, Eddie!" called Miss Keating, distinctly and insinuatingly.
"Oh, I guess I'll be going!" he called back, beginning to roll a cigarette. "I have some reading to do to-day." Mr. Deever was tall, awkward and homely, and a lot of other things that would have discouraged a less self-satisfied "lady's man." Judge Smith said he was hopeless, but that he might do better after he was twenty-one.
"What are you reading now, Eddie?" asked Miss Keating, complacently eyeing Mr. Rigby. "Raffles?"
"Law, you idiot!" said Eddie, scornfully, going out of the door.
"Oh! Well, the law is never in a hurry, don't you know? It's like justice--the slowest thing in town!" she called after him as his footsteps died away.
"Ready?" said Bobby, resolutely. "Take this, please; and slowly and carefully he proceeded to dictate:
"MR. DENIS HARBERT, "NEW YORK,
"DEAR DENIS: I cannot tell you how much your letter surprised me. What you say seems preposterous. There must be a mistake. It cannot be this man. I know him quite well, and seems as straight as a string and a gentleman, too. His son, you know as well as I. There isn't a better fellow in the world! Mr. B. has a fairly good business here; his transactions open and aboveboard. I'm sure I have never heard a word said against him or his methods. You are mistaken, that's all there is about it.
"You might investigate a little further and, assuring yourself, do all in your power to check such stories as you relate. Of course, I'll do as you suggest; but I'm positive I can find nothing discreditable in his dealings here.
"Keep me posted on everything.
"As ever, yours,"
Miss Keating's anxiety was aroused. After a very long silence, she took the reins into her own hands. "Is Mr. Briggs in trouble?" she asked at a venture. Mr. Briggs was the only client she could think of, whose name began with a B.
"Briggs? What Briggs?" asked Bobby, relighting his pipe for the fourth time.
"Why, our Mr. Briggs," answered Miss Keating, curtly.
"I'm sure I don't know, Miss Keating. Has he been around lately?"
"I thought you were referring to him in that letter," she said succinctly.
"Oh, dear me, no. Another party altogether, Miss Keating. Isn't the typewriter in working order this morning?" he asked, eyeing her machine innocently. She miffed and started to reply, but thought better of it. Then she began pounding the keys briskly.
"It works like a charm," she shot back, genially.
The letter that caused Bobby such perturbation came in the morning mail. His friend had laid bare some of the old stories concerning James Bansemer, and cautioned him not to become involved in transactions with the former New Yorker. Harbert's statements were positive in character, and he seemed to know his case thoroughly well. While the charges as they came to Rigby were general, Harbert had said that he was quite ready to be specific.
All day long, the letter hung like a cloud over young Mr. Rigby. He was to have lunched with Graydon, and was much relieved when young Bansemer telephoned that he could not join him. Rigby found himself in a very uncomfortable position. If the stories from New York were true, even though he knew none of the inside facts, Graydon's father was pretty much of a scalawag, to say the least. He was not well acquainted with the lawyer, but he now recalled that he never had liked the man. Bansemer had impressed him from the beginning as heartless, designing, utterly unlike his clean-hearted son.
Bobby loved Graydon Bansemer in the way that one man loves a true friend. He was certain that the son knew nothing of those shady transactions--if they really existed as Harbert painted them--but an exposure of the father would be a blow from which he could not recover.
It came at last to Rigby that he was not the only one in Chicago who held the secret. Other members of the bar had been warned long before the news came to him, and it was morally certain that if the facts were as bad as intimated, the police also were in possession of them.
At the same time, Rigby felt a certain moral responsibility involving himself. Bansemer, at any time, might apply his methods to people who were near and dear to him. The new intimacy with the Cables came to Bobby's mind. And then, there were Clegg, Groll, the Semesons and others who might easily fall into the snare if James Bansemer set it for them.
Appreciating his responsibility in the matter, now that he was prepared to hear the worst of James Bansemer, Rigby's heart stood almost still. It meant that some day he might have to expose Graydon Bansemer's father; it meant that he might have to cruelly hurt his friend; it meant that he might lose a friendship that had been one of his best treasures since the good, old college days. The mere fact that he would be compelled to watch and mistrust James Bansemer seemed like darkest treachery to Graydon, even though the son should not become aware of the situation. Later, in the afternoon, Bobby went, guiltily, into a telegraph office and sent away a carefully worded dispatch. The answer came to him at the club, that evening, while he played billiards with young Bansemer, who, even then was eager to be off to keep the promised appointment with pretty Miss Cable.
The telegram which he opened while Graydon impatiently chalked his cue and waited for him to play was brief and convincing. It read:
"Watch him, by all means. He is not safe, my word for it. There is no mistake."
The little room off the library was Jane's "den." Her father had a better name for it. He called it her "web," but only in secret conference. Graydon Bansemer lounged there in blissful contemplation of a roseate fate, all the more enjoyable because his very ease was the counterpoise of doubt and uncertainty. No word of love had passed between the mistress of the web and her loyal victim; but eyes and blood had translated the mysterious, voiceless language of the heart into the simplest of sentences. They loved and they knew it.
After leaving Rigby at the club Graydon drove to the North Side, thrilled to the marrow with the prophecies of the night. His heart was in that little room off the library--and had been there for
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