"Take good care of her, won't you?"He disengaged himself gently fromcardano ada volume the girl's embrace, and set herwithin the arms of her husband, where she rested quietly, as ifunable to fight longer against fate's decree.
Seeing that it was useless to continue protesting over that which habitcoin wallet youtubed already occurred, she became silent, but she was intently observant now of a position which she no longer liked. She was conscious of the effort of will which was required to hold down a rising fear.Snacklit got out of the car. "I can see," he said, "that you are a wise man. You'd better come with me, and talk this over."
The man stopped his clock. He said, "I'd like to know who's going to pay my fare.""You can't expect me to do that," Irene said. "I didn't ask you to bring me here. If you take me back where - - ""There's no hurry about that," Snacklit interposed. "But as to the fare, you'll both come with me, and we'll talk about that too."The man appeared to be reassured by this statement, which may have seemed to him to bring the incident back to a more normal level. He got out, and Irene, seeing no advantage in sitting longer in a vehicle which there was no one to drive, did the same.As she did this, she saw that the wide gates were already dosed. A yardman was dropping bars into their slots, while Burfoot was turning a heavy key. She disliked that, but still the taxi and its driver were with her. There was a measure of reassurance in that, which would have been more had the man been of a different sort.
Snacklit went back to the gate to give some instructions to Burfoot, which were beyond her hearing. The driver said: "I hope you know what you're doing, miss. But I wish I was out of here.""I rather wish I were too," Irene admitted. "But you've no need to worry. Scotland Yard knows what I was doing. They'll see you right. It's that man who ought to be feeling sick.""It can't be done, Inspector," she said, sedately.
The declaration, simple as it was, aroused the official to newindignation."Who says it can't?" he vociferated, overflowing with anger atthis flouting of the authority he represented.Mary opened a drawer of the desk, and took out the documentobtained that morning from Harris, and held it forth."This," she replied, succinctly.
"What's this?" Burke stormed. But he took the paper.Demarest looked over the Inspector's shoulder, and his eyes grewlarger as he read. When he was at an end of the reading, heregarded the passive woman at the desk with a new respect.
"What's this?" Burke repeated helplessly. It was not easy forhim to interpret the legal phraseology. Mary was kind enough tomake the document clear to him."It's a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court,instructing you to let me alone until you have legal proof that Ihave broken the law.... Do you get that, Mr. Inspector Burke?"The plethoric official stared hard at the injunction."Another new one," he stuttered finally. Then his anger soughtvent in violent assertion. "But it can't be done!" he shouted."You might ask Mr. Demarest," Mary suggested, pleasantly, "as towhether or not it can be done. The gambling houses can do it,and so keep on breaking the law. The race track men can do it,and laugh at the law. The railroad can do it, to restrain itsemployees from striking. So, why shouldn't I get one, too? Yousee, I have money. I can buy all the law I want. And there'snothing you can't do with the law, if you have money enough....
Ask Mr. Demarest. He knows."Burke was fairly gasping over this outrage against his authority."Can you beat that!" he rumbled with a raucously sonorousvehemence. He regarded Mary with a stare of almost reverentialwonder. "A crook appealing to the law!"There came a new note into the woman's voice as she answered thegibe."No, simply getting justice," she said simply. "That's theremarkable part of it." She threw off her serious air. "Well,gentlemen," she concluded, "what are you going to do about it?"Burke explained."This is what I'm going to do about it. One way or another, I'mgoing to get you."The District Attorney, however, judged it advisable to use morepersuasive methods.
"Miss Turner," he said, with an appearance of sincerity, "I'mgoing to appeal to your sense of fair play."Mary's shining eyes met his for a long moment, and before thechallenge in hers, his fell. He remembered then those doubtsthat had assailed him when this girl had been sentenced toprison, remembered the half-hearted plea he had made in herbehalf to Richard Gilder."That was killed," Mary said, "killed four years ago."But Demarest persisted. Influence had been brought to bear onhim. It was for her own sake now that he urged her.
"Let young Gilder alone."Mary laughed again. But there was no hint of joyousness in themusical tones. Her answer was frank--brutally frank. She hadnothing to conceal."His father sent me away for three years--three years forsomething I didn't do. Well, he's got to pay for it."By this time, Burke, a man of superior intelligence, as one mustbe to reach such a position of authority, had come to realizethat here was a case not to be carried through by blustering, byintimidation, by the rough ruses familiar to the force. Here wasa woman of extraordinary intelligence, as well as of peculiarpersonal charm, who merely made sport of his fulminations, andshowed herself essentially armed against anything he might do, bya court injunction, a thing unheard of until this moment in thecase of a common crook. It dawned upon him that this was,indeed, not a common crook. Moreover, there had grown in him acertain admiration for the ingenuity and resource of this woman,though he retained all his rancor against one who dared thus toresist the duly constituted authority. So, in the end, he spoketo her frankly, without a trace of his former virulence, with avery real, if rugged, sincerity.
"Don't fool yourself, my girl," he said in his huge voice, whichwas now modulated to a degree that made it almost unfamiliar tohimself. "You can't go through with this. There's always a weaklink in the chain somewhere. It's up to me to find it, and Iwill."His candor moved her to a like honesty."Now," she said, and there was respect in the glance she gave thestalwart man, "now you really sound dangerous."There came an interruption, alike unexpected by all. Fannieappeared at the door."Mr. Edward Gilder wishes to see you, Miss Turner," she said,with no appreciation of anything dynamic in the announcement."Shall I show him in?""Oh, certainly," Mary answered, with an admirable pretense ofindifference, while Burke glared at Demarest, and the DistrictAttorney appeared ill at ease."He shouldn't have come," Demarest muttered, getting to his feet,in reply to the puzzled glance of the Inspector.Then, while Mary sat quietly in her chair at the desk, and thetwo men stood watching doubtfully the door, the maid appeared,stood aside, and said simply, "Mr. Gilder."There entered the erect, heavy figure of the man whom Mary hadhated through the years. He stopped abruptly just within theroom, gave a glance at the two men, then his eyes went to Mary,sitting at her desk, with her face lifted inquiringly. He didnot pause to take in the beauty of that face, only its strength.
He stared at her silently for a moment. Then he spoke in hisoritund voice, a little tremulous from anxiety."Are you the woman?" he said. There was something simple andprimitive, something of dignity beyond the usual conventions, inhis direct address.
And there was the same primitive simplicity in the answer.Between the two strong natures there was no subterfuge, nosuggestion of polite evasions, of tergiversation, only the pleaof truth to truth. Mary's acknowledgment was as plain as his ownquestion.
"I am the woman. What do you want?" ... Thus two honest folk hadmet face to face."My son." The man's answer was complete.
But Mary touched a tragic note in her question. It was asked inno frivolous spirit, but, of a sudden, she guessed that hiscoming was altogether of his own volition, and not the result ofhis son's information, as at first she had supposed."Have you seen him recently?" she asked."No," Gilder answered."Then, why did you come?"Thereat, the man was seized with a fatherly fury. His heavy facewas congested, and his sonorous voice was harsh with virtuousrebuke.
"Because I intend to save my boy from a great folly. I aminformed that he is infatuated with you, and Inspector Burketells me why--he tells me--why--he tells me----" He paused,unable for a moment to continue from an excess of emotion. Buthis gray eyes burned fiercely in accusation against her.Inspector Burke himself filled the void in the halting sentence.
"I told you she had been an ex-convict.""Yes," Gilder said, after he had regained his self-control. Hestared at her pleadingly. "Tell me," he said with a certaindignity, "is this true?"Here, then, was the moment for which she had longed through wearydays, through weary years. Here was the man whom she hated,suppliant before her to know the truth. Her heart quickened.Truly, vengeance is sweet to one who has suffered unjustly.
"Is this true?" the man repeated, with something of horror inhis voice."It is," Mary said quietly.
For a little, there was silence in the room. Once, InspectorBurke started to speak, but the magnate made an imperativegesture, and the officer held his peace. Always, Mary restedmotionless. Within her, a fierce joy surged. Here was the timeof her victory. Opposite her was the man who had caused heranguish, the man whose unjust action had ruined her life. Now,he was her humble petitioner, but this servility could be of noavail to save him from shame. He must drink of the dregs ofhumiliation--and then again. No price were too great to pay fora wrong such as that which he had put upon her.At last, Gilder was restored in a measure to his self-possession.He spoke with the sureness of a man of wealth, confident thatmoney will salve any wound."How much?" he asked, baldly.
Mary smiled an inscrutable smile."Oh, I don't need money," she said, carelessly. "Inspector Burkewill tell you how easy it is for me to get it."Gilder looked at her with a newly dawning respect; then hisshrewdness suggested a retort.
"Do you want my son to learn what you are?" he said.Mary laughed. There was something dreadful in that burst ofspurious amusement.
"Why not?" she answered. "I'm ready to tell him myself."Then Gilder showed the true heart of him, in which love for hisboy was before all else. He found himself wholly at a lossbefore the woman's unexpected reply."But I don't want him to know," he stammered. "Why, I've sparedthe boy all his life. If he really loves you--it will----"At that moment, the son himself entered hurriedly from thehallway. In his eagerness, he saw no one save the woman whom heloved. At his entrance, Mary rose and moved backward a stepinvoluntarily, in sheer surprise over his coming, even though shehad known he must come--perhaps from some other emotion, deeper,hidden as yet even from herself.