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The Big-Town Round-Up by William MacLeod Raine

Bromfield felt for his words carefully


he misunderstood me or he's distorting the facts," claimed the clubman with an assumption of boldness.

"That ought to be easy to prove. We'll make an appointment with him for this afternoon and check up by the dictagraph."

Bromfield laughed uneasily. "Is that necessary, Mr. Whitford? Surely my word is good. I have the honor to tell you that I did nothing discreditable."

"It would have been good with me a week ago," replied the Coloradoan gravely. "But since then--well, you know what's happened since then. I don't want to hurt your feelings, Clarendon, but I may as well say frankly that I can't accept your account without checking up on it. That, however, isn't quite the point. Durand has served notice that unless we call off the prosecution of him he's going to ruin you. Are you satisfied to have us tell him he can go to the devil?"

"I wouldn't go that far." Bromfield felt for his words carefully. "Maybe in cold type what I said might be misunderstood. I wouldn't like to push the fellow too far."

Whitford leaned back in his swivel chair and looked steadily at the man to whom his daughter was engaged. "I'm going to the bottom of this, Bromfield. That fellow Durand ought to go to the penitentiary. We're gathering the evidence to send him there. Now he tells me he'll drag you down to ruin with him

it he goes. Come clean. Can he do it?"

"Well, I wouldn't say--"

"Don't evade, Bromfield. Yes or no."

"I suppose he can." The words came sulkily after a long pause.

"You did hire him to destroy Lindsay's reputation."

"Lindsay had no business here in New York. He was disturbing Bee's peace of mind. I wanted to get rid of him and send him home."

"So you paid a crooked scoundrel who hated him to murder his reputation."

"That's not what I call it," defended the clubman.

"It doesn't matter what you call it. The fact stands."

"I told him explicitly--again and again--that there was to be no violence. I intended only to show him up. I had a right to do it."

Whitford got up and walked up and down the room. He felt like laying hands on this well-dressed scamp and throwing him out of the office. He tasted something of his daughter's sense of degradation at ever having been connected with a man of so little character. The experience was a bitterly humiliating one to him. For Bee was, in his opinion, the cleanest, truest little thoroughbred under heaven. The only questionable thing he had ever known her to do was to engage herself to this man.

Colin came to a halt in front of the other.

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