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The Sixty-First Second

Owen Johnson

  Produced by Al Haines.

  "'I shall have the detectives here--a man and awoman--within half an hour. There is nothing to do but wait'"--Page 61]







  _Copyright, 1912, 1913, by_ THE MCCLURE PUBLICATIONS, INC.

  _Copyright, 1913, by_ FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

  _All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian_

  _March, 1913_


  "'I shall have the detectives here--a man and a woman--within half anhour. There's nothing to do but wait'" . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

  "In that gay party one person was a thief--but which one? ... A matchsputtered. There was a cry of amazement and horror. The table wasabsolutely bare"

  "'Look here, Rita. Can't I help out some way?'"

  "'Come outside--in the garden. I want to speak to you. Come quietly'"

  "'I have not hesitated to trust in you--you must in me'"

  "'Aha! I made them sit up, didn't I--your cold women!'"

  *The Sixty-First Second*


  In the year 19--, toward the end of the month of October, the countrywas on the eve of a stupendous panic. A period of swollen prosperityhad just ended in which Titans had striven in a frenzy for the millionsthat opportunity had spilled before them.

  For months the stock market had steadily lowered, owing to the flight ofthe small investor, affrighted by the succession of investigations, thefear of readjustments, and the distrust of the great manipulators. Thepublic, which understands nothing of the secret wars and hiddenalliances of finance, had begun tremulously to be aware of thethreatening approach of a stupendous catastrophe. So in the ominous,grumbling days of October, when the air was full of confusing rumors andviolent alarms, the public, with its necessity for humanizing allsensations, perceived distinctly only two figures, each dramatically inperil, about whose safety or ruin the whole comprehensible drama of thefinancial cataclysm seemed to center.

  These two figures, both presidents of great trust companies, giants intheir own sphere, represented two opposite elements of that great massof society which seeks its level in Wall Street. Bernard L. Majendie,president of the Atlantic Trust Company, member of every exclusive club,patron of the arts, representative of one of the oldest Americanfamilies, accustomed to leadership and wealth from colonial times, waslinked in a common danger with John G. Slade, president of theAssociated Trust Company, promoter, manipulator, owner of a chain ofWestern newspapers, a man who had hauled himself out of the lowestdepths of society. Many believed that both, in the relentlessreadjustment which the banks were forcing on the trust companies, weredestined to be blotted out in the general catastrophe. Many others,perceiving the strange oppositeness of the two individuals, speculatedon which would survive the other, if indeed either were to persist.

  About three o'clock of a certain afternoon, when each extra brought anew alarm, John G. Slade came abruptly from the great library, down thesounding marble descent that was a replica of the famous rampe of theChateau of Gerny, into the tapestry-hung vestibule of his palace onupper Fifth Avenue.

  He stood a moment in blank meditation, while the third man held hisovercoat open and ready, watching anxiously the frown on the face of themaster, who stood before him, a massive six-foot-four. Already in thegreat marble home itself was that feeling of alarm from the outer worldwhich had communicated itself to the servants. Suddenly Slade,returning to himself, detected the furtive scrutiny of the footman andthe butler, who had so far departed from their correctly petrifiedattitudes as to exchange wondering glances. He frowned, pointed to hisloose black felt hat and his favorite cane, and tore so rapidly throughthe heavily ironed doors and down the steps to the waiting automobilethat the second footman stumbled twice in his haste to be before him.Two or three reporters, who had been lurking behind the great marblebastions, sprang forward as Slade, disappearing in the motor, waswhirled away.

  "Up river," he said briefly, and sank back in his seat.

  He was in the middle forties, a man noticeable anywhere for theovermastering vitality of his carriage and the defiant poise of hishead. Nature had admirably designed him for what he was intended tobe--a being always at war with men and surrounding circumstances. Hisface was devoid of any fine indications of sensibility, of reflection,or humorous perception of life. The upper and lower maxillary boneswere in such gaunt relief they seemed rather steel girders hung tosupport a granite will. The head was square, sunk rather than placedupon his shoulders, and the line of the head at the back was straightand full of crude power. He had, at the same time, a suggestion in theshoulders of the obstinacy of the buffalo, the most distinctive ofAmerican beasts, and in the eye-pits of the fatalism of the Indian,which as a type often seems not so much the physical tenacity of anunexplained race as it does the peculiar impress of a continent and anatmosphere surcharged with vitality.

  The eyes were a clear blue, the eyes of a boy in mischief who is stillsublimely defiant of the tripping obstacles of an ethical code. Thisquality of the boy, characteristic too of the American, was the secretof all his seeming inconstancy of unrelenting cruelty and suddensentimental impulsiveness. Life was to him a huge dare, and all theperils of finance the hazards of a monstrous gamble, which alone wereable to supply him with that overwhelming quality of sensation that suchmen covet in life.

  A waif at six; a wharf rat at twelve, endowed with the strength of aman; leader of a gang at sixteen, hated, feared, always fighting;gaining his first start in politics, and then, by making a lucky strikein the silver mines of Colorado, educating himself with primitivenecessary knowledge, always acquiring, never relaxing what his fingerstouched, a terrible antagonist, risking his all a dozen times in thehunger for a greater stake--he had emerged at last from the churningvortex of a brutal struggle, possessor of a fortune that fifty times hadhung on the events of a day. For five years he had been involved incountless lawsuits, accused of chicanery, extortion, conspiracy, andeven murder. At the end of which period he came forth victorious,without losing a single suit, surrounded, it is true, by every calumnythat could be invented, accused of manipulating legislatures, corruptingjudges, and removing witnesses.

  Through it all he had remained unshattered, boyishly delighted, his bodyunyielding to the strain of sleepless nights and months of unrelentingvigilance. He had lived hard, ready to gamble for a thousand or ahundred thousand, cynically announcing his motto:

  "No friends. So long as every man is my enemy, I am safe."

  And this theory of life he had carried out to the minutest detail. Menrepresented to him simply the male of the species, to be met head on, tostrive with and overthrow. So completely did this obsess him that noone, not even his secretaries (whom he changed constantly), had theslightest inkling of his plans. Two of his subordinates, hoping toprofit by their intimacy, had foolishly invested on his deliberatelygiven tips--and had been ruined. Afterward he cited their cases as awarning to other applicants.

  From the start, always counting on the y
ear ahead, he had outrun hisincome. When he had ten thousand, he was spending fifteen; at fiftythousand, seventy-five. Every one who came in contact with him was paidtwice over, and robbed him in the bargain--a fact on which he countedand to which he was quite indifferent.

  Coming to Wall Street in that period of fevered speculation, he had beenamong the first to perceive the enormous instruments at hand in thedevelopment of a chain of trust companies which would supply aconveniently masked agency for the enormous capital that he needed tocompete on equal terms with the leaders of the Street.

  That now, for the first time, he was confronted with a situation ofabsolute and impending ruin, brought him not the slightest depression,but rather that exhilaration and sudden clearness of mind which ischaracteristic of the gambler face to face with the supreme hour whichmeans absolute bankruptcy or a fortune.

  At every block some one on the crowded sidewalk, or a group in a passingcarriage, turned with a hasty exclamation at the sight of his bulkyfigure under the black sombrero, fleeing in the red automobile that wasitself at this period a rarity. At one point where a blockade compelledhim to halt, a newsboy, jumping on the sideboard, thrust a newspaper inhis face. He flung a dime and glanced at the headlines:



  Then he tossed it aside and returned to his own calculations. All atonce he roused himself and addressed the chauffeur:

  "Harkness, Mrs. Braddon's. Take the park."

  But as the automobile, turning from the river, descended by way of greenwoods, he began restlessly to repent of his choice. His hatred of menhad made him strangely dependent on women. It was not that they wereable to establish any empire over his senses, but that they supplied acurious outlet to his vanity. At times, especially as in the present,when he felt the necessity of assembling every resource to meet acrisis, it became absolutely necessary for him to find, in the tributehe exacted from them, that self-confidence which he needed to overrideother obstacles. Often he would take in his automobile three or fourwomen of that class which is half professional, half of the world, and,running slowly through the pleasant country, recount stories of hisearly struggles, of how he had railroaded an enemy to prison, or caughtan adversary in a turn of the market and broken him. And when thesetales of unrelenting enmity made his audience shudder, he keenlyperceived it, and enjoyed almost a physical delight.

  But this afternoon, as the car came to a stop before one of the greatapartment-houses that front the park, he remained seated, unsatisfiedand defrauded. It was not a woman of the superficial wit of Mrs. Braddonwho could occupy and stimulate his mind in this crisis.

  "Drive on," he said sharply. "Turn the corner and stop at the hotel."

  There he descended, and entering went to the telephone.

  "Mrs. Kildair?" he said eagerly, a moment later.

  "Who is it, please?"

  "This is Slade--John Slade. I'm coming over."

  "I can't see you now," said a voice with a curious musical quality ofself-possession. "I told you five o'clock."

  "What difference does half an hour make?" he said impatiently.

  "I have other company. You will have to be patient. At five."

  The connection was shut off. He rose angrily, unaccustomed to any checkto his immediate impulses. At the steps a boy came skipping down for thetoll he had forgotten. He paid the exact amount, contrary to hiscustom, and drove his body back into the cushioned seat.

  "Where to, sir?" said Harkness, turning.

  "Anywhere," he answered gruffly, and, thwarted in his desire, he said tohimself furiously: "That woman always opposes me! I must teach her alesson. I won't go at all."

  But at the end of a moment he pulled out his watch impatiently andcalculated the time.

  "Home," he said suddenly.

  At the house, he ran rapidly through the opening doors and up the stairsto his bedroom, where he unlocked a little safe fixed in the wall behinda tapestry that hid it, and took out a tray of rings. Sorting themquickly, with a low, cynical chuckle, he selected a magnificent ruby,slipped it into his pocket, closed the safe, and passed out of the housewith the same rapidity with which he had entered.

  "Mrs. Kildair's, Harkness," he said. "Drive so as to get me there atfive-fifteen."

  "Now we shall see," he said to himself, with a smile, gazing at the ringin the palm of his hand with a man's contemptuous contemplation of thestone which could hold such fascination over a woman's soul. For him itwas absolutely necessary, as a first step toward his conquest of all hisenemies, to feel his power over this one present resistance.

  The idea that had come into his head restored his good humor and arousedin him a certain joy of energy. He had forgot momentarily his errand,absorbed in his own battle for existence.

  "Today is Thursday," he said, with renewed energy. "Next Wednesday willbe the crisis. I must find out what Majendie is going to do.Snelling's the man to know--or Garraboy."

  The car stopped. He sprang out and, without giving his name, enteredthe elevator. At the apartment a Japanese servant took his things andushered him into the low-lit greens of the studio, which ran the heightof the two floors that formed the duplex apartment.

  Mrs. Rita Kildair was stretched on a low Recamier sofa, watching himwith amused eyes as he entered with that atmosphere of strife and furythat seemed always to play about him. She waited until he had come toher side before she raised her hand to his, in a gesture that had noanimation, saying:

  "How do you do?"

  Something in the tranquil, amused self-possession of her pose made himstupidly repeat the question. Then, forgetting his resolve to show noimpatience, he said impetuously:

  "Why did you keep me waiting?"

  "Because I did not wish to see your highness then."

  "Not dressed?"

  "No, I was simply amusing myself with a very nice boy."


  She smiled, and, without heed to his question, motioned him to a chairwith a little gesture, not of her arm, but of her fingers, on which shewore several rings of unusual luster. She had, as a woman, that samemagnetic self-consciousness that distinguishes the great actress, awarethat every eye is focused on her and that the slightest change of herhand or shift of her head has an instantaneous importance.

  Slade obeyed her with a sudden sense of warm content.

  "Smoke?" he said, taking out a cigar. "Permission?"

  He helped himself to a match, sunk himself in the great chair, crossedhis legs, and looked at her.

  Rita Kildair gave that complex appearance of a woman much younger thanshe seemed, or of a woman much older. She was at that mental phase inher life when she exhaled to the fullest that perfume of mystery whichis the most feminine and irresistible of all the powers that a womanexerts over the masculine imagination, if indeed it is not the sum ofall seductions. The inexplicable in her own life and individuality washeightened in every way by the subservience of outward things, whetherby calculation or by an instinctive sense of interpretation.

  The great studio, to the neglect of the electric chandelier, was lit byhalf a dozen candles, which flung about conflicting eddies of waveringlights and shadows. In farther corners were a divan, a piano, aportrait on an easel, lounges, waiting like so many shadows to be calledforth. A standing lamp, not too near, bathed the couch on which she laywith a softened luster. Her tea-gown of liberty silk, with tones thatchanged and mingled with each other, was of the purple of the grape, aneffect produced, too, by the superimposition of one filmy garment on theother. A slippered foot and ankle came forth from the fragrant disorderof the skirt, either by studied arrangement or by the impulse of a womanwho is confident of all her poses. Her nose, quite the most individualfeature, was aquiline, yet not such as is associated with a masculinecharacter. Rather, it was vitally sensitive, and gave, in conjunctionwith the intent and instantaneous aspect of her grayish eyes, theinstinctive, alm
ost savage appetite for possession and sensation that ischaracteristic of her sex. No one looked at her without asking himself aquestion. Those who believed her under thirty wondered at theexperiences that must have crowded in upon her. Those who believed hernearer forty still marveled at her mastery over youth. Those of ananalytical mind left her always with a feeling of speculation framed intwo questions--whence had she come and where would she end?

  It was this latter speculation more than any other that absorbed Slade,irresistibly intrigued by the elusiveness of a fascination which hecould not analyze. She endured his fixed glance without annoyance,absorbed, too, in the thoughts which his entrance had brought her.Finally, adapting her manner to his, she said with his own abruptness:

  "Well, what do you want to say to me?"

  "I'm wondering what you are after in this life, pretty lady?" he saiddirectly.

  "What do you want?"


  "Not to be bored."

  They smiled by common consent.

  "And now we know no more than we did before," he said.

  She stretched out her slender hand against the purple folds of her gown,and her eyes lingered on the jewels that she held caressingly beforethem--a look that did not escape the man.

  "By thunder, you're the strangest thing I've run into," he said,shifting his legs.

  "On each of the eight times we have been alone," she said, smiling, "youhave made precisely that same discovery. Did you forget?"

  "I'd like to know something about you," he said.

  "How old I am--about my husband--what I am doing here--am I rich--what'smy past--and so on. Consider all these questions asked and refused--forthe ninth time. And now, what--why did you come here?"

  He put aside his cigar impatiently, propelled himself to his feet, andcame forward until his knee touched the couch. She looked up,pleasantly aware of so much brute strength held in leash above her.

  "Sit down."

  And, as he remained standing, she took a little electric button attachedto a coil that was on the couch, and pressed it. In the hall outside abuzz was heard, and then the soft, sliding step of Kiki.

  "Tea?" she said, turning to him with an amused look, the little buttonpressed against her thin, sharp row of teeth, that were clear and tinyas a child's.

  "No, of course not," he said furiously.

  "No tea, Kiki," she said, in that same round, musical tone from whichshe seldom varied. She held the button in her long fingers, caressingher cheek with it, and, looking at him with half-closed eyes, repeated:

  "Sit down."

  Though the forward movement of Slade had been unconscious and quitedevoid of any personal object, he was angrily aware that she had availedherself of his action to introduce a tantalizing defiance which awakenedall the savage in him, as he realized the helplessness of his crudestrength before the raillery that shone from her eyes.

  He drew his chair closer to her, sat down on its edge, one knee forward,his chin in his hand half concealing his face, looking at her with theshrewd cruelty of a prosecuting attorney.

  "What's your game?" he said.

  "The game itself," she answered, with a little animation in her eyes anda scarcely perceptible, gradual turning of her whole body toward him.

  "What's your game?" he repeated.

  She looked at him a moment as she might have looked at a child, andthen, imitating the gesture with which he had sunk his chin in his palm,said:

  "What a convenient formula! And is that the way you always begin?"


  "Do you know," she continued, "it is extraordinary how simple you bigmen--you trust kings--are. You have the vision of an eagle on one side,and the groping glance of a baby when you deal with us. Sometimes Ithink that it's all instinct, that all you understand is to throw downwhat resists you--that you haven't great minds at all, and that that isall that interests you in business and in us. That is why a big man willalways end up by meeting some little woman who will lead him around bythe nose. Any little fool of a woman who knows enough never to ceaseresisting you can do it."

  "Do you like me?" he said brutally.



  "Quite a good deal."

  "Are you planning to marry me?"

  She smiled her languid, amused smile without shifting her glance fromhis.

  "Why don't you come to the point?" she said.

  "What do you mean?"

  "I don't have to ask your game; I know it."

  "What do you know?"

  "Shall I tell you why you came here at a moment when you are at bay,attacked everywhere?"


  "To find out what I know about Majendie."

  "Do you know anything?"

  "He is coming here tonight," she said.

  "No, that is not it," he said scornfully, rising and again approachingher. "You know better. You exhilarate me--you wake me up; and I needto be stimulated. So you've got it back in your little brain to marryme," he said, looking down with amused contemplation at the recliningfigure, that was not so much human as a perfumed bed of flowers; "thatis, if I pull through and keep my head above water."

  He hesitated a moment, and then said:

  "Why did you keep me waiting? Just to annoy me?"

  "I wonder," she said, looking up from under her eyelashes at histowering figure. "Perhaps it was to teach you some things aredifficult."

  "That's it, eh?"

  "Perhaps--and I'm afraid I shall irritate you many more times."

  He took a step nearer and said abruptly:

  "Look out! I don't play fair."

  "Neither do I," she said.

  She took the button up again, frowning in a nonchalant way, and held ita moment while she waited for his decision. He shrugged his shouldersand stood back, taking several steps toward the center of the room.

  "Listen, John G. Slade," she said, her tone changing from the felinelyfeminine to the matter-of-fact, "don't let's continue as children. Youare no match for me at this game. I warn you. Come. Be direct. Willyou have me as an ally?"

  He turned and looked at her, considering.

  "In what way?"

  "Is it of importance to you to know the probable fate of Majendie andthe Atlantic Trust?"

  "Yes--in a way."

  "I may have means of learning just that information tonight."

  "What do you want in return?"

  "Full confidence. I want two questions answered."


  She had raised herself to a sitting position out of the languor whichwas not the indolence of the Oriental, but rather the volcanicslumbering of the Slav, always ready to break forth into suddentremendous exertion.

  "Can the Associated Trust meet its Wednesday obligations withoutassistance?"

  "And second?" he said, amazed at the detailed knowledge that herquestion implied.

  "Second, if it can't, will the Clearing-house help it through?"

  "What difference to you would it make to know?"

  "It would."

  "How long have you known Bernard Majendie?" he said slowly.

  She accepted the question as a rebuff.

  "There are my terms," she said, sinking back on the couch. "You don'twish an ally, then?"


  "You don't trust me?"


  "I knew you wouldn't," she said indolently; "and yet, I could help youmore than you think."

  "I trusted a man once," he said scornfully. "I have never made thatmistake with a woman."

  "As you wish."

  "Are you trying a flyer?" he said, smiling. "That's the game, is it--atip?"

  "I have told you," she said coldly and in a tone that carriedconviction, "that what interests me is to win the game itself, theexcitement and the perils. And I have been behind the scenes manytimes."

  "I believe it," he said abruptly. "I should like to hear--"

  "I am a woman who keeps the secrets of others and
her own," sheanswered, interrupting his question.

  "And if you marry?" he said curiously.

  "Even then." She dismissed the return to the personal with the firstquick movement of her hand and continued: "I should say, you are thebest hated man in Wall Street."

  "That's not exactly inside information."

  "No one is going to come to your help out of friendship."


  "If Majendie and the Atlantic Trust Company fail, nothing in this worldcan pull you through," she said, seeking in some uncontrolled movementof his an answer to the statement that was in reality a question.

  From the moment she had begun to question him, he experienced a suddenchange. He was no longer dealing with a woman, but with an element hehad outguessed a hundred times.

  All at once an odd idea came to him which struck him as stupendouslyridiculous, and yet made him glower in covert admiration at the womanwho watched him while seemingly engaged with the rearrangement of herdraperies.

  "Is it possible, after all," he thought, "that that ambitious littlehead is playing with both Majendie and me, and that she is setting hercap for the survivor?"

  He came back, reseated himself, and said, with an appearance of candorwhich would have deceived most people:

  "You say Majendie is coming here tonight?"


  "Do you know where he is this afternoon?"


  "And the object of his visit?"

  "The object is easy to guess," she said indifferently. "You knowperfectly well that he is in conference with Fontaine, Marx, andGunther, and what you wish to know is whether they are going to standaside and let him sink. Are you ready to answer my two questions?"

  "And when will you know if he has failed or succeeded?"


  "He will tell you?"

  "I shall know tonight," she said, with an evasive smile.

  "What's your private opinion?"

  "They will come to his assistance," she said carefully.

  "Because they are his personal friends," he said, with an accent ofraillery.


  "You believe Majendie will pull through?"

  "I do." She looked at him a moment, and asked the question, not so muchto receive an answer as to judge from his manner: "Can the AssociatedTrust meet its obligations on Wednesday without assistance?"

  "I can," he said quietly, and to himself he added: "There--if Majendiehas set her to pump me, little good that'll do him."

  "But if the Atlantic Trust Company shuts its doors," she persisted, "youare caught?"

  "That is the general opinion."

  "Will you fail?"


  She was quiet a moment, dissatisfied, looked away from him and thensaid:

  "So you don't care to know what I shall learn to-night?"

  "My dear lady, I won't tell you a thing," he said, with a laugh, "sostop trying. Leave us to fight our own battles. Plot all you want inyour cunning head your little feminine plans, but don't get beyond yourdepth."

  "I see you believe I'm interested in Majendie," she said, with a shrugof her shoulders. "You are not very well informed."

  "No," he said bluntly; "you are interested in no one but Rita Kildair.I know that much." He rose, took several strides back and forth, and,returning, stood by her. "I hate allies," he said; "I prefer toconsider you as a woman."

  His remark brought a sharp gleam of curiosity to her eyes, a spark ofinstinctive sex antagonism that flashed and disappeared.

  "Remember, I have warned you," she said, retiring as abruptly into thefeline languor of her pose.

  He stood, swayed by two emotions, the purely gentle, almost caressingeffect her indolence brought him, and the desire to establish somesudden empire over her--to feel his strength above hers.

  "What's the weak point in your armor?" he said savagely.

  "I wouldn't tell you."

  "I think I know one."


  He drew his chair still closer, and, leaning over, touched with hisstubby forefinger the rings on her outstretched hand.

  "Jewels?" she said, smiling.


  "Any woman is the same."


  "I don't know--it is so," she said, and, raising the deep lusters, sheallowed her glance to rest on them as in a dream of opium.

  He drew from his pocket the ring with the ruby, and held it out.

  "Try this on."

  She took it between her finger-tips slowly, looking at him with a glancethat was a puzzled frown, and slipped it on her finger. Then sheextended her hand gradually to the full length of her white arm againstthe purple, and half closed her eyes. There was no outward sign; only adeep breath went through her, as though an immense change had takenplace in the inner woman.

  "Now I know what I want to know," he said, watching her closely withalmost an animal joy in this sudden revelation of an appetite in her.

  "It's a wonderful stone," she said in a whisper; then she drew it offslowly, as though the flesh rebelled, and held it out to him, turningaway her eyes.

  "Keep it."

  She raised her eyes and looked at him steadily.

  "You are cleverer than I thought," she said.

  "Keep it."

  "Is this for information about Majendie?" she said slowly.

  "Not for that."

  "For what, then?" she said steadily.

  "For a whim."

  "Thanks; I don't trust your whims."

  For all reply, he took her hand and again placed the ring on it.

  "Wear it," he said.

  She turned the stone quickly inside her palm as though unable to endureits lure, and looked at him profoundly.

  "_Are_ you going to pull through?" she said angrily.

  "Will it make a difference?" he asked, rising, with a quick glance athis watch.

  She rose in her turn, facing him with a sudden energy.

  "Do you know the one great mistake you have made?"


  "You have condemned yourself to success."

  "What do you mean by that?" he said.

  "You must always succeed, and that is terrible! At the first defeatevery one will be up in arms against you--because every one wants to seeyou ruined."

  "Every one?" he said, looking in her eyes.

  A second time she took off the ring and gave it to him, and as heprotested she said coldly:

  "Don't make me angry. The comedy has been amusing. Enough. Also,don't trouble yourself about my motives. I haven't the slightestintention of marrying you or any one else."

  And she accompanied the words with a gesture so imperative that, amazedat the change, he no longer insisted. As he put out his hand, she saidsuddenly, as if obeying an intuition:

  "I will tell you what you want to know. Gunther is almost sure to cometo Majendie's aid. I know it by a woman. Take care of yourself."

  "And I will tell you exactly the opposite," he said, bluffing. "Guntherwill not lend a cent; Majendie will go under, and I'll pull through."

  "You'll pull through even if the Atlantic Trust closes?"


  "Good-by," she said, with a shrug.

  "Remember what I said," he repeated, and went out.

  Five minutes later the bell rang, and Kiki brought her a little box andan envelope. She recognized Slade's writing, and read:


  Apologies for my rudeness. If you won't accept a gift, at least wearthe ring for a week. I should like to know what effect it could have onyour cold little soul. Oblige my curiosity. It's only a littlereparation for the disappointment I gave you. J.G.S.

  "Decidedly, he is cleverer than I thought," she said musingly. In thebox was the great ruby ring. She took it up, examined it carefully, madea motion as though to replace it in the box, and then suddenly slippedit on her finger.