The Embezzlers by Arthur B Reeve

Story type: Literature

“I came here to hide, to vanish forever from those who know me.”

The young man paused a moment to watch the effect of his revelationof himself to Constance Dunlap. There was a certain cynicalbitterness in his tone which made her shudder.

“If you were to be discovered–what then?” she hazarded.

Murray Dodge looked at her significantly, but said nothing. Instead,he turned and gazed silently at the ruffled waters of Woodlake.There was no mistaking the utter hopelessness and grim determinationof the man.

“Why–why have you told so much to me, an absolute stranger?” sheasked, searching his face. “Might I not hand you over to thedetectives who, you say, will soon be looking for you?”

“You might,” he answered quickly, “but you won’t.”

There was a note of appeal in his voice as he pursued slowly, not asif seeking protection, but as if hungry for friendship and most ofall her friendship, “Mrs. Dunlap, I have heard what the people atthe hotel say is your story. I think I understand, as much as a mancan. Anyhow, I know that you can understand. I have reached a pointwhere I must tell some one or go insane. It is only a question oftime before I shall be caught. We are all caught. Tell me,” he askedeagerly, bending down closer to her with an almost breathlessintensity in his face as though he would read her thoughts, “am Iright? The story of you which I have heard since I came here is notthe truth, the whole truth. It is only half the truth–is it not?”

Constance felt that this man was dangerously near understanding her,as no one yet had seemed to be. It set her heart beating wildly toknow that he did. And yet she was not afraid. Somehow, although shedid not betray the answer by a word or a look, she felt that shecould trust him.

Through the door of escape from the penalty of her forgeries, whichCarlton Dunlap had thrown open for her by the manner of his death,Constance had passed unsuspected. To return to New York, however,had become out of the question. She had plenty of money for herpresent needs, although she thought it best to say nothing about itlest some one might wonder and stumble on the truth.

She had closed up the little studio apartment, and had gone to aquiet resort in the pines. Here, at least, she thought she mightlive unobserved until she could plan out the tangled future of herlife.

There had seemed to be no need to conceal her identity, and she hadfelt it better not to do so. She knew that her story would followher, and it had. She was prepared for that. She was prepared for thepity and condescension of the gossips and had made up her mind tostand aloof.

Then came a day when a stranger had registered at the hotel. She hadnot noticed him especially, but it was not long before she realizedthat he was noticing her. Was he a detective? Had he found out thetruth in some uncanny way? She felt sure that the name on the hotelregister, Malcolm Dodd, was not his real name.

Constance had not been surprised when the head waiter had seated theyoung man at her table. No doubt he had manoeuvred it so. Nor didshe avoid the guarded acquaintance that resulted in the naturalcourse of events.

One afternoon, shortly after his arrival, she had encountered himunexpectedly on a walk through the pines. He appeared surprised tomeet her, yet she knew intuitively that he had been following her.Still, it was so different now to have any one seek her companythat, in spite of her uncertainty of him, she almost welcomed hisspeaking.

There was a certain deference in his manner, too, which did notaccord with Constance’s ideas of a detective. Yet he did knowsomething of her. How much! Was it merely what the rest of the worldknew? She could not help seeing that the man was studying her, whileshe studied him. There was a fascination about it, a fascinationthat the human mystery always possesses for a woman. On his part, heshowed keenly his interest in her.

Constance had met him with more frankness as she encountered himoften during the days that followed. She had even tried to draw himout to talk of himself.

“I came here,” he had said one day when they were passing the spotwhere he had overtaken her first, “without knowing a soul, notexpecting to meet any one I should care for, indeed hoping to meetno one.”

Constance had said nothing, but she felt that at last he was goingto crash down the barrier of reserve. He continued earnestly,”Somehow or other I have come to enjoy these little walks.”

“So have I,” she admitted, facing him; “but, do you know, sometimesI have thought that Malcolm Dodd is not your real name?”

“Not my real name?” he repeated.

“And that you are here for some other purpose than–just to rest.You know, you might be a detective.”

He had looked at her searchingly. Then in a burst of confidence, hehad replied, “No, my name is not Dodd, as you guessed. But I am nota detective, as you suspected at first. I have been watching youbecause, ever since I heard your story here, I have been–well, notsuspicious, but–attracted. You seem to me to have faced a greatproblem. I, too, have come to the parting of the ways. Shall I runor shall I fight?”

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He had handed her a card without hesitation. It bore the name,”Murray Dodge, Treasurer, Globe Importing Company.”

“What do you mean?” she had asked quickly, hardly expecting ananswer. “What have you done?”

“Oh, it is the usual trouble, I suppose,” he had replied wearily,much to her surprise. “I began as a boy in the company andultimately worked myself up as it grew, until I became treasurer. Tocut it short, I have used funds belonging to the company, lost them.I don’t need to tell you how a treasurer or a cashier can do that.”

Constance was actually startled. Was he what he represented himselfto be? Or was he leading her on in this way to a confession of herown part, which she had covered so well, in the forgeries of herdead husband?

“How did you begin?” she asked tentatively.

“A few years ago,” he answered with a disconcerting lack of reserve,”the company found that we could beat our competitors by a verysimple means. The largest stockholder, Mr. Dumont, was friendly withsome of the customs officials and–well, we undervalued our goods.It was easy. The only thing necessary was to bribe some of theofficials. The president of the company, Walton Beverley, put thedirty work on me as treasurer. Now you can imagine what that meant.”

He had fallen into a cynical tone again.

“It meant that I soon found, or, rather, thought I found, that everyman has his price–some higher, some lower, but a price,nevertheless. It was my business to find it, to keep it as low as Icould with safety. So it went, from one crooked thing to another. Iknew I was crooked, but not as bad, I think, as the rest who put theactual work on me. I was unfortunate, weak perhaps. That is all. Itried to get mine, too. I lost what I meant to put back after I hadused it. They are after me now, or soon will be–the crooks! Andhere I am, momentarily expecting some one to walk up quietly behindme, tap me on the shoulder and whisper, ‘You’re wanted.’”

Time had not softened the bitterness of Constance’s feelings.Somehow she felt that the world, or at least society owed her fortaking away her husband. The world must pay. She sympathized withthe young man who was appealing to her for friendship. Why not helphim?

“Do you really, really want to know what I think?” asked Constanceafter he had at last told her his wretched story. It was the firsttime that she had looked at him since she realized that he wasunburdening the truth to her.

“Yes,” he answered eagerly, catching her eye. “Yes,” he urged.

“I think,” she said slowly, “that you are running away from a fightthat has not yet begun.”

It thrilled her to be talking so. Once before she had tasted thesweetness and the bitterness of crime. She did not stop to thinkabout right or wrong. If she had done so her ethics would have beenstrangely illogical. It was enough that, short as their acquaintancehad been, she felt unconsciously that there was something latent inthe spirit of this man akin to her own.

Murray also felt rather than understood the bond that had beengrowing so rapidly between them. His was the temperament thatimmediately translates feeling into action. He reached into hisbreast pocket. There was the blue-black glint of a cold steelautomatic. A moment he balanced it in his hand. Then with a rapidand decisive motion of the arm he flung it far from him. As itstruck the water with a sound horribly suggestive of the deathgurgle of a lost man, he turned and faced her.

“There,” he exclaimed with a new light in the defiant, desperatesmile that she had observed many times before, “there. The curtainrises–instead of falls.”

Neither spoke for a few moments. At last he added, “What shall I donext?”

“Do?” she repeated. She felt now the weight of responsibility forinterfering with his desperate plans, but it did not oppress her. Onthe contrary, it was a pleasant burden. “According to your ownstory,” she went on, “they know nothing yet, as far as you can see.You would have forestalled them by taking this little vacationduring which you could disappear while they would discover theshortage. Do? Go back.”

“And when they discover it?” he asked evidently prepared for theanswer she had given and eager to know what she would propose next.

Constance had been thinking rapidly.

“Listen,” she cried, throwing aside restraint now. “No one in NewYork outside my former little circle knows me. I can live there inanother circle unobserved. For weeks I have been amusing myself bythe study of shorthand. I have picked up enough to be able to carrythe thing off. Discharge your secretary. Put an advertisement in thenewspapers. I will answer it. Then I will be able to help you. Icannot say at a distance what you should do next. There, perhaps, Ican tell you.”

What was it that had impelled her to say it? She could not havetold. Murray looked at her. Her very presence seemed to infuse newdetermination into him.

It was strange about this woman, what a wonderful effect she had onhim.

A few days before he would have laughed at any one who had suggestedthat any woman might have aroused in him the passions that were nowsurging through his heart. Ten thousand years ago, perhaps, he wouldhave seized her and carried her off. in triumph to his clan ortribe. To-day he must, he would win her by more subtle means.

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His mind was made up. She had pointed the way. That night Dodge leftWoodlake hastily for New York.

To Constance a new purpose seemed to have entered into a barrenlife. She was almost gay as she packed her trunks and grips andquietly slipped into the city a few hours later and registered at aquiet hotel for business women.

Sure enough in the Star the next morning was the advertisement. Shewrote in a formal way, giving her telephone number. That afternoon,apparently as soon as the letter had been delivered, a call came.The following morning she was the private secretary of Murray Dodge,sitting unobtrusively before a typewriter desk in a sort of littleanteroom that guarded the door to his office.

She took pains to act the part of private secretary and no more. Asappeared natural to the rest of the office force at first she wasmuch with Murray, who made the most elaborate explanations of thedetail of the business.

“Do they suspect anything?” she asked anxiously as soon as they wereabsolutely alone.

“I think so,” he replied. “They said nothing except that they hadnot expected me back so soon, I think the ‘so soon’ was anafterthought. They didn’t expect me back at all. For,” he addedsignificantly, “I’ve been in fear and trembling until I could getyou. They already have asked the regular audit company to go overthe books in advance of the time when we usually employ them. Ididn’t ask why. I merely accepted it with a nod. It might have meantbringing matters to a crisis now.”

He felt safer with Constance installed as his private secretary.True, Beverley and Dumont had viewed her from the start withsuspicion.

Constance had been thinking hard out in her little office since shehad begun to understand how matters stood. “Well?” she demanded.”What of it? Don’t try to conceal it. Let them discover it. Gofurther. Dare them. Court exposure.”

It was bold and ingenious. What a woman she was for meetingemergencies. Murray, who had a will that had been accustomed to bendothers to his purposes except in the instance where they had benthim and nearly broken him, recognized the masterful mind ofConstance. He was willing to allow her to play the game.

Thus Constance began collecting the very data that would have sentMurray to jail for bribery. Day by day as she worked on, thesituation became more and more delicate. They found themselves alonemuch of the time now. Beverley was, or pretended to be, busy onother matters and avoided Dodge as much as possible. Only theregular routine affairs passed through his hands, but he saidnothing. It gave him more time with her. Dumont came in as rarely asit was possible.

And as they worked along gathering the data Constance came to admireMurray more than ever. She worked patiently over the big books,taking only those on which the accountant was not engaged at suchtimes as she could get them without exciting suspicion. Togetherthey dug out the extent of the frauds that had been practiced on theGovernment for years back. From the letter files they rescued notesand orders and letters, pieced them together into as near acontinuous record as they could make. With his own knowledge of thebooks Dodge could count on making better progress on the essentialthings than the regular accountant of the audit company. He feltsure that they would finish sooner and that they would have a closerreport of the frauds of all kinds than could be uncovered by the manwho had been set on the trail of Dodge to discover just how much ofthe illicit gains he had taken for himself.

Constance became aware soon that whenever she left the office atnight she was being followed. She had at first studiously repelledthe offers of Murray to see her home. It was not that he had takenadvantage of the situation into which she had put herself. He wouldnever have done that. Still, she wished a little more time toanalyze her own conflicting feelings toward him. Then, too, severaltimes in the crowded subway cars she had noticed a face that wasfamiliar. It was Drummond, never looking directly at her, alwaysengrossed in something else, yet never failing to note where she wasgoing. That must be, she reasoned, some of the work of Beverley andDumont.

Murray was now working feverishly. As he worked he found himselffeeling differently toward the whole affair. He actually came toenjoy it with all its risks and uncertainty, to enjoy gathering thedata which, he should have said, ought really to be destroyed. Oftenhe caught himself wishing that everything had come out all right inthe end and that Constance really was his private secretary.

Every moment with her seemed now to pass so quickly that he wouldwillingly have smashed all the clocks and destroyed all thecalendars. Association with other women had been tame beside his newfriendship with her. She had suffered, felt, lived. She fascinatedhim, as often over the books they would stop to talk, talk of thingsthe most irrelevant, yet to him the most interesting, until shewould bring him back inevitably to the point of their work and starthim again with a new power and incentive toward the purpose she hadin mind.

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To Constance he seemed to fill a blank spot in her empty life. Ifshe had been bitter toward the world for what had happened to her,the pleasure of helping another to beat that harsh world seemed anunspeakably sweet compensation.

At last even Constance herself began to realize it. It was not,after all, merely the bitterness toward society, that lured her on.She was not a woman carved out of a block of stone. There was asweetness about this association that carried her along as if in adream. She was actually falling in love with him.

One day she had been working later than usual. The accountant hadshown signs of approaching the end of his task sooner than they hadexpected. Murray was waiting, as was his custom, for her to finishbefore he left.

There was no sound in the almost deserted office building save thebanging of a door echoing now and then, or an insistent ring of theelevator bell as an anxious office boy or stenographer sought toescape after an extra period of work.

Murray stood looking at her admiringly as she deftly shoved the pinsinto her hat. Then he held her coat, which brought them closetogether.

“It will soon be time for the final scene,” he remarked. His mannerwas different as he looked down at her. “We must succeed,Constance,” he went on slowly. “Of course, after it is over, it willbe impossible for me to remain here with this company. I have beenlooking around. I must–we must clear ourselves. I already have anoffer to go with another company, much better than this position inevery way–honest, square, with no dirty work, such as I have hadhere.”

It was a moment that Constance had foreseen, without planning whatshe would do. She moved to the door as if to go.

“Take dinner with me to-night at the Riverside,” he went on,mentioning the name of a beautifully situated inn uptown overlookingthe lights of the Hudson and thronged by gay parties of pleasureseekers.

Before she could say no, even though she would have said it, he hadlinked his arm in hers, banged shut the door and they were beingwhisked to the street in the elevator.

This time, as they were about to go out of the building, she noticedDrummond standing in the shadow of a corner back of the cigarcounter on the first floor. She told Murray of the times she hadseen Drummond following her. Murray ground his teeth.

“He’ll have to hustle this time,” he muttered, handing her quicklyinto a cab that was waiting for a fare.

Before he could give the order where to drive she had leaned out ofthe window, “To the ferry,” she cried.

Murray looked at her inquiringly. Then he understood. “Not to theRiverside–yet,” she whispered. “That man has just summoned a cabthat was passing.”

In her eyes Murray saw the same fire that had blazed when she hadtold him he was running away from a fight that had not yet begun. Asthe cab whirled through the now nearly deserted downtown streets, hereached over in sheer admiration and caressed her hand. She did notwithdraw it, but her averted eyes and quick breath told that athousand thoughts were hurrying through her mind, divided betweenthe man in the cab beside her and the man in the cab followingperhaps half a block behind.

At the ferry they halted and pretended to be examining a time table,though they bought only ferry tickets. Drummond did the same, andsauntered leisurely within easy distance of the gate. Nothing seemedto escape him, and yet never did he seem to be watching them.

The gateman shouted “All aboard!”

The door began to close.

“Come,” she tugged at his sleeve.

They dodged in just in time. Drummond followed. They started acrossthe wagonway to the opposite side of the slip. He kept on the nearside. Constance swerved back again to the near side. Drummond hadbeen opposite them and they had now fallen in behind him. He was nowahead, but going slowly. Murray felt her pulling back on his arm.With a little exclamation she dropped her purse, which contained afew coins. She had contrived to open it, and the coins ran in everypossible direction. Drummond was now on the boat.

“All aboard,” growled the guard surlily. “All aboard.”

“Go ahead, go ahead,” shouted Murray, trying to pick up thescattered change and scattering it the more. At last he understood.”Go ahead. We’ll take the next boat. Can’t you. see the lady hasdropped her purse?”

The gates closed. The warning whistle blew, and the ferryboat,departed, bearing off Drummond alone.

Another cab toot them to the Riverside. A new bond of experience hadbeen established between them. They dined quietly and as the lightsgrew mellow she told him more of her story than she had everbreathed to any other living soul.

As Murray listened he looked his admiration for the daring of thelittle woman opposite him at the table.

They drifted. …

It was the day of the threatened exposure. Curiously enough, Dodgefelt no nervousness. The understanding which he had reached or feltthat he had reached with Constance made him rather eager than,otherwise to have the whole affair over with at once.

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Drummond had been shut up for some time in the office of Beverleywith Dumont, going over the report which the accountant had preparedand other matters–He had come in without seeing either Constance orMurray, though they knew he must be nursing his chagrin over theepisode of the night before.

“They are waiting to see you,” reported Constance to Dodge, half anhour later, after one of the office boys had been sent over as aformal messenger to their office.

“We are ready for them?” he asked, smiling at her.

Constance nodded.

“Then I shall go in. Wait a moment. When they have hurled theirworst at me I shall call on you. Have the stuff ready.”

There was no hesitation, no misgiving on the part of either, as hestrode into Beverley’s office. Constance had prepared the recordwhich they had been working on, and for days had been momentarilyexpecting this crisis. She felt that she was ready.

An ominous silence greeted Dodge as he entered.

“We have had experts on your books, Dodge,” began Beverley, clearinghis throat, as Murray seated himself, waiting for them to speakfirst.

“I have seen that,” he replied dryly.

“They are fifty thousand dollars short,” shot out Dumont.


Dumont gasped at the coolness of the man. “Wh–what? You havenothing to say? Why, sir,” he added, raising his voice, “you haveactually made no effort to conceal it!”

Dodge smiled cynically. “A consultation, will rectify it,” was allhe said. “A conference will show you that it is all right.”

“A consultation?” broke in Beverley in rage. “A consultation injail!”

Still Dodge merely smiled.

“Then you consider yourself trapped. You admit it,” ground outDumont.

“Anything you please,” repeated Dodge. “I am perfectly willing–“

“Let us end this farce–now,” cried Beverley hotly. “Drummond!”

The detective had been doing some rapid thinking. “Just a moment,”he interrupted. “Don’t be too precipitate. Hear his side, if he hasany. I can manage him. Besides, I have something else to say aboutanother person that will interest us all.”

“Then you are willing to have the consultation!”

Drummond nodded.

“Miss Dunlap,” called Murray, taking the words almost from thedetective’s lips, as he opened the door and held it for her toenter.

“No–no. Alone,” almost shouted Beverley.

The detective signaled to him and he subsided, muttering.

As she entered Drummond looked hard at her. Constance met himwithout wavering an instant.

“I think I’ve seen you before, Mrs. Dunlap,” insinuated thedetective.

“Perhaps,” replied Constance, still meeting his sharp ferret eyesquarely, which increased his animosity.

“Your husband was Carlton Dunlap, cashier of Green & Company, was henot?”

She bit her lip. The manner of his raking up of old scores, thoughshe had expected it, was cruel. It would have been cruel in court,if she had had a lawyer to protect her rights. It was doubly cruel,merciless, here. Before Dodge could interrupt, the detective added,”Who committed suicide after forging checks to meet his–“

Murray was at Drummond like a hound. “Another word from you and I’llthrottle you,” he blurted out.

“No, Murray, no. Don’t,” pleaded Constance. She was burning withindignation, but it was not by violence that she expected toprevail. “Let him say what he has to say.”

Drummond smiled. He had no scruples about a “third degree” of thiskind, and besides there were three of them to Dodge.

“You were–both of you–at Woodlake not long ago, were you not?” heasked calmly.

There was no escaping the implication of the tone. Still Drummondwas taking no chances of being misunderstood. “There was one man,”lie went on, “who embezzled for you. Here is another who hasembezzled. How will that look when it goes before a jury!” heconcluded.

The fight had shifted before it had well begun. Instead of beingbetween Dodge on one side and Beverley and Dumont on the, other, itnow seemed to be a clash between a cool detective and a cleverwoman.

“Mrs. Dunlap,” interrupted Murray, with a mocking smile at thedetective, “will you tell us what you have found out since you havebeen my private secretary?”

Constance had not lost control of herself for a moment.

“I have been looking over the books a little bit myself,” she beganslowly, with all eyes riveted on her. “I find, for instance, thatyour company has been undervaluing its imported goods. Undervaluingmerchandise is considered, I believe, one of the meanest forms ofsmuggling. The undervaluer has frequently to make a tool of a man inhis employ. Then that tool must play on the frailties of anunfortunate or weak examiner at the Public Stores where all invoicesand merchandise from foreign countries are examined.”

Drummond had been trying to interrupt, but she had ignored him, andwas speaking rapidly so that he could get no chance.

“You have cheated the Government of hundreds of thousands dollars,”she hurried on facing Beverley and Dumont. “It would make a splendidnewspaper story.”

Dumont moved uneasily. Drummond was now staring. It was a new phaseof the matter to him. He had not counted on handling a woman likeConstance, who knew how to take advantage of every weak spot in thearmor.

“We are wasting time,” he interrupted brusquely. “Get back to theoriginal subject. There is a fifty thousand-dollar shortage on thesebooks.”

The attempt clumsily to shift the case away again from Constance toDodge was apparent.

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“Mrs. Dunlap’s past troubles,” Dodge asserted vigorously, “havenothing to do with the case. It was cowardly to drag that in. Butthe other matter of which she speaks has much to do with it.”

“One moment, Murray,” cried Constance. “Let me finish what I began.This is my fight, too, now.”

She was talking with blazing eyes and in quick, cutting tone.

“For three years he did your dirty work,” she flashed. “He did thebribing–and you saved half a million dollars.”

“He has stolen fifty thousand,” put in Beverley, white with anger.

“I have kept an account of everything,” pursued Constance, withoutpausing. “I have pieced the record together so that he can nowconnect the men higher up with the actual acts he had to do. He cangain immunity by turning state’s evidence. I am not sure but that hemight be able to obtain his moiety of what the Government recoversif the matter were brought to suit and won on the information he canfurnish.”

She paused. No one seemed to breathe.

“Now,” she added impressively, “at ten per cent. commission the halfmillion that he saved for you yields fifty thousand dollars. That,gentlemen, is the amount of the shortage–an offset.”

“The deuce it is!” exclaimed Beverley.

Constance reached for a telephone on the desk near her.

“Get me the Law Division at the Customs House,” she asked simply.

Dumont was pale and almost speechless. Beverley could ill suppresshis smothered rage. What could they do? The tables had been turned.If they objected to the amazing proposal Constance had made theymight all go to jail. Dodge even might go free, rich. They looked atDodge and Mrs. Dunlap. There was no weakening. They were asrelentless as their opponents had been before.

Dumont literally tore the telephone from her. “Never mind about thatnumber, central,” he muttered.

Then he started as if toward the door. The rest followed. Outsidethe accountant had been waiting patiently, perhaps expectingDrummond to call on him to corroborate the report. He had beenlistening. There was no sound of high voices, as he had expected.What did it mean?

The door opened. Beverley was pale and haggard, Dumont worn andsilent. He could scarcely talk. Dodge again held the door forConstance as she swept past the amazed accountant.

All eyes were now fixed on Dumont as chief spokesman.

“He has made a satisfactory explanation,” was all he said.

“I would lock all that stuff up in the strongest safe deposit vaultin New York,” remarked Constance, laying the evidence that involvedthem all on Murray’s desk. “It is your only safeguard.”

“Constance,” he burst forth suddenly, “you were superb.”

The crisis was past now and she felt the nervous reaction.

“There is one thing more I want to say,” he added in a low tone.

He had crossed to where she was standing by the window, and bentover, speaking with great emotion.

“Since that afternoon at Woodlake when you turned me back again fromthe foolish and ruinous course on which I had decided you–you havebeen more to me than life. Constance, I have never loved until now.Nothing has ever mattered except money. I never had any one else tothink of, care for, except myself. You have changed everything.”

She was gazing out of the window at the tall buildings. There, in amyriad of offices, lay wealth untold, opportunity as yet untasted toseize that wealth. Only for an instant she turned and looked at him,then dropped her eyes. What lay that way?

“You are clear now, respected, respectable,” she said simply.

“Yes, thank God. Clear and with a new ambition, thanks to you.”

She had been expecting this ever since that last night. The reliefof Murray to feel that the old score that would have ruined him wasnow wiped off the slate was precisely what she had anticipated.

Yet, somehow, it disappointed her. She felt instinctively that hertriumph was burning fast to ashes.

“Keep clear,” she faltered.

“Constance,” he urged, approaching closer and taking her cold hand.

Was she to be the one to hold him back in any way from the new lifethat was now before him? What if Drummond, in his animosity, evergot the truth? She gently unclasped her hand from his. No, thathappiness was not for her.

“I am afraid I am a crook at heart, Murray,” she said sadly. “I havegone too far to turn back. The brand is on me. But I am notaltogether bad–yet. Think of me always with charity. Yes,” shecried wildly, “I must return to my loneliness. No, do not try tostop me, you have no right,” she added bitterly as the reality ofher situation burned itself into her heart.

She broke away from him wildly, but with set purpose. The world hadtaken away her husband; now it was a lover; the world must pay.

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