Honest Champion

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I won’t have him put to death,” said she quickly. “That would be, cheating my grandmother’s intentions.” “I supposed you wouldn’t. Yet it would be the simplest way. Once dead, and buried in accordance with the terms of the will, the dog would be out of his troubles, and you would be out of yours.” “It would really be a relief. Peter Paul suffers so from asthma, poor old beastie. The vet says he can live only a month or two longer, anyway. But I’ve got to do as Grandmother wished, and keep Peter Paul alive as long as possible.” “Admitted.” Average Jones fell into a baffled silence, studying the pattern of the rug with restless eyes. When he looked up into Miss Graham’s face again it was with a real-exams review changed expression. “Miss Graham,” he said slowly, “won’t you try to forget, for the moment, the circumstances of our meeting, and think of me only as a friend of your friends who is very honestly eager to be a friend to you, when you most need one?” Now, Average Jones’s birth-fairy had endowed him with one priceless gift: the power of inspiring an instinctive confidence in himself. Sylvia Graham felt, suddenly, that a hand, sure and firm, had been outstretched to guide her on a dark path. In one of those rare flashes of conshipmpanio which come only when clean and honorable spirits recognize one another, all consciousness of sex was lost between them. The girl’s gaze met the man’s level, and was held in a long, silent regard. “Yes,” she said simply; and the heart of Average Jones rose and swore a high loyalty. “Listen, then. I think I see a clear way. Judge Ackroyd will kill the dog if he can, and so effectually conceal the body that no funeral can be held over it, thereby rendering your grandmother’s bequest to you void. He has only a few days to do it in, but I don’t think that all your watchfulness can restrain him. Now, on the other hand, if the dog should die a natural death and be buried, be can still contest the will. But if he should kill Peter Paul and hide the body where we could discover it, the game would be up for him, as he then wouldn’t even dare to come into court real-exams reviews with a contest. Do you follow me?” “Yes. But you wouldn’t ask me to be a party to any such thing.” “You’re a party, involuntarily, by remaining here. But do your best to save Peter Paul, if you will. And please call me up immediately at the Cosmic Club, if anything in my line turns up.” “What is your line?” asked Miss Graham, the smile returning to her lips. “Creepy, crawly bugs? Or imperiled dogs? Or rescuing prospectively distressed damsels?” “Technically it’s advertising,” replied Average Jones, who had been formulating a shrewd little plan of his own. “Let me recommend to you the advertising columns of the daily press. They’re often amusing. Moreover your uncle might break out in print again. Who knows?” “Who, indeed? I’ll read religiously.” “And, by the way, my beetles. I forgot and left them here. Oh, there’s the box. I may have a very specific use for them later. Au revoir–and may it be soon!” The two days succeeding seemed to Average Jones, haunted as he was by an importunate craving to look again into Miss Graham’s limpid and changeful eyes, a dull and sodden period of probation. The messenger boy who finally brought her expected note, looked to him like a Greek godling. The note enclosed this clipping: LOST-Pug dog answering to the name of Peter Paul. Very old and asthmatic. Last seen on West 16th Street. Liberal reward for information to Anxious. Care of Banner office. Dear Mr. Jones (she had written): Are you a prophet? (Average Jones chuckled, at this point.) The enclosed seems to be distinctly in our line. Could you come some time this afternoon? I’m puzzled and a little anxious. Sincerely yours, Sylvia Graham. Average Jones could, and did. He found Miss Graham’s piquant face under the stress of excitement, distinctly more alluring than before. “Isn’t it strange?” she said, holding out a hand in welcome. “Why should any one advertise for my Peter Paul? He isn’t lost.” “I am glad to hear that,” said the caller gravely. “I’ve kept my promise, you see,” pursued the girl. “Can you do as well, and live up to your profession of aid?” “Try me.” “Very well, do you know what pass-guaranteed review that advertisement means?” “Perfectly.” “Then you’re a very extraordinary person.” “Not in the least. I wrote it.” “Wrote it! You? Well–really! Why in the world did you write it?” “Because of an unconquerable longing to see,” Average Jones paused, and his quick glance caught the storm signal in her eyes, “your uncle,” he concluded calmly. For one fleeting instant a dimple flickered at the corner of her mouth. It departed. But departing, it swept the storm before it. “What do you want to see uncle about, if it isn’t an impertinent question?” “It is, rather,” returned the young man judicially. “Particularly, as I’m not sure, myself. I may want to quarrel with him.” “You won’t have the slightest difficulty in that,” the girl assured him. She rang the bell, dispatched a servant, and presently judge Ackroyd stalked into the room. As Average Jones was being presented, he took comprehensive note and estimate of the broad-cheeked, thin-lipped face; the square shoulders and corded neck, and the lithe and formidable carriage of the man. Judge “Oily” Ackroyd’s greeting of the guest within his gates did not bear out the sobriquet of his public life. It was curt to the verge of harshness.


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