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"Oh, dear," uttered the dismayed
Nettie, very pale now, "What did your
Mr. Wilson tell him, Elsinore?"
"He told him that Mr. Lane was
out of town but that she should come
to the office here and sort of hang
around and see if there really was
anything the matter with the busi
A ness. Then if he was satisfied there
was no immediate danger of his fail
ing, to go back home and visit Mr.
Lane when he returned."
"Oh, .thank you, dear!" said Net
tie, gratefully but nervously. "I must
see Mr. Ballentyne about this at
Nettie timorously approached the
offiice manager when Elsinore de
parted. She led him aside out of the
hearing of the others. Then she told
him all that her friend Elsinore had
revealed to her.
John Ballentyne woke up. "Still
waters run deep," and the very ex
pression of his intelligent face told
Nettie clearly that in times of stress
he had the firm reserve anchor of a
quick intuition and the mental force
to decide quickly.
"My dear Miss Durant," he said
quietly and with a' faint smile lurk
ing about the corners or nis lips, "this
is indeed valuable and timely infor
mation. I think I am justified in tell
ing you that business affairs here are
not as they should be. We owe some
bills past due and it is in the power of
Mr. Manville or other creditors to
close us, out if they take 'alarm."
"Oh, I am so sorry tor Mr. Lane!"
quavered Nettie, ready to cry.
"But I also have-every assurance,"
went on Mr. Ballentyne confidently,
"that if we can keep the enemy at
bay, and this Mr. Manville particular
ly, for a day or two, the business is
"I sincerely hope so," murmured
"Under the circumstances I can see
only one way to avoid trouble a lit
tle harmless deceit Mr. Manville is
selfish enough to take advantage or
our unfortunate situation for his own
benefit and security. I' see no harm
in disarming him, as no one will be
injured, but all parties concerned
benefited by the operation.",
"What do you mean, Mr. Ballen
tyne?" questioned Nettie wonder
ingly. And then, in a low, cautious tone,
John Ballentyne imparted a plan, al
most a plot; to his bright little friend.
Her eyes sparkled with excitement,
she gazed with admiration and reli
ance upon the "stone man."
"Oh, you are so clever," she
breathed, and then ushed hotly, fear
ing he would think her too familiar.
About fifteen minutes, later Mr.
Manville walked into the office. His
face was stern, suspicious, prejudiced.
"Mr. Lane in?" he inquired.
"No, sir," responded Ballentyne.
He is out of the city for two or three
"H'm! Came quite a distance to
meet him. My train does not go back ,
for an hour or two. Believe I'll sit
'down and rest, if you don't mind."
"Not at all, sir. Morning papers?"
'and in a cheery, helpful way, John
Ballentyne made the dreaded guest
comfortable. The latter pretended to
read, but in reality kept eyes and
ears on the alert, as Ballentyne knew
Never was a plot to inspire confi
dence more successful than that of
John and his faithful ally, Nettie. The
Lane office employes were posted as
to the part they were to play.
Checks, notes, drafts and curren
cy were flashed freely; over the tele
phone charming Nettie took all kinds
of impossible orders. Everything
about the place was brisk and busy.
Scarcely able to keep her face
straight Nettie took dictation for two
letters. They were addressed to two
of the leading business men of an
other city. They showed a closeness
of business interests that fairly stag
gered the foxy creditor, who finally
arose and left the office, sajing that
he would come o town again in
about two weeks.