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"Maybe not," he admitted. "All the
same, you'd give a good deal to get
rid of me and not let your husband
know it wasn't my body that was
found. How much is it worth to
"What do you' mean?", cried the
"I mean," said Rankin sullenly,
"that I'm down and out When I
heard you thought me dead and had
got hitched up, I meant to stay away.
You weren't the only one that was
sorry to have got married. Married
life wasn't all beams and roses for
me neither. Now, then, how much
is it worth to you to set me on my
feet, knowing I'll never 'come back?
Make it $500."
"You want me to deceive my hus
band?" cried the girl.
"I'm your husband," said Rankin,
with another grin. "Come now, $500
squares it ' I know you can raise
that. I didn't run through ah" your
money. I wish I had, but now it
seems just as well."
Dorothy rose and faced him scorn
fully. "You mean that if I give you
$500 you will never see me again?"
"That's about the size of it," he
"I have $500 left and you shail
have it by the first post tomorrow,"
said the girl. "Give me your address."
"The Parker hotel," said Rankin.
That afternoon the girl drew all
her money out of the bank and
mailed it to him. No answer 'came,
of which she was glad, but no Ran
kin returned. And Dorothy nerved
herself to meet her husband on his
return and keep the matter from him
for his sake. N
"Why, you look quite worn out,
dearest," said Preston. "You'll have
to run into the country for a few
days' change." x '
She clung to him hysterically. "I
don't want to leave you, Lawrence,"
"What nonsense!" he answprpr!
kissing her. "It will do you good. 1
dear. You are as white as a rag.
Come, I want yotf to go off on a little
trip and freshen up." 4
Dorothy consented, and Preston
spent a week in town alone. It was
on the third da that a tramp, shuf
fling along the road, looked up at the
house, saw Preston and hesitated. -
Then he went brakenly up the'path,
and stood before him, Preston rec
ognized the man ana gasped.
"Rankin!" Tie cried.
"You've got me," answered Ran-1
"I thought you were dead."
"I guess you both did. Where is
"Mrs. Preston is away," said Pres
ton hotly. .. !
Rankin grinned and seatedhimself
upon the porch. "Let's talk like?
men," he said. "How much? How
much for me to go away and never
"You blackmailer "
"Oh, cut out the adjectives," said
Rankin. "I guess it's worth $500 to;
you, not to let Do I mean Mrs. Pres-1
ton know. Five hundred and you'
don't hear of me again."
Preston thought, his eyes fixed on:
Rankin's face. He was in a trap and
for Dorothy's sake he must submit'
'Til give you $500," he said. "And
listen, you hound! If ever I see yoii
again I'll kill you. I'm a man of my
word and I mean just that."
"That's all right," answered Ran-!
kin easily. "Five hundred goes."
"Be back in an hour," said Pres
ton, "and you shall have it."
An hour later Preston handed1
Rankin his money and the man shuf-'
fled out of sight along the road. Pres-1
ton watched him. He had meant
what he said. For Dorothy's sake
he was resolved to kill Rankin if he
entered their lives again.
Rankin, who had lost the $500 in a
gambling hell, took the second sum?
to the place. He was sure he could
easily get all he wanted out of Pres-
ton. He inquired and learned that
Dorothy would not return for a day