Read CHAPTER XVII of Three Thousand Dollars , free online book, by Anna Katharine Green, on ReadCentral.com.

Now for my part of the bargain

He was looking at the jewels, appraising them, making sure they were real and marketable. She was looking at them, too, with a wild longing and a bitter disappointment, which he, turning at that moment to mark her looks, saw and rated at its full value.

“Well, I guess they’ll do,” he exclaimed, pausing in his task of thrusting the gems in his pocket to hand her a bracelet ornamented with one small diamond. “But I expected more from all this fuss and feathers. Was it to guard these

“Yes,” she murmured, thrusting the bracelet into the neck of her dress and stepping quickly back. “They are priceless to the owner. Associations you know. Mrs. Stoughton is dead There! that will do. Now for my part of the bargain,” and bethinking her at last of the pistol, she raised it and pointed it full in his face. “You will close that door now and send the telephone you promised.”

He rose and banged to the door.

“All right,” he cried. “You’ve behaved well. Now hide that pistol in your waist and we’ll step into the outer office.”

She did as she was bid, and in a moment more they were crossing the floor outside. As they did so, she noticed that the two clerks had been sent out to luncheon, leaving them alone with Mr. Fellows. This was not encouraging, nor did she like the click which at this moment Beau Johnson made with his tongue. It sounded like a preconcerted signal. Whether so or not, it brought Mr. Fellows from his room, and in another instant he was standing with them before the telephone. There was a clock over the safe-room door. It stood at just twenty-five minutes after eleven.

“Hurry!” she whispered as the other took up the receiver.

She did not need to say it. His own anxiety seemed to be as great as hers, but his anxiety was to be gone. The nerve which sustained him while the issue was doubtful gave some slight tokens of failing, now that his efforts had brought success and only this small obligation lay between him and the enjoyment of the booty he had won at such a risk. She was sure that his voice trembled as he uttered the familiar. “Hello!” and during the interchange of words which followed, the strain was perhaps as great on him as on her.

“Hello! how’s the old man?”

She could hear the answer. It swept her fears away in a moment.

“Well, but anxious about the girl.”

“She’s all right, everything’s all right. Take the sick man home and tell him that his daughter will be there almost as soon as he is.”

“I must hear my father’s voice.” It was Grace who was speaking. “I will give a cry that will echo through this building if you do not put me in communication with him at once.”

Her hand went out to the receiver.

The veins on Beau Johnson’s forehead stood out threateningly.

“Curse you!” he muttered; but he gave the order just the same.

“Hello! Don’t shut off. The girl’s nervous; wants to hear her father’s voice. Have him up! two words from him will answer.”

“Father!”

Grace’s mouth was at the phone.

No reply.

She cast one look at Johnson.

“They’re getting him on his feet,” he grumbled. His eye was on the door.

“Father!” she called again, her voice tremulous with doubt and anxiety.

A murmur this time, but she recognized it.

“It’s he! it’s he,” she cried. “He’s safe; he’s well. Father!

But Johnson had no time for dilly-dallying. Catching the receiver back, he took his place again at the phone and shouted a few final injunctions. Then he faced her with the question:

“Are you satisfied?” She nodded, speechless at last and almost breathless from exhaustion. He bowed and made for the door. As he opened it, Mr. Fellows slid forward and joined him. Both were leaving. He as well as Johnson. She caught the look which the manager threw her as he closed the door behind them. There was threat in that look and her heart strings tightened as she stood alone there facing her fearful duty. Mr. Fellows was a thief! The manager of this concern was even then perhaps walking off with the booty wrenched from her care by the devil’s own inquisition. What should she do? Send for Philip? Yes, that was all her tortured mind could grasp. She would send for her own Philip and get his advice before she notified the police or sent the inevitable cablegram. She was too ill, too shaken to do more. Philip! Philip!

She was fainting she felt it, and was raising her voice to call in one of the clerks, when the outer door opened and Mr. Fellows came in. She had not expected him back. She had fondly believed that he had gone with his professional comrade; and the sight of him caused her to rise again to her feet.

“You!” she murmured, facing him in dull wonder at his renewed look of threat. “I cannot stay in the same room with you. You are