5. The Eavesdroppers
"I suppose you have heard something about the troubles of the Motor Trust?
The other directors, you know, are trying to force me out."
Rodman Brainard, president of the big Motor Corporation, searched the
magnetic depths of the big brown eyes of the woman beside his desk. Talking
to Constance Dunlap was not like talking to other women he had known,
either socially or in business.
"A friend of yours, and of mine," he added frankly, "has told me enough about
you to convince me that you are more than an amateur at getting people out
of tight places. I asked you to call because I think you can help me."
There was a directness about Brainard which Constance liked.
"It's very kind of you to place such confidence in me--on such short
acquaintance," she returned pointedly, searching his face.
"I don't need to tell you, Mrs. Dunlap, that anything I have said so far is an
open secret in Wall Street. They have threatened to drag in the Sherman law,
and in the reorganization that will follow the investigation, they plan to
eliminate Rodman Brainard--perhaps set in motion the criminal clauses of the
law. It's nothing, Mrs. Dunlap, but a downright hypocritical pose. They reverse
the usual process. It is doing good that evil may result."
He watched her face intently. Something in her expression seemed to please
him. "By George," he thought to himself, "this is a man's woman. You can talk
Brainard, accustomed to quick decisions, added aloud, "Just now they are
using Mrs. Brainard as a catspaw. They are spreading that scandal about my
acquaintance with Blanche Leblanc, the actress. You have seen her? A
stunning woman--wonderful. But I long ago saw that such a friendship could
lead to nothing but ruin." He met Constance's eye squarely. There was
nothing of the adventuress in it as there had been in Blanche Leblanc. "And,"
he finished, almost biting off the words, "I decided to cut it out."
"How does Blanche Leblanc figure in the Motor Trust trouble?" asked
"They had been shadowing me a long time before I knew it, ferreting back into
my past. Yesterday I learned that some one had broken into Miss Leblanc's
apartments and had stolen a package of letters which I wrote to her. It can't
hurt her. People expect that sort of thing of an actress. But it can hurt the
president of the Motor Trust-- just at present."
"Who has been doing the shadowing?"
"Worthington, the treasurer, is the guiding spirit of the 'insurgents' as they call
themselves--it sounds popular, like reform. I understand they have had a
detective named Drummond working for them."
Constance raised her eyes quickly at the name. "Was Drummond always to
cross her trail?