by Ellis Parker Butler
Mrs. Althorp Barduff, whose own name was Essie, rustled the evening paper.
"Why, Althorp!" she said to her banker husband. "I think it is just terrible -- terrible! I can't help thinking of his poor wife!
When I think of the anguish that poor woman must be suffering!"
"Ump!" said Mr. Barduff. He did not care what the poor woman was suffering. He sat at his own side of the table, where his own lamp shed a glow on his own evening paper.
"It says here," said Mrs. Barduff, reading: "'In selecting Orrin J. Pelgus as their victim the kidnapers chose the richest man in Welker County --' No, that's not the place --"
"Ump!" said Mr. Barduff again.
"This is it," said Mrs. Barduff, reading: "'The wife of the victim is prostrated, and by the advice of her physician is seeing no one.' Poor thing. 'But she gave the press this statement: "The family will not ask the help of the police of Vaneville or any one else. The ransom will be paid as demanded. The kidnapers threaten the life of Mr. Pelgus if the police are called in, and fifty thousand dollars is not to be considered for one moment when the life of my husband is in jeopardy."'"
"Ump!" said Mr. Barduff once more.
"Fifty thousand dollars!" exclaimed Mrs. Barduff, "Think of it!"
To this Mr. Barduff said nothing at all.
"Althorp," said Mrs. Barduff, "it frightens me. Why," she said as the thought came to her, "it might have been you. You are a rich man, Althorp. You're as rich as Orry Pelgus, aren't you? I remember that time they published the income figures --"
"They won't touch me," said Mr. Barduff gruffly.
"But that's what Orry Pelgus would have said, Althorp," Mrs. Barduff said. "He would have said just that very thing. Do be careful, won't you, Althorp?"
"You're mighty worried about me all of a sudden," said Mr. Barduff. "What are you worried about -- fifty thousand dollars?"
"Now, I don't think that's kind! I don't think that's kind at all!" said Mrs. Barduff, and she went back to her paper again. She could not, as a matter of fact, imagine Mr. Barduff being kidnaped.
Mr. Barduff was not in the least worried. His feeling was more one of irritation, for all the newspapers said that Orrin J. Pelgus was the richest man in the county of Welker if not in the southern half of the State, and this Mr. Barduff knew was an injustice. He knew he was the richest man in Welker County and also the richest man in the southern half of the State. He had twice the wealth of Orrin J. Pelgus. Orry Pelgus might be the richest man in Vaneville, but what of that? Belltown had twice the population of Vaneville.
"Tank-town banker!" thought Mr. Barduff scornfully.
Mr. Barduff, although he would not admit it even to himself, was jealous of the fame Orry Pelgus was getting. Mr. Pelgus's picture was in all the papers, even the Chicago and New York papers, and Mrs. Pelgus's picture was in all the papers, and so were pictures of the Pelgus home and the Pelgus bank. There were maps of Vaneville with an X showing where Mr. Pelgus had unsuspectingly entered the automobile, and a P showing the location of the Pelgus home, and a B showing the location of the Pelgus bank.
Even before he looked over his mail the next morning, Mr. Barduff scowled at his desk, drumming on its edge with his fingers. Things were certainly reaching a nice state of affairs in the United States of America when a man worked hard all his life to make a little money and then some fellow with half his wealth was picked out and kidnaped and advertised as the wealthiest man in Welker County! Orry Pelgus would probably go strutting around all the rest of his life, bragging how he had been picked out for kidnaping, and about how his wife had been prostrated by the news, and how she had refused to call in the police or cooperate with them because his life meant so much to her!
"The big bluff!" Mr. Barduff thought. "Richest man in Welker County! I'd like to pile dollars side by side with him and show him who is the richest man in Welker County!
He turned to his mail with a feeling that real worth never did get its just prominence in this life, and he was slitting open his personal mail with angry little jerks when Harley Hurst, his efficient teller, entered the office.
"Man out here, Mr. Barduff, wants to see you, "Harley said. "His name is Willicks."
"Don't know him," said Mr. Barduff. "What does he want?"
"He wouldn't say," said Harley Hurst. "He insists it is a matter of great personal importance to you."
"Let him come in," said Mr. Barduff, and Harley Hurst brought the stranger to Mr. Barduff.
"I will just close this door," said the man who had said his name was Willicks. "The matter I want to talk about is extremely private and confidential. May I sit? Thanks! In the first place, Mr. Barduff, my name is not Willicks -- it is Spurff. Henry L. Spurff is my name."
"Well?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"I am president of the Spurff Kidnaping Company, not incorporated -- ha-ha! No, indeed, not incorporated. You may guess why, Mr. Barduff."
Mr. Spurff laughed again. He seemed to consider his statement a good joke and one that Mr. Barduff would understand.
Mr. Barduff studied the man's face. He seemed a frank, honest-looking fellow. He had a pleasant smile.
"Yes, you can guess why," Mr. Spurff continued before Mr. Barduff could say anything. "It wouldn't do. It's not a business to advertise, Mr. Barduff. Although," he added, "as we conduct it," and he smiled again, "it is as useful as any other insurance business."
"Insurance business?"repeated Mr. Barduff questioningly.
"Exactly!" declared Mr. Spurff. "For that is what it is. Now, before we talk terms, Mr. Barduff -- for I am sure you will want to be kidnaped -- let me ask you one question: You have read of hundreds of kidnaping cases, have you not? Have you ever heard of the same man being kidnaped a second time?"
"Why, no," said Mr. Barduff. "No, I haven't!"
"Absolutely not!" said Mr. Spurff positively. "It's never done. Never! Once only -- that's the rule. And that's where we come in. We kidnap you that once."
He leaned back and smiled at Mr. Barduff, and although he did not put his thumbs in his armholes he had the air of so doing.
"Now," he said, leaning forward again, "we will get down to business. If you want references we can give them. We do a neat and classy job. Take the Orrin J. Pelgus job, for example. That's one of our jobs. Only a Grade B job -- that's all Pelgus cared to pay for -- but a neat little job for all that. You would probably want a Grade A job."
"Look here," said Mr. Barduff, "do you mean to tell me that this kidnaping of Orrin Pelgus was a put-up affair like that?"
"Why, certainly!" said Mr. Spurff. "Half the kidnapings you read about are our jobs -- fifty-eight per cent, to be exact. If you want to ask Mr. Pelgus -- But, no! His job is still under way, pardon me. I have, though, testimonials here from many of our satisfied patrons. Now, here is -- Yes, that's another point. You'll see here what Mr. Biskro says: 'But even more than the delightful knowledge that I am now free from danger from kidnapers is the change in my wife. Before I was kidnaped she had grown cold and indifferent toward me, but when I was kidnaped she was prostrated with grief and, ever since, she has been affectionate, loving and kind.'"
"Let me see that letter," said Mr. Barduff.
"Ah! And here!" said Mr. Spurff, taking another letter from his folder. "Though this would hardly interest you. Mr. Gilrow writes this: 'I certainly made no mistake in being kidnaped. When I made my contract with you I was in dire financial straits, my creditors preparing to come down on me, but when you kidnaped me the papers all announced that I was the wealthiest man in Oklahoma, and I have been so considered ever since.'"
"Let me look at that one," said Mr. Barduff, reaching for it.
"You may look at them all," said Mr. Spurff generously. "And now let us discuss terms. Our regular rate for a Grade A abduction, is ten per cent."
"What do you mean by ten percent?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"Ten per cent of the announced ransom, of course," explained Mr. Spurff. "We charge eight per cent for Grade B kidnapings and ten per cent for Grade A affairs. You would want, I'm sure, to be held for one hundred thousand dollars; your standing in the community demands it, I think. That would cost you ten thousand dollars. Cash, of course."
"You mean to say I wouldn't have to pay the hundred thousand dollars?" asked Mr. Barduff, and Mr. Spurff leaned back and laughed heartily.
"Well, I should think not!" he exclaimed. "That would be ridiculous; you might as well be kidnaped by real kidnapers."
"Do you mean to tell me that all it is costing Orry Pelgus over there at Vaneville is four thousand dollars?"
"Let me see -- eight per cent of fifty thousand dollars. Yes, of course."
"Why, the cheap skate!" exclaimed Mr. Barduff angrily. "The miserable cheapskate!"
"Vaneville is a small place," said Mr. Spurff. "You would naturally want something better. We do have a Grade A Plus that many of our best customers like."
"What is a Grade A Plus like?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"It would cost you twelve per cent," said Mr. Spurff, "but it is worth it. Even the London and Paris papers mention our Grade A Plus kidnapings. Every Grade A Plus is different from every other. No run-of-the-mill business at all. Something new every time -- and that's what gets into the papers. Now, I have an outline for a Grade A Plus -- here it is. A splendid novelty, right up-to-date. Entirely new idea. The ransom, you see, is not hidden under a bridge or left under a rock. It is ballooned."
"It is what?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"Ballooned," repeated Mr. Spurff. "And your wife receives the warning by radio. All new, you see. She receives, by radio, a warning that if one hundred thousand dollars ransom is not paid you will be, let us say, miserably shot. But the ransom is to be tied to a small balloon and released from the tower -- shall we say? -- of the high school. As the balloon is released a humming noise is heard in the distance, rapidly growing louder, and an airplane sweeps across the sky, gathering up the balloon as it speeds on its way."
"But what if the airplane does not catch the balloon?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"What if it doesn't?" said Mr. Spurff, laughing. "My dear man, what if it doesn't? You don't think there'd be anything of value attached to the balloon, do you? Indeed not! Stage money, perhaps. Or a check on the Bank of the Wabash River -- ha-ha! No, sir; after the affair is all over I come here and receive payment -- in cash, certainly -- and that ends it. If you select a Grade A Plus --"
"That's the kind I want," said Mr. Barduff. "I'm no Pelgus."
"I can see you are not," said Mr. Spurff, "and in that case a Grade A Plus, with airplane and balloons, would cost you, for a hundred-thousand-dollar ransom case, just twelve thousand dollars. Not a cent more -- we guarantee that. But here, I'll tell you what we'll do. Because it is you, Mr. Barduff, and because we want to get our Grade A Plus started in this part of the country, I will make you a special rate of ten thousand dollars! How's that?"
"What do I have to do besides pay?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"Nothing! Not a thing!" declared Mr. Spurff, spreading wide his hands. "We do it all. We rent a comfortable small house, we meet you at any place you designate, we supply the automobile and we furnish the meals while you are kidnaped. Alcoholic drinks, if you use them."
"I don't," said Mr. Barduff. "You ought to give me a reduction for that."
"Oh, now, Mr. Barduff, really!" exclaimed Mr. Spurff. "After I've knocked off two thousand dollars?"
"Let it go! Let it go!" said Mr. Barduff.
"You sign here, on this line," said Mr. Spurff. "Thank you. How would three o'clock this afternoon suit you?"
"You'd better make it four o'clock," said Mr. Barduff. "The bank doesn't close till three and I hang around until Hurst and Jim Carter get the cash balanced. Where do I meet you?"
"Why not here?" asked Mr. Spurff. "Why not right out in front of the bank here? Suppose I have the car here, and I speak to you and you get in?"
So, at four o'clock, Mr. Barduff walked out of the bank and got into the ordinary-looking black automobile in which Mr. Spurff was waiting, and the car moved at a reasonable speed out of town and down the river road, Mr. Spurff joking pleasantly on matters of no consequence whatever.
"We stop here," he said to Mr. Barduff, halting the car beside a building which Mr. Barduff instantly recognized for what it was. It was one of the huge ice houses that stood at various distances along the river. It was an enormous affair, painted red, with a sort of runway leading up from the river's edge to an opening high on that side. It was up this that the cakes of ice were carried by an endless chain arrangement when the harvest was on.
"I don't have to stay in an ice house, do I?" Mr. Barduff asked, with a beginning resentment, and Mr. Spurff hastened to reassure him.
"Well, I should say not!" Spurff said. "That would be a good one, wouldn't it? You in an ice house! Bank president in an ice house! No! But we have to stop here a few minutes -- all out and change cars, as the conductor says. This car we are in won't do -- plenty of people saw you get into this car. We've got to wait here just a few minutes until the other car comes."
"Oh!" said Mr. Barduff understandingly. "Certainly."
The ice that was garnered from the river was shipped by car and barge to the city as it was needed, and this ice house had already been emptied of its ice. Up a ladder to a smallish opening Mr. Barduff made his way without great difficulty, Mr. Spurff close behind him. The interior of the ice house was vast and gloomy, but Mr. Barduff did not have to climb down a ladder on the inside. The sawdust came quite up to the opening.
When Mr. Barduff stepped into the sawdust he sank to his knees in it and he might have fallen if Mr. Spurff had not steadied him.
"Just be a little careful," Mr. Spurff admonished, and then he called "Oh, Joe!"
"Yeah?" a voice replied, and Mr. Barduff turned. He saw that two men were standing by the opening by which he had entered.
"You might close that window, Joe," Mr. Spurff said, and he asked, "Where's Eddie and the other car?"
"Well, I'll tell you, boss," said Joe. "Eddie he sent word the battery went dead on the other car and he won't be here for an hour, maybe. He had to send Red for --"
"Never mind that," said Mr. Spurff. "I will tell Eddie what I think of his negligence when I see him. And what I tell him will be plenty," he said to Mr. Barduff. "I don't like these variations from the schedule. Fortunately..."
The fortunate thing, it seemed, was that he had blank paper in his brief-case and a fountain pen in his pocket. Mr. Barduff's eyes were now becoming accustomed to the gloom of the ice house and Mr. Spurff suggested that they walk to where a pile of boards lay.
"While we are waiting," he said, "we might as well shape up a snappy ransom letter and get things going in good shape. The way I look at it is this -- we ought to hold you four days. Five would be better, and a week would be still better, but I guess you're a busy man."
Mr. Spurff was leading the way to the pile of boards, but Mr. Barduff was having trouble wading in the sawdust. He fell down.
"Joe! Henry! Come here and give Mr. Barduff an arm," Mr. Spurff ordered, and the two men did so. They helped Mr. Barduff wade in the sawdust, supporting him.
"I can spare a week," said Mr. Barduff, "but what for?"
"Publicity," explained Mr. Spurff. "We have to give enough time to this to let the newspapers get excited. It won't do to have you home again tomorrow, for instance. We'd get about ten lines -- 'Banker kidnaped, but returned immediately.' We want time to have reporters congregate, for the story to grow. Tomorrow ransom will be demanded. The next day your wife will receive threat of your death if ransom is not paid. The next day -- But you get the idea."
"Quite right, too," agreed Mr. Barduff, and Joe and Henry made a sort of seat for him and placed a plank as a desk. Thus accommodated, Mr. Barduff wrote a letter to his wife, telling that he had been captured by kidnapers, that he was being held for one hundred thousand dollars ransom, and that if the money was not paid within seven days Mr. Barduff would be mercilessly slaughtered.
While Mr. Spurff did not venture to dictate the letter he made suggestions, reminding Mr. Barduff that he had had more experience in such matters. He suggested, for example, the paragraph that advised Mrs. Barduff that all communication must be by balloons. These balloons -- five of them, already inflated -- would be found in the Lone Oak schoolhouse, on the Grantham Road. They were to be released at nine o'clock in the evening only, and only from the tower of the high school.
"And, dear Essie," Mr. Barduff wrote at Mr. Spurff's suggestion, "do not call the police into this. That would be fatal and would mean that I would be instantly slaughtered."
"That's what I call a first-class ransom letter," said Mr. Spurff; "and now you must write one to that fellow in your bank -- the one with the whiskers."
"If that's his name. Your wife will have to get the ransom money somewhere, and she will go to the bank. So we will tell Harley Hurst the truth. We will tell him not to give your wife one hundred thousand dollars. We tell him to give her a bundle that looks like one hundred thousand dollars, but with old newspapers in it. We'll tell him to seal it with wax. Perhaps we had better have him tie it to the balloon himself, because your wife will doubtless be prostrated."
"Hadn't I better tell him about the -- ah -- arrangement we have made?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"You think you can trust him?"
"I can trust Harley Hurst absolutely," said Mr. Barduff. "What I say is what he does: he does not know his soul is his own."
"Then tell him, if you want to," said Mr. Spurff. "The main thing is not to have anybody scattering one hundred thousand dollars over the landscape by balloon. And now, Mr. Barduff, we ought to send your wife some little personal article so that she will know that this letter is not a forgery."
"I know the very thing," said Mr. Barduff, smiling. "It is the sock I have on my left foot. This very morning when I was putting it on I told Essie it was most miserably darned, and she looked at it and said it was perfectly well darned. We had a few words about it. And she knows I would not take off my sock unless something most unusual had occurred. She will know the sock."
"Your sock will be the very thing," agreed Mr. Spurff, and Mr. Barduff unlaced his shoe and removed the sock, and Mr. Spurff took it. He then looked at his watch. "Confound that Eddie!" he exclaimed; "I don't see why he don't get here with that car! You won't mind if I leave you here with Joe and Henry for a few minutes while I telephone to Eddie, will you? If you'd like to take a nap -- Joe, have you got anything you can spread down so that Mr. Barduff can take a nap if he wants to?"
"Gunny sacks," Joe said. "There's some gunny sacks."
"Well, make him as comfortable as you can," said Mr. Spurff, and assuring Mr. Barduff that he would be back soon, he waded across the sawdust and disappeared through the small window. Joe spread the gunny sacks into the semblance of a bed.
"Go on and lay down if youse wants to," he said in a coarse voice, and he drew from the leg of his trousers a heavy and deadly looking instrument that seemed to be lead pipe covered with leather. At the same time the man called Henry produced a similar weapon.
"The first croak out of youse," Henry said, "and youse is dead, see? He says youse is to stay here, and here you stays."
"Of course." said Mr. Barduff. "That I understand. I have had a complete understanding with Mr. Spurff."
"Well, shut your trap and keep it shut. A word out of you from now on and yous gets a slug on the bean. One word, see?"
"I -- " Mr. Barduff began.
"Shut up!" shouted Henry, raising the club, and Mr. Barduff held his peace. The sawdust, being so soft and deep, was unpleasant to stand in, and Mr. Barduff seated himself on the gunny sacks. Presently, as there seemed no particular reason for remaining in a sitting posture, he stretched out. He closed his eyes. In a few minutes he was breathing deeply and was asleep. He was awakened by a touch on the arm and sat up to find the ice house in total darkness.
"Been having a little nap, I see," said the pleasant voice of Mr. Spurff at his side. "Hope everything has been all right. And, really, I have to apologize, Mr. Barduff. I certainly did think we'd have you out of here before this, but I can't be everywhere. You'll have to stay here tonight, I'm sorry to say."
"Stay here? I won't stay here!"
"Now, please!" begged Mr. Spurff. "Please be a little patient, Mr. Barduff. I know it is not as nice as it might be, but we don't want to spoil everything, do we? That Eddie of mine -- well, he let that battery go dry, and like a fool he sent to a garage for a fresh battery. A child should have known better. The garage fellow went to the house I had rented -- a lovely, comfortable place -- and as soon as the alarm went out --"
"What alarm?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"Why, of course there was an alarm when you did not go straight home from the bank," said Mr. Spurff. "Your wife, with the Pelgus kidnaping in mind, knew at once what had happened. She telephoned the bank and the bank telephoned the police, and some one had seen you get into my car. And, of course, that garage man reported immediately that suspicious-looking characters had rented the Billson cottage. Your wife was prostrated."
"Was she?" asked Mr. Barduff eagerly.
"Hysterics and then utterly prostrated," said Mr. Spurff. "She's in bed with two nurses and a doctor. Not in bed with them, you understand, but they're there. And Eddie has fled. So I've brought a can of beans and a bottle of milk --"
"It will be in the paper in the morning," said Mr. Barduff.
"It will be in all the papers." said Mr. Spurff. "By tomorrow morning it will be in the Chicago papers and the New York papers and in the London and Paris papers."
"It's been years since I ate any canned beans," said Mr. Barduff, "but I'm mighty fond of them."
"Joe," said Mr. Spurff "open these beans."
The next morning Mr. Barduff had quite a good breakfast. Mr. Spurff had coffee in a bottle for him, excellently hot, and boiled eggs and fresh rolls and butter, and the lunch at noon was cold fried chicken. Dinner was very tasty beef stew in a pail, celery, cold apple pie and hot coffee. From time to time Mr. Spurff left the ice house, either to get this food or for other purposes, and he brought back each time most encouraging news of the progress being made. The whole town was excited over the balloon idea, he said, and people were pouring in from the country and from near-by towns and villages, all hoping to see the first balloon go up and the airplanes soar by and pick it up.
"I'll bring you a bundle of newspapers tomorrow," he said, "if I can get them without drawing attention to myself. Your man Hurst got the balloons."
"He's a good man," Mr. Barduff said. "You can depend on Harley Hurst. No initiative, but he carries out orders. Tell him what to do and he'll do it."
That second night Mr. Barduff slept soundly. The sawdust made a comfortable bed and no blankets were needed as the weather was warm. He sat up and tried to guess the time, but knew only that it must be morning, and he reached for his vest, which he had hung over the corner of the pile of boards. His fingers felt for his watch chain, but it was gone. His watch was gone, too. He now looked for Joe and Henry, who had gone to rest on either side of him, but he could see them nowhere.
"Hey! Hello!" he called softly, remembering their warning that he must not speak, but there was no answer. He got to his feet. "Hey, Joe! Hey, Henry!" he called, still softly. No answer. "That's funny," Mr. Barduff said to himself; "they must have gone out," and then he remembered that his watch was gone. "The miserable fellows!" he thought; "they must have played Mr. Spurff false.
They've decamped. Spurff will have to reimburse me for that watch; I'll deduct it from his fee."
He looked around for breakfast but found only the remnants of the dinner of the night before, and he ate such of this as he could, and sat down to wait for Mr. Spurff. The minutes grew into an hour, one hour followed another, and Mr. Barduff began to be provoked. By noon he was quite angry.
"This is a nice way to treat a person!" he exclaimed.
By two o'clock he was extremely hungry. He was worried, too. He began to fear that an accident had happened to Mr. Spurff.
"I will wait until dark," he said to himself, "and if he has not come by then I am going out and see what is the matter." But he had no more than said this than he saw the figure of the man Joe outlined against the small window.
The fellow came wading through the sawdust toward Mr. Barduff and scowled at him.
"Per heaven's sake!" he cried. "Ain't youse out o' here yet? Come on, now -- get a move on! Out of it!"
"Mr. Spurff said -- " Mr. Barduff began.
"Out of here!" ordered the man Joe. "Beat it!"
Mr. Barduff would have complained, but Joe took him by the collar and threw him roughly down on the sawdust. He took him by the collar and pulled him roughly to his feet again. He pushed him to the window, bumping him with his knee at every step.
"Go on! Go home! Go home, youse!" he ordered Mr. Barduff, as one orders a dog to go home, and Mr. Barduff, looking at Joe resentfully, backed down the ladder. He turned toward home. He stopped when he had gone a short distance, and emptied the sawdust out of his shoes. Then he trudged onward.
He had gone two miles when he was met by an automobile in which were four men, all armed with rifles. The car stopped and the men jumped out.
"It's him, Oliver," one of the men said. "You're Barduff, ain't you?"
"Yes," said Mr. Barduff. "I've been kidnaped."
"I'll say you have," said the man called Oliver. "We're out looking for you. Those devils said they were turning you loose -- said they would as soon as they got the ransom into their hands. There's a couple of hundred gangs out looking for you. Get in the car; we've got to get you back home; your wife is mighty near out of her mind."
"Was she prostrated?" asked Mr. Barduff eagerly.
"Frightened for me?"
"She cried all the time, they tell me. She's crying yet. She lays and moans, 'Oh, Althorp, come home to me!' all the time."
A glow of affection for Essie warmed Mr. Barduff's heart. She was true-blue, Essie was. Their life would be different now; the old indifference gone. That alone was worth what it cost to be kidnaped by Mr. Spurff.
"Did the money go by balloon last night?" Mr. Barduff asked.
"By what?" inquired the Oliver man.
"By balloon," repeated Mr. Barduff. "The kidnapers said to send up one hundred thousand dollars by balloon for the airplane to scoop up."
"I don't know what you're talking about," said the man Oliver. "You must have had a knock on the head, or been doped or something. You ain't over it yet. There wasn't anything said about balloons that I know of -- airplanes, either. You was picked up in front of your bank, Mr. Barduff, and you sent your sock home in a letter about how the money was to be put under a white rock under the Cross Creek bridge on the Norton Road or you'd be bumped off sure. That's how it was, wasn't it, Jim?"
"That's the way it was, Oliver," said Jim. "The letter said, 'Put twenty-five thousand dollars in this sock and --'"
"Put how much?" asked Mr. Barduff.
"Twenty-five thousand dollars," Jim said. "You got off light -- it cost Orry Pelgus fifty thousand dollars --"
Mr. Barduff's face became red. The veins stood out on his forehead.
"Why, the liar!" he cried. "The miserable liar! That man Spurff is no better than a crook! And I'll tell him so the next time I see him."
But he never saw Mr. Spurff again.