The lawyer drew some documents from his desk.
“I want you to sign these,” he said.
Hutton gave a violent start.
“What are they?” he asked.
“The articles of agreement.”
“You are exasperating,” said Grayson. “What do you expect? Am I to take your word, simply, for everything? I think not. Here is the agreement you must sign.”
The lawyer unfolded the document and read:
“These articles of agreement between Bill Hutton of the first part and Barry Grayson of the second part do hereby…”
“Cut it short!” Hutton growled. “What is the use of so much red tape?”
The lawyer read on calmly a long string of legal verbiage.
In brief, the substance was an agreement between the two plotters that Grayson should receive twenty-five thousand dollars for his legal services within one month of Hutton’s accession to Reston Plantation.
When the lawyer concluded the document, he placed a red seal on it and said:
At first, Hutton hesitated. But finally he sat down and signed the document. Arising from his chair after this, he started for the door.
“I don’t know what that amounts to,” he sneered. “You never would dare take it into court.”
“And why, my dear sir?”
“Why, in a criminal sense, it would show collusion. The detectives would get onto the game at once.”
The lawyer laughed easily. “Allow me to know my business,” he said craftily. “I believe that I know enough about the law to regulate that. You need have no fear. I have done very valuable work for you and I mean to have my pay.”
“Do you dare to insinuate that you will not get it?”
“I insinuate nothing, but I insist upon having it, be certain of that.”
Hutton laughed sneeringly.
“All right!” he said. “If you wish to be distrustful of me, you can.”
“It is simply a matter of business. I never take any man’s word. His signature he cannot go back on. That is all in black and white.”
“All right!” Hutton agreed, who was now at the door. “I’ll see you later, old man. Just now, I have some other business which claims my attention.”
“One moment…” the lawyer began. Then he paused. From the window there came a crashing sound, and then the loud noise of breaking boards and timbers.
In an instant, Grayson and Hutton rushed to the window and looked out. The sight which met their gaze was both surprising and ludicrous. The frail piazza, upon the roof of which James Benson had been lying, had given way.
Down it went, with the old detective entangled in the debris. The fall did not really hurt him, but the detective was for a moment unable to extricate himself. And when he had succeeded in doing so, it was only to look up into the scornful and grinning faces of the villains above.