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The Tango Thief
by [?]

“Yes, I know that,” she agreed hastily, “but–my husband! If he hears, he will believe the worst, and–I–I really love and respect Judson–though,” she added, “he might have seen that I liked dancing and–innocent amusements of the sort still. I am not an old woman.”

I could not help wondering if the whole truth were told in her rather plaintive remark, or whether she was overplaying what was really a minor complaint. Judson Seabury, I knew from hearsay, was a man of middle age to whom, as to so many, business and the making of money had loomed as large as life itself. Competitors had even accused him of being ruthless when he was convinced that he was right, and I could well imagine that Mrs. Seabury was right in her judgment of the nature of the man if he became convinced for any reason that someone had crossed his path in his relations with his wife.

“Where did you usually–er–meet Sherburne?” asked Craig, casually guiding the conversation.

“Why–at the Vanderveer–always,” she replied.

“Would you mind meeting him there again this afternoon so that I could see him?” asked Kennedy. “Perhaps it would be best, anyhow, to let him think that you are going to do as he demands, so that we can gain a little time.”

She looked up, startled. “Yes–I can do that–but don’t you think it is risky? Do you think there is any way I can get free from him? Suppose he makes a new demand. What shall I do? Oh, Professor Kennedy, you do not, you cannot know what I am going through–how I hate and fear him.”

“Mrs. Seabury,” reassured Craig earnestly, “I’ll take up your case. Clever as the man is, there must be some way to get at him.”

Sherburne must have exercised a sort of fascination over her, for the look of relief that crossed her face as Kennedy promised to aid her was almost painful. As often before, I could scarcely envy Kennedy in his ready assumption of another’s problems that seemed so baffling. It meant little, perhaps, to us whether we succeeded. But to her it meant happiness, perhaps honor itself.

It was as though she were catching at a life line in the swirling current of events that had engulfed her. She hesitated no longer.

“I’ll be there–I’ll meet him–at four,” she murmured, as she rose and made a hurried departure.

For some time after she had gone, Kennedy sat considering what she had told us. As for myself, I cannot say that I was thoroughly satisfied that she had told all. It was not to be expected.

“How do you figure that woman out?” I queried at length.

Kennedy looked at me keenly from under knitted brows. “You mean, do I believe her story–of her relations with this fellow, Sherbourne?” he returned, thoughtfully.

“Exactly,” I assented, “and what she said about her regard for her husband, too.”

Kennedy did not reply for a few minutes. Evidently the same question had been in his own mind and he had not reasoned out the answer. Before he could reply the door buzzer sounded and the colored boy from the lower hall handed a card to Craig, with an apology about the house telephone switchboard being out of order.

As Kennedy laid the card on the table before us, with a curt “Show the gentleman in,” to the boy, I looked at it in blank amazement.

It read, “Judson Seabury.”

Before I could utter a word of comment on the strange coincidence, the husband was sitting in the same chair in which his wife had sat less than half an hour before.

Judson Seabury was a rather distinguished looking man of the solid, business type. Merely to meet his steel gray eye was enough to tell one that this man would brook no rivalry in anything he undertook. I foresaw trouble, even though I could not define its nature.

Craig twirled the card in his fingers, as if to refresh his mind on a name otherwise unfamiliar. I was wondering whether Seabury might not have trailed his wife to our office and have come to demand an explanation. It was with some relief that I found he had not.