Sunday, May 13, 2018

Hasty Judgements

A Pink Lady Continues…

Chris and Amanda made a mad dash back to Eric’s apartment on Wesley Street only to find he was no longer at home. They quickly redirected their search to his office at agency headquarters and discovered to their dismay that he was in private conference with Robert Pinkerton.
“You don’t think they’re talking about Marion do you?” Amanda whispered, afraid Mr. Pinkerton’s secretary might overhear.
“I don’t doubt it,” Chris replied.
“It’s only been four hours since I saw him. How could he dig up enough to make a convincing case against her?”
“I told you, he just invented it. Which is why we have to get in there.”
Chris stepped around Amanda and approached the secretary’s desk again. “Pardon me, but couldn’t you let Mr. Pinkerton know we’re here? I’d consider it a great favor.” He dazzled her with one of his most charming smiles. But the stern-looking widow seemed unimpressed.
“I’m sorry,” she replied. “Mr. Pinkerton left strict instructions he was not to be disturbed while he was with Mr. Masterson.”
“Of course. And I wouldn’t dream of asking you to go against your orders. Only, we’ve learned that Mr. Masterson was…misinformed about the subject of his meeting.”
“And you’d like the chance to correct his mistake?”
The secretary smiled warmly, then suddenly reverted to her sour visage. “No.” she snapped.
“But, ma’am,” Amanda pleaded.
“Sit over there!” the secretary snapped. “Or I’ll have you escorted from the building.”
Cowed, Amanda backed down, but Chris refused to comply with such an autocratic decree. Assuming his most imperious glare, he marched over to the door and held it open. “Let’s go, Amanda.”
“What?” she replied. “Where to?’
“To a higher authority,” he snarled, still glaring at the secretary.
He waited until Amanda was out in the hall before he added, “We’ll be back!” slamming the door behind him.
“Where are we going?” Amanda asked, as Chris hurried her down the hall. “Straight to the top,” he replied. “We’re going to see Mr. Allan Pinkerton.”
“Can we?”
“Why not? I’m sure he’ll be very interested to know he’s employing a lying rat.”
“Chris, I don’t know about this. It was one thing when I thought we just had to straighten Eric out, but to face up to Mr. Pinkerton….”
“It’ll be fine,” Chris assured her. “Here we are.”
He opened the door and pushed Amanda through, following behind her.
“Chris!” the studious, young lady behind the desk exclaimed. “Back so soon?”
“Hello, Deborah. You remember Miss Amanda Brown?”
“To be sure.”
Amanda offered a feeble smile of recognition until Deborah turned her attention back to Chris.
“We’d like to see the boss,” Chris explained. “Is he in?”
“To be sure,” she said again. “But do you have an appointment?”
“Now, Deborah,” he began, leaning over the desk to fix her with his most devastating gaze. “Since when did I ever need an appointment?”
Deborah blushed. “To be sure,” she cooed. Sickened, Amanda rolled her eyes and jabbed Chris in the ribs.
“I’ll just go tell Mr. Pinkerton you’re here,” Deborah said, getting up from her chair.
“Thank you, Beautiful.”
Amanda jabbed him again.
“Hey,” Chris complained, once Deborah was gone. “What’s the idea?”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” Amanda mumbled. “I thought we came here to help Marion. Not so you could make another conquest.”
“That’s not fair. Deborah is an excellent secretary.”
To be sure,” Amanda replied mockingly. Chris was about to admonish her when Deborah returned.
“Mr. Pinkerton will see you now,” she said.
“Thank you,” Amanda said, pushing Chris through Mr. Pinkerton’s office door.
“Well, Chris. Miss Brown. To what do I owe this unexpected visit?” Allan Pinkerton asked, coming around his desk to shake their hands.
“It’s about Eric Masterson and his investigation into the rumors of a mole in the agency,” Chris replied.
“I’m afraid I’ve done something terrible, sir,” Amanda added.
“You’ve only been with us a day, Miss Brown,” Mr. Pinkerton pointed out. “I doubt it’s anything too serious.”
“I fear I’ve unjustly accused Marion Green of betrayal and you’re the only one who can save her,” Amanda replied.
“Well, in that case, I think you’d better start at the beginning.”
During the next twenty minutes, Chris and Amanda managed to piece together a complete picture for Mr. Pinkerton of the entire affair from Marion’s catty comments about Chris, to Eric’s request for help, and straight through the fight at Helens to Amanda’s ill-advised interview with Mr. Masterson that afternoon.
“So you see, sir,” Amanda finished, “I allowed Eric to dupe me and Marion is the one who’ll pay the price.”
“You were hasty in your judgments, Miss Brown. I don’t deny I find that troubling.”
“I think she’s learned her lesson, sir,” Chris chimed in.
“I have,” Amanda agreed. “But I’d be willing to accept any punishment you consider necessary, only please stop that meeting.”
“What meeting?”
“Eric is meeting with Mr. Robert right now. I’m sure he’s managed to convince your son Miss Green is guilty.”
“With the evidence he fabricated?” Mr. Pinkerton supplied.
“Exactly, sir.”
Pinkerton leaned back in his chair to stroke his beard.
“I’m not sure there’s much I can do at this point. If Masterson’s made his case, the only way to exonerate Miss Green will be to disprove his evidence.”
“We can do that, sir,” Chris assured him. “We found this telegram in Miss Green’s room.” He paused to remove the paper from his pocket and set it on Mr. Pinkerton’s desk.
“It proves not only where she went but why,” Chris finished.
“I wasn’t aware Miss Green was unwell,” Pinkerton remarked, as he read the message.
“I don’t think you were supposed to know, sir,” Amanda supplied. “And that’s my fault too.”
Allan Pinkerton studied at Amanda over his square spectacles and smiled in spite of the seriousness of the situation.
“Don’t be so quick to take all the credit, Miss Brown,” he remarked. “Haven’t you ever heard claiming something as always or never is an impossibility?”
Amanda felt somewhat relieved by his kindly attitude and returned his smile.
“You two wait here,” Mr. Pinkerton continued, rising from his chair. “I’ll go see what I can do.”
The office became eerily silent after Mr. Pinkerton left. Amanda and Chris both felt as if they were holding their breath until the clock on the shelf behind Mr. Pinkerton’s desk chimed six. A minute later, they heard the din of footsteps going down the hall as employees headed home for the night. Soon the noise ceased and the silence of anticipation pressed in on Amanda and Chris once more.
“I wish he’d come back,” Amanda finally said.
“The longer he’s away, the better Marion’s chances,” Chris reasoned.
“I’m sorry, Chris.”
“There’s no reason to apologize to me.”
“There is,” Amanda insisted. “I got into this mess because I didn’t trust you…the way partners should.”
“I didn’t give you any reason to trust me, the way I flirt all the time. It isn’t fair.”
“I don’t mean I was worried about you and Marion. I was talking about Eric. You know him better. I should have trusted your judgment when you told me not to get involved with him.”
“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I didn’t explain my reasons for doubting him so you could have trusted me.”
He held out his hand. “Forgive and forget?”
Amanda nodded gently and, pressing her palm against his, repeated, “Forgive and forget.”
Happy to have at least mended their relationship, they sat huddled together for a while until anxiety forced Chris to start pacing.
“Do you think one of us should go see what’s happening?”
“Maybe. Mr. Pinkerton might—”
Chris’ words were abruptly cut off by Mr. Pinkerton’s sudden return. He looked slightly flushed if not fatigued, but his spirits seemed high. He crossed to his desk and sat down to meet their expectant faces.
“Miss Green is no longer under scrutiny,” Mr. Pinkerton announced. “She will be questioned upon her return to Chicago, but the danger of an inquiry into her actions will no longer be required.”
“You won’t dismiss her because she’s sick?” Amanda asked.
“That all depends on the seriousness of her condition,” Mr. Pinkerton replied. “If it could potentially create a hazard to either herself or a fellow operative, I won’t have any choice.”
“Are you going to tell her how you found out about her illness?”
“I believe honesty is the best policy, Mr. Garrety.”
“I’d like to be the one to tell her,” Amanda volunteered. “I owe her that much.”
“Are you sure, Miss Brown? I could easily handle the matter without mentioning your name.”
“She has a right to know,” Amanda insisted. “Please, let me face her and apologize.”
Amazed at Amanda’s integrity, Allan Pinkerton nodded. “If you wish.”
“What about Eric, Mr. Pinkerton?” Chris asked.
“Mr. Masterson has been suspended from his duties.”
“You mean his current investigation, don’t you, sir?”
“I mean his authority as a Pinkerton detective.”
“You fired him?”
“He left me no other recourse. Fabricating evidence to frame an innocent party throws into question his entire character. If he was willing to lie and cheat this time, what’s to say he wouldn’t do it again or hasn’t done it in the past? All of his former cases will have to be reopened and checked for errors and my son has already assigned new agents to take over his current investigation.”
“But surely you could give him a second chance,” Chris urged.
“He’s already had it, Chris,” Pinkerton assured him. “Mr. Masterson has persisted in breaking the strict code of ethics that this agency is founded upon and I can’t allow that to continue.”
“I suppose so,” Chris relented.
“I hate to mention this now, but you’ll have to give testimony regarding the cases the two of you worked on.”
“Of course, sir.”
“As for you, Amanda,” Pinkerton continued, shifting his attention to her. “I’m afraid your conduct has demonstrated you aren’t ready to be a Pinkerton operative.”
Amanda’s face paled.
“Yet,” Mr. Pinkerton added. “After discussing the matter with both my son and Mrs. Webster, we feel a brief suspension of your studies is in order to give you time to reflect.”
“Reflect on what, sir?”
“Your goals, ambitions, abilities. We want you to take the time to find out what being one of our employees really means and if you’re up to the task. To that end, my son suggested we put you to work in our records room.”
“Doing what?” Chris inquired.
“Helping compile important newspaper clippings, amend criminal files, and destroy old records. In this way, you’ll gain a broader understanding as to the scope of our organization, while at the same time remain…how shall I put it? Out of harm’s way.”
“How long would she have to wait to begin her training again?”
“Three weeks should be sufficient,” Pinkerton answered. “If, after that time, you still wish to pursue your detective’s license, we’ll be happy to let you resume the training course.”
“Three weeks seems an awfully long—”
“No, Chris,” Amanda objected. “Three weeks is more than fair. Thank you, Mr. Pinkerton. I appreciate your help.”
“And I appreciate your honesty, Miss Brown. Mr. Garrety was right when he told me you had exceptional gifts. I’m glad you’re here and I hope when the three weeks are up, you’ll still want to be one of my detectives.”
“Mr. Pinkerton, I’ve never wanted anything more.”

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