27. Chapter XXVII.
Wall Street, the next day, had more reassuring
reports of Beaufort's situation. They were not
definite, but they were hopeful. It was generally understood
that he could call on powerful influences in case
of emergency, and that he had done so with success;
and that evening, when Mrs. Beaufort appeared at the
Opera wearing her old smile and a new emerald necklace,
society drew a breath of relief.
New York was inexorable in its condemnation of
business irregularities. So far there had been no exception
to its tacit rule that those who broke the law of
probity must pay; and every one was aware that even
Beaufort and Beaufort's wife would be offered up
unflinchingly to this principle. But to be obliged to offer
them up would be not only painful but inconvenient.
The disappearance of the Beauforts would leave a
considerable void in their compact little circle; and those
who were too ignorant or too careless to shudder at the
moral catastrophe bewailed in advance the loss of the
best ball-room in New York.
Archer had definitely made up his mind to go to
Washington. He was waiting only for the opening of
the law-suit of which he had spoken to May, so that its
date might coincide with that of his visit; but on the
following Tuesday he learned from Mr. Letterblair that
the case might be postponed for several weeks. Nevertheless,
he went home that afternoon determined in any
event to leave the next evening. The chances were that
May, who knew nothing of his professional life, and
had never shown any interest in it, would not learn of
the postponement, should it take place, nor remember
the names of the litigants if they were mentioned before
her; and at any rate he could no longer put off seeing
Madame Olenska. There were too many things that he
must say to her.
On the Wednesday morning, when he reached his
office, Mr. Letterblair met him with a troubled face.
Beaufort, after all, had not managed to "tide over";
but by setting afloat the rumour that he had done so he
had reassured his depositors, and heavy payments had
poured into the bank till the previous evening, when
disturbing reports again began to predominate. In
consequence, a run on the bank had begun, and its doors
were likely to close before the day was over. The ugliest
things were being said of Beaufort's dastardly
manoeuvre, and his failure promised to be one of the
most discreditable in the history of Wall Street.