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THE SECRET AT THE CROSSROADS

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All eyes centred on me. Clifford's face, the reckless face of my own cousin, unseen and almost forgotten in fifteen years, stared at me blankly for a second. "George!" he burst out. "Of all people! What in hell are you doin' here with this low-down 'nigger-kisser? Of course I wasn’t goin' to shoot him—just scare him a little. But you've got no business here takin' up for him!"

"I've got a doctor's right to treat a case," I said, my whole body shaking, "and you and your crowd have got no right to do this poor fellow like hell-hounds till he's afraid to his soul his own. How could a Baldwin ever do that?"

"Because he takes up with niggers and has nothing to do with decent white people."

"Because you’ve driven him to it," I protested. "He's told me all about it. And he's clean as a hound's tooth, too. Clifford, I swear to you, this man's doing your dirty work, all by himself, doing the best he knows to smooth out this nigger trouble like a good white man—because he's got a heart and got nerve. And none of you ever reach him a helping hand."

Agard was hanging on my words like a culprit on his attorney's.

"Then what's he doing hiding out this Negro murderer?" demanded my cousin, his voice rising to renewed wrath.

I told him that Agard had no intention of letting any murderer get away; that he only wanted to save his own neck if he could; that the Negro had no chance, in any event. "Look over there, gentlemen, if you want to see a man die," I addressed the others.

It was a gruesome, almost unreal spectacle, not to be dwelt upon. It had a revealing effect upon the beholders. There was a mixture, a beginning reversal, of emotion—a new kind of interest in the concerns and doings of the quack doctor. John did not expire quietly. He was a magnificent brute, of untold powers of resistance. But he never could have survived; of that I am certain.

"My God!" Agard suddenly exclaimed, and toppled over. A weakness came over me also; but I did not find it necessary to divulge the unprofessional ruse involved in the manner of John's taking off. I am accountable to no man for knowl-