Chapter 2 of Conduct in Question.

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Several days after Crawford’s funeral, Harry strolled down the corridor to his office, lost in his study of the newspaper. The Florist had carved again. This time he had left an intricate scroll of stems and thorns on his victim. For Harry, the artistry only highlighted the grotesqueness of the act.

He opened the door. Good Lord! Frank Sasso, a friend of Suzannah Deighton, Marjorie Deighton’s niece, was sprawled in a chair.

Heaving himself to his feet, Frank Sasso demanded, “Where’s the check from Suzannah’s trust, Jenkins?”

Frank was back at the trough. He was a lout and a bully, intent on stripping Deighton funds.

Another man rose silently behind Frank. He was at least a head taller than Harry. Muscles rippled everywhere.

Harry swallowed hard. “What are you talking about, Frank? You know any application for money has to go through Gideon Trust.”

“Listen, Jenkins. That partner of yours said the check was gonna be ready this morning.”

“Mr. Crawford’s dead, Frank. You’ll have to go back to Gideon Trust Company. It makes the decisions.” He tried to shoulder past the men.

“Now, let’s sit down and talk this over,” said the other man, adjusting his sunglasses. He touched Harry’s arm. Every gesture contained an unspoken threat.

Harry led them into his office and reached for the Deighton file. He saw the trickles of sweat on Frank’s cheek and the sickening fear and pleading in his eyes.

Harry’s gut contracted and bile rose to his throat. Hurriedly, he began shuffling papers.

“Everyone, just be reasonable,” the man said quietly.

“I’ll call the trust company today,” Harry replied.

“Do it now,” the man said. “We’ll wait.”

Harry called the trust officer, Cameron McCrea, only to encounter the maze of an automated telephone system . He left a message.

The man nodded and rose. “We’ll be back, Mr. Jenkins.” Grasping Frank’s elbow, he propelled him out the door, saying, “You better pray you get that money back, Frank. They don’t like it when money goes missing.”

Harry exhaled. He would have promised them anything just to get them out. Thank God Frank Sasso was no client of his. He closed his eyes against visions of Frank being led to some deserted spot and then…what? He waited until the churning in his stomach died down.

The firm prided itself on attending to the legal affairs of Toronto’s well-off families. Frank’s very presence grated. What a great beginning to Harry’s solo practice of law!

He called Miss Giveny into his office.

“Yes, Mr. Jenkins?” she said, grimacing.

Harry strove to catch a suitable note of regret. “Even though Richard’s passed away, we still have to carry on.”

She stared back at him. At last, she spoke. “That’s what Mr. Crawford would want.” She snapped open her steno pad. “Do you have some dictation for me?”

Briefly, he contemplated life with a new secretary. A pleasant and attractive helper,

or at least one who would not bristle when spoken to. But Miss Giveny was, at least for now, indispensable. She knew the ship would founder without her.

He stretched back in his chair. “Not at the moment. But I’d like to talk to you about the future of the firm.” With one glance at her narrow face, he saw a thousand doors closing. She did not and could not understand the new Toronto. The old, established families were dying out and in their place was a younger breed of new-moneyed clients less attuned to courtly ways and much more demanding. For her, Harry would always be Crawford’s junior.

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