“Even so, Jim. My questions,” I repeated. “I put questions as well as yourself; and however little I may have satisfied Mamie with my answers, I beg to remind you that you gave me none at all.”
“You mean about the bankruptcy?” asked Jim.
He writhed in his chair. “The straight truth is, I was ashamed,” he said. “I was trying to dodge you. I've been playing fast and loose with you, Loudon; I've deceived you from the first, I blush to own it. And here you came home and put the very question I was fearing. Why did we bust so soon? Your keen business eye had not deceived you. That's the point, that's my shame; that's what killed me this afternoon when Mamie was treating you so, and my conscience was telling me all the time, Thou art the man.'”
“What was it, Jim?” I asked.
“What I had been at all the time, Loudon,” he wailed; “and I don't know how I'm to look you in the face and say it, after my duplicity. It was stocks,” he added in a whisper.
“And you were afraid to tell me that!” I cried. “You poor, old, cheerless dreamer! what would it matter what you did or didn't? Can't you see we're doomed? And anyway, that's not my point. It's how I stand that I want to know. There is a particular reason. Am I clear? Have I a certificate, or what have I to do to get one? And when will it be dated? You can't think what hangs by it!”
“That's the worst of all,” said Jim, like a man in a dream, “I can't see how to tell him!”
“What do you mean?” I cried, a small pang of terror at my heart.
“I'm afraid I sacrificed you, Loudon,” he said, looking at me pitifully.
“Sacrificed me?” I repeated. “How? What do you mean by sacrifice?”
“I know it'll shock your delicate self-respect,” he said; “but what was I to do? Things looked so bad. The receiver—” (as usual, the name stuck in his throat, and he began afresh). “There was a lot of talk; the reporters were after me already; there was the trouble and all about the Mexican business; and I got scared right out, and I guess I lost my head. You weren't there, you see, and that was my temptation.”
The word 'certificate' troubles me there. What kind of certificate is meant there? It seems to be a specific one. The two characters, Loudon Dodd and Jim Pinkerton, went bankrupt and now Loudon Dodd wants to know where he stands - financially and judicially. 'Certificate' seems to have a specific judicial and - private or personal meaning in this context. Thank you for helping.