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Chapter 12 IN HANLON'S OFFICE

  • In an office building, away downtown, a little old lady stood in the lobb_tudying the great bulletin board of room numbers.
  • "Can I help you, ma'am? "asked the elevator starter, seeing her perplexity.
  • "I want Sykes and Barton, Scenic Sign Painters," she said, positively enough;
  • "but there are so many S's, I can't seem to find them!"
  • "All right, ma'am; here they are. Sixth floor, Room 614."
  • "Thank you," the old lady said, and entered the elevator he indicated.
  • She seemed preoccupied, and made no move to leave the car, until the elevato_an spoke to her twice.
  • "This is the floor you want, lady," he said. "Room 614\. That way, just roun_hat first corner."
  • Miss Ames started off in the way he pointed, and stood for a moment in fron_f the door numbered 614.
  • Then, with a determined shake of her thin shoulders, she opened the door an_alked in.
  • "I want to see Mr. Hanlon," she said to the girl at the first desk.
  • "By appointment?"
  • "No; but say it is Miss Ames—he'll see me."
  • "Why, Miss Ames, how do you do?" and the man who had so interested th_eholders of his feat in Newark came forward to greet her. "Come right into m_ffice," and he led her to an inner room. "Now, what's it all about?"
  • The cheery reception set his visitor at ease, and she drew a long breath o_elief as she settled herself in the chair he offered.
  • "Oh, Mr. Hanlon, I'm so frightened—or, at least, I was. It's all so noisy an_onfusing down here! Why, I haven't been downtown in New York for twent_ears!"
  • "That so? Then I must take you up on our roof and show you a few of th_kyscrapers—"
  • "No, no, I've not time for anything like that. Oh, Mr. Hanlon —you—have yo_ead in the papers of our—our trouble?"
  • "Yes," and the young man spoke gravely, "I have, Miss Ames. Just a week ag_o-day, wasn't it?"
  • "Yes; and they're no nearer a solution of the mystery than ever.
  • And, oh, Mr. Hanlon, they're still suspecting Eunice—Mrs.
  • Embury—and I must save her! She didn't do it—truly she didn't, and—I think I did."
  • "What!"
  • "Yes, I truly think so. But I wasn't myself, you know—I was —hypnotized—"
  • "Hypnotized! By whom?"
  • "I don't know—by some awful person who wanted Sanford dead, I suppose."
  • "But that's ridiculous, Miss Ames—"
  • "No, it isn't. I'm a very easy subject—"
  • "Have you ever been hypnotized?"
  • "Not very successfully. But no real hypnotizer ever tried it. I'm sure, though, I'd be a perfect subject—I'm so—so psychic, you know—"
  • "Bosh and nonsense! You know, Miss Ames, what I think of that sort of thing!
  • You know how I played on people's gullibility when I used to do that fake
  • 'thought-transference'—"
  • "I know, Mr. Hanlon," and Miss Ames was very earnest, "but, and this is wh_'m here—you told me that in all the foolery and hocus-pocus there was, yo_elieved, two per cent of genuine telepathy—two per cent of genuin_ommunication with spirits of the dead"
  • "But I said that merely in a general way, Miss Ames. I didn't mean to say i_as a proven proposition—"
  • "That isn't the point—you told me there were a few—a very few real, sincer_ediums—now I'm here to get the address of the best one you know of. I want t_o to him—or her—and have a seance, and I want to get into communication wit_anford—with Mr. Embury's spirit, and learn from him who killed him. It's th_nly way we can ever find out."
  • Miss Ames' gray eyes took on a strange look; she seemed half hypnotized at th_oment, as she looked at Hanlon. He moved uncomfortably under her gaze.
  • "Well," he said, at length, "I can give you the address of the best—the onl_eal medium I know. That I will do with pleasure, but I cannot guarantee hi_ringing about a materialization of —of Mr. Embury."
  • "Never mind about materialization, if he can get in touch and get a messag_or me. You see—I haven't said much about this—but Mr. Embury's spiri_ppeared to me as—as he died."
  • "What?"
  • "Yes; just at the moment his soul passed from earth, his astral body passed b_e and paused at my bedside for a farewell."
  • "You amaze me! You are indeed psychic. Tell me about it."
  • "No; I won't tell you the story—I'll tell the medium. But I know I sa_im—why, he was discernible to all my five senses—"
  • "To your senses! Then it was no spirit!"
  • "Oh, yes, it was. Sanford's body still lay on his own bed, but his passin_pirit materialized sufficiently for me to see it—to hear it—to feel it"
  • "Miss Ames, you mustn't go to a medium! You are too imaginative —too easil_wayed—don't go, dear lady, it can do no good."
  • Young Hanlon looked, as he felt, very solicitous for the aged spinster, and h_ast an anxious glance at her disturbed face.
  • "I must," she insisted; "it is the only way. I had great trouble to find you, Mr. Hanlon. I had to communicate with Mr. Mortimer, in Newark—and at last w_raced you here. Are you all through with your fake tricks?"
  • "Yes," Hanlon laughed. "I wore them out. I've gone into a legitimat_usiness."
  • "Sign painting?"
  • "Yes, as you see."
  • "But such big signs!" and the old lady's eyes wandered to photographs an_ketches of enormous scenic signs, such as are painted on high buildings o_uilt on housetops.
  • "That's the specialty of this firm. I'm only learning, but it strongly appeal_o me. It's really more of an art than a trade. Now, as to this man you wan_o see, Miss Ames, I'll give you his address, but I beg of you to think i_ver before you visit him. Consult with some one—not Mrs. Embury—some man, o_ood judgment and clear mind. Who is advising you?"
  • "Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Elliott—you saw them both the day you were at ou_ouse—they advise my niece and myself in all matters. Shall I ask them?"
  • Miss Abby was pathetic in her simple inquiry, and Hanlon spoke gently as h_eplied.
  • "Yes, if you are determined to try the experiment. But I do not advise you t_ee Mr. Marigny, the medium I spoke of. Here is the address, but you talk i_ver with those two men you mentioned. I know they are both practical, logica_usiness men, and their advice on the subject will be all right. I thank you, Miss Ames, for honoring me with a call. I hope if you do go to see Marigny, i_ill prove a satisfactory seance, but I also hope you will decide not to go.
  • You are, as I said, too emotional, too easily swayed by the supernatural to g_ery deeply into those mysteries. Shall I take you to the elevator?"
  • "If you please, Mr. Hanlon," and still in that half oblivious mood, Miss Ame_llowed herself to be led through the halls.
  • Hanlon went down with her, for he feared to leave her to her own devices. H_as relieved to find she had a taxicab in waiting, and as he put her into it, he cautioned the driver to take his fare straight home.
  • "But I want to go to Marigny's now," objected Miss Ames, as she heard wha_anlon said.
  • "Oh, you can't. You must make an appointment with him—by mail or by telephone.
  • And, too, you promised me you'd put it up to Mr. Hendricks or Mr. Elliot_irst."
  • "So I did," and the old head nodded submissively, as the taxi drove away.
  • When Ferdinand admitted Aunt Abby to the Embury home, she heard voices in th_iving-room that were unmistakably raised in anger.
  • "You know perfectly well, Fifi," Eunice was saying, "that your little bridg_ames are quite big enough to be called a violation of the law—you know tha_uch stakes as you people play for—"
  • "It isn't the size of the stake that makes gambling!" Fifi Desternay cried, shrilly; "I've had the advice of a lawyer, and he says that as long as it's m_wn home and the players are invited guests, there's no possibility of being—"
  • "Raided!" said Eunice, scathingly. "Might as well call things by their rea_ame!"
  • "Hush up! Some of the servants might hear you! How unkind you are to me, Eunice. You used to love your little Fifi!"
  • "Well, she doesn't now!" said Miss Ames, tartly, as she came in. "You see, Mrs. Desternay, you have been instrumental in bringing our dear Eunice under _readful, and absolutely unfounded suspicion—"
  • "Dreadful, but far from unfounded!" declared Mrs. Desternay, her little hand_plifted, and her pretty face showing a scornful smile. "You and I, Aunt Abby, know what our dear Eunice's temper is—"
  • "Don't you 'Aunt Abby' me, you good-for-nothing little piece! I am surprise_unice allows you in this house!"
  • "Now, now—if Eunice doesn't want me, I'll get out—and jolly well glad to d_o! How about it, Eunice? I came here to help, but if I'm not wanted—out goe_ittle Fifi!"
  • She rose, shaking her fur stole into place about her dainty person, and, whipping out a tiny mirror from her vanity case, she applied a rouge stick t_er already scarlet lips.
  • "No—no—" and Eunice wailed despairingly. "Don't go, Fifi, I —oh, I don't kno_ow I feel toward you! You see—I will speak plainly—you see, it was m_cquaintance with you that caused the trouble—mostly—between me and San."
  • "Thought it was money matters—his stinginess, you know."
  • "He wasn't stingy! He wouldn't give me an allowance, but he was generous i_very other way. And that's why—"
  • "Why you came to my 'gambling house' to try to pick up a little ready cash! _now. But now looky here, Eunice, you've got to decide—either you're with m_r agin me! I won't have any blow hot, blow cold! You're friends with Fif_esternay—or—she's your enemy!"
  • "What do you mean?"
  • "Just what I say! You like me, you've always liked me. Now, stand by me, an_'ll stand by you."
  • "How?"
  • "You think I can't! Well, madame, you're greatly mistaken! That big blunderin_ool of a detective person has been to see me—"
  • "Shane?"
  • "The same. And—he grilled me pretty thoroughly as to our going to see 'Hamlet'
  • and whether we talked the poison scene over— and so forth and so on. In _ord, Eunice Embury, I hold your life in my hands!"
  • Fifi held out her pretty little hands, dramatically. She still stood, he_hite fur scarf hanging from one shoulder, her small turban of red breas_eathers cocked at a jaunty angle above her straight brows, and one tin_lippered foot tapping decidedly on the floor.
  • "Yes, ma'am, in my two hands,—me—Fifi! If I tell all we said about tha_oisoning of the old 'Hamlet' gentleman, through his ear—you know what w_aid, Eunice Embury—you know how we discussed the impossibility of such _urder ever being discovered—you know if I should give Shane a full account o_hat talk of ours—the life of Madame Embury wouldn't be worth that!"
  • A snap of a dainty thumb and finger gave a sharp click that went straigh_hrough Eunice's brain, and made her gasp out a frightened "Oh!"
  • "Yes, ma'am, oh! all you like to—you can't deny it! Shane came to see me thre_imes. I almost told him all the last time, for you steadily refused to se_e—until to-day. And now, to-day, I put it to you, Eunice Embury, do you wan_e for friend—or foe?"
  • Fifi's blue eyes glittered, her red lips closed in a tight line, and he_ittle pointed face was as the face of a wicked sprite. Eunice stood, surveying her. Tall, stately, beautiful, she towered above her guest, an_ooked down on her with a fine disdain.
  • Eunice's eyes were stormy, not glittering—desperate rather than defiant—sh_eemed almost like a fierce, powerful tiger appraising a small but very wil_erret.
  • "Is this a bargain?" she cried scathingly. "Are you offering to buy m_riendship? I know you, Fifi Desternay! You are—a snake in the grass!"
  • Fifi clenched her little fists, drew her lips between her teeth, and fairl_issed, "Serpent, yourself! Murderess! I know all —and I shall tell all!
  • You'll regret the day you scorned the friendship—the help of Fifi Desternay!"
  • "I don't want your help, at the price of friendship with you! I know you fo_hat you are! My husband told me—others have told me! I did go to your hous_or the sake of winning money—yes, and I am ashamed of it! And I am ready t_ace any accusation, brave any suspicion, rather than be shielded from it, o_elped out of it by you!"
  • "Fine words! but they mean nothing! You know you're justly accused! You kno_ou're rightly suspected! But you are clever —you also know that no jury, i_his enlightened age, will ever convict a woman! Especially a beautiful woman!
  • You know you are safe from even the lightest sentence—and that though you ar_uilty—yes, guilty of the murder of your husband, you will get off scot free, because"—Fifi paused to give her last shot telling effect—"because you_ounsel, Alvord Hendricks, is in love with you! He will manage it, and what h_an't accomplish, Mason Elliott can! With those two influential men, both i_ove with you, you can't be convicted—and probably you won't even b_rrested!"
  • "Go!" said Eunice, and she folded her arms as she gazed at her angr_ntagonist. "Go! I scorn to refute or even answer your words."
  • "Because they're true! Because there is no answer!" Fifi fairly screamed. "Yo_hink you're a power! Because you're tall and statuesque and stunning! Yo_now if those men can't keep you out of the court-room at least you are saf_n the hands of any judge or jury, because they are men! You know if you smil_t them—pathetically—if you cast those wonderful eyes of yours at them, they'll grovel at your feet! I know you, Eunice Embury! You're banking on you_emininity to save you from your just fate."
  • "You judge me by yourself, Fifi. You are a power among men, most women are, but I do not bank on that—"
  • "Not alone! You bank on the fact that either Hendricks or Elliott would g_hrough hell for you, and count it an easy journey. You rest easy in th_nowledge that those two men can do just about anything they set their mind_o—"
  • "Will you go?"
  • "Yes, I will go. And when Mr. Shane comes to see me again, I will tell him th_ruth—all the truth about the' Hamlet' play —and—it will be enough!"
  • "Tell him!" Eunice's eyes blazed now. "Tell him the truth—and add to i_hatever lies your clever brain can invent! Do your worst Fifi Desternay; I a_ot afraid of you!"
  • "I am going, Eunice." Fifi moved slowly toward the door. "I shall tell th_ruth, but I shall add no lies—that will not be necessary!"
  • She disappeared, and Eunice stood, panting with excitement and indignation.
  • Aunt Abby came toward her. The old lady had been a witness of the whol_cene—had, indeed, tried several times to utter a word of pacification, bu_either of the women had so much as noticed her.
  • "Go away, Auntie, please," said Eunice. "I can't talk to you. I'm expectin_ason at any time now, and I want to get calmed down a little."
  • Miss Ames went to her room, and Eunice sat down on the davenport.
  • She sat upright, tensely quiet, and thought over all Fifi had said—all she ha_hreatened.
  • "It would have been far better," Eunice told herself, "for my cause if I ha_eld her friendship. And I could have done it, easily—but—Fifi's friendshi_ould be worse than her enmity!"
  • When Mason Elliott came, Detective Driscoll was with him.
  • The net of the detectives was closing in around Eunice, and though bot_lliott and Hendricks—as Fifi had truly surmised —were doing all in thei_ower, the denouement was not far off —Eunice was in imminent danger of arres_t any moment.
  • "We've been talking about the will—Sanford's will," Elliott said, in a drear_one, after the callers were seated, "and, Eunice, Mr. Driscoll chooses t_hink that the fact that San left practically everything to you, without an_estraint in the way of trustees, or restriction of any sort, is another coun_gainst you."
  • Eunice smiled bravely. "But that isn't news," she said; "we all knew that m_usband made me his sole—or rather principal —beneficiary. I know th_onsensus of opinion is that I murdered my husband that I might have hi_oney—and full control of it. This is no new element."
  • "No;" said Driscoll, moved by the sight of the now patient, gentle face; "no; but we've added a few more facts—and look here, Mrs. Embury, it's this way.
  • I've doped it out that there are five persons who could possibly hav_ommitted this—this crime. I'll speak plainly, for you have continuall_ermitted me—even urged me to do so. Well, let us say Sanford Embury coul_ave been killed by anyone of a certain five. And they size up like this: Mr.
  • Elliott, here, and Mr. Alvord Hendricks may be said to have had motive but n_pportunity."
  • "Motive?" said Eunice, in a tone of deepest possible scorn.
  • "Yes, ma'am. Mr. Elliott, now, is an admirer of yours—don't look offended, please; I'm speaking very seriously. It is among the possibilities that h_anted your husband out of his way."
  • Mason Elliott listened to this without any expression of annoyance. Indeed, h_ad heard this argument of Driscoll's before, and it affected him not at all.
  • "But, Mrs. Embury, Mr. Elliott had no opportunity. We have learned beyond al_oubt that he was at his club or at his home all that night. Next, Mr.
  • Hendricks had a motive. The rival candidates were both eager for election, an_e must call that a motive for Mr. Hendricks to be willing to remove hi_pponent. But again, Mr. Hendricks had no opportunity. He was in Boston fro_he afternoon of the day before Mr. Embury's death until noon of the next day.
  • That lets him out positively. Therefore, there are two with motives but n_pportunity. Next, we must admit there were two who had opportunity, but n_otive. I refer to Ferdinand, your butler, and Miss Ames, your aunt. These tw_ould have managed to commit the deed, had they chosen, but we can find n_otive to attribute to either of them. It has been suggested that Miss Ame_ight have had such a desire to rid you, Mrs. Embury, of a tyrannical husband, that she was guilty. But it is so highly improbable as to be almos_nbelievable.
  • "Therefore, as I sum it up, the two who had motive without opportunity, an_he two who had opportunity without motive, must all be disregarded, becaus_f the one who had motive and opportunity both. Yourself, Mrs. Embury."
  • The arraignment was complete. Driscoll's quiet, even tones carried a sort o_alm conviction.
  • "And so, Eunice," Mason Elliott spoke up, "I'm going to try one more chance.
  • I've persuaded Mr. Driscoll to wait a day or two before progressing an_urther, and let me get Fleming Stone on this case."
  • "Very well," said Eunice, listlessly. "Who is he?"
  • "A celebrated detective. Mr. Driscoll makes no objection—which goes to prov_hat a good detective he is himself. His partner, Mr. Shane, is not s_illing, but has grudgingly consented. In fact, they couldn't help themselves, for they are not quite sure that they have enough evidence to arrest you.
  • Shane thinks that Stone will find out more, and so strengthen the case agains_ou but Driscoll, bless him! thinks maybe Stone can find another suspect."
  • "I didn't exactly say I thought that, Mr. Elliott," said Driscoll. "I said I hoped it."
  • "We all hope it," returned Elliott.
  • "Hope while you may," and Driscoll sighed. "Fleming Stone has never failed t_ind the criminal yet. And if his findings verify mine, I shall be glad to pu_he responsibility on his shoulders."