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Chapter 14 THE FIVE SENSES

  • However he decided quickly, it must be done, so he said, diplomatically, "Thi_s awful int'restin', Miss Ames, and I'm just dead sure and certain Mr.
  • Stone'd think so, too. Let's go out and get it off where he c'n hear it. Wha_ay?"
  • The boy had risen and was edging toward the door. Rather than lose he_udience, Aunt Abby followed, and in a moment the pair appeared in the living- room, where Fleming Stone was still talking to Eunice and Mr. Elliott.
  • "Miss Ames, now, she's got somethin' worth tellin'," Fibsy announced. "Thi_arn of hers is pure gold and a yard wide, Mr. Stone, and you oughter hear it, sir."
  • "Gladly," and Stone gave Aunt Abby a welcoming smile.
  • Nothing loath to achieve the center of the stage, the old lady seated hersel_n her favorite arm-chair, and began:
  • "It was almost morning," she said, "a faint dawn began to make objects abou_he room visible, when I opened my eyes and saw a dim, gliding figure—"
  • Eunice gave an angry exclamation, and rising quickly from her chair, walke_nto her own room, and closed the door with a slam that left no doubt as t_er state of mind.
  • "Let her alone," advised Elliott; "she's better off in there.
  • What is this story, Aunt Abby? I've never heard it in full."
  • "No; Eunice never would let me tell it. But it will solve all mystery o_anford's death."
  • "Then it is indeed important," and Stone looked at the speaker intently.
  • "Yes, Mr. Stone, it will prove beyond all doubt that Mr. Embury was _uicide."
  • "Go on, then," said Elliott, briefly.
  • "I will. In the half light, I saw this figure I just mentioned. It wasn'_iscernible clearly—it was merely a moving shadow—a vague shape. It cam_oward me—"
  • "From which direction? "asked Stone, with decided interest.
  • "From Eunice's room—that is, it had, of course, come from Mr.
  • Embury's room, through Eunice's room, and so on into my room.
  • For it was Sanford Embury's spirit—get that firmly in your minds!"
  • The old lady spoke with asperity, for she was afraid of contradiction, an_esented their quite apparent scepticism.
  • "Go on, please," urged Stone.
  • "Well, the spirit came nearer my bed, and paused and looked down on me where _ay."
  • "Did you see his face?" asked Elliott.
  • "Dimly. I can't seem to make you understand how vague the whole thing was—an_et it was there! As he leaned over me, I saw him—saw the indistinct shape—an_ heard the sound of a watch ticking. It was not my watch, it was a very fain_icking one, but all else was so still, that I positively heard it."
  • "Gee!" said Fibsy, in an explosive whisper.
  • "Then he seemed about to move away. Impulsively, I made a movement to detai_im. Almost without volition—acting on instinct—I put out my hand and clutche_is arm. I felt his sleeve—it wasn't a coat sleeve—nor a pajama sleeve—i_eemed to have on his gymnasium suit—the sleeve was like woolen jersey—"
  • "And you felt this?"
  • "Yes, Mr. Stone, I felt it distinctly—and not only with my hand as I graspe_t his arm but" Aunt Abby hesitated an instant, then went on, "But I bit a_im! Yes, I did! I don't know why, only I was possessed with an impulse t_old him—and he was slipping away. I didn't realize at the time—who—what i_as, and I sort of thought it was a burglar. But, anyway, I bit at him, and s_ bit at the woolen sleeve—it was unmistakable—and on it I tasted raspberr_am."
  • "What!" cried her hearers almost in concert.
  • "Yes—you needn't laugh—I guess I know the taste of raspberry jam, and it wa_n that sleeve, as sure as I'm sitting here!"
  • "Gee!" repeated Fibsy, his fists clenched on his knees and his bright eye_airly boring into the old lady's countenance. "Gee whiz!"
  • "Go on," said Stone, quietly.
  • "And—I smelt gasoline," concluded Miss Ames defiantly. "Now, sir, there's th_tory. Make what you will out of it, it's every word true. I've thought i_ver and over, since I realized what it all meant, and had I known at the tim_t was Sanford's spirit, I should have spoken to him. But as it was, I was to_tunned to speak, and when I tried to hold him, he slipped away, an_isappeared. But it was positively a materialization of Sanford Embury'_litting spirit—and nothing else."
  • "The vision may argue a passing soul," Stone said kindly, as if humoring her,
  • "but the effect on your other senses, seems to me to indicate a livin_erson."
  • "No," and Aunt Abby spoke with deep solemnity, "a materialized spirit i_vident to our senses—one or another of them. In this case I discerned it b_ll five senses, which is unusual —possibly unique; but I am very psychic—ver_ensitive to spiritual manifestations."
  • "You have seen ghosts before, then?"
  • "Oh, yes. I have visions often. But never such a strange one."
  • "And where did this spirit disappear to?"
  • "It just faded. It seemed to waft on across the room. I closed my eye_nvoluntarily, and when I opened them again it was gone."
  • "Leaving no trace behind?"
  • "The faint odor of gasoline—and the taste of raspberry jam on my tongue."
  • Fibsy snickered, but suppressed it at once, and said, "And he left the littl_ropper-thing beside your bed?"
  • "Yes, boy! You seem clairvoyant yourself! He did. It was Sanford, of course; he had killed himself with the poison, and he tried to tell me so—but h_ouldn't make any communication—they rarely can—so he left the tiny implement, that we might know and understand."
  • "H'm, yes;" and Stone sat thinking. "Now, Miss Ames, you must not be offende_t what I'm about to say. I don't disbelieve your story at all. You tell i_oo honestly for that. I fully believe you saw what you call a 'vision.' Bu_ou have thought over it and brooded over it, until you think you saw mor_han you did—or less! But, leaving that aside for the moment, I want you t_ealize that your theory of suicide, based on the 'vision' is not logical.
  • Supposing your niece were guilty—as the detectives think—might not Mr.
  • Embury's spirit have pursued the same course?"
  • Aunt Abby pondered. Then, her eyes flashing, she cried, "Do you mean he pu_he dropper in my room to throw suspicion on me, instead of on his wife?"
  • "There is a chance for such a theory."
  • "Sanford wouldn't do such a thing! He was truly fond of me!"
  • "But to save his wife?"
  • "I never thought of all that. Maybe he did—or, maybe he dropped the thin_ccidentally—"
  • "Maybe." Stone spoke preoccupiedly.
  • Mason Elliott, too, sat in deep thought. At last he said:
  • "Aunt Abby, if I were you, I wouldn't tell that yarn to anybody else. Let'_ll forget it, and call it merely a dream."
  • "What do you mean, Mason? "The old lady bridled, having no wish to hear he_arvelous experience belittled. "It wasn't a dream —not an ordinary dream—i_as a true appearance of Sanford, after his death. You know such things d_appen—look at that son of Sir Oliver Lodge. You don't doubt that, do you?"
  • "Never mind those things. But I earnestly beg of you, Aunt Abby, to forget th_pisode—or, at least, to promise me you'll not repeat it to any one else."
  • "Why?"
  • "I think it wiser for all concerned—for all concerned—that the tale shall no_ecome public property."
  • "But why?"
  • "Oh, my land!" burst out Fibsy; "don't you see? The ghost was Mrs. Embury!"
  • The boy had put into words what was in the thoughts of both Stone and Elliott.
  • They realized that, while Aunt Abby's experience might have been entirely _ream, it was so circumstantial as to indicate a real occurrence, and in tha_ase, what solution so plausible as that Eunice, after committing the crime, wandered into her aunt's room, and whether purposely or accidentally, droppe_he implement of death?
  • Stone, bent on investigation, plied Miss Ames with questions.
  • Elliott, sorely afraid for Eunice, begged the old lady not to answer.
  • "You are inventing!" he cried. "You are drawing on your imagination! Don'_elieve all that, Mr. Stone. It isn't fair to—to Mrs. Embury!"
  • "Then you see it as I do, Mr. Elliott?" and Stone turned to him quickly. "But, even so, we must look into this story. Suppose, as an experiment, we build u_ case against Mrs. Embury, for the purpose of knocking it down again. A ma_f straw—you know."
  • "Don't," pleaded Elliott. "Just forget the rigmarole of the nocturna_ision—and devote your energies to finding the real murderer. I have _heory—"
  • "Wait, Mr. Elliott, I fear you are an interested investigator. Don't forge_hat you have been mentioned as one of those with 'motive but no opportunity.'
  • "
  • "Since you have raised that issue, Mr. Stone, let me say right here that m_egard for Mrs. Embury is very great. It is also honorable and lifelong. _ake no secret of it, but I declare to you that its very purity and intensit_uts it far above and beyond any suspicion of being 'motive' for the murder o_rs. Embury's huband."
  • Mason Elliott looked Fleming Stone straight in the eye and the speaker's ton_nd expression carried a strong conviction of sincerity.
  • Fibsy, too, scrutinized Elliott.
  • "Good egg!" he observed to himself; "trouble is—he'd give us that same son_nd dance if he'd croaked the guy his own self!"
  • "Furthermore," Stone went on, "Mrs. Embury shows a peculiarly stron_epugnance to hearing this story of Miss Ames' experience. That looks—"
  • "Oh, fiddlesticks!" cried Miss Ames, who had been listening in amazement; "i_asn't Eunice! Why would she rig up in Sanford's gym jersey?"
  • "Why wouldn't she?" countered Stone. "As I said, we're building up _upposititious case. Assume that it was Mrs. Embury, not at all enacting _host, but merely wandering around after her impulsive deed—for if she is th_uilty party it must have been an impulsive deed. You know her uncontrollabl_emper—her sudden spasms of rage—"
  • "Mr. Stone, a 'man of straw,' as you call it, is much more easily built u_han knocked down." Elliott spoke sternly. "I hold you have no right to assum_rs. Embury's identity in this story Miss Ames tells."
  • "Is there anything that points to her in your discernment by your five senses, Miss Ames?" Stone asked, very gravely. "Has Mrs. Embury a faintly tickin_atch?"
  • "Yes, her wrist-watch," Aunt Abby answered, though speaking evidently agains_er will.
  • "And it is possible that she slipped on her husband's jersey; and it i_ossible there was raspberry jam on the sleeve of it. You see, I am no_oubting the evidence of your senses. Now, as to the gasoline. Had Mrs.
  • Embury, or her maid, by any chance, been cleaning any laces or finery wit_asoline?"
  • "I won't tell you!" and Aunt Abby shook her head so obstinately that it wa_uite equivalent to an affirmative answer!
  • "Now, you see, Aunt Abby," protested Elliott, in an agonized voice, "why _ant you to shut up about that confounded 'vision'! You are responsible fo_his case Mr. Stone is so ingeniously building up against Eunice! You ar_etting her into a desperate coil, from which it will be difficult t_xtricate her! If Shane got hold of this absurd yarn—"
  • "It's not entirely absurd," broke in Stone, "but I agree with you, Mr.
  • Elliott; if Shane learns of it—he won't investigate any further!"
  • "He shan't know of it," was the angry retort. "I got you here, Mr. Stone—"
  • "To discover the truth, or to free Mrs. Embury?"
  • There was a pause, and the two men looked at each other. Then Mason Elliott said, in a low voice, "To free Mrs. Embury."
  • "I can't take the case that way," Stone replied. "I will abandon the whol_ffair, or—I will find out the truth."
  • "Abandon it!" cried a ringing voice, and the door of her bedroom was flun_pen as Eunice again appeared.
  • She was in a towering fury, her face was white and her lips compressed to _traight scarlet line.
  • "Give up the case! I will take my chances with any judge or jury rather tha_ith you!" She faced Stone like the "Tiger" her husband had nicknamed her. "_ave heard every word—Aunt Abby's story—and your conclusions! Your despicable
  • 'deductions,' as I suppose you call them! I've had enough of the 'celebrate_etective'! Quite enough of Fleming Stone—and his work!"
  • She stepped back and gazed at him with utter scorn beautiful as a sculpture_edea, haughty as a tragedy queen.
  • "Independent as a pig on ice!" Fibsy communicated with himself, and he stare_t her with undisguised admiration.
  • "Eunice," and the pain in Mason Elliott's voice was noticeable;
  • "Eunice, dear, don't do yourself such injustice."
  • "Why not? When everybody is unjust to me! You, Mason, you and this—thi_nfallible detective sit here and deliberately build up what you call a 'case'
  • against me—me, Eunice Embury! Oh—I hate you all!"
  • A veritable figure of hate incarnate, she stood, her white hands clasping eac_ther tightly, as they hung against her black gown. Her head held high, he_hole attitude fiercely defiant, she flung out her words with a bitternes_hat betokened the end of her endurance—the limit of her patience.
  • Then her hands fell apart, her whole body drooped, and sinking down on th_ide sofa, she sat, hopelessly facing them, but with head erect and the air o_ne vanquished but very much unsubdued.
  • "Take that back, Eunice," Elliott spoke passionately, and quite as if ther_ere no others present; "you do not hate me—I am here to help you!"
  • "You can't, Mason; no one can help me. No one can protect me from Flemin_tone!"
  • The name was uttered with such scorn as to seem an invective of itself!
  • Stone betrayed no annoyance at her attitude toward him, but rather seeme_mpressed with her personality. He gave her a glance that was not untinge_ith admiration, but he made no defence.
  • "I can," cried Fibsy, who was utterly routed by Eunice's imperious beauty.
  • "You go ahead with Mr. F. Stone, ma'am, and I'll see to it that they ain't n_njustice done to you!"
  • Stone looked at his excited young assistant with surprise, and then good- naturedly contented himself with a shake of his head, and a
  • "Careful, Terence."
  • "Yes, sir—but, oh, Mr. Stone—" and then, at a gesture from the great detectiv_he boy paused, abashed, and remained silent.
  • "Now, Miss Ames," Stone began, "in Mrs. Embury's presence, I'll ask you—"
  • "You won't ask me anything, sir," she returned crisply. "I'm going out. I've _ery important errand to do."
  • "Oh, I don't know about that," Elliott said; "it's almost six o'clock, Aun_bby. Where are you going?"
  • "I've got an errand—a very important errand—an appointment, in fact. I mus_o—don't you dare oppose me, Mason. You'll be sorry if you do!"
  • Even as she spoke, the old lady was scurrying to her room, from which sh_eturned shortly, garbed for the street.
  • "All right," Stone said, in reply to a whisper from Fibsy, and the bo_ffered, respectfully:
  • "Let me go with you, Miss Ames. It ain't fittin' you should go alone. It's
  • 'most dark."
  • "Come on, boy," Aunt Abby regarded him kindly; "I'd be glad of your company."
  • At the street door, the old lady asked for a taxicab, and the strangel_ssorted pair were soon on their way.
  • "You're a bright lad, Fibsy," she said; "by the way, what's your real name—_orget."
  • "Terence, ma'am; Terence McGuire. I wish't I was old enough to be calle_cGuire! I'd like that."
  • "I'll call you that, if you wish. You're old for your age, I'm sure. How ol_re you?"
  • "Goin' on about fifteen or sixteen—I think. I sort'a forget."
  • "Nonsense! You can't forget your age! Why do they call you Fibsy?"
  • "'Cause I'm a born liar—'scuse me—a congenital prevaricator, I meant to say.
  • You see, ma'am, it's necessary in my business not always to employ the plai_nvarnished. But don't be alarmed, ma'am; when I take a fancy to anybuddy, a_ have to you, ma'am, I don't never lie to 'em. Not that I s'pose you'd care, eh, ma'am?"
  • Aunt Abby laughed. "You are a queer lad! Why, I'm not sure I'd care, if i_idn't affect me in any way. I'm not responsible for your truthfulness—thoug_ don't mind advising you that you ought to be a truthful boy."
  • "Land, ma'am! Don't you s'pose I know that? But, honest now, are you alway_ust exactly, abserlutely truthful, yourself?"
  • "Certainly I am! What do you mean by speaking to me like that?"
  • "Well, don't you ever touch up a yarn a little jest sort'a to make it mor_nterestin' like? Most ladies do—that is, most ladies of intelligence an_rains—which you sure have got in plenty!"
  • "There, there, boy; I'm afraid I've humored you too much you're presuming."
  • "I presume I am. But one question more, while we're on this absorbin' subject.
  • Didn't you, now, just add a jot or a tittle to that ghost story you put over?
  • Was it every bit on the dead level?"
  • "Yes, child," Aunt Abby took his question seriously; "it was every word true.
  • I didn't make up the least word of it!"
  • "I believe you, ma'am, and I congratulate you on your clarviant powers. Now, about that raspberry jam, ma'am. That's a mighty unmistakable taste—ain't it, now."
  • "It is, McGuire. It certainly is. And I tasted it, just as surely as I'm her_elling you about it."
  • "Have you had it for supper lately, ma'am?"
  • "No; Eunice hasn't had it on her table since I've been visiting her."
  • "Is that so, ma'am?"