Of the two detectives who arrived in response to the Examiner's call, on_lmost literally fulfilled Eunice's prophecy of a rude, unkempt, common man.
His name was Shane and he strode into the room with a bumptious, self- important air, his burly frame looking especially awkward and unwieldy in th_entle surroundings.
His companion, however, a younger man named Driscoll, was of a finer type, an_howed at least an appreciation of the nature of the home which he ha_ntered.
"We're up from the homicide bureau," Shane said to Dr. Crowell, quite ignorin_he others present. "Tell us all you know."
In the fewest possible words the Medical Examiner did this, and Shane paid close attention.
Driscoll listened, too, but his glance, instead of being fixed on the speaker, darted from one to another of the people sitting round.
He noted carefully Eunice's beautiful, angry face, as she sat, looking out o_ window, disdaining any connection with the proceedings. He watched Mis_mes, nervously rolling her handkerchief into a ball and shaking it out again; Mason Elliott, calm, grave, and earnestly attentive; Alvord Hendricks, alert, eager, sharply critical.
And in the background, Ferdinand, the well-trained butler, hovering in th_oorway.
All these things Driscoll studied, for his method was judging from the manner_f individuals, whereas, Shane gathered his conclusions from their definit_tatements.
And, having listened to Dr. Crowell's account, Shane turned to Eunice and said bluntly, "You and your husband good friends?"
Eunice gasped. Then, after one scathing glance, she deliberately turned bac_o the window, and neglected to answer.
"That won't do, ma'am," said Shane, in his heavy voice, which was coarse an_ncultured but not intentionally rude. "I'm here to ask questions and yo_eople have got to answer 'em. Mebbe I can put it different. Was you and Mr.
Embury on good terms?"
"Certainly." The word was forced from Eunice's scornful lips, and accompanie_y an icy glance meant to freeze the detective, but which utterly failed.
"No rows or disagreements, eh? "Shane's smile was unbearable, and Eunic_urned and faced him like an angry thing at bay.
"I forbid you to speak to me," she said, and looked at Shane as if he wer_ome miserable, crawling reptile. "Mason, will you answer this man for me?"
"No, no, lady," Shane seemed to humor her. "I must get your own word for it.
Don't you want me to find out who killed your husband? Don't you want th_ruth known? Are you afraid to have it told? Hey?"
Shane's secret theory was that of a sort of third degree applied at the ver_eginning often scared people into a quick confession of the truth and save_ime in the long run.
Driscoll knew of this and did not approve.
"Let up, Shane," he muttered; "this is no time for such talk.
You don't know anything yet."
"Go ahead, you," returned Shane, not unwillingly, and Driscoll did.
"Of course we must ask questions, Mrs. Embury," he said, and his politenes_ained him a hearing from Eunice.
She looked at him with, at least, toleration, as he began to question her.
"When did you last see Mr. Embury alive, ma'am?"
"Last night," replied Eunice, "about midnight, when we retired."
"He was in his usual health and spirits?"
"You have two bedrooms?"
"Open or shut—after you said good-night to Mr. Embury?"
"Who shut it."
"Did he bang it shut? Slam it?"
"Mr. Embury was a gentleman."
"Yes, I know. Did he slam that door?"
"He did," and Driscoll nodded his head, as if not minding Eunice's stammered denial, but not believing it, either.
"Now, as he closed that door with a bang, ma'am, I gather that you two ha_—well, say, a little tiff—a quarrel. Might as well own up, ma'am,—it'll com_ut, and it's better you should tell me the truth."
"I am not accustomed to telling anything else!" Eunice declared, holdin_erself together with a very evident effort. "Mr. Embury and I had a sligh_ifference of opinion, but not enough to call a quarrel."
"What about?" broke in Shane, who had been listening intently.
Eunice did not speak until Elliott advised her. "Tell all Eunice—it is the best way."
"We had a slight discussion," Eunice said, "but it was earlier in the evening.
We had spent the evening out—Mr. Embury at his club, and I at the house of _riend. We came home together—Mr. Embury called for me in our own car. O_eaching home, we had no angry words—and as it was late, we retired at once.
That is all. Mr. Embury closed the door between our bedrooms, and that is th_ast I ever saw of him until—this morning—"
She did not break down, but she seemed to think she had told all and sh_eased speaking.
"And then he was dead," Shane mused. "What doctor did you call?"
Dr. Crowell took up the narrative and told of Dr. Harper and Dr. Marsden, wh_ere not now present. He told further of the mysterious and undiscoverabl_ause of the death.
"Let me see him," said Shane, rising suddenly.
Most of this man's movements were sudden—and as he was in every respec_wkward and uncouth, Eunice's dislike of him grew momentarily.
"Isn't he dreadful!" she cried, as the two detectives and the Medical Examiner disappeared into Embury's room.
"Yes," agreed Hendricks, "but, Eunice, you must not antagonize him. It can'_o any good—and it may do harm."
"Harm? How?" and Eunice turned her big, wondering eyes on Hendrick.
"Oh, it isn't wise to cross a man like that. He's a common clod, but h_epresents authority—he represents the law, and we must respect that fact, however his personal manner offends us."
"All right, Alvord, I understand; but there's no use in my seeing him again.
Can't you and Mason settle up things and let Aunt Abby and me go to ou_ooms?"
"No, Eunice," Hendricks' voice was grave. "You must stay here.
And, too, they will go through your room, searching."
"My room! My bedroom! They shan't! I won't have it! Mason, must I submit t_uch horrible things?"
We must face this squarely. The police think Sanford was murdered. They'r_ndeavoring to find out who killed him. To do their duty in the matter the_ave to search everywhere. It's the law, you know, and we can't get away fro_t. So, try to take it as quietly as you can."
"Oh, my! oh, my!" wailed Aunt Abby; "that I should live to see this day! _urder in my own family! No wonder poor Sanford's troubled spirit paused i_ts passing to bid me farewell."
Eunice shrieked. "Aunt Abby, if you start up that talk, I shall go stark, staring mad! Hush! I won't have it!"
"Let up on the spook stuff, Miss Ames," begged Hendricks. "Our poor Eunice i_ust about at the end of her rope."
"So am I!" cried Aunt Abby. "I'm entitled to some consideration! Here's th_hole house turned upside down with a murder and police and all that, an_obody considers me! It's all Eunice!" Then, with a softened voice, she added,
"And Lord knows, she's got enough to bear!"
"Yes, I have!" Eunice was composed again, now. "But I can bear it. I'm no_oing to collapse! Don't be afraid for me. And I do consider you, Aunt Abby.
It's dreadful for you—for both of us."
Eunice crossed the room and sat by the cider lady, and they comforted on_nother.
Shane came back to the living-room.
"Here's the way it is," he said, gruffly. "Those three bedrooms all open int_ach other; but when their doors that open out into these here other rooms ar_ocked they're quite shut off by themselves, and nobody can get into 'em. No_hat last room, the one the old lady sleeps in, that don't have a door excep_nto Mrs. Embury's room. What I'm gettin' at is, if Mr. and Mrs. Embury's roo_oors is locked—not meanin' the door between—then those three people ar_ocked in there every night, and can't get out or in, except through those tw_ocked doors.
"Well, this morning—where's that butler man?"
"Here, sir," and Ferdinand appeared promptly, and with his usual correc_emeanor.
"Yes, you. Now, this morning, those two doors to the sleeping rooms wa_ocked, I understand?"
"Yes, sir. They were."
"What—what happens, sir?"
"Yes; what's your first duty in the morning? Does Mr. Embury call you—or rin_or you?"
"Oh, that, sir. Why, generally Mr. Embury unlocked his door about eigh_'clock—"
"And you went to help him dress?"
"No, sir. Mr. Embury didn't require that. I valeted his clothes, like, an_ept them in order, but he dressed by himself. I took him some tea an_oast—he had that before the regular breakfast—"
"And this morning—when he didn't ring or make any sound, what did you do?"
"I waited a little while and then I rapped at Mrs. Embury's door."
"Yes; and she—now, be careful, man—" Shane's voice was impressive. "How di_he act? Unusual, or frightened in any way?"
"Not a bit, sir. Mrs. Embury was surprised, and when I said Mr. Embury didn'_nswer my knock, she let me go through her room to his."
"Exactly. And then you found your master dead?"
"Now-what is your name?"
"Yes. Now, Ferdinand, you know Mr. and Mrs. Embury had a quarrel last night."
The trap had worked! Shane had brought about the admission from the servan_hat Eunice had refused to make. A smile of satisfaction settled on his ugl_eatures, as he nodded his head and went on.
"At what time was this?"
"Ferdinand, be quiet," said Eunice, her own voice low and even, but her fac_as ablaze with wrath. "You know nothing of such things!"
"That's right, sir, I don't."
Clearly, the butler, restored to his sense of the responsibilities of hi_osition, felt he had made a misstep and regretted it.
"Be quiet, madam!" Shane hurled at Eunice, and turning to the frightene_erdinand, said: "You tell the truth, or you'll go to jail! At what time wa_his quarrel that you have admitted took place?"
Eunice stood, superbly indifferent, looking like a tragedy queen. "Tell him, Ferdinand; tell all you know, but tell only the truth."
"Yes, ma'am. Yes, sir; why, it was just before they went out."
"Ah, before. Did they go out together?"
"No, sir. Mrs. Embury went later—by herself."
"I told you that!" Eunice interposed. "I gave you a detailed account of th_vening."
"You omitted the quarrel. What was it about?"
"It was scarcely important enough to call a quarrel. My husband and _requently disagreed on trifling matters. We were both a little short- tempered, and often had altercations that were forgotten as soon as the_ccurred."
"And that's true," put in Miss Ames. "For two people who loved each other t_istraction, I often thought the Emburys were the most quarrelsome I eve_aw."
Shane looked sharply at the old lady. "Is that so?" he said.
"Did you hear this particular quarrel, ma'am?"
"Not that I remember. If I did, I didn't take' much notice of it."
"What was it about?"
"Oh, the same old subject. Mrs. Embury wanted—"
"Aunt Abby, hush! What are you talking about! Leave me to tell my own secrets, pray!"
"Secrets, ma'am?" Shane's cold blue eyes glistened. "Who's talking o_ecrets?"
"Nobody," offered Hendricks. "Seems to me, Shane, you're trying to frighte_wo nervous women into a confession—"
"Who said anything about a confession? What's to be confessed?
Who's made any accusations?"
Hendricks was silent. He didn't like the man Shane at all, but he saw plainl_hat he was a master of his craft, and depended on his sudden and startlin_uggestions to rouse antagonism or fear and so gather the facts he desired.
"I'm asking nobody's secrets," he went on, "except in so far as I'm oblige_o, by reason of my duty. And in that connection, ma'am, I ask you right her_nd now, what you meant by your reference to secrets?"
Eunice looked at him a moment in silence. Then she said, "You have, I daresay, a right to ask that. And I've not the least objection to answering. Mr. Embur_as the kindest of husbands, but it did not suit his ideas to give me what i_nown as an allowance. This in no way reflects on his generosity, for h_nsisted that I should have a charge account at any shops I wished. But, because of a whim, I often begged that I be given a stated and periodica_llowance. This, I have no reason for not admitting, was the cause of most o_ur so-called 'quarrels.' This is what I should prefer to keep 'secret' bu_ot if it is for any reason a necessary admission."
Shane looked at her in undisguised admiration.
"Fine!" he ejaculated, somewhat cryptically. "And you quarreled about thi_ast night?"
"Last evening, before we went out."
"Not after you came home?"
"No; the subject was not then mentioned."
"H'm. And you two were as friendly as ever? No coolness—sorta left over, like?"
"No!" Eunice spoke haughtily, but the crimson flood that rose to her cheek_ave the lie to her words.
Driscoll came in.
"I've found out what killed Mr. Embury," he said, in his quiet fashion.
"What?" cried the Examiner and Shane, at the same time.
"Can't tell you—just yet. I'll have to go out on an errand.
Stay here—all of you—till I get back."
The dapper little figure disappeared through the hall door, and Shane turned back to the group with a grunt of satisfaction.
"That's Driscoll, all over," he said. "Put him on a case, and he don't sa_uch, and he don't look like he's doing anything, and then all in a minut_e'll bring in the goods."
"I'd be glad to hear the cause of that death," said Dr. Crowell, musingly.
"I'm an old, experienced practitioner, and I've never seen anything s_ysterious. There's absolutely no trace of any poison, and yet it can b_othing else."
"Poison's a mighty sly proposition," observed Shane. "A clever poisoner ca_ut over a big thing."
"Perhaps your assumption of murder is premature," said Hendricks, and he gav_hane a sharp look.
"Maybe," and that worthy nodded his head. "But I'm still standing pat. Now, here's the proposition. Three people, locked into a suite—you may say—of thre_ooms. No way of getting in from this side—those locks are heavy brass snap- catches that can't be worked from outside. No way, either, of getting in a_he windows. Tenth-story apartment, and the windows look straight down to th_round, no balconies or anything like that. Unless an aryoplane let off it_assengers, nobody could get in the windows. Well, then, we have those thre_eople shut up alone there all night. In the morning one of 'em is dead —poisoned. What's the answer?"
He stared at Eunice as he talked. It was quite evident he meant to frighte_er—almost to accuse her.
But with her strange contradictoriness, she smiled at him.
"You have stated a problem, Mr. Shane, to which there can be no answer.
Therefore, that is not the problem that confronts us."
"Fine talk—fine talk, lady, but it won't get you anywhere. To the unbiased, logical mind, the answer must be that it's the work of the other two people."
"Then yours is not a logical or unbiased mind," Hendricks flared out, "and _bject to your making implications. If you are making accusations, do s_rankly, and let us know where we stand! If not, shut up!"
Shane merely looked at him, without resenting this speech. The detectiv_ppeared to be marking time as he awaited the return of his partner.
And Driscoll returned, shortly. His manner betokened success in his quest, whatever it may have been, and yet he looked distressed, too.
"It's a queer thing," he said, half to himself, as he fell into a chair Shan_ushed toward him. "Mrs. Embury, do you keep an engagement book?"
"Why, yes," replied Eunice, amazed at the question put to her.
"Let me see it, please."
Eunice went for it, and, returning, handed the detective a finely boun_olume.
Hastily he ran over the dates, looking at notes of parties, concerts an_heatres she had attended recently. At last, he gave a start, read over on_ntry carefully, and closed the book.
Abruptly, then, he went back to Embury's room, asking Dr. Crowell to go wit_im.
When they reappeared, it was plain to be seen the mystery was solved.
"There is no doubt," said the Medical Examiner, "that Sanford Embury met hi_eath by foul play. The means used was the administering of poison—through th_ar!"
"Through the ear!" repeated Elliott, as one who failed to grasp the sense o_he words.
"Yes; it is a most unusual, almost a unique case, but it is proved beyond _oubt. The poison was inserted in Mr. Embury's ear, by means—"
He paused, and Driscoll held up to view a small, ordinary glass medicin_ropper, with a rubber bulb top. In it still remained a portion of a colorles_iquid.
"By means of this," Driscoll declared. "This fluid is henbane —that is th_ommercial name of it—known to the profession, however, as hyoscyamus o_yoscyamine. This little implement, I found, in the medicine chest in Mis_mes' bathroom "
"No! no!" screamed Aunt Abby. "I never saw it before!"
"I don't think you did," said Driscoll, quietly. "But here is a side light o_he subject. This henbane was used, in this very manner, we are told, i_hakespeare's works, by Hamlet's uncle, when he poisoned Hamlet's father. H_sed, the play says, distilled hebenon, supposed to be another form of th_ord henbane. And this is what is, perhaps, important: Mrs. Embury'_ngagement book shows that about a week ago she attended the play of Hamlet.
The suggestion there received—the presence of this dropper, still containin_he stuff, the finding of traces of henbane in the ear of the dead man—seem t_ead to a conclusion—"
"The only possible conclusion! It's an openand—shut case!" cried Shane, rising, and striding toward Eunice. "Mrs. Embury, I arrest you for the wilfu_urder of your husband!"