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Chapter 9 HAMLET

  • 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?"
  • "Yes."
  • "You have two bedrooms?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Door between?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Open or shut—after you said good-night to Mr. Embury?"
  • "Closed."
  • "Locked?"
  • "No."
  • "Who shut it."
  • "Mr. Embury."
  • "Bang it?"
  • "Sir?"
  • "Did he bang it shut? Slam it?"
  • "Mr. Embury was a gentleman."
  • "Yes, I know. Did he slam that door?"
  • "N—, no."
  • "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?"
  • "Now, Eunice, dear," Mason Elliott spoke very gently, "we can't blink matters.
  • 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."
  • "Usually—what happens?"
  • "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?"
  • "Yes, sir."
  • "Now-what is your name?"
  • "Ferdinand."
  • "Yes. Now, Ferdinand, you know Mr. and Mrs. Embury had a quarrel last night."
  • "Yes, sir."
  • 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!"