Only a few beside the detective and Nan heard the words.
“Of stealing something from the counter,” said the man.
“I should not be surprised.” The girl who had spoken, still whispered to the detective. “I know who she is. Her father is already in trouble on a similar charge. This girl tried to take a hand-bag of mine once. I never did think she was any better than she should be.”
It was Linda Riggs. She stood with flushed face, looking at Nan, and although but few customers heard what she said, the latter felt as though she should sink through the floor.
“Ah-ha!” exclaimed the pompous detective, holding Nan’s arm with a tighter grip. “You’ll come with me to the superintendent’s office to be searched.”
Nothing but the vindictive expression of Linda’s face kept Nan Sherwood from bursting into tears. She was both hurt and frightened by this situation. And to have her father’s name mentioned in such an affair—perhaps printed in the papers! This thought terrified her as much as the possibility that she, herself, might be put in jail.
Rather unsophisticated about police proceedings was Nan, and she saw jail yawning for her just beyond the superintendent’s office, whether the lost lavalliere was found in her possession or not.
But instantly, before the detective could remove the trembling girl from the spot, or many curious people gather to stare and comment upon the incident, the wonderfully dressed woman said to the detective in her careless drawl:
“Wait! Quite dramatic, I must say. So this other girl steps in and accuses our young heroine—without being asked even? I would doubt such testimony seriously, were I you, sir.”
“But, madam!” exclaimed the man.
“What a situation—for the film!” pursued the woman, raising her lorgnette to look first at Nan and then at Linda Riggs. The latter was flushing and paling by turns—fearful at what she had done to her schoolmate, yet glad she had done it, too!
As the customer wheeled slowly in her stately way to view the railroad magnate’s daughter, the clerk uttered a stifled cry, and on the heels of it the detective dropped Nan’s arm to hop around the woman in great excitement.
“Wait, madam! wait, madam! wait!” he reiterated. “It is here—it is here!”
“What is the matter with you, pray?” asked the woman, curiously. “Have you taken leave of your senses? Why don’t you stand still?”
“The lavalliere!” gasped the man and, reaching suddenly, he plucked the dangling chain from an entangling frog on her fur garment. “Here it is, madam!” he cried, with immense satisfaction.
“Now, fancy!” drawled the woman.
Linda slipped out of sight behind some other people. Nan felt faint—just as though she would drop. The clerk and the detective were lavish in their apologies to Nan. As for the woman whose garment had been the cause of all the trouble, she merely laughed.