“That’s my business. Oh, Patty, let me alone!”
Azalea was clearly overwrought, and in another moment would fly into an hysterical tantrum. But Patty made one more effort.
“Just tell me the name,” she said, gently.
“Well—Smith. There, now are you satisfied?”
“I am not,” said Patty, truthfully. “Good night, Azalea.”
She went thoughtfully away, and communicated to Bill the whole conversation.
“She’s a queer girl,” Farnsworth remarked, after he had heard all about the afternoon telephoning. “Do you know, Patty, that letter which she pretended came from her father,—she wrote herself.”
“She did; and on my own typewriter,—here in our library.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just what I say. I knew it, the moment I saw it, for the writing on my machine is so familiar to me, I can recognise it instantly. The tail of the y doesn’t print, and there are lots of little details that make it recognisable.”
“Are you sure, dear? I thought all typewriting was just alike.”
“Oh, no; it is as greatly differentiated, almost, as penwriting,—some experts think more so. I mean, it can’t be forged successfully, and penwriting can. Well, anyhow, that letter Azalea showed me, as being from her father, was written on my machine. She had no envelope, for of course she couldn’t reproduce the proper postmark on an envelope she had herself addressed.”
“But why,—what for? I don’t understand.”
“I haven’t got it all straightened out yet, myself,—but I shall. Another thing, Azalea is a poor speller, and she herself spells very with two r’s. She did in a dinner acceptance she wrote and referred to me for approval. So, when I saw that word misspelled twice in the letter we’re talking of, I knew she wrote it,—I mean, it corroborated my belief. Now, Patty, we’ve a peculiar case to deal with, and we must feel our way. This telephoning business is serious. Of course, Smith is not those people’s name! She told you a falsehood. We know she is capable of that! Now to find out what their name is. It isn’t too late to call up Gale.”
Farnsworth took up the telephone and soon had Raymond Gale on the wire. He asked him frankly for the name of the two people who were calling on Azalea when he recognised them.
“Miss Thorpe asked me not to tell,” said Gale, “I’m sorry, old chap, but I promised her I wouldn’t.”
“But it’s an important matter, Ray, and a case in which I’m sure you’re justified in breaking your promise—”
“Can’t do it! Can’t break my word given to a lady.”
“But Azalea is a mere girl, and a headstrong, ignorant one, at that. She is in our care, and it is our duty to know with whom she associates. Who were those people?”
“Seriously, Farnsworth, I can’t tell you. Miss Thorpe asked me definitely not to do so, and I gave her my promise. You must see,—as man to man,—I can’t tell you.”