“I see your point, and I quite agree, in a general way. But, Gale, this is a—well, a crisis. I’m investigating a mystery and I must know who those people are.”
“Ask Miss Thorpe.”
“I have, and she won’t tell.”
“Then you surely can’t expect me to! After I promised to keep her secret!”
“Why should it be a secret?”
“Well, tell me one thing; is the name Smith?”
“It is not.”
“What sort of people are they?”
“Oh, people of—why, hang it, man,—I don’t know what to say to you! I refuse to betray Miss Thorpe’s confidence, and so I don’t know how much I ought to tell you.”
“Are they people I would receive in my home?”
“Scarcely! If you mean, are they your social equals, they are not!”
“Then, I ought to know about them, and forbid Azalea their acquaintance.”
“Oh, Miss Thorpe doesn’t know them socially!” said Gale, and then he said a quick “good-bye” and hung up his receiver.
The next day Farnsworth made an occasion to see Azalea alone.
“Come for a stroll in the rose garden,” he said to her as they left the breakfast table.
“But aren’t you in a hurry to go to town?” she objected.
“No, I’m not. Come along, Zaly, I want to talk to you.”
Azalea looked embarrassed. She had on a trim linen street suit, and had an air of alertness as if about to start on a trip of some sort.
“I was—I was just going for a walk,” she said, hesitatingly.
“All right, I’ll walk with you. Let’s make it a long hike.”
“Oh,—I’d love to, Cousin William,—really,—but I—I’ve a lot to do in my room, this morning.”
“A lot to do! What do you mean? Does Patty make you take care of your room?”
“Oh, not that sort of work. I’ve got to—to—write letters.”
“To your father?” Bill’s look was significant.
“Yes—no,—oh, a lot of letters.”
“Look here, Azalea, you come out with me for a few minutes,—I won’t keep you long.” Farnsworth took her arm, and led her gently down the verandah steps and along a garden path.
“Now, my child,” he said most kindly, “tell me why you pretended that letter was from your father, when it was not?”
“Oh, yes, it was—”
“Stop, Azalea! Don’t add to your list of falsehoods! You wrote that letter yourself on my typewriter, in my library. Why did you do it?”
“How do you know?” Azalea turned an astonished face to her inquisitor.
“I recognised the typing. How do you know how to use the machine so well? Were you ever a stenographer?”
“No; I don’t know shorthand at all. And I didn’t—”
“Stop, I say, Azalea! I know you wrote that! Now, tell me why! I can’t imagine any reason for it.”