The latter soon drove up to the house in an automobile and was admitted by Mr. Stanlock. The conference lasted half an hour, but before half this time had elapsed Lieut. Larkin had the station on the wire and was giving instructions to the desk sergeant.
To add to the difficulty of the problem, snow began to fall about 5 o’clock, and developed almost into a blizzard in three or four hours.
Next morning the two newspapers of Hollyhill carried big headlines and column-and-a-half stories of the new strike development, suggestive of a far-reaching plot that might result in tragedy. Mr. Stanlock had during the evening received all newspaper calls over a special wire in his private room, so as not to disturb the guests with the publicity end of the affair.
In the afternoon Mrs. Stanlock announced that she, being an officer of the woman’s club with an important duty to perform, must attend a committee meeting from 3 until 4:30 o’clock, and she asked Miss Ladd to accompany her. The latter consented, but cautioned the girls against leaving the house, inasmuch as the three detectives were no longer available for guard duty, having been directed to devote their entire time to the search for Helen.
There were now at the house only the twelve remaining Camp Fire Girls and the kitchen maid, Kitty Koepke.
Marion’s younger sister and brother were attending a children’s afternoon party a few blocks away. The new chauffeur had been summoned by Mrs. Stanlock to take her and Miss Ladd to the club rooms where the committee meeting was to be held.
About 3 o’clock a newspaper photographer and a reporter arrived. The girls allowed a group picture to be taken and the reporter was granted an interview.
Half an hour after the newspaper men departed, there came a ring at the front door. As Mary, the head servant, was out, Marion answered the ring and found at the entrance a woman of middle age, dressed in plain black, who spoke to her, in quick, eager accents, thus:
“Is this Miss Marion Stanlock?”
“It is,” the girl answered.
“I am Mrs. Eddy, who moved into one of those vacant houses two blocks from here,” the woman explained. “I have some information of interest to you.”
“Is it about Helen Nash?” Marion asked, so eagerly that there could be no mistaking the subject nearest her heart.
The woman nodded and smiled, and Marion seized her by the arm and almost dragged her into the hall and thence into the reception room.
“Where is she?—tell me quickly!” Two of the other girls in the drawing-room, hearing these words and surmising their significance, came rushing in and caught the visitor’s answer, thus:
“She’s over at my house. She came there last night. I had no idea who she was until I saw the articles in the newspaper—I didn’t get it until late—and then I came right over.”
“But,” said Marion, apprehensively, “why didn’t she come right home? What was the matter—couldn’t she explain who she was?”