“Oh, yes, course, but he’ll say just what I do, Bessie. You mustn’t let this affect you so that you get nervous and hysterical, Bessie. That’s not the way to help Zara.”
They were walking toward the building in which Jamieson’s offices were located, and Bessie was hurrying their progress as much as she could.
“I don’t like Mr. Holmes. I’m afraid of him,” she said. “I know that sounds dreadful, but it’s true—”
“Why, Bessie, how absurd!” she exclaimed. “I’ve known him for years and years, and he’s one of the nicest, kindest men in town.”
“But, Miss Eleanor, do you remember when you asked him about Hedgeville, he said he’d never been there?”
“Yes, and I thought, as soon as I asked him, that he would probably have to tell me just that. Hedgeville’s out of the way. You never saw automobile parties on trips going through, did you?”
“No, we didn’t. About the only people who came there in automobiles came to see someone—and usually Farmer Weeks.”
“There, you see!”
“But, Miss Eleanor, Mr. Holmes knows all about Hedgeville! He’s been there ever so many times! I thought this morning, as soon as he stopped to talk to you, that I’d seen him before somewhere, but I wasn’t sure.”
“Why, what do you mean? Are you sure now?”
“Yes, I was sure the minute he put on those goggles and his cap. He’s driven to Hedgeville a lot in the last year. The last time wasn’t more than three weeks ago, and he was in that same car, and wore the same cap and goggles.”
Eleanor stopped, looking very thoughtful.
“I think you must be mistaken, Bessie,” she said. “There’s no reason why he shouldn’t tell us if he’d ever been there, and he certainly couldn’t have forgotten it if he’s been there as often as you say. Can’t you see that! What object could he have in trying to deceive us?”
“I don’t know. I can’t guess that unless—well, I can tell you who it was he saw when he was there—every time. It was Farmer Weeks. And I think he was there the day before they took Zara’s father away. I’m not sure, but I think so.”
“If you could be certain,” said Eleanor, doubtfully, “that would make it different, Bessie. We’ll tell Mr. Jamieson, and see what he thinks. But I’m sure you must be mistaken.”
A SUDDEN TURN
Jamieson was in his office when they entered.
“Well, I wondered where you two were!” he exclaimed, by way of greeting. “I tried to get you on the telephone a couple of times, but I supposed you were probably on your way here.”
“We telephoned before we left the house, but we understood that you would be busy,” said Eleanor. “So we started to walk into town, and Mr. Holmes saw us, and took us for a ride in his car. I hope it hasn’t made any difference—that you didn’t want us? Have you found out anything, Charlie?”