“It’s on account of the mystery of his death that I’m troubling you, Mrs. Rankin. We want it cleared up, of course.”
“But—two James Cunninghams haven’t died mysteriously, have they?” she asked. “The nephew isn’t killed, too, is he?”
“Oh, no. Just my uncle.”
“Then we’re mixed up somewhere. How old was your uncle?”
“He was past fifty-six—just past.”
“That’s not the man my husband married.”
“Not the man! Oh, aren’t you mistaken, Mrs. Rankin? My uncle was strong and rugged. He did not look his age.”
The old lady got up swiftly. “Please excuse me a minute.” She moved with extraordinary agility into the house. It was scarcely a minute before she was with him again, a newspaper in her hand. In connection with the Cunningham murder mystery several pictures were shown. Among them were photographs of his uncle and two cousins.
“This is the man whose marriage to Miss Harriman I witnessed,” she said.
Her finger was pointing to the likeness of his cousin James Cunningham.
THE FINGER OF SUSPICION POINTS
The words of the preacher’s little wife were like a bolt from a sunny heaven. Kirby could not accept them without reiteration. Never in the wildest dreams of the too vivid imagination of which his cousin had accused him had this possibility occurred to him.
“Do you mean that this man—the younger one—is the husband of Phyllis Harriman?” His finger touched the reproduction of his cousin’s photograph.
“Yes. He’s the man my husband married her to on the twenty-first of July.”
“You’re quite sure of that?”
“I ought to be,” she answered rather dryly. “I was a witness.”
A young woman came up the walk from the street. She was a younger and more modern replica of Mrs. Rankin. The older lady introduced her.
“Daughter, this is Mr. Lane, the gentleman who called on Father the other day while we were away. Mr. Lane, my daughter Ellen.” Briskly she continued, showing her daughter the picture of James Cunningham, Junior. “Did you ever see this man, dear?”
Ellen took one glance at it. “He’s the man Father married the other day.”
“When?” the mother asked.
“It was—let me see—about the last week in July. Why?”
“Married to who?” asked Mrs. Rankin colloquially.
“To that lovely Miss Harriman, of course.”
The old lady wheeled on Kirby triumphantly. “Are you satisfied now that I’m in my right mind?” she demanded smilingly.
“Have to ask your pardon if I was rude,” he said, meeting her smile. “But the fact is it was such a surprise I couldn’t take it in.”
“This gentleman is the nephew of the Mr. Cunningham who was killed. He thought it was his uncle who had married Miss Harriman,” the mother explained to Ellen.