“How many people in this house, Miss Van Gorder?”
“My niece and myself.” Miss Cornelia indicated Dale, who had picked up her wrap and was starting to leave the room. “Lizzie Allen—who has been my personal maid ever since I was a child—the Japanese butler, and the gardener. The cook and the housemaid left this morning—frightened away.”
She smiled as she finished her description. Dale reached the door and passed slowly out into the hall. The detective gave her a single, sharp glance as she made her exit. He seemed to think over the factors Miss Cornelia had mentioned.
“Well,” he said, after a slight pause, “you can have a good night’s sleep tonight. I’ll stay right here in the dark and watch.”
“Would you like some coffee to keep you awake?”
Anderson nodded. “Thank you.” His voice sank lower. “Do the servants know who I am?”
“Only Lizzie, my maid.”
His eyes fixed hers. “I wouldn’t tell anyone I’m remaining up all night,” he said.
A formless fear rose in Miss Cornelia’s mind. “You don’t suspect my household?” she said in a low voice.
He spoke with emphasis—all the more pronounced because of the quietude of his tone.
“I’m not taking any chances,” he said determinedly.
CROSS-QUESTIONS AND CROOKED ANSWERS
All unconscious of the slur just cast upon her forty years of single-minded devotion to the Van Gorder family, Lizzie chose that particular moment to open the door and make a little bob at her mistress and the detective.
“The gentleman’s room is ready,” she said meekly. In her mind she was already beseeching her patron saint that she would not have to show the gentleman to his room. Her ideas of detectives were entirely drawn from sensational magazines and her private opinion was that Anderson might have anything in his pocket from a set of terrifying false whiskers to a bomb!
Miss Cornelia, obedient to the detective’s instructions, promptly told the whitest of fibs for Lizzie’s benefit.
“The maid will show you to your room now and you can make yourself comfortable for the night.” There—that would mislead Lizzie, without being quite a lie.
“My toilet is made for an occasion like this when I’ve got my gun loaded,” answered Anderson carelessly. The allusion to the gun made Lizzie start nervously, unhappily for her, for it drew his attention to her and he now transfixed her with a stare.
“This is the maid you referred to?” he inquired. Miss Cornelia assented. He drew nearer to the unhappy Lizzie.
“What’s your name?” he asked, turning to her.
“E-Elizabeth Allen,” stammered Lizzie, feeling like a small and distrustful sparrow in the toils of an officious python.
Anderson seemed to run through a mental rogues gallery of other criminals named Elizabeth Allen that he had known.