“Wait—I’ll look at that tray,” he said briskly. Dale, her heart in her mouth, watched him examine the knives, the plates, even shake out the napkin to see that nothing was hidden in its folds. At last he seemed satisfied.
“All right—take it away,” he commanded. Billy nodded and vanished toward the dining-room with tray and roll. Dale breathed again.
The sight of the tray had made Miss Cornelia’s thoughts return to practical affairs.
“Lizzie,” she commanded now, “go out in the kitchen and make some coffee. I’m sure we all need it,” she sighed.
Lizzie bristled at once.
“Go out in that kitchen alone?”
“Billy’s there,” said Miss Cornelia wearily.
The thought of Billy seemed to bring little solace to Lizzie’s heart.
“That Jap and his jooy-jitsu,” she muttered viciously. “One twist and I’d be folded up like a pretzel.”
But Miss Cornelia’s manner was imperative, and Lizzie slowly dragged herself kitchenward, yawning and promising the saints repentance of every sin she had or had not committed if she were allowed to get there without something grabbing at her ankles in the dark corner of the hall.
When the door had shut behind her, Anderson turned to Dale, the corner of blue-print which he had taken from the Doctor in his hand.
“Now, Miss Ogden,” he said tensely, “I have here a scrap of blue-print which was in Dick Fleming’s hand when he was killed. I’ll trouble you for the rest of it, if you please!”
“I didn’t kill him.”
“The rest of it?” queried Dale with a show of bewilderment, silently thanking her stars that, for the moment at least, the incriminating fragment had passed out of her possession.
Her reply seemed only to infuriate the detective.
“Don’t tell me Fleming started to go out of this house with a blank scrap of paper in his hand,” he threatened. “He didn’t start to go out at all!”
Dale rose. Was Anderson trying a chance shot in the dark—or had he stumbled upon some fresh evidence against her? She could not tell from his manner.
“Why do you say that?” she feinted.
“His cap’s there on that table,” said the detective with crushing terseness. Dale started. She had not remembered the cap—why hadn’t she burned it, concealed it—as she had concealed the blue-print? She passed a hand over her forehead wearily.
Miss Cornelia watched her niece.
“It you’re keeping anything back, Dale—tell him,” she said.
“She’s keeping something back all right,” he said. “She’s told part of the truth, but not all.” He hammered at Dale again. “You and Fleming located that room by means of a blue-print of the house. He started—not to go out—but, probably, to go up that staircase. And he had in his hand the rest of this!” Again he displayed the blank corner of blue paper.