Edwards turned and led the way toward the saloon. As he entered and bade us be seated in the costly cushioned wicker chairs I noticed how sumptuously it was furnished, and particularly its mechanical piano, its phonograph and the splendid hardwood floor which seemed to invite one to dance in the cool breeze that floated across from one set of open windows to the other. And yet in spite of everything, there was that indefinable air of something lacking, as in a house from which the woman is gone,
“You were not here last night, I understand,” remarked Kennedy, taking in the room at a glance.
“Unfortunately, no,” replied Edwards, “Business has kept me with my nose pretty close to the grindstone this summer. Waldon called me up in the middle of the night, however, and I started down in my car, which enabled me to get here before the first train. I haven’t been able to do a thing since I got here except just wait--wait—wait. I confess that I don’t know what else to do. Waldon seemed to think we ought to have some one down here—and I guess he was right. Anyhow, I’m glad to see you.”
I watched Edwards keenly. For the first time I realized that I had neglected to ask Waldon whether he had seen the unfinished letter. The question was unnecessary. It was evident that he had not.
“Let me see, Waldon, if I’ve got this thing straight,” Edwards went on, pacing restlessly up and down the saloon. “Correct me if I haven’t. Last night, as I understand it, there was a sort of little family party here, you and Miss Verrall and your mother from the Nautilus, and Mrs. Edwards and Dr. Jermyn.”
“Yes,” replied Waldon with, I thought, a touch of defiance at the words “family party.” He paused as if he would have added that the Nautilus would have been more congenial, anyhow, then added, “We danced a little bit, all except Lucie. She said she wasn’t feeling any too well.”
Edwards had paused by the door. “If you’ll excuse me a minute,” he said, “I’ll call Jermyn and Mrs. Edwards’ maid, Juanita. You ought to go over the whole thing immediately, Professor Kennedy.”
“Why didn’t you say anything about the letter to him?” asked Kennedy under his breath.
“What was the use?” returned Waldon. “I didn’t know how he’d take it. Besides, I wanted your advice on the whole thing. Do you want to show it to him?”
“Perhaps it’s just as well,” ruminated Kennedy. “It may be possible to clear the thing up without involving anybody’s name. At any rate, some one is coming down the passage this way.”
Edwards entered with Dr. Jermyn, a clean-shaven man, youthful in appearance, yet approaching middle age. I had heard of him before. He had studied several years abroad and had gained considerable reputation since his return to America.
Dr. Jermyn shook hands with us cordially enough, made some passing comment on the tragedy, and stood evidently waiting for us to disclose our hands.