He proceeded along the cross street, and at Fifth Avenue he entered a bus.
His next errand took him to the home of Fifi Desternay.
By some ingenious method of wheedling, he persuaded the doorman to acquaint the lady with the fact of his presence, and when she came into the room where he awaited her he banked on his nerve to induce her to grant him an interview.
“You know me,” he said, with his most ingratiating smile, and he even went so far as to take her beringed little hand in his own boyish paw.
“I do not!” she declared, staring at him, and then, his grin proving infectious, she added, not unkindly, “Who are you, child?”
“I wish I was a society reporter or a photographer, or anybody who could do justice to your wonderful charms!”
His gaze of admiration was so sincere that Fifi couldn’t resent it.
She often looked her best in the morning, and her dainty negligee and bewitching French cap made her a lovely picture.
She tucked herself into a big, cushioned chair, and drawing a smoking-stand nearer, fussed with its silver appointments.
“Lemme, ma’am,” said Fibsy, eagerly, and, though it was his first attempt, he held a lighted match to her cigarette with real grace.
Then, drawing a long breath of relief at his success, he took a cigarette himself, and sat near her.
“Well,” she began, “what’s it all about? And, do tell me how you got in! I’m glad you did, though it was against orders. I’ve not seen anything so amusing as you for a long time!”
“This is my amusin’ day,” returned the boy, imperturbably. “I came to talk over things in general—”
“And what in particular?”
Fifi was enjoying herself. She felt almost sure the boy was a reporter of a new sort, but she was frankly curious.
“Well, ma’am,” and here Fibsy changed his demeanor to a stern, scowling fierceness, “I’m a special investigator.” He rose now, and strode about the room. “I’m engaged on the Embury murder case, and I’m here to ask you a few pointed questions about it.”
“My heavens!” cried Fifi, “what are you talking about?”
“Don’t scoff at me, ma’am; I’m in authority.”
“Oh, well, go ahead. Why are you questioning me?”
“It’s this way, ma’am.” Fibsy sat down astride a chair, looking over the back of it at his hostess. “You and Mrs, Embury are bosom friends, I understand.”
“From whom do you understand it?” was the tart response; “from Mrs, Embury?”
“In a manner o’ speakin’, yes; and then again, no. But aren’t you?”
“We were. We were school friends, and have been intimates for years. But since her—trouble, Mrs, Embury has thrown me over —has discarded me utterly—I’m so sorry!”
Fifi daintily touched her eyes with a tiny square of monogrammed linen, and Fibsy said, gravely,
“Careful, there; don’t dab your eyelashes too hard!”