“Yes,” Fibsy nodded. “I’m sure of it, too. And, of course, that lets you two out. Now, Mr. Elliott, the butler didn’t do it F. Stone says that’s a self-evident fact. Bringin’ us back—as per usual to the two ladies. But, Mr. Elliott, neither of those ladies did it.”
“Bless you, my boy, that’s my own opinion, of course, but how can we prove it?”
Fibsy deeply appreciated the “we” and gave the speaker a grateful smile.
“There you are, Mr. Elliott, how can we? Mr. Stone, as you know, is the cleverest detective in the world, but he’s no magician. He can’t find the truth, if the truth is hidden in a place he can’t get at.”
“Have you any idea, McGuire, who the murderer was?”
“No, sir, I haven’t. But I’ve an idea where to get an idea. And I want you to help me.”
“Surely—that goes without saying.”
“You’d do anything for Mrs, Embury, wouldn’t you?”
“Anything.” The simple assertion told the whole story, and Fibsy nodded with satisfaction.
“Then tell me truly, sir, please, wasn’t Mr. Embury a—a—a—”
“Careful there—he’s dead, you know.”
“Yes, I know—but it’s necessary, sir. Wasn’t he a—I don’t know the right term, but wasn’t he a money-grabber?”
“In what way?” Elliott spoke very gravely.
You know best, sir. He was your partner—had been for some years. But—on the side, now—didn’t he do this? Lend money-sorta personally, you know—on security.”
“And if he did?”
“Didn’t he demand big security—didn’t he get men—his friends even—in his power—and then come down on ’em—oh, wasn’t he a sort of a loan shark?”
“Where did you get all this?”
“I put together odds and ends of talk I’ve heard—and it must be so. That Mr. Patterson, now—”
“Patterson! What do you know of him?”
“Nothing, but that he owed Mr. Embury a lot, and his household stuff was the collateral—and—”
“Were did you learn that? I insist on knowing!”
“Servants’ gossip, sir. I picked it up in the apartment house. He and the Emburys live in the same one, you know.”
“McGuire, you are on a wrong trail. Mr. Embury may have lent money to his friends—may have had collateral security from them —probably did—but that’s nothing to do with his being killed. And as it is a blot on his memory, I do not want the matter made public.”
“I understand that, Mr. Elliott—neither do I. But sposin’ the discovery of the murderer hinges on that very thing—that very branch of Mr. Embury’s business—then mustn’t it be looked into?”
“Perhaps it—must—but not by you.”
“No, sir, By F. Stone.”
An important feature of Fleming Stone’s efficiency was his ability to make use of the services of others. In the present case, he skilfully utilized both Shane and Driscoll’s energies, and received their reports—diplomatically concealing the fact that he was making tools of them, and letting them infer that he was merely their co-worker.