Fifi Desternay raised her hands and let them fall with a pretty little gesture of helplessness. She was a slip of a thing, and —it was the morning of the day after the Embury tragedy—she was garbed in a scant but becoming negligee, and had received the detective in her morning room, where she sat, tucked into the corner of a great davenport sofa, smoking cigarettes.
Her little face was delicately made up, and her soft, fair hair was in blobs over her ears. For the rest, the effect was mostly a rather low V’d neck and somewhat evident silk stockings and beribboned mules.
She continually pulled her narrow satin gown about her, and it as continually slipped away from her lace petticoat, as she crossed and recrossed her silken legs.
She was entirely unself-conscious and yet, the detective felt instinctively that she carefully measured every one of the words she so carelessly uttered.
“Well, Mr. Shane,” she said, suddenly, “we’re not getting anywhere. Just exactly what did you come here for? What do you want of me?”
The detective was grateful for this assistance.
“I came,” he stated, without hesitation, “to ask you about the circumstances of the party which Mrs, Embury attended here night before last, the night her husband—died.”
“Oh, yes; let me see—there isn’t much to tell. Eunice Embury spent the evening here—we had a game of cards—and, before supper was served, Mr. Embury called for her and took her home —in their car. That’s all I know about it.”
“What was the card game?”
“For high stakes?”
“Oh, mercy, no! We never really gamble!” The fluttering little hands deprecated the very idea. “We have just a tiny stake—to —why, only to make us play a better game. It does, you know.”
“Yes’m. And what do you call a tiny stake? Opinions differ, you know.”
“And so do stakes!” The blue eyes flashed a warning. “Of course, we don’t always play for the same. Indeed, the sum may differ at the various tables. Are you prying into my private affairs?”
“Only so far as I’m obliged to, ma’am. Never mind the bridge for the moment. Was Mr. Embury annoyed with his wife—for any reason—when he called to take her home?”
“Now, how should I know that?” a pretty look of perplexity came into the blue eyes. “I’m not a mind reader!”
“You’re a woman! Was Mr. Embury put out?”
Fifi laughed a ringing peal. “Was he?” she cried, as if suddenly deciding to tell the truth. “I should say he was! Why, he was so mad I was positively afraid of him!”
“What did he say?”
“That’s just it! He didn’t say anything! Oh, he spoke to me pleasantly—he was polite, and all that, but I could see that he was simply boiling underneath!”
“You are a mind reader, then!”
“I didn’t have to be, to see that!” The little figure rocked back and forth on the sofa, as, with arms clasped round one knee, Fifi gave way to a dramatic reconstruction of the scene.