“What! Can’t she go out, if she likes?”
“How perfectly absurd! Oh, I’ve a notion to telephone and ask her to go for a drive. What fun!”
Shane looked at the mischievous face in astonishment. He was experienced in human nature, but this shallow, frivolous attitude toward a tragedy was new to him.
“I thought you and Mrs, Embury were friends,” he said, reprovingly.
“Oh, we are—Or rather, we were. I’m not sure I can know her —after this! But, you see, I can’t take it seriously. I can’t really believe you mean that you think Eunice—guilty! Why, I’d a thousand times rather suspect the old aunt person!”
“You would!” Shane spoke eagerly. “Could that be possible?”
“It could be possible this way,” Fifi was serious now. “You see, Miss Ames adores Eunice. She found it hard to forgive Sanford for his tyrannical ways—and they were tyrannical. And Miss Ames might have, by way of ridding Eunice from a cruel husband—might have—oh, I can’t say it—it sounds too absurd! But, after all, it’s no more absurd than to suspect Eunice. Why don’t you look for somebody else?”
“How could anybody get in?”
“I know,” impatiently; “but I’ve read detective stories, and ’most always, the murder is committed in what they call ’a hermetically sealed room,’ and yet somebody did get in!”
“There’s no such thing as a hermetically sealed room! Don’t you know what hermetically sealed means?”
“Yes, of course I do, literally. But that phrase is used—in detective stories, to mean an inaccessible room. Or a seemingly inaccessible one. But always it comes out that it could be entered.”
“That’s all very well in fiction, ma’am; but it won’t work in this case. Why, I looked over those door locks myself. Nobody could get in.”
“Well, leaving aside the way they got in, let’s see whom we can suspect. There’s two men that I know of who are dead in love with Mrs, Embury—and I daresay there are a lot more, who can see a silver lining in this cloud!”
“What—what do you mean?”
Shane was fascinated by the lovely personality of Mrs, Desternay, and he began to think that she might be of some real help to him. Though a skilled detective, he was of the plodding sort, and never had brilliant or even original ideas. He had had a notion it would have been better to send Driscoll on this errand he was himself attempting, but a touch of jealousy of the younger and more quick-witted man made him determine to attend to Mrs, Desternay himself.
“Well, Mr. Stupid, if you were in the presence of Mrs, Embury and Mr. Elliott and Mr. Hendricks,—as you said you were—and didn’t size up how matters stand with those two men, you are a queer sort of detective!”
Her light laughter rippled pleasantly, and Shane forgave her reproof by reason of her charm.
“Both of them?” he said, helplessly.