“Yes, sir, both of them!” She mimicked his tone. “You see, Mr. Shane, it’s an old romance, all ’round. When Eunice Ames was a girl, three men fought for her hand, the two we’ve just mentioned, and Mr. Embury, who was the successful suitor. And he succeeded only by sheer force of will. He practically stole her from the other two and married her out of hand.”
“I suppose the lady agreed?”
“Of course, but it was a marriage in haste, and—I imagine that it was followed by the proverbial consequences.”
“What do you mean?” asked the dull-witted Shane.
“That they repented at leisure. At least, Eunice did—I don’t believe Sanford ever regretted.”
“But those two men are Embury’s friends.”
“Sure they are! Oh, friend Shane, were you born yesterday? I thought detectives were a little more up-to-date than that! Of course, they’re all friends, always have been, since they made mud-pies together in their Boston backyards.”
“Did you belong to that childish group?
“Me? Lord, no! I’m Simon Pure Middle West! And I glory in it! I’d hate to be of New England descent—you have to live up to traditions and things! I’m a law unto myself, when it comes to life and living!”
“And you met Mrs, Embury?”
“At boarding-school. We spent four years together—chums, and all that. Then after we were both married, we drifted together again, here in New York—and somehow Eunice’s husband didn’t take to poor little Fifi one bit! I wonder why!”
Her look of injured innocence was charming, and Shane had to make an effort to keep to the subject in hand.
“So those two men admire Mrs, Embury?”
“Admire is a silly word! They adore her—they worship the ground she walks on! They are, no doubt, decently decorous at the passing of their old friend, but as soon as the funeral baked meats are cold enough, look out for a marriage table on which to serve them!”
“Did—did Mr. Embury realize that his friends so admired his wife?”
“Probably. Yes, of course, he did. But he didn’t care. She was his—she gave them no encouragement—such things aren’t done—” Fifi’s eyes rolled upward—“and, I only tell you, to show you that there are, at least, other directions in which to look!”
“But—let me see—Mr. Hendricks was in Boston at the time of Mr. Embury’s death.”
“Then that lets him out. And Mr. Elliott? Where was he?”
“I haven’t made definite inquiry. Probably he—”
“Probably he has an alibi! Oh, yes, of course he has! And if he killed Sanford Embury, he’s more likely than ever to have a fine alibi! Look here, Mr. Shane, I believe I could give you cards and spades and beat you at your little detective games!”
“You mix me all up, with your ridiculous suggestions!” Shane tried to speak sternly, but was forced to smile at the roguish, laughing face that mocked him.