At any rate, Fleming Stone was all of these things, and when he came into the Embury living-room his appearance was in such contrast to that of the other two detectives that Eunice greeted him with a pleased smile.
Neither Shane nor Driscoll was present, and Mason Elliott introduced Stone to the two ladies, with a deep and fervent hope that the great detective could free Eunice from the cloud of danger and disgrace that hovered above her head.
His magnetic smile was so attractive that Aunt Abby nodded her head in complete approval of the newcomer.
“And now tell me all about everything,” Stone said, as they seated themselves in a cozy group. “I know the newspaper facts, but that’s all. I must do my work quite apart from the beaten track, and I want any sidelights or bits of information that your local detectives may have overlooked and which may help us.”
“You don’t think Eunice did it, do you, Mr. Stone?” Aunt Abby broke out, impulsively, quite forgetting the man was a comparative stranger.
“I am going to work on the theory that she did not,” he declared. “Then we will see what we can scare up in the way of evidence against some one else. First, give me a good look at those doors that shut off the bedrooms.”
With a grave face, Fleming Stone studied the doors, which, as he saw, when bolted on the inside left no means of access to the three rooms in which the family had slept.
“Except the windows,” Stone mused, and went to look at them. As they all had window boxes, save one in Aunt Abby’s room, and as that was about a hundred feet from the ground, he dismissed the possibility of an intruder.
“Nobody could climb over the plants without breaking them,” said Eunice, with a sigh at the inevitable deduction.
Stone looked closely at the plants, kept in perfect order by Aunt Abby, who loved the work, and who tended them every day. Not a leaf was crushed, not a stem broken, and the scarlet geranium blossoms stood straight up like so many mute witnesses against any burglarious entrance.
Stone returned to Aunt Abby’s side window, and leaning over the sill looked out and down to the street below.
“Couldn’t be reached even by firemen’s ladders,” he said, “and, anyway, the police would have spotted any ladder work.”
“I tried to think some one came in at that window,” said Elliott, “but even so, nobody could go through Miss Ames’ room, and then Mrs, Embury’s room, and so on to Mr. Embury’s room—do his deadly work—and return again, without waking the ladies—”
“Not only that, but how could he get in the window?” said Eunice. “There’s no possible way of climbing across from the next apartment—oh, I’m honest with myself,” she added, as Stone looked at her curiously. “I don’t deceive myself by thinking impossibilities could happen. But somebody killed my husband, and—according to the detectives—I am the only one who had both motive and opportunity!”