“Had you a motive, Mrs Embury?” Stone asked, quietly.
Eunice stared at him. “They say so,” she replied. “They say I was unhappy with him.”
“And were you?” The very directness of Stone’s pertinent questions seemed to compel Eunice’s truthful answers, and she said:
“Of course I was! But that—”
“Eunice, hush!” broke in Elliott, with a pained look. “Don’t say such things, dear, it can do no good, and may injure your case.”
“Not with me,” Stone declared. “My work has led me rather intimately into people’s lives, and I am willing to go on record as saying that fifty per cent of marriages are unhappy—more or less. Whether that is a motive for murder depends entirely on the temper and temperament of the married ones themselves. But —it is very rarely that a wife kills her husband.”
“Why, there are lots of cases in the papers,” said Miss Ames. “And never are the women convicted, either!”
“Oh, not lots of cases,” objected Stone, “but the few that do occur are usually tragic and dramatic and fill a front page for a few days. Now, let’s sift down this remarkably definite statement of ‘motives and opportunities’ that your eminent detectives have catalogued. I’m told that they’ve two people with motive and no opportunity; two more with opportunity and no motive; and one—Mrs, Embury—who fulfills both requirements! Quite an elaborate schedule, to be sure!”
Eunice looked at him with a glimmer of hope. Surely a man who talked like that didn’t place implicit reliance on the schedule in question.
“And yet,” Stone went on, “it is certainly true. A motive is a queer thing—an elusive, uncertain thing. They say—I have this from the detectives themselves-that Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Elliott both had the motive of deep affection for Mrs, Embury. Please don’t be offended, I am speaking quite impersonally, now. Mr. Hendricks, I am advised, also had a strong motive in a desire to remove a rival candidate for an important election. But—neither of these gentlemen had opportunity, as each has proven a perfect and indubitable alibi. I admit the alibis—I’ve looked into them, and they are unimpeachable—but I don’t admit the motives. Granting a man’s affection for a married woman, it is not at all a likely thing for him to kill her husband.”
“Right, Mr. Stone!” and Mason Elliott’s voice rang out in honest appreciation.
“Again, it is absurd to suspect one election candidate of killing another. It isn’t done—and one very good reason is, that if the criminal should be discovered, he has small chance for the election he coveted. And there is always a chance—and a strong one—that ’murder will out! So, personally, I admit I don’t subscribe entirely to the cut-and-dried program of my esteemed colleagues. Now, as to these two people with opportunity but no motive. They are, I’m told, Miss Ames and the butler. Very well, I grant their opportunity—but since they are alleged to have no motive, why consider them at all? This brings us to Mrs, Embury.”