“Let her alone,” advised Elliott; “she’s better off in there. What is this story, Aunt Abby? I’ve never heard it in full.”
“No; Eunice never would let me tell it. But it will solve all mystery of Sanford’s death.”
“Then it is indeed important,” and Stone looked at the speaker intently.
“Yes, Mr. Stone, it will prove beyond all doubt that Mr. Embury was a suicide.”
“Go on, then,” said Elliott, briefly.
“I will. In the half light, I saw this figure I just mentioned. It wasn’t discernible clearly—it was merely a moving shadow—a vague shape. It came toward me—”
“From which direction? “asked Stone, with decided interest.
“From Eunice’s room—that is, it had, of course, come from Mr. Embury’s room, through Eunice’s room, and so on into my room. For it was Sanford Embury’s spirit—get that firmly in your minds!”
The old lady spoke with asperity, for she was afraid of contradiction, and resented their quite apparent scepticism.
“Go on, please,” urged Stone.
“Well, the spirit came nearer my bed, and paused and looked down on me where I lay.”
“Did you see his face?” asked Elliott.
“Dimly. I can’t seem to make you understand how vague the whole thing was—and yet it was there! As he leaned over me, I saw him—saw the indistinct shape—and I heard the sound of a watch ticking. It was not my watch, it was a very faint ticking one, but all else was so still, that I positively heard it.”
“Gee!” said Fibsy, in an explosive whisper.
“Then he seemed about to move away. Impulsively, I made a movement to detain him. Almost without volition—acting on instinct—I put out my hand and clutched his arm. I felt his sleeve—it wasn’t a coat sleeve—nor a pajama sleeve—it seemed to have on his gymnasium suit—the sleeve was like woolen jersey—”
“And you felt this?”
“Yes, Mr. Stone, I felt it distinctly—and not only with my hand as I grasped at his arm but” Aunt Abby hesitated an instant, then went on, “But I bit at him! Yes, I did! I don’t know why, only I was possessed with an impulse to hold him—and he was slipping away. I didn’t realize at the time—who—what it was, and I sort of thought it was a burglar. But, anyway, I bit at him, and so I bit at the woolen sleeve—it was unmistakable—and on it I tasted raspberry jam.”
“What!” cried her hearers almost in concert.
“Yes—you needn’t laugh—I guess I know the taste of raspberry jam, and it was on that sleeve, as sure as I’m sitting here!”
“Gee!” repeated Fibsy, his fists clenched on his knees and his bright eyes fairly boring into the old lady’s countenance. “Gee whiz!”
“Go on,” said Stone, quietly.
“And—I smelt gasoline,” concluded Miss Ames defiantly. “Now, sir, there’s the story. Make what you will out of it, it’s every word true. I’ve thought it over and over, since I realized what it all meant, and had I known at the time it was Sanford’s spirit, I should have spoken to him. But as it was, I was too stunned to speak, and when I tried to hold him, he slipped away, and disappeared. But it was positively a materialization of Sanford Embury’s flitting spirit—and nothing else.”