Then her hands fell apart, her whole body drooped, and sinking down on the wide sofa, she sat, hopelessly facing them, but with head erect and the air of one vanquished but very much unsubdued.
“Take that back, Eunice,” Elliott spoke passionately, and quite as if there were no others present; “you do not hate me—I am here to help you!”
“You can’t, Mason; no one can help me. No one can protect me from Fleming Stone!”
The name was uttered with such scorn as to seem an invective of itself!
Stone betrayed no annoyance at her attitude toward him, but rather seemed impressed with her personality. He gave her a glance that was not untinged with admiration, but he made no defence.
“I can,” cried Fibsy, who was utterly routed by Eunice’s imperious beauty. “You go ahead with Mr. F. Stone, ma’am, and I’ll see to it that they ain’t no injustice done to you!”
Stone looked at his excited young assistant with surprise, and then good-naturedly contented himself with a shake of his head, and a
“Yes, sir—but, oh, Mr. Stone—” and then, at a gesture from the great detective the boy paused, abashed, and remained silent.
“Now, Miss Ames,” Stone began, “in Mrs, Embury’s presence, I’ll ask you—”
“You won’t ask me anything, sir,” she returned crisply. “I’m going out. I’ve a very important errand to do.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Elliott said; “it’s almost six o’clock, Aunt Abby. Where are you going?”
“I’ve got an errand—a very important errand—an appointment, in fact. I must go—don’t you dare oppose me, Mason. You’ll be sorry if you do!”
Even as she spoke, the old lady was scurrying to her room, from which she returned shortly, garbed for the street.
“All right,” Stone said, in reply to a whisper from Fibsy, and the boy offered, respectfully:
“Let me go with you, Miss Ames. It ain’t fittin’ you should go alone. It’s ’most dark.”
“Come on, boy,” Aunt Abby regarded him kindly; “I’d be glad of your company.”
At the street door, the old lady asked for a taxicab, and the strangely assorted pair were soon on their way.
“You’re a bright lad, Fibsy,” she said; “by the way, what’s your real name—I forget.”
“Terence, ma’am; Terence McGuire. I wish’t I was old enough to be called McGuire! I’d like that.”
“I’ll call you that, if you wish. You’re old for your age, I’m sure. How old are you?”
“Goin’ on about fifteen or sixteen—I think. I sort’a forget.”
“Nonsense! You can’t forget your age! Why do they call you Fibsy?”
“’Cause I’m a born liar—’scuse me—a congenital prevaricator, I meant to say. You see, ma’am, it’s necessary in my business not always to employ the plain unvarnished. But don’t be alarmed, ma’am; when I take a fancy to anybuddy, as I have to you, ma’am, I don’t never lie to ’em. Not that I s’pose you’d care, eh, ma’am?”