“You will dine here, too, Terence,” she said kindly to the boy, who replied, “Yes, ma’am,” very respectfully.
“Well, Eunice,” Aunt Abby announced, after they were seated at the table, “I’m the criminal, after all.”
“You seem pretty cheerful about it,” said Hendricks, looking at her in astonishment.
“Well, I wasn’t responsible. I did it under compulsory hypnotism.”
“You owned up to it before, Aunt Abby,” said Eunice, humoring her; “you said—”
“I know, Eunice, but that time it was to shield you. Now, I know for certain that I did do it, and how it came about.”
“Dear Aunt Abby,” and Elliott spoke very gently, “don’t you talk about it any more. Your vagaries are tolerated by us, who love you, but Mr. Stone is bored by them—”
“Not at all,” said Fleming Stone; “on the contrary, I’m deeply interested. Tell me all about it, Miss Ames. Where have you been?”
Thus encouraged, Aunt Abby told all.
She described the seance truthfully, Fibsy’s bright eyes—not lack-luster now—darting glances at her and at Stone as the tale proceeded.
“He was the real thing—wasn’t he, McGuire?” Miss Ames appealed to him, at last.
“You bet! Why, if the side wire of his beard hadn’t fetched loose and if his walnut juice complexion hadn’t stopped a mite short of his collar, I’d a took him for a sure-fire Oriental!”
“Don’t be so impertinent, Terence,” reproved Stone; “Miss Ames knows better than you do.”
“It doesn’t matter that he was made up that way,” Aunt Abby said, serenely; “they often do that. But he was genuine, I know, because—why, Eunice, what did Sanford use to call me—for fun —Aunt what?”
“Aunt Westminter Abbey,” said Eunice, smiling at the recollection.
“Yes!” triumphantly; “and that’s what Sanford called me to-day when speaking to me through the medium. Isn’t that a proof? How could that man know that?”
“I can’t explain that,” declared Elliott, a little shortly, “but it’s all rubbish, and I don’t think you ought to be allowed to go to such places! It’s disgraceful—”
“You hush up, Mason,” Miss Ames cried; “I’ll go where I like! I’m not a child. And, too, I wasn’t alone—I had an escort—a very nice one.” She looked kindly at Fibsy.
“Thank you, ma’am,” he returned, bobbing his funny red head. “I sure enjoyed myself.”
“You didn’t look so; you looked half asleep.”
“I always enjoy myself when I’m asleep—and half a loaf is better’n no bed,” the boy grinned at her.
“Well, it may all be rubbish,” Alvord Hendricks said, musingly; “and it probably is—but there are people, Mason, who don’t think so. Anyway, here’s my idea. If Aunt Abby thinks she poisoned Sanford, under hypnotism—or any other way—for the love of heaven, let it go at that! If you don’t—suspicion will turn back to Eunice again—and that’s what we want to prevent. Now, no jury would ever convict an old lady—”