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- Raspberry Jam - 20/45 -
Crowell turned on her a look of undisguised admiration. More, he seemed struck with a sudden joy of finding a possible loophole from the implication he had meant to convey.
"I never thought of that," he said, slowly, piercing her with his intent gaze; "it may be. But Mrs, Embury--in that case, where is the intruder now? How did he get out?"
"Rubbish!" cried Miss Ames, caustically. "There never was any intruder--I mean, not in our rooms. Ridiculous! Of course, the doors were not locked--they were unintentionally left open--I don't believe they're locked half the time!--and your intruder came in through these other rooms."
"Yes," agreed Hendricks; "that must have been the way of it. Dr. Crowell, if you're sure this is a--a--oh, it isn't! Who would kill Embury? Your theory presupposes a motive. What was it? Robbery? Is anything missing?"
Nobody could answer this question, and Ferdinand, as one familiar with his master's belongings was sent into the room of death to investigate.
Unwillingly, and only after a repeated order, the man went.
"No, ma'am," he said, on his return, addressing Eunice. "None of Mr. Embury's things are gone. All his pins and cuff-links are in their boxes and his watch is on the chiffonier where he always leaves it.
"Then," resumed Hendricks, "what motive can you suggest, Dr. Crowell?"
"It's not for me, sir, to go so far as that. I see it this way: I'm positive that the man was killed by foul means. I'm sure he was poisoned, though I can't say how. I--you see, I haven't been Medical Examiner very long--and I never had such a hard duty to perform before. But it is my duty and I must do it. I must report to headquarters."
"You shan't!" Eunice flew across the room and stood before him, her whole body quivering with intense rage. "I forbid it! I am Sanford Embury's wife, and as such I have rights that shall not be imposed upon! I will have no police dragged into this matter. Were my husband really murdered--which, of course, he was not--I would rather never have the murderer discovered or punished, than to have the degradation, the horrors of--a police case!"
The infinite scorn with which she brought out the last phrase showed her earnestness and her determination to have the matter pushed no further.
But Examiner Crowell was by no means the inefficient little man he looked. His eyes took on a new glitter, and narrowed as they looked at the angry woman before him.
"I am sorry, Mrs, Embury," he said, gently, but with a strong decision in his tone, "but your wishes cannot be considered. The law is inexorable. The mystery of this case is deepened rather than lessened by your extraordinary behavior and I must--"
But his brave manner quailed before the lightning of Eunice's eyes.
"What!" she cried; "you defy me! You will call the police against my desire--my command! You will not, sir! I forbid it!"
Crowell looked at her with a new interest. It would seem he had discovered a new species of humanity. Doubtless he had never seen a woman like that in his previous experience.
For Eunice was no shrew. She did not, for a moment, lose her poise or her dignity. Indeed, she was rather more imperious and dominating in her intense anger than when more serene. But she carried conviction. Both Elliott and Hendricks hoped and believed she could sway the Examiner to her will.
Aunt Abby merely sat nodding her head, in corroboration of Eunice's speeches. "Yes--yes--that's so!" she murmured, unheeding whether she were heard or not.
The Examiner, however, paid little attention to the decrees of the angry woman. He looked at Eunice, curiously, even admiringly, and then went across the room to the telephone.
Eunice flew after him and snatched the instrument from his hand.
"Stop!" she cried, fairly beside herself with fury. "You shall not!"
Both Elliott and Hendricks sprang from their chairs, and Dr. Harper rose to take care of Eunice as an irresponsible patient, but Crowell waved them all back.
"Sit down, gentlemen," he said; "Mrs, Embury, think a minute. If you act like that you will--you inevitably will--draw suspicion on yourself!"
"I don't care!" she screamed; "better that than the--the publicity--the shame of a police investigation! Oh, Sanford--my husband!"
It was quite clear that uppermost in her disturbed mind was the dread of the disgrace of the police inquiry. This had dulled her poignant grief, her horror, her sadness--all had been lost in the immediate fear of the impending unpleasantness.
"And, too," the Examiner went on, coldly, "It is useless for you to rant around like that! I'll simply go to another telephone."
Eunice stepped back and looked at him, more in surprise than submission. To be told that she was "ranting around" was not the way in which she was usually spoken to! Moreover, she realized it was true, that to jerk the telephone away from Dr. Crowell could not permanently prevent his sending his message.
She tried another tack.
"I beg your pardon, doctor," she said, and her expression was that of a sad and sorry child. "You're right, I mustn't lose my temper so. But, you know, I am under a severe mental strain--and something should be forgiven me--some allowance made for my dreadful position--"
"Yes, ma'am--oh, certainly, ma'am--" Crowell was again nervous and restless. He proved that he could withstand an angry woman far better than a supplicating one. Eunice saw this and followed up her advantage.
"And, so, doctor, try to appreciate how I feel--a newlymade widow--my husband dead, from some unknown cause, but which I know is not--murder," after a second's hesitation she pronounced the awful word clearly--"and you want to add to my terror and distress by calling in the police--of all things, the police!"
"Yes, ma'am, I know it's too bad--but, my duty, ma'am--"
"Your duty is first, to me!" Eunice's smile was dazzling. It had been a callous heart, indeed, that would not be touched by it!
"To you, ma'am?" The Examiner's tone was innocence itself.
"Yes," Eunice faltered, for she began to realize she was not gaining ground. "You owe me the--don't they call it the benefit of the doubt?"
"What doubt, ma'am?"
"Why, doubt as to murder. If my husband died a natural death you know there's no reason to call the police. And as you're not sure, I claim that you must give me the benefit of your doubt and not call them."
"Now, ma'am, you don't put that just right. You see, the police are the people who must settle that doubt. It's that very doubt that makes it necessary to call them. And, truly, Mrs, Ernbury, it won't be any such horrible ordeal as you seem to anticipate. They're decent men, and all they want to get at is the truth."
"That isn't so!" Eunice was angry again. "They're horrible men! rude, unkempt, low-down, common men! I won't have them in my house! You have no right to insist on it. They'll be all over the rooms, prying into everything, looking here, there and all over! They'll ask impertinent questions; they'll assume all sorts of things that aren't true, and they'll wind up by coming to a positively false conclusion! Alvord, Mason, you're my friends--help me out! Don't, let this man do as he threatens!"
"Listen, Eunice," Elliott said, striving to quiet her; "we can't help the necessity Dr. Crowell sees of notifying the police. But we can help you. Only, however, if you'll be sensible, dear, and trust to our word that it can't be helped, and you must let it go on quietly."
"Oh, hush up, Mason; your talk drives me crazy! Alvord, are you a broken reed, too? Is there nobody to stand by me?"
"I'll try," and Hendricks went and spoke to Dr. Crowell in low tones. A whispered colloquy followed, but it soon became clear that Hendricks' pleas, of whatever nature, were unsuccessful, and he returned to Eunice's side.
"Nothing doing," he said, with an attempt at lightness. "He won't listen to reason--nor to bribery and corruption--" this last was said openly and with a smile that robbed the idea of any real seriousness.
And then Dr. Crowell again lifted the telephone and called up Headquarters.
Of the two detectives who arrived in response to the Examiner's
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