Paul Harley crossed the room and stood in front of the tall Burmese cabinet. He
experienced the utmost difficulty in adopting a judicial attitude toward his
beautiful visitor. Proximity increased his mental confusion. Therefore he stood on
the opposite side of the office ere beginning to question her.
"In the first place, Miss Abingdon," he said, speaking very deliberately, "do you
attach any particular significance to the term 'Fire-Tongue'?"
Phil Abingdon glanced rapidly at Doctor McMurdoch. "None at all, Mr. Harley,"
she replied. "The doctor has already told me of--"
"You know why I ask?" She inclined her head.
"And Mr. Nicol Brinn? Have you met this gentleman?"
"Never. I know that Dad had met him and was very much interested in him."
"In what way?"
"I have no idea. He told me that he thought Mr. Brinn one of the most singular
characters he had ever known. But beyond describing his rooms in Piccadilly,
which had impressed him as extraordinary, he said very little about Mr. Brinn. He
sounded interesting and "--she hesitated and her eyes filled with tears--"I asked
Dad to invite him home." Again she paused. This retrospection, by making the
dead seem to live again, added to the horror of her sudden bereavement, and
Harley would most gladly have spared her more. "Dad seemed strangely
disinclined to do so," she added.
At that the keen investigator came to life within Harley. "Your father did not
appear anxious to bring Mr. Brinn to his home?" he asked, eagerly.
"Not at all anxious. This was all the more strange because Dad invited Mr. Brinn
to his club."
"He gave no reason for his refusal?"