„Oh, stop talking," I cried, in a hunted tone. "I can't bear it. If you are going to arrest me, get it over."
"I'd rather NOT arrest you, if we can find a way out. You look so young, so new to Crime! Even your excuse for being here is so naive, that I—won't you tell me why you wrote a love letter, if you are not in love? And whom you sent it to? That's important, you see, as it bears on the case. I intend," he said, "to be judgdicial[sic], unimpassioned, and quite fair."
"I wrote a love letter" I explained, feeling rather cheered, "but it was not intended for any one, Do you see? It was just a love letter."
"Oh," he said. "Of course. It is often done. And after that?"
"Well, it had to go somewhere. At least I felt that way about it. So I made up a name from some malted milk tablets——"
"Malted milk tablets!" he said, looking bewildered.
"Just as I was thinking up a name to send it to," I explained, "Hannah—that's mother's maid, you know—brought in some hot milk and some malted milk tablets, and I took the name from them."
"Look here," he said, "I'm unpredjudiced and quite calm, but isn't the `mother's maid' rather piling it on?"
"Hannah is mother's maid, and she brought in the milk and the tablets, I should think," I said, growing sarcastic, "that so far it is clear to the dullest mind."
"Go on," he said, leaning back and closing his eyes. "You named the letter for your mother's maid—I mean for the malted milk. Although you have not yet stated the name you chose; I never heard of any one named Milk, and as to the other, while I have known some rather thoroughly malted people—however, let that go."
"Valentine's tablets," I said. "Of Course, you understand," I said, bending forward, "there was no such Person. I made him up. The Harold was made up too—Harold Valentine."
"I see. Not clearly, perhaps, but I have a gleam of intellagence[sic]."
"But, after all, there was such a person. That's clear, isn't it? And now he considers that we are engaged, and—and he insists on marrying me."
"That," he said, "is realy[sic] easy to understand. I don't blame him at all. He is clearly a person of diszernment[sic]."
"Of course," I said bitterly, "you would be on HIS side. Every one is."
"But the point is this," he went on. "If you made him up out of the whole cloth, as it were, and there was no such Person, how can there be such a Person? I am merely asking to get it all clear in my head. It sounds so reasonable when you say it, but there seems to be something left out."
"I don't know how he can be, but he is," I said, hopelessly. "And he is exactly like his picture."
"Well, that's not unusual, you know."
"It is in this case. Because I bought the picture in a shop, and just pretended it was him. (He?) And it WAS."
He got up and paced the floor.
"It's a very strange case," he said. "Do you mind if I light a cigarette? It helps to clear my brain. What was the name you gave him?"
"Harold Valentine. But he is here under another name, because of my Familey. They think I am a mere child, you see, and so of course he took a NOM DE PLUME."
"A NOM DE PLUME? Oh I see! What is it?"
"Grosvenor," I said. "The same as yours.“
Bab: A Sub-Deb