"It was not my fault," Nancy said.
"Come on, Ada," Isabel urged, "before that clerk gets back."
Reluctantly Ada followed Isabel out of the department As they rushed toward a waiting elevator, Nancy gazed after them. At this moment the saleswoman reappeared with an armful of lovely frocks. She stared in bewilderment at the torn dress.
"Where did my customers go?" she asked Nancy worriedly.
Nancy pointed toward the elevator, but made no comment. Instead she said, "I'm looking for an evening dress myself. This torn one is very pretty. Do you think it could be mended?"
"Oh, I don't know," the woebegone clerk wailed. "I'll probably be held responsible and I can't afford to pay for the dress."
"I'm sure Taylor's wouldn't ask you to do that," Nancy said kindly. "If there's any trouble, I'll speak to the manager myself. What usually happens is that such a dress is greatly reduced."
"Thank you," the clerk replied. "I'll call Miss Reed, the fitter, and see what can be done."
"First, let me try on the dress," Nancy said, smiling.
They found a vacant fitting room and Nancy took off her suit and blouse. Then she slipped the lovely pale-blue dance creation over her head and the saleswoman zipped it up.
"It's darling on you," she said enthusiastically.
Nancy grinned. "I kind of like myself in it," she said. "Please call the fitter now."
Presently Miss Reed, a gray-haired woman, appeared. Within seconds she had made a change in an overlap o£ the chiffon skirt. The tear was no longer visible and the style of the dress was actually improved.
"I told our manager what happened," said the saleswoman. "If you want the dress, he will reduce the price fifty percent."
"How wonderful!" Nancy exclaimed. Laughing, she said, "That price will fit into my budget nicely. I'll take the dress. Please send it." She gave her name and address. To herself she added, "Ada Topham did me a favor. But if she ever finds out what happened, she'll certainly be burned up!" Nancy suppressed a giggle.
"It's been a real pleasure waiting on you, Miss Drew," the saleswoman said after Miss Reed left and Nancy was putting on her suit. "But how I dread to see those Topham sisters come in here! They're so unreasonable. And they'll be even worse when they get Josiah Crowley's money."
The woman lowered her voice. "The estate hasn't been settled, but the girls are counting on the fortune already. Last week I heard Ada say to her sister, 'Oh, I guess there's no question about our getting old Crowley's fortune. But I wish Father would stop worrying that somebody is going to show up with a later will which may do us out of it.' "
Nancy was too discreet to engage in gossip with the saleswoman. But she was interested and excited about the information. The fact that Mr. Topham was disturbed indicated to her that he too suspected Josiah Crowley had made a second will
The conversation reminded Nancy of her date. She glanced at her wrist watch and saw that it was after twelve o'clock.
"I must hurry or I'll be late for an appointment with my dad," she told the saleswoman.
Nancy drove directly to her father's office. Although she was a few minutes ahead of the appointed time, she found that he was ready to leave.
"What luck, Dad?" Nancy asked eagerly. "Did Mr. Rolsted accept your luncheon invitation?"
"Yes. We are to meet him at the Royal Hotel in ten minutes. Do you still think I should quiz him about the Crowley will?"
"Oh, I'm more interested than ever in the case." She told her father about the saleswoman's gossipy remarks.
"Him," said Mr. Drew. "It's not what you'd call evidence, but the old saying usually holds good, 'Where there's smoke, there's fire.' Come, let's go!"
The Royal Hotel was located less than a block away, and Nancy and her father quickly walked the distance. Mr. Rolsted was waiting in the lobby. Carson Drew introduced his daughter, then the three made their way to the dining room where a table had been reserved for them.
At first the conversation centered about a variety of subjects. As the luncheon progressed the two lawyers talked enthusiastically of their college days together and finally of their profession. Nancy began to fear that the subject of the Crowley estate might never be brought up.
Then, after the dessert course, Mr. Drew skillfully turned the conversation into a new channel and mentioned some strange cases which he had handled.
"By the way," he said, "I haven't heard the details of the Crowley case. How are the Tophams making out? I understand other relatives are trying to break the will."
For a moment Mr. Rolsted remained silent. Was he reluctant to enter into a discussion of the matter? Nancy wondered.
Finally the lawyer said quietly, "The settlement of the estate wasn't given to me, Carson. But I confess I've followed it rather closely because of something that happened a year ago. As the present will stands, I do not believe it can be broken."
"Then the Tophams fall heir to the entire estate," Mr. Drew commented.
"Yes, unless a more recent will is uncovered."
"Another will?" Carson Drew inquired innocently. "Then you believe Crowley made a second one?"
Mr. Rolsted hesitated as though uncertain whether or not he should divulge any further information. Then, with a quick glance about, he lowered his voice and said, "Of course this is strictly confidential—"