She was a child too much a part of her environment , too eager to grow and learn and experience .
Once , they were at Easthampton for the summer ( again , Fritzie said , a good place , even though they were being robbed ) .
One soft evening -- that marvelous sea-blessed time when the sun's departing warmth lingers and a smell of spume and wrack haunts everything -- Amy had picked herself off the floor and begun to walk .
Fritzie was on the couch reading ; ;
Laura was sitting in an easy chair about eight feet away .
The infant , in white terry-cloth bathrobe , her face intense and purposeful , had essayed a few wobbly steps toward her father .
`` Y'all wanna walk -- walk '' , he said .
Then , gently , he shoved her behind toward Laura .
Amy walked -- making it halfway across the cottage floor .
She lost not a second , picking herself up and continuing her pilgrimage to Laura .
Then Laura took her gently and shoved her off again , toward Fritzie : Amy did not laugh -- this was work , concentration , achievement .
In a few minutes she was making the ten-foot hike unaided ; ;
soon she was parading around the house , flaunting her new skill .
Some liar's logic , a wisp of optimism as fragile as the scent of tropical blossoms that came through the window ( a euphoria perhaps engendered by the pill Fritzie had given her ) , consoled her for a moment .
Amy had to be safe , had to come back to them -- if only to reap that share of life's experiences that were her due , if only to give her parents another chance to do better by her .
Through the swathings of terror , she jabbed deceit's sharp point -- Amy would be reborn , a new child , with new parents , living under new circumstances .
The comfort was short-lived , yet she found herself returning to the assurance whenever her imagination forced images on her too awful to contemplate without the prop of illusion .
Gazing at her husband's drugged body , his chest rising and falling in mindless rhythms , she saw the grandeur of his fictional world , that lush garden from which he plucked flowers and herbs .
She envied him .
She admired him .
In the darkness , she saw him stirring .
He seemed to be muttering , his voice surprisingly clear .
`` Y'all should have let me take that money out '' , Andrus said .
`` 'nother minute I'd have been fine .
H'all should have let me do it '' .
Laura touched his hand .
`` Yes , I know , Fritzie .
I should have '' .
The heat intensified on Tuesday .
Southern California gasped and blinked under an autumn hot spell , drier , more enervating , more laden with man's contrived impurities than the worst days of the summer past .
It could continue this way , hitting 106 and more in the Valley , Joe McFeeley knew , into October .
He and Irvin Moll were sipping coffee at the breakfast bar .
Both had been up since 7:00 -- Irv on the early-morning watch , McFeeley unable to sleep during his four-hour relief .
The night before , they had telephoned the Andrus maid , Selena Masters , and she had arrived early , bursting her vigorous presence into the silent house with an assurance that amused McFeeley and confounded Moll .
The latter , thanking her for the coffee , had winked and muttered , `` Sure 'nuff , honey '' .
Selena was the wrong woman for these crudities .
With a hard eye , she informed Moll : `` Don't sure 'nuff me , officer .
I'm honey only to my husband , understand '' ? ?
Sergeant Moll understood .
The maid was very black and very energetic , trim in a yellow pique uniform .
Her speech was barren of southernisms ; ;
she was one of Eliot Sparling's neutralized minorities , adopting the rolling R's and constricted vowels of Los Angeles .
Not seeing her dark intelligent face , one would have gauged the voice as that of a Westwood Village matron , ten years out of Iowa .
After she had served the detectives coffee and toast ( they politely declined eggs , uncomfortable about their tenancy ) , she settled down with a morning newspaper and began reading the stock market quotations .
While she was thus engaged , McFeeley questioned her about her whereabouts the previous day , any recollections she had of people hanging around , of overcurious delivery boys or repairmen , of strange cars cruising the neighborhood .
She answered him precisely , missing not a beat in her scrutiny of the financial reports .
Selena Masters , Joe realized , was her own woman .
She was the only kind of Negro Laura Andrus would want around : independent , unservile , probably charging double what ordinary maids did for housework -- and doubly efficient .
When the parents emerged from the bedroom a few minutes later , the maid greeted them quietly .
`` I'm awful sorry about what's happened '' , Selena said .
`` Maybe today'll be a good-news day '' .
She charged off to the bedrooms .
Moll took his coffee into the nursery .
During the night , a phone company technician had deadened the bells and installed red blinkers on the phones .
Someone would have to remain in the office continually .
McFeeley greeted the parents , then studied his notebook .
He wanted to take the mother to headquarters at once and start her on the mug file .
`` Sleep well '' ? ?
He asked .
Andrus did not answer him .
His face was bloated with drugging , redder than normal .
The woman had the glassy look of an invalid , as if she had not slept at all .
`` Oh -- we managed '' , she said .
`` I'm a little groggy .
Did anything happen during the night '' ? ?
`` Few crank calls '' , McFeeley said .
`` A couple of tips we're running down -- nothing promising .
We can expect more of the same .
Too bad your number is in the directory '' .
`` Didn't occur to me my child would be kidnaped when I had it listed '' , Andrus muttered .
He settled on the sofa with his coffee , warming his hands on the cup , although the room was heavy with heat .
The three had little to say to each other .
The previous night's horror -- the absolute failure , overcast with the intrusions of the press , had left them all with a wan sense of uselessness , of play-acting .
Sipping their coffee , discussing the weather , the day's shopping , Fritzie's commitments at the network ( all of which he would cancel ) , they avoided the radio , the morning TV news show , even the front page of the Santa Luisa Register , resting on the kitchen bar .
Kidnaper spurns ransom ; ;
Amy still missing .
Once , Andrus walked by it , hastily scanned the bold black headline and the five-column lead of the article ( by Duane Bosch , staff correspondent -- age not given ) , and muttered : `` We a buncha national celebrities '' .
McFeeley told the parents he would escort them to police headquarters in a half hour .
Before that , he wanted to talk to the neighbors .
He did not want to bring the Andruses to the station house too early -- Rheinholdt had summoned a press conference , and he didn't want them subjected to the reporters again .
He could think of nothing else to tell them : no assurances , no hopeful hints at great discoveries that day .
When the detective left , Andrus phoned his secretary to cancel his work and to advise the network to get a substitute director for his current project .
Mrs. Andrus was talking to the maid , arranging for her to come in every day , instead of the four days she now worked .
Outside , only a handful of reporters remained .
The bulk of the press corps was covering Rheinholdt's conference .
In contrast to the caravan of the previous night , there were only four cars parked across the street .
Two men he did not recognize were sipping coffee and munching sweet rolls .
He did not see Sparling , or DeGroot , or Ringel , or any of the feverish crew that had so harassed him twelve hours ago .
However , the litter remained , augmented by several dozen lunchroom suppers .
The street cleaner had not yet been around .
One of the reporters called to him : `` Anything new , Lieutenant '' ? ?
And he ignored him , skirting the parked cars and walking up the path to the Skopas house .
When McFeeley was halfway to the door , the proprietor emerged -- a mountainous , dark man , his head thick with resiny black hair , his eyes like two of the black olives he imported in boatloads .
McFeeley identified himself .
The master of the house , his nourished face unrevealing , consented to postpone his departure a few minutes to talk to the detective .
Inside , as soon as Mr. Skopas had disclosed -- in a hoarse whisper -- the detective's errand , his family gathered in a huddle , forming a mass of dark flesh on and around a brocaded sofa which stood at one side of a baroque fireplace .
Flanked by marble urns and alabaster lamps , they seemed to be posing for a tribal portrait .
It was amazing how they had herded together for protection : an enormous matriarch in a quilted silk wrapper , rising from the breakfast table ; ;
a gross boy in his teens , shuffling in from the kitchen with a sandwich in his hands ; ;
a girl in her twenties , fat and sullen , descending the marble staircase ; ;
then all four gathering on the sofa to face the inquisitor .
They answered him in monosyllables , nods , occasionally muttering in Greek to one another , awaiting the word from Papa , who restlessly cracked his knuckles , anxious to stuff himself into his white Cadillac and burst off to the freeway .
No , they hadn't seen anyone around ; ;
no , they didn't know the Andrus family ; ;
yes , they had read about the case ; ;
yes , they had let some reporters use their phone , but they would no longer .
They offered no opinions , volunteered nothing , betrayed no emotions .
Studying them , McFeeley could not help make comparison with the Andrus couple .
The Skopas people seemed to him of that breed of human beings whose insularity frees them from tragedy .
He imagined they were the kind whose tax returns were never examined ( if they were , they were never penalized ) , whose children had no unhappy romances , whose names never knew scandal .
The equation was simple : wealth brought them happiness , and their united front to the world was their warning that they meant to keep everything they had , let no one in on the secrets .
By comparison , Fritzie and Laura Andrus were quivering fledglings .
They possessed no outer fortifications , no hard shells of confidence ; ;
they had enough difficulty getting from day to day , let alone having an awful crime thrust upon them .
Skopas expressed no curiosity over the case , offered no expression of sympathy , made no move to escort McFeely to the door .
All four remained impacted on the sofa until he had left .
He had spoken to Mrs. .
Emerson the previous day .
There remained a family named Kahler , owners of a two-story Tudor-style house on the south side of the Andrus home .
Their names had not come up in any discussions with Laura , and he had no idea what they would be like .
McFeeley noted the immaculate lawn and gardens : each blade of grass cropped , bright and firm ; ;
each shrub glazed with good health .
The door was answered by a slender man in his sixties -- straight-backed , somewhat clerical in manner , wearing rimless glasses .
When Joe identified himself , he nodded , unsmiling , and ushered him into a sedate living room .
Mrs. Kahler joined them .
She had a dried-out quality -- a gray , lean woman , not unattractive .
Both were dressed rather formally .
The man wore a vest and a tie , the woman had on a dark green dress and three strands of pearls .
`` Funny thing '' , Mr. Kahler said , when they were seated , `` when I heard you ringing , I figured it was that guy down the block , Hausman '' .
McFeeley looked puzzled .
Kahler continued : `` I fixed his dog the other day and I guess he's sore , so I expected him to come barging in '' .
Mr. Kahler went on to explain how Hausman's fox terrier had been `` making '' in his flower beds .
The dog refused to be scared off , so Kahler had purchased some small firecrackers .
He would lay in wait in the garage , and when the terrier came scratching around , he'd let fly with a cherry bomb .
`` Scared the hell out of him '' , Kahler grinned .
`` I hit him in the ass once '' .
Both grinned at the detective .
`` Finally , all I needed was to throw a little piece of red wood that looked like a firecracker and that dumb dog would run ki-yi-ing for his life '' .