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The Leavenworth Case
Anna Katherine Green


   I.        "A GREAT CASE"
   IV.       A CUTS
   VI.       SIDE-LIGHTS
   IX.       A DISCOVERY
   XI.       THE SUMMONS




   XXXI.     "Thereby hangs a tale."





    "A deed of dreadful note."

I HAD been a junior partner in the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond,
attorneys and counsellors at law, for about a year, when one morning,
in the temporary absence of both Mr. Veeley and Mr. Carr, there came
into our office a young man whose whole appearance was so indicative of
haste and agitation that I involuntarily rose at his approach and
impetuously inquired:

"What is the matter? You have no bad news to tell, I hope."

"I have come to see Mr. Veeley; is he in?"

"No," I replied; "he was unexpectedly called away this morning to
Washington; cannot be home before to-morrow; but if you will make
your business known to me----"

"To you, sir?" he repeated, turning a very cold but steady eye on
mine; then, seeming to be satisfied with his scrutiny, continued,
"There is no reason why I shouldn't; my business is no secret. I came to
inform him that Mr. Leavenworth is dead."

"Mr. Leavenworth!" I exclaimed, falling back a step. Mr.
Leavenworth was an old client of our firm, to say nothing of his being
the particular friend of Mr. Veeley.

"Yes, murdered; shot through the head by some unknown person while
sitting at his library table."

"Shot! murdered!" I could scarcely believe my ears.

"How? when?" I gasped.

"Last night. At least, so we suppose. He was not found till this
morning. I am Mr. Leavenworth's private secretary," he explained,
"and live in the family. It was a dreadful shock," he went on,
"especially to the ladies."

"Dreadful!" I repeated. "Mr. Veeley will be overwhelmed by it."

"They are all alone," he continued in a low businesslike way I
afterwards found to be inseparable from the man; "the Misses
Leavenworth, I mean--Mr. Leavenworth's nieces; and as an inquest is to
be held there to-day it is deemed proper for them to have some one
present capable of advising them. As Mr. Veeley was their uncle's best
friend, they naturally sent me for him; but he being absent I am at a
loss what to do or where to go."

"I am a stranger to the ladies," was my hesitating reply, "but if
I can be of any assistance to them, my respect for their uncle is

The expression of the secretary's eye stopped me. Without seeming to
wander from my face, its pupil had suddenly dilated till it appeared to
embrace my whole person with its scope.

"I don't know," he finally remarked, a slight frown, testifying to
the fact that he was not altogether pleased with the turn affairs were
taking. "Perhaps it would be best. The ladies must not be left

"Say no more; I will go." And, sitting down, I despatched a
hurried message to Mr. Veeley, after which, and the few other
preparations necessary, I accompanied the secretary to the street.

"Now," said I, "tell me all you know of this frightful affair."

"All I know? A few words will do that. I left him last night
sitting as usual at his library table, and found him this morning,
seated in the same place, almost in the same position, but with _a._
bullet-hole in his head as large as the end of my little finger."



"Horrible!" I exclaimed. Then, after a moment, "Could it have
been a suicide?"

"No. The pistol with which the deed was committed is not to be

"But if it was a murder, there must have been some motive. Mr.
Leavenworth was too benevolent a man to have enemies, and if robbery
was intended----"

"There was no robbery. There is nothing missing," he again
interrupted. "The whole affair is a mystery."

"A mystery?"

"An utter mystery."

Turning, I looked at my informant curiously. The inmate of a house
in which a mysterious murder had occurred was rather an interesting
object. But the good-featured and yet totally unimpressive countenance
of the man beside me offered but little basis for even the wildest
imagination to work upon, and, glancing almost immediately away, I

"Are the ladies very much overcome?"

He took at least a half-dozen steps before replying.

"It would be unnatural if they were not." And whether it was the
expression of his face at the time, or the nature of the reply itself,
I felt that in speaking of these ladies to this uninteresting,
self-possessed secretary of the late Mr. Leavenworth, I was somehow
treading upon dangerous ground. As I had heard they were very
accomplished women, I was not altogether pleased at this discovery. It
was, therefore, with a certain consciousness of relief I saw a Fifth
Avenue stage approach.

"We will defer our conversation," said I. "Here's the stage."

But, once seated within it, we soon discovered that all intercourse
upon such a subject was impossible. Employing the time, therefore, in
running over in my mind what I knew of Mr. Leavenworth, I found that
my knowledge was limited to the bare fact of his being a retired
merchant of great wealth and fine social position who, in default of
possessing children of his own, had taken into his home two nieces, one
of whom had already been declared his heiress. To be sure, I had heard
Mr. Veeley speak of his eccentricities, giving as an instance this very
fact of his making a will in favor of one niece to the utter exclusion
of the other; but of his habits of life and connection with the world
at large, I knew little or nothing.

There was a great crowd in front of the house when we arrived there,
and I had barely time to observe that it was a corner dwelling of
unusual depth when I was seized by the throng and carried quite to the
foot of the broad stone steps. Extricating myself, though with some
difficulty, owing to the importunities of a bootblack and butcher-boy,
who seemed to think that by clinging to my arms they might succeed in
smuggling themselves into the house, I mounted the steps and, finding
the secretary, by some unaccountable good fortune, close to my side,
hurriedly rang the bell. Immediately the door opened, and a face I
recognized as that of one of our city detectives appeared in the gap.

"Mr. Gryce!" I exclaimed.

"The same," he replied. "Come in, Mr. Raymond." And drawing us
quietly into the house, he shut the door with a grim smile on the
disappointed crowd without. "I trust you are not surprised to see me
here," said he, holding out his hand, with a side glance at my

"No," I returned. Then, with a vague idea that I ought to introduce
the young man at my side, continued: "This is Mr. ----, Mr. ----,
--excuse me, but I do not know your name," I said inquiringly to my
companion. "The private secretary of the late Mr. Leavenworth," I
hastened to add.

"Oh," he returned, "the secretary! The coroner has been asking for
you, sir."

"The coroner is here, then?"

"Yes; the jury have just gone up-stairs to view the body; would
you like to follow them?"

"No, it is not necessary. I have merely come in the hope of being
of some assistance to the young ladies. Mr. Veeley is away."

"And you thought the opportunity too good to be lost," he went on;
"just so. Still, now that you are here, and as the case promises to be
a marked one, I should think that, as a rising young lawyer, you would
wish to make yourself acquainted with it in all its details. But follow
your own judgment."

I made an effort and overcame my repugnance. "I will go," said I.

"Very well, then, follow me."

But just as I set foot on the stairs I heard the jury descending,
so, drawing back with Mr. Gryce into a recess between the reception
room and the parlor, I had time to remark:

"The young man says it could not have been the work of a burglar."

"Indeed!" fixing his eye on a door-knob near by.

"That nothing has been found missing--"

"And that the fastenings to the house were all found secure this
morning; just so."

"He did not tell me that. In that case"--and I shuddered--"the
murderer must have been in the house all night."

Mr. Gryce smiled darkly at the door-knob.

"It has a dreadful look!" I exclaimed.

Mr. Gryce immediately frowned at the door-knob.

And here let me say that Mr. Gryce, the detective, was not the thin,
wiry individual with the piercing eye you are doubtless expecting to
see. On the contrary, Mr. Gryce was a portly, comfortable personage
with an eye that never pierced, that did not even rest on _you._
If it rested anywhere, it was always on some insignificant object in
the vicinity, some vase, inkstand, book, or button. These things he
would seem to take into his confidence, make the repositories of his
conclusions; but as for you--you might as well be the steeple on
Trinity Church, for all connection you ever appeared to have with him
or his thoughts. At present, then, Mr. Gryce was, as I have already
suggested, on intimate terms with the door-knob.

"A dreadful look," I repeated.

His eye shifted to the button on my sleeve.

"Come," he said, "the coast is clear at last."

Leading the way, he mounted the stairs, but stopped on the upper
landing. "Mr. Raymond," said he, "I am not in the habit of talking
much about the secrets of my profession, but in this case everything
depends upon getting the right clue at the start. We have no common
villainy to deal with here; genius has been at work. Now sometimes an
absolutely uninitiated mind will intuitively catch at something which
the most highly trained intellect will miss. If such a thing should
occur, remember that I am your man. Don't go round talking, but come to
me. For this is going to be a great case, mind you, a great case. Now,
come on."

"But the ladies?"

"They are in the rooms above; in grief, of course, but tolerably
composed for all that, I hear." And advancing to a door, he pushed it
open and beckoned me in.

All was dark for a moment, but presently, my eyes becoming
accustomed to the place, I saw that we were in the library.

"It was here he was found," said he; "in this room and upon this
very spot." And advancing, he laid his hand on the end of a large
baize-covered table that, together with its attendant chairs, occupied
the centre of the room. "You see for yourself that it is directly
opposite this door," and, crossing the floor, he paused in front of the
threshold of a narrow passageway, opening into a room beyond. "As the
murdered man was discovered sitting in this chair, and consequently with
his back towards the passageway, the assassin must have advanced through
the doorway to deliver his shot, pausing, let us say, about here." And
Mr. Gryce planted his feet firmly upon a certain spot in the carpet,
about a foot from the threshold before mentioned.

"But--" I hastened to interpose.

"There is no room for 'but,'" he cried. "We have studied the
situation." And without deigning to dilate upon the subject, he turned
immediately about and, stepping swiftly before me, led the way into the
passage named. "Wine closet, clothes closet, washing apparatus,
towel-rack," he explained, waving his hand from side to side as we
hurried through, finishing with "Mr. Leavenworth's private apartment,"
as that room of comfortable aspect opened upon us.

Mr. Leavenworth's private apartment! It was here then that _it_
ought to be, the horrible, blood-curdling _it_ that yesterday was
a living, breathing man. Advancing to the bed that was hung with heavy
curtains, I raised my hand to put them back, when Mr. Gryce, drawing
them from my clasp, disclosed lying upon the pillow a cold, calm face
looking so natural I involuntarily started.

"His death was too sudden to distort the features," he remarked,
turning the head to one side in a way to make visible a ghastly wound
in the back of the cranium. "Such a hole as that sends a man out of
the world without much notice. The surgeon will convince you it could
never have been inflicted by himself. It is a case of deliberate

Horrified, I drew hastily back, when my glance fell upon a door
situated directly opposite me in the side of the wall towards the hall.
It appeared to be the only outlet from the room, with the exception of
the passage through which we had entered, and I could not help
wondering if it was through this door the assassin had entered on his
roundabout course to the library. But Mr. Gryce, seemingly observant of
my glance, though his own was fixed upon the chandelier, made haste to
remark, as if in reply to the inquiry in my face:

"Found locked on the inside; may have come that way and may not;
we don't pretend to say."

Observing now that the bed was undisturbed in its arrangement, I
remarked, "He had not retired, then?"

"No; the tragedy must be ten hours old. Time for the murderer to
have studied the situation and provided for all contingencies."

"The murderer? Whom do you suspect?" I whispered.

He looked impassively at the ring on my finger.

"Every one and nobody. It is not for me to suspect, but to detect."
And dropping the curtain into its former position he led me from the

The coroner's inquest being now in session, I felt a strong desire
to be present, so, requesting Mr. Gryce to inform the ladies that Mr.
Veeley was absent from town, and that I had come as his substitute, to
render them any assistance they might require on so melancholy an
occasion, I proceeded to the large parlor below, and took my seat among
the various persons there assembled.


    "The baby figure of the giant mass
     Of things to come."
        --Troilus and Cressida.

FOR a few minutes I sat dazed by the sudden flood of light greeting
me from the many open windows; then, as the strongly contrasting
features of the scene before me began to impress themselves upon my
consciousness, I found myself experiencing something of the same
sensation of double personality which years before had followed an
enforced use of ether. As at that time, I appeared to be living two
lives at once: in two distinct places, with two separate sets of
incidents going on; so now I seemed to be divided between two
irreconcilable trains of thought; the gorgeous house, its elaborate
furnishing, the little glimpses of yesterday's life, as seen in the
open piano, with its sheet of music held in place by a lady's fan,
occupying my attention fully as much as the aspect of the throng of
incongruous and impatient people huddled about me.

Perhaps one reason of this lay in the extraordinary splendor of the
room I was in; the glow of satin, glitter of bronze, and glimmer of
marble meeting the eye at every turn. But I am rather inclined to think
it was mainly due to the force and eloquence of a certain picture which
confronted me from the opposite wall. A sweet picture--sweet enough and
poetic enough to have been conceived by the most idealistic of artists:
simple, too--the vision of a young flaxen-haired, blue-eyed coquette,
dressed in the costume of the First Empire, standing in a wood-path,
looking back over her shoulder at some one following--yet with such a
dash of something not altogether saint-like in the corners of her meek
eyes and baby-like lips, that it impressed me with the individuality of
life. Had it not been for the open dress, with its waist almost beneath
the armpits, the hair cut short on the forehead, and the perfection of
the neck and shoulders, I should have taken it for a literal portrait
of one of the ladies of the house. As it was, I could not rid myself of
the idea that one, if not both, of Mr. Leavenworth's nieces looked down
upon me from the eyes of this entrancing blonde with the beckoning
glance and forbidding hand. So vividly did this fancy impress me that I
half shuddered as I looked, wondering if this sweet creature did not
know what had occurred in this house since the happy yesterday; and if
so, how she could stand there smiling so invitingly,--when suddenly I
became aware that I had been watching the little crowd of men about me
with as complete an absorption as if nothing else in the room had
attracted my attention; that the face of the coroner, sternly
intelligent and attentive, was as distinctly imprinted upon my mind as
that of this lovely picture, or the clearer-cut and more noble features
of the sculptured Psyche, shining in mellow beauty from the
crimson-hung window at his right; yes, even that the various
countenances of the jurymen clustered before me, commonplace and
insignificant as most of them were; the trembling forms of the excited
servants crowded into a far corner; and the still more disagreeable
aspect of the pale-faced, seedy reporter, seated at a small table and
writing with a ghoul-like avidity that made my flesh creep, were each
and all as fixed an element in the remarkable scene before me as the
splendor of the surroundings which made their presence such a nightmare
of discord and unreality.

I have spoken of the coroner. As fortune would have it, he was no
stranger to me. I had not only seen him before, but had held frequent
conversation with him; in fact, knew him. His name was Hammond, and he
was universally regarded as a man of more than ordinary acuteness,
fully capable of conducting an important examination, with the
necessary skill and address. Interested as I was, or rather was likely
to be, in this particular inquiry, I could not but congratulate myself
upon our good fortune in having so intelligent a coroner.

As for his jurymen, they were, as I have intimated, very much like
all other bodies of a similar character. Picked up at random from the
streets, but from such streets as the Fifth and Sixth Avenues, they
presented much the same appearance of average intelligence and
refinement as might be seen in the chance occupants of one of our city
stages. Indeed, I marked but one amongst them all who seemed to take
any interest in the inquiry as an inquiry; all the rest appearing to be
actuated in the fulfilment of their duty by the commoner instincts of
pity and indignation.

Dr. Maynard, the well-known surgeon of Thirty-sixth Street, was the
first witness called. His testimony concerned the nature of the wound
found in the murdered man's head. As some of the facts presented by him
are likely to prove of importance to us in our narrative, I will
proceed to give a synopsis of what he said.

Prefacing his remarks with some account of himself, and the manner
in which he had been summoned to the house by one of the servants, he
went on to state that, upon his arrival, he found the deceased lying on
a bed in the second-story front room, with the blood clotted about a
pistol-wound in the back of the head; having evidently been carried
there from the adjoining apartment some hours after death. It was the
only wound discovered on the body, and having probed it, he had found
and extracted the bullet which he now handed to the jury. It was lying
in the brain, having entered at the base of the skull, passed obliquely
upward, and at once struck the _medulla oblongata,_ causing
instant death. The fact of the ball having entered the brain in this
peculiar manner he deemed worthy of note, since it would produce not
only instantaneous death, but an utterly motionless one. Further, from
the position of the bullet-hole and the direction taken by the bullet,
it was manifestly impossible that the shot should have been fired by
the man himself, even if the condition of the hair about the wound did
not completely demonstrate the fact that the shot was fired from a
point some three or four feet distant. Still further, considering the
angle at which the bullet had entered the skull, it was evident that
the deceased must not only have been seated at the time, a fact about
which there could be no dispute, but he must also have been engaged in
some occupation which drew his head forward. For, in order that a ball
should enter the head of a man sitting erect at the angle seen here, of
45 degrees, it would be necessary, not only for the pistol to be held
very low down, but in a peculiar position; while if the head had been
bent forward, as in the act of writing, a man holding a pistol naturally
with the elbow bent, might very easily fire a ball into the brain at the
angle observed.

Upon being questioned in regard to the bodily health of Mr.
Leavenworth, he replied that the deceased appeared to have been in good
condition at the time of his death, but that, not being his attendant
physician, he could not speak conclusively upon the subject without
further examination; and, to the remark of a juryman, observed that he
had not seen pistol or weapon lying upon the floor, or, indeed,
anywhere else in either of the above-mentioned rooms.

I might as well add here what he afterwards stated, that from the
position of the table, the chair, and the door behind it, the murderer,
in order to satisfy all the conditions imposed by the situation, must
have stood upon, or just within, the threshold of the passageway
leading into the room beyond. Also, that as the ball was small, and
from a rifled barrel, and thus especially liable to deflections while
passing through bones and integuments, it seemed to him evident that
the victim had made no effort to raise or turn his head when advanced
upon by his destroyer; the fearful conclusion being that the footstep
was an accustomed one, and the presence of its possessor in the room
either known or expected.

The physician's testimony being ended, the coroner picked up the
bullet which had been laid on the table before him, and for a moment
rolled it contemplatively between his fingers; then, drawing a pencil
from his pocket, hastily scrawled a line or two on a piece of paper
and, calling an officer to his side, delivered some command in a low
tone. The officer, taking up the slip, looked at it for an instant
knowingly, then catching up his hat left the room. Another moment, and
the front door closed on him, and a wild halloo from the crowd of
urchins without told of his appearance in the street. Sitting where I
did, I had a full view of the corner. Looking out, I saw the officer
stop there, hail a cab, hastily enter it, and disappear in the
direction of Broadway.


    "Confusion now hath made his master-piece;
    Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
    The Lord's anointed temple, and stolen thence
    The life of the building."

TURNING my attention back into the room where I was, I found the
coroner consulting a memorandum through a very impressive pair of gold

"Is the butler here?" he asked.

Immediately there was a stir among the group of servants in the
corner, and an intelligent-looking, though somewhat pompous, Irishman
stepped out from their midst and confronted the jury. "Ah," thought I
to myself, as my glance encountered his precise whiskers, steady eye,
and respectfully attentive, though by no means humble, expression,
"here is a model servant, who is likely to prove a model witness." And I
was not mistaken; Thomas, the butler, was in all respects one in a
thousand--and he knew it.

The coroner, upon whom, as upon all others in the room, he seemed to
have made the like favorable impression, proceeded without hesitation
to interrogate him.

"Your name, I am told, is Thomas Dougherty?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, Thomas, how long have you been employed in your present

"It must be a matter of two years now, sir."

"You are the person who first discovered the body of Mr.

"Yes, sir; I and Mr. Harwell."

"And who is Mr. Harwell?"

"Mr. Harwell is Mr. Leavenworth's private secretary, sir; the one
who did his writing."

"Very good. Now at what time of the day or night did you make this

"It was early, sir; early this morning, about eight."

"And where?"

"In the library, sir, off Mr. Leavenworth's bedroom. We had forced
our way in, feeling anxious about his not coming to breakfast."

"You forced your way in; the door was locked, then?"

"Yes, sir."

"On the inside?"

"That I cannot tell; there was no key in the door."

"Where was Mr. Leavenworth lying when you first found him?"

"He was not lying, sir. He was seated at the large table in the
centre of his room, his back to the bedroom door, leaning forward, his
head on his hands."

"How was he dressed?"

"In his dinner suit, sir, just as he came from the table last

"Were there any evidences in the room that a struggle had taken

"No, sir."

"Any pistol on the floor or table?"

"No, sir?"

"Any reason to suppose that robbery had been attempted?"

"No, sir. Mr. Leavenworth's watch and purse were both in his

Being asked to mention who were in the house at the time of the
discovery, he replied, "The young ladies, Miss Mary Leavenworth and
Miss Eleanore, Mr. Harwell, Kate the cook, Molly the upstairs girl, and

"The usual members of the household?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now tell me whose duty it is to close up the house at night."

"Mine, sir."

"Did you secure it as usual, last night?"

"I did, sir."

"Who unfastened it this morning?"

"I, sir."

"How did you find it?"

"Just as I left it."

"What, not a window open nor a door unlocked?"

"No, sir."

By this time you could have heard a pin drop. The certainty that the
murderer, whoever he was, had not left the house, at least till after
it was opened in the morning, seemed to weigh upon all minds.
Forewarned as I had been of the fact, I could not but feel a certain
degree of emotion at having it thus brought before me; and, moving so
as to bring the butler's face within view, searched it for some secret
token that he had spoken thus emphatically in order to cover up some
failure of duty on his own part. But it was unmoved in its candor, and
sustained the concentrated gaze of all in the room like a rock.

Being now asked when he had last seen Mr. Leavenworth alive, he
replied, "At dinner last night."

"He was, however, seen later by some of you?"

"Yes, sir; Mr. Harwell says he saw him as late as half-past ten in
the evening."

"What room do you occupy in this house?"

"A little one on the basement floor."

"And where do the other members of the household sleep?"

"Mostly on the third floor, sir; the ladies in the large back
rooms, and Mr. Harwell in the little one in front. The girls sleep

"There was no one on the same floor with Mr. Leavenworth?"

"No, sir."

"At what hour did you go to bed?"

"Well, I should say about eleven."

"Did you hear any noise in the house either before or after that
time, that you remember?"

"No, sir."

"So that the discovery you made this morning was a surprise to you?"

"Yes, sir."

Requested now to give a more detailed account of that discovery, he
went on to say it was not till Mr. Leavenworth failed to come to his
breakfast at the call of the bell that any suspicion arose in the house
that all was not right. Even then they waited some little time before
doing anything, but as minute after minute went by and he did not come,
Miss Eleanore grew anxious, and finally left the room saying she would
go and see what was the matter, but soon returned looking very much
frightened, saying she had knocked at her uncle's door, and had even
called to him, but could get no answer. At which Mr. Harwell and
himself had gone up and together tried both doors, and, finding them
locked, burst open that of the library, when they came upon Mr.
Leavenworth, as he had already said, sitting at the table, dead.

"And the ladies?"

"Oh, they followed us up and came into the room and Miss Eleanore
fainted away."

"And the other one,--Miss Mary, I believe they call her?"

"I don't remember anything about her; I was so busy fetching water
to restore Miss Eleanore, I didn't notice."

"Well, how long was it before Mr. Leavenworth was carried into the
next room?"

"Almost immediate, as soon as Miss Eleanore recovered, and that was
as soon as ever the water touched her lips."

"Who proposed that the body should be carried from the spot?"

"She, sir. As soon as ever she stood up she went over to it and
looked at it and shuddered, and then calling Mr. Harwell and me, bade
us carry him in and lay him on the bed and go for the doctor, which we

"Wait a moment; did she go with you when you went into the other

"No, sir."

"What did she do?"

"She stayed by the library table."

"What doing?"

"I couldn't see; her back was to me."

"How long did she stay there?"

"She was gone when we came back."

"Gone from the table?"

"Gone from the room."

"Humph! when did you see her again?"

"In a minute. She came in at the library door as we went out."

"Anything in her hand?"

"Not as I saw."

"Did you miss anything from the table?"

"I never thought to look, sir. The table was nothing to me. I was
only thinking of going for the doctor, though I knew it was of no use."

"Whom did you leave in the room when you went out?"

"The cook, sir, and Molly, sir, and Miss Eleanore."

"Not Miss Mary?"

"No, sir."

"Very well. Have the jury any questions to put to this man?"

A movement at once took place in that profound body.

"I should like to ask a few," exclaimed a weazen-faced, excitable
little man whom I had before noticed shifting in his seat in a restless
manner strongly suggestive of an intense but hitherto repressed desire
to interrupt the proceedings.

"Very well, sir," returned Thomas.

But the juryman stopping to draw a deep breath, a large and
decidedly pompous man who sat at his right hand seized the opportunity
to inquire in a round, listen-to-me sort of voice:

"You say you have been in the family for two years. Was it what you
might call a united family?"


"Affectionate, you know,--on good terms with each other." And the
juryman lifted the very long and heavy watch-chain that hung across his
vest as if that as well as himself had a right to a suitable and
well-considered reply.

The butler, impressed perhaps by his manner, glanced uneasily
around. "Yes, sir, so far as I know."

"The young ladies were attached to their uncle?"

"O yes, sir."

"And to each other?"

"Well, yes, I suppose so; it's not for me to say."

"You suppose so. Have you any reason to think otherwise?" And he
doubled the watch-chain about his fingers as if he would double its
attention as well as his own.

Thomas hesitated a moment. But just as his interlocutor was about to
repeat his question, he drew himself up into a rather stiff and formal
attitude and replied:

"Well, sir, no."

The juryman, for all his self-assertion, seemed to respect the
reticence of a servant who declined to give his opinion in regard to
such a matter, and drawing complacently back, signified with a wave of
his hand that he had no more to say.

Immediately the excitable little man, before mentioned, slipped
forward to the edge of his chair and asked, this time without
hesitation: "At what time did you unfasten the house this morning?"

"About six, sir."

"Now, could any one leave the house after that time without your

Thomas glanced a trifle uneasily at his fellow-servants, but
answered up promptly and as if without reserve;

"I don't think it would be possible for anybody to leave this house
after six in the morning without either myself or the cook's knowing of
it. Folks don't jump from second-story windows in broad daylight, and
as to leaving by the doors, the front door closes with such a slam all
the house can hear it from top to bottom, and as for the back door, no
one that goes out of that can get clear of the yard without going by
the kitchen window, and no one can go by our kitchen window without the
cook's a-seeing of them, that I can just swear to." And he cast a
half-quizzing, half-malicious look at the round, red-faced individual
in question, strongly suggestive of late and unforgotten bickerings
over the kitchen coffee-urn and castor.

This reply, which was of a nature calculated to deepen the
forebodings which had already settled upon the minds of those present,
produced a visible effect. The house found locked, and no one seen to
leave it! Evidently, then, we had not far to look for the assassin.

Shifting on his chair with increased fervor, if I may so speak, the
juryman glanced sharply around. But perceiving the renewed interest in
the faces about him, declined to weaken the effect of the last
admission, by any further questions. Settling, therefore, comfortably
back, he left the field open for any other juror who might choose to
press the inquiry. But no one seeming to be ready to do this, Thomas in
his turn evinced impatience, and at last, looking respectfully around,

"Would any other gentleman like to ask me anything?"

No one replying, he threw a hurried glance of relief towards the
servants at his side, then, while each one marvelled at the sudden
change that had taken place in his countenance, withdrew with an eager
alacrity and evident satisfaction for which I could not at the moment

But the next witness proving to be none other than my acquaintance
of the morning, Mr. Harwell, I soon forgot both Thomas and the doubts
his last movement had awakened, in the interest which the examination
of so important a person as the secretary and right-hand man of Mr.
Leavenworth was likely to create.

Advancing with the calm and determined air of one who realized that
life and death itself might hang upon his words, Mr. Harwell took his
stand before the jury with a degree of dignity not only highly
prepossessing in itself, but to me, who had not been over and above
pleased with him in our first interview, admirable and surprising.
Lacking, as I have said, any distinctive quality of face or form
agreeable or otherwise--being what you might call in appearance a
negative sort of person, his pale, regular features, dark,
well-smoothed hair and simple whiskers, all belonging to a recognized
type and very commonplace--there was still visible, on this occasion at
least, a certain self-possession in his carriage, which went far
towards making up for the want of impressiveness in his countenance and
expression. Not that even this was in any way remarkable. Indeed, there
was nothing remarkable about the man, any more than there is about a
thousand others you meet every day on Broadway, unless you except the
look of concentration and solemnity which pervaded his whole person; a
solemnity which at this time would not have been noticeable, perhaps,
if it had not appeared to be the habitual expression of one who in his
short life had seen more of sorrow than joy, less of pleasure than care
and anxiety.

The coroner, to whom his appearance one way or the other seemed to be
a matter of no moment, addressed him immediately and without reserve:

"Your name?"

"James Trueman Harwell."

"Your business?"

"I have occupied the position of private secretary and amanuensis
to Mr. Leavenworth for the past eight months."

"You are the person who last saw Mr. Leavenworth alive, are you not?"

The young man raised his head with a haughty gesture which well-nigh
transfigured it.

"Certainly not, as I am not the man who killed him."

This answer, which seemed to introduce something akin to levity or
badinage into an examination the seriousness of which we were all
beginning to realize, produced an immediate revulsion of feeling toward
the man who, in face of facts revealed and to be revealed, could so
lightly make use of it. A hum of disapproval swept through the room,
and in that one remark, James Harwell lost all that he had previously
won by the self-possession of his bearing and the unflinching regard of
his eye. He seemed himself to realize this, for he lifted his head
still higher, though his general aspect remained unchanged.

"I mean," the coroner exclaimed, evidently nettled that the young
man had been able to draw such a conclusion from his words, "that you
were the last one to see him previous to his assassination by some
unknown individual?"

The secretary folded his arms, whether to hide a certain tremble
which had seized him, or by that simple action to gain time for a
moment's further thought, I could not then determine. "Sir," he
replied at length, "I cannot answer yes or no to that question. In all
probability I was the last to see him in good health and spirits, but
in a house as large as this I cannot be sure of even so simple a fact
as that." Then, observing the unsatisfied look on the faces around,
added slowly, "It is my business to see him late."

"Your business? Oh, as his secretary, I suppose?"

He gravely nodded.

"Mr. Harwell," the coroner went on, "the office of private
secretary in this country is not a common one. Will you explain to us
what your duties were in that capacity; in short, what use Mr.
Leavenworth had for such an assistant and how he employed you?"

"Certainly. Mr. Leavenworth was, as you perhaps know, a man of
great wealth. Connected with various societies, clubs, institutions,
etc., besides being known far and near as a giving man, he was
accustomed every day of his life to receive numerous letters, begging
and otherwise, which it was my business to open and answer, his private
correspondence always bearing a mark upon it which distinguished it
from the rest. But this was not all I was expected to do. Having in his
early life been engaged in the tea-trade, he had made more than one
voyage to China, and was consequently much interested in the question
of international communication between that country and our own.
Thinking that in his various visits there, he had learned much which,
if known to the American people, would conduce to our better
understanding of the nation, its peculiarities, and the best manner of
dealing with it, he has been engaged for some time in writing a book on
the subject, which same it has been my business for the last eight
months to assist him in preparing, by writing at his dictation three
hours out of the twenty-four, the last hour being commonly taken from
the evening, say from half-past nine to half-past ten, Mr. Leavenworth
being a very methodical man and accustomed to regulate his own life and
that of those about him with almost mathematical precision."

"You say you were accustomed to write at his dictation evenings?
Did you do this as usual last evening?"

"I did, sir."

"What can you tell us of his manner and appearance at the time?
Were they in any way unusual?"

A frown crossed the secretary's brow.

"As he probably had no premonition of his doom, why should there
have been any change in his manner?"

This giving the coroner an opportunity to revenge himself for his
discomfiture of a moment before, he said somewhat severely:

"It is the business of a witness to answer questions, not to put

The secretary flushed and the account stood even.

"Very well, then, sir; if Mr. Leavenworth felt any forebodings of
his end, he did not reveal them to me. On the contrary, he seemed to be
more absorbed in his work than usual. One of the last words he said to
me was, 'In a month we will have this book in press, eh, Trueman?' I
remember this particularly, as he was filling his wine-glass at the
time. He always drank one glass of wine before retiring, it being my
duty to bring the decanter of sherry from the closet the last thing
before leaving him. I was standing with my hand on the knob of the
hall door, but advanced as he said this and replied, 'I hope so,
indeed, Mr. Leavenworth.' 'Then join me in drinking a glass of
sherry,' said he, motioning me to procure another glass from the
closet. I did so, and he poured me out the wine with his own hand. I am
not especially fond of sherry, but the occasion was a pleasant one and
I drained my glass. I remember being slightly ashamed of doing so, for
Mr. Leavenworth set his down half full. It was half full when we found
him this morning."

Do what he would, and being a reserved man he appeared anxious to
control his emotion, the horror of his first shock seemed to overwhelm
him here. Pulling his handkerchief from his pocket, he wiped his
forehead. "Gentlemen, that is the last action of Mr. Leavenworth I
ever saw. As he set the glass down on the table, I said good-night to
him and left the room."

The coroner, with a characteristic imperviousness to all expressions
of emotion, leaned back and surveyed the young man with a scrutinizing
glance. "And where did you go then?" he asked.

"To my own room."

"Did you meet anybody on the way?"

"No, sir."

"Hear any thing or see anything unusual?"

The secretary's voice fell a trifle. "No, sir."

"Mr. Harwell, think again. Are you ready to swear that you neither
met anybody, heard anybody, nor saw anything which lingers yet in your
memory as unusual?"

His face grew quite distressed. Twice he opened his lips to speak,
and as often closed them without doing so. At last, with an effort, he

"I saw one thing, a little thing, too slight to mention, but it was
unusual, and I could not help thinking of it when you spoke."

"What was it?"

"Only a door half open."

"Whose door?"

"Miss Eleanore Leavenworth's." His voice was almost a whisper now.

"Where were you when you observed this fact?"

"I cannot say exactly. Probably at my own door, as I did not stop
on the way. If this frightful occurrence had not taken place I should
never have thought of it again."

"When you went into your room did you close your door?"

"I did, sir."

"How soon did you retire?"


"Did you hear nothing before you fell asleep?"

Again that indefinable hesitation.

"Barely nothing."

"Not a footstep in the hall?"

"I might have heard a footstep."

"Did you?"

"I cannot swear I did."

"Do you think you did?"

"Yes, I think I did. To tell the whole: I remember hearing, just
as I was falling into a doze, a rustle and a footstep in the hall; but
it made no impression upon me, and I dropped asleep."


"Some time later I woke, woke suddenly, as if something had
startled me, but what, a noise or move, I cannot say. I remember rising
up in my bed and looking around, but hearing nothing further, soon
yielded to the drowsiness which possessed me and fell into a deep
sleep. I did not wake again till morning."

Here requested to relate how and when he became acquainted with the
fact of the murder, he substantiated, in all particulars, the account
of the matter already given by the butler; which subject being
exhausted, the coroner went on to ask if he had noted the condition of
the library table after the body had been removed.

"Somewhat; yes, sir."

"What was on it?"

"The usual properties, sir, books, paper, a pen with the ink dried
on it, besides the decanter and the wine-glass from which he drank the
night before."

"Nothing more?"

"I remember nothing more."

"In regard to that decanter and glass," broke in the juryman of the
watch and chain, "did you not say that the latter was found in the
same condition in which you saw it at the time you left Mr. Leavenworth
sitting in his library?"

"Yes, sir, very much."

" Yet he was in the habit of drinking a full glass?"

"Yes, sir."

"An interruption must then have ensued very close upon your
departure, Mr. Harwell."

A cold bluish pallor suddenly broke out upon the young man's face.
He started, and for a moment looked as if struck by some horrible
thought. "That does not follow, sir," he articulated with some
difficulty. "Mr. Leavenworth might--" but suddenly stopped, as if
too much distressed to proceed.

"Go on, Mr. Harwell, let us hear what you have to say."

"There is nothing," he returned faintly, as if battling with some
strong emotion.

As he had not been answering a question, only volunteering an
explanation, the coroner let it pass; but I saw more than one pair of
eyes roll suspiciously from side to side, as if many there felt that
some sort of clue had been offered them in this man's emotion. The
coroner, ignoring in his easy way both the emotion and the universal
excitement it had produced, now proceeded to ask: "Do you know
whether the key to the library was in its place when you left the room
last night?"

"No, sir; I did not notice."

"The presumption is, it was?"

"I suppose so."

"At all events, the door was locked in the morning, and the key

"Yes, sir."

"Then whoever committed this murder locked the door on passing
out, and took away the key?"

"It would seem so."

The coroner turning, faced the jury with an earnest look.
"Gentlemen," said he, "there seems to be a mystery in regard to this
key which must be looked into."

Immediately a universal murmur swept through the room, testifying to
the acquiescence of all present. The little juryman hastily rising
proposed that an instant search should be made for it; but the coroner,
turning upon him with what I should denominate as a quelling look,
decided that the inquest should proceed in the usual manner, till the
verbal testimony was all in.

"Then allow me to ask a question," again volunteered the
irrepressible. "Mr. Harwell, we are told that upon the breaking in of
the library door this morning, Mr. Leavenworth's two nieces followed
you into the room."

"One of them, sir, Miss Eleanore."

"Is Miss Eleanore the one who is said to be Mr. Leavenworth's sole
heiress?" the coroner here interposed.

"No, sir, that is Miss Mary."

"That she gave orders," pursued the juryman, "for the removal of
the body into the further room?"

"Yes, sir."

"And that you obeyed her by helping to carry it in?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now, in thus passing through the rooms, did you observe anything
to lead you to form a suspicion of the murderer?"

The secretary shook his head. "I have no suspicion," he
emphatically said.

Somehow, I did not believe him. Whether it was the tone of his
voice, the clutch of his hand on his sleeve--and the hand will often
reveal more than the countenance--I felt that this man was not to be
relied upon in making this assertion.

"I should like to ask Mr. Harwell a question," said a juryman who
had not yet spoken. "We have had a detailed account of what looks
like the discovery of a murdered man. Now, murder is never committed
without some motive. Does the secretary know whether Mr. Leavenworth
had any secret enemy?"

"I do not."

"Every one in the house seemed to be on good terms with him?"

"Yes, sir," with a little quaver of dissent in the assertion,

"Not a shadow lay between him and any other member of his
household, so far as you know?"

"I am not ready to say that," he returned, quite distressed. "A
shadow is a very slight thing. There might have been a shadow----"

"Between him and whom?"

A long hesitation. "One of his nieces, sir."

"Which one?"

Again that defiant lift of the head. "Miss Eleanore."

"How long has this shadow been observable?"

"I cannot say."

"You do not know the cause?"

"I do not."

"Nor the extent of the feeling?"

"No, sir."

"You open Mr. Leavenworth's letters?"

"I do."

"Has there been anything in his correspondence of late calculated
to throw any light upon this deed?"

It actually seemed as if he never would answer. Was he simply
pondering over his reply, or was the man turned to stone?

"Mr. Harwell, did you hear the juryman?" inquired the coroner.

"Yes, sir; I was thinking."

"Very well, now answer."

"Sir," he replied, turning and looking the juryman full in the
face, and in that way revealing his unguarded left hand to my gaze, "I
have opened Mr. Leavenworth's letters as usual for the last two weeks,
and I can think of nothing in them bearing in the least upon this

The man lied; I knew it instantly. The clenched hand pausing
irresolute, then making up its mind to go through with the lie firmly,
was enough for me.

"Mr. Harwell, this is undoubtedly true according to your judgment,"
said the coroner; "but Mr. Leavenworth's correspondence will have to
be searched for all that."

"Of course," he replied carelessly; "that is only right."

This remark ended Mr. Harwell's examination for the time. As he sat
down I made note of four things.

That Mr. Harwell himself, for some reason not given, was conscious
of a suspicion which he was anxious to suppress even from his own mind.

That a woman was in some way connected with it, a rustle as well as
a footstep having been heard by him on the stairs.

That a letter had arrived at the house, which if found would be
likely to throw some light upon this subject.

That Eleanore Leavenworth's name came with difficulty from his lips;
this evidently unimpressible man, manifesting more or less emotion
whenever he was called upon to utter it.


    "Something is rotten in the State of Denmark."

THE cook of the establishment being now called, that portly, ruddy-faced
individual stepped forward with alacrity, displaying upon her
good-humored countenance such an expression of mingled eagerness and
anxiety that more than one person present found it difficult to restrain
a smile at her appearance. Observing this and taking it as a compliment,
being a woman as well as a cook, she immediately dropped a curtsey, and
opening her lips was about to speak, when the coroner, rising
impatiently in his seat, took the word from her mouth by saying sternly:

"Your name?"

"Katherine Malone, sir."

"Well, Katherine, how long have you been in Mr. Leavenworth's

"Shure, it is a good twelvemonth now, sir, since I came, on Mrs.
Wilson's ricommindation, to that very front door, and----"

"Never mind the front door, but tell us why you left this Mrs.

"Shure, and it was she as left me, being as she went sailing to the
ould country the same day when on her ricommendation I came to this
very front door--"

"Well, well; no matter about that. You have been in Mr.
Leavenworth's family a year?"

"Yes, sir."

"And liked it? found him a good master?"

"Och, sir, niver have I found a better, worse luck to the villain
as killed him. He was that free and ginerous, sir, that many 's the
time I have said to Hannah--" She stopped, with a sudden comical gasp
of terror, looking at her fellow-servants like one who had incautiously
made a slip. The coroner, observing this, inquired hastily:

"Hannah? Who is Hannah?"

The cook, drawing her roly-poly figure up into some sort of shape in
her efforts to appear unconcerned, exclaimed boldly: "She? Oh, only
the ladies' maid, sir."

"But I don't see any one here answering to that description. You
didn't speak of any one by the name of Hannah, as belonging to the
house," said he, turning to Thomas.

"No, sir," the latter replied, with a bow and a sidelong look at
the red-cheeked girl at his side. "You asked me who were in the house
at the time the murder was discovered, and I told you."

"Oh," cried the coroner, satirically; "used to police courts, I
see." Then, turning back to the cook, who had all this while been
rolling her eyes in a vague fright about the room, inquired, "And
where is this Hannah?"

"Shure, sir, she's gone."

"How long since?"

The cook caught her breath hysterically. "Since last night."

"What time last night?"

"Troth, sir, and I don't know. I don't know anything about it."

"Was she dismissed?"

"Not as I knows on; her clothes is here."

"Oh, her clothes are here. At what hour did you miss her?"

"I didn't miss her. She was here last night, and she isn't here
this morning, and so I says she 's gone."

"Humph!" cried the coroner, casting a slow glance down the room,
while every one present looked as if a door had suddenly opened in a
closed wall.

"Where did this girl sleep?"

The cook, who had been fumbling uneasily with her apron, looked up.

"Shure, we all sleeps at the top of the house, sir."

"In one room?"

Slowly. "Yes, sir."

"Did she come up to the room last night?"

"Yes, sir."

"At what hour?"

"Shure, it was ten when we all came up. I heard the clock

"Did you observe anything unusual in her appearance?"

"She had a toothache, sir."

"Oh, a toothache; what, then? Tell me all she did."

But at this the cook broke into tears and wails.

"Shure, she didn't do nothing, sir. It wasn't her, sir, as did
anything; don't you believe it. Hannah is a good girl, and honest,
sir, as ever you see. I am ready to swear on the Book as how she never
put her hand to the lock of his door. What should she for? She only
went down to Miss Eleanore for some toothache-drops, her face was
paining her that awful; and oh, sir----"

"There, there," interrupted the coroner, "I am not accusing Hannah
of anything. I only asked you what she did after she reached your room.
She went downstairs, you say. How long after you went up?"

"Troth, sir, I couldn't tell; but Molly says----"

"Never mind what Molly says. _You_ didn't see her go down?"

"No, sir."

"Nor see her come back?"

"No, sir."

"Nor see her this morning?"

"No, sir; how could I when she 's gone?"

"But you did see, last night, that she seemed to be suffering with

"Yes, sir."

"Very well; now tell me how and when you first became acquainted
with the fact of Mr. Leavenworth's death."

But her replies to this question, while overgarrulous, contained
but little information; and seeing this, the coroner was on the point
of dismissing her, when the little juror, remembering an admission she
had made, of having seen Miss Eleanore Leavenworth coming out of the
library door a few minutes after Mr. Leavenworth's body had been
carried into the next room, asked if her mistress had anything in her
hand at the time.

"I don't know, sir. Faith!" she suddenly exclaimed, "I believe
she did have a piece of paper. I recollect, now, seeing her put it in
her pocket."

The next witness was Molly, the upstairs girl.

Molly O'Flanagan, as she called herself, was a rosy-cheeked,
black-haired, pert girl of about eighteen, who under ordinary
circumstances would have found herself able to answer, with a due
degree of smartness, any question which might have been addressed to
her. But fright will sometimes cower the stoutest heart, and Molly,
standing before the coroner at this juncture, presented anything but a
reckless appearance, her naturally rosy cheeks blanching at the first
word addressed to her, and her head falling forward on her breast in a
confusion too genuine to be dissembled and too transparent to be

As her testimony related mostly to Hannah, and what she knew of her,
and her remarkable disappearance, I shall confine myself to a mere
synopsis of it.

As far as she, Molly, knew, Hannah was what she had given herself
out to be, an uneducated girl of Irish extraction, who had come from
the country to act as lady's-maid and seamstress to the two Misses
Leavenworth. She had been in the family for some time; before Molly
herself, in fact; and though by nature remarkably reticent, refusing to
tell anything about herself or her past life, she had managed to become
a great favorite with all in the house. But she was of a melancholy
nature and fond of brooding, often getting up nights to sit and think
in the dark: "as if she was a lady!" exclaimed Molly.

This habit being a singular one for a girl in her station, an
attempt was made to win from the witness further particulars in regard
to it. But Molly, with a toss of her head, confined herself to the one
statement. She used to get up nights and sit in the window, and that
was all she knew about it.

Drawn away from this topic, during the consideration of which, a
little of the sharpness of Molly's disposition had asserted itself, she
went on to state, in connection with the events of the past night, that
Hannah had been ill for two days or more with a swelled face; that it
grew so bad after they had gone upstairs, the night before, that she
got out of bed, and dressing herself--Molly was closely questioned
here, but insisted upon the fact that Hannah had fully dressed herself,
even to arranging her collar and ribbon--lighted a candle, and made
known her intention of going down to Miss Eleanore for aid.

"Why Miss Eleanore?" a juryman here asked.

"Oh, she is the one who always gives out medicines and such like to
the servants."

Urged to proceed, she went on to state that she had already told all
she knew about it. Hannah did not come back, nor was she to be found in
the house at breakfast time.

"You say she took a candle with her," said the coroner. "Was it in
a candlestick?"

"No, sir; loose like."

"Why did she take a candle? Does not Mr. Leavenworth burn gas in
his halls?"

"Yes, sir; but we put the gas out as we go up, and Hannah is
afraid of the dark."

"If she took a candle, it must be lying somewhere about the house.
Now, has anybody seen a stray candle?"

"Not as I knows on, sir."

"Is _this_ it?" exclaimed a voice over my shoulder.

It was Mr. Gryce, and he was holding up into view a half-burned
paraffine candle.

"Yes, sir; lor', where did you find it?"

"In the grass of the carriage yard, half-way from the kitchen door
to the street," he quietly returned.

Sensation. A clue, then, at last! Something had been found which
seemed to connect this mysterious murder with the outside world.
Instantly the back door assumed the chief position of interest. The
candle found lying in the yard seemed to prove, not only that Hannah
had left the house shortly after descending from her room, but had left
it by the back door, which we now remembered was only a few steps from
the iron gate opening into the side street. But Thomas, being recalled,
repeated his assertion that not only the back door, but all the lower
windows of the house, had been found by him securely locked and bolted
at six o'clock that morning. Inevitable conclusion--some one had locked
and bolted them after the girl. Who? Alas, that had now become the very
serious and momentous question.


"And often-times, to win us to our harm, The instruments of
darkness tell us truths; Win us with honest trifles, to betray us In
deepest consequence."


IN the midst of the universal gloom thus awakened there came a sharp
ring at the bell. Instantly all eyes turned toward the parlor door,
just as it slowly opened, and the officer who had been sent off so
mysteriously by the coroner an hour before entered, in company with a
young man, whose sleek appearance, intelligent eye, and general air of
trustworthiness, seemed to proclaim him to be, what in fact he was, the
confidential clerk of a responsible mercantile house.

Advancing without apparent embarrassment, though each and every eye
in the room was fixed upon him with lively curiosity, he made a slight
bow to the coroner.

"You have sent for a man from Bohn & Co.," he said.

Strong and immediate excitement. Bohn & Co. was the well-known
pistol and ammunition store of ---- Broadway.

"Yes, sir," returned the coroner. "We have here a bullet, which we
must ask you to examine, You are fully acquainted with all matters
connected with your business?"

The young man, merely elevating an expressive eyebrow, took the
bullet carelessly in his hand.

"Can you tell us from what make of pistol that was delivered?"

The young man rolled it slowly round between his thumb and
forefinger, and then laid it down. "It is a No. 32 ball, usually sold
with the small pistol made by Smith & Wesson."

"A small pistol!" exclaimed the butler, jumping up from his seat.
"Master used to keep a little pistol in his stand drawer. I have often
seen it. We all knew about it."

Great and irrepressible excitement, especially among the servants.
"That's so!" I heard a heavy voice exclaim. "I saw it once
myself--master was cleaning it." It was the cook who spoke.

"In his stand drawer?" the coroner inquired.

"Yes, sir; at the head of his bed."

An officer was sent to examine the stand drawer. In a few moments he
returned, bringing a small pistol which he laid down on the coroner's
table, saying, "Here it is."

Immediately, every one sprang to his feet, but the coroner, handing
it over to the clerk from Bonn's, inquired if that was the make before
mentioned. Without hesitation he replied, "Yes, Smith & Wesson; you
can see for yourself," and he proceeded to examine it.

"Where did you find this pistol?" asked the coroner of the

"In the top drawer of a shaving table standing near the head of
Mr. Leavenworth's bed. It was lying in a velvet case together with a
box of cartridges, one of which I bring as a sample," and he laid it
down beside the bullet.

"Was the drawer locked?"

"Yes, sir; but the key was not taken out."

Interest had now reached its climax. A universal cry swept through
the room, "Is it loaded?"

The coroner, frowning on the assembly, with a look of great dignity,

"I was about to ask that question myself, but first I must request

An immediate calm followed. Every one was too much interested to
interpose any obstacle in the way of gratifying his curiosity.

"Now, sir!" exclaimed the coroner.

The clerk from Bonn's, taking out the cylinder, held it up. "There
are seven chambers here, and they are all loaded."

A murmur of disappointment followed this assertion.

"But," he quietly added after a momentary examination of the face
of the cylinder, "they have not all been loaded long. A bullet has
been recently shot from one of these chambers."

"How do you know?" cried one of the jury.

"How do I know? Sir," said he, turning to the coroner, "will you
be kind enough to examine the condition of this pistol?" and he
handed it over to that gentleman. "Look first at the barrel; it is
clean and bright, and shows no evidence of a bullet having passed out
of it very lately; that is because it has been cleaned. But now,
observe the face of the cylinder: what do you see there?"

"I see a faint line of smut near one of the chambers."

"Just so; show it to the gentlemen."

It was immediately handed down.

"That faint line of smut, on the edge of one of the chambers, is
the telltale, sirs. A bullet passing out always leaves smut behind. The
man who fired this, remembering the fact, cleaned the barrel, but
forgot the cylinder." And stepping aside he folded his arms.

"Jerusalem!" spoke out a rough, hearty voice, "isn't that
wonderful!" This exclamation came from a countryman who had stepped in
from the street, and now stood agape in the doorway.

It was a rude but not altogether unwelcome interruption. A smile
passed round the room, and both men and women breathed more easily.
Order being at last restored, the officer was requested to describe the
position of the stand, and its distance from the library table.

"The library table is in one room, and the stand in another. To
reach the former from the latter, one would be obliged to cross Mr.
Leavenworth's bedroom in a diagonal direction, pass through the
passageway separating that one apartment from the other, and----"

"Wait a moment; how does this table stand in regard to the door
which leads from the bedroom into the hall?"

"One might enter that door, pass directly round the foot of the bed
to the stand, procure the pistol, and cross half-way over to the
passageway, without being seen by any one sitting or standing in the
library beyond."

"Holy Virgin!" exclaimed the horrified cook, throwing her apron
over her head as if to shut out some dreadful vision. "Hannah niver
would have the pluck for that; niver, niver!" But Mr. Gryce, laying a
heavy hand on the woman, forced her back into her seat, reproving and
calming her at the same time, with a dexterity marvellous to behold.
"I beg your pardons," she cried deprecatingly to those around; "but it
niver was Hannah, niver!"

The clerk from Bohn's here being dismissed, those assembled took the
opportunity of making some change in their position, after which, the
name of Mr. Harwell was again called. That person rose with manifest
reluctance. Evidently the preceding testimony had either upset some
theory of his, or indubitably strengthened some unwelcome suspicion.

"Mr. Harwell," the coroner began, "we are told of the existence
of a pistol belonging to Mr. Leavenworth, and upon searching, we
discover it in his room. Did you know of his possessing such an

"I did."

"Was it a fact generally known in the house?"

"So it would seem."

"How was that? Was he in the habit of leaving it around where any
one could see it?"

"I cannot say; I can only acquaint you with the manner in which I
myself became aware of its existence."

"Very well, do so."

"We were once talking about firearms. I have some taste that way,
and have always been anxious to possess a pocket-pistol. Saying
something of the kind to him one day, he rose from his seat and,
fetching me this, showed it to me."

"How long ago was this?"

"Some few months since."

"He has owned this pistol, then, for some time?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is that the only occasion upon which you have ever seen it?"

"No, sir,"--the secretary blushed--" I have seen it once since."


"About three weeks ago."

"Under what circumstances?"

The secretary dropped his head, a certain drawn look making itself
suddenly visible on his countenance.

"Will you not excuse me, gentlemen?" he asked, after a moment's

"It is impossible," returned the coroner.

His face grew even more pallid and deprecatory. "I am obliged to
introduce the name of a lady," he hesitatingly declared.

"We are very sorry," remarked the coroner.

The young man turned fiercely upon him, and I could not help
wondering that I had ever thought him commonplace. "Of Miss Eleanore
Leavenworth!" he cried.

At that name, so uttered, every one started but Mr. Gryce; he was
engaged in holding a close and confidential confab with his
finger-tips, and did not appear to notice.

"Surely it is contrary to the rules of decorum and the respect we
all feel for the lady herself to introduce her name into this
discussion," continued Mr. Harwell. But the coroner still insisting
upon an answer, he refolded his arms (a movement indicative of
resolution with him), and began in a low, forced tone to say:

"It is only this, gentlemen. One afternoon, about three weeks since,
I had occasion to go to the library at an unusual hour. Crossing over
to the mantel-piece for the purpose of procuring a penknife which I had
carelessly left there in the morning, I heard a noise in the adjoining
room. Knowing that Mr. Leavenworth was out, and supposing the ladies to
be out also, I took the liberty of ascertaining who the intruder was;
when what was my astonishment to come upon Miss Eleanore Leavenworth,
standing at the side of her uncle's bed, with his pistol in her hand.
Confused at my indiscretion, I attempted to escape without being
observed; but in vain, for just as I was crossing the threshold, she
turned and, calling me by name, requested me to explain the pistol to
her. Gentlemen, in order to do so, I was obliged to take it in my hand;
and that, sirs, is the only other occasion upon which I ever saw or
handled the pistol of Mr. Leavenworth." Drooping his head, he waited in
indescribable agitation for the next question.

"She asked you to explain the pistol to her; what do you mean by

"I mean," he faintly continued, catching his breath in a vain
effort to appear calm, "how to load, aim, and fire it."

A flash of awakened feeling shot across the faces of all present.
Even the coroner showed sudden signs of emotion, and sat staring at the
bowed form and pale countenance of the man before him, with a peculiar
look of surprised compassion, which could not fail of producing its
effect, not only upon the young man himself, but upon all who saw him.

"Mr. Harwell," he at length inquired, "have you anything to add to
the statement you have just made?"

The secretary sadly shook his head.

"Mr. Gryce," I here whispered, clutching that person by the arm and
dragging him down to my side; "assure me, I entreat you--" but he
would not let me finish.

"The coroner is about to ask for the young ladies," he quickly
interposed. "If you desire to fulfil your duty towards them, be ready,
that's all."

Fulfil my duty! The simple words recalled me to myself. What had I
been thinking of; was I mad? With nothing more terrible in mind than a
tender picture of the lovely cousins bowed in anguish over the remains
of one who had been as dear as a father to them, I slowly rose, and
upon demand being made for Miss Mary and Miss Eleanore Leavenworth,
advanced and said that, as a friend of the family--a petty lie, which
I hope will not be laid up against me--I begged the privilege of going
for the ladies and escorting them down.

Instantly a dozen eyes flashed upon me, and I experienced the
embarrassment of one who, by some unexpected word or action, has drawn
upon himself the concentrated attention of a whole room.

But the permission sought being almost immediately accorded, I was
speedily enabled to withdraw from my rather trying position, finding
myself, almost before I knew it, in the hall, my face aflame, my heart
beating with excitement, and these words of Mr. Gryce ringing in my
ears: "Third floor, rear room, first door at the head of the stairs.
You will find the young ladies expecting you."


    "Oh! she has beauty might ensnare
    A conqueror's soul, and make him leave his crown
    At random, to be scuffled for by slaves."


THIRD floor, rear room, first door at the head of the stairs! What
was I about to encounter there?

Mounting the lower flight, and shuddering by the library wall, which
to my troubled fancy seemed written all over with horrible suggestions,
I took my way slowly upstairs, revolving in my mind many things, among
which an admonition uttered long ago by my mother occupied a prominent

"My son, remember that a woman with a secret may be a fascinating
study, but she can never be a safe, nor even satisfactory, companion."

A wise saw, no doubt, but totally inapplicable to the present
situation; yet it continued to haunt me till the sight of the door to
which I had been directed put every other thought to flight save that I
was about to meet the stricken nieces of a brutally murdered man.

Pausing only long enough on the threshold to compose myself for the
interview, I lifted my hand to knock, when a rich, clear voice rose
from within, and I heard distinctly uttered these astounding words:
"I do not accuse your hand, though I know of none other which would or
could have done this deed; but your heart, your head, your will, these
I do and must accuse, in my secret mind at least; and it is well that
you should know it!"

Struck with horror, I staggered back, my hands to my ears, when a
touch fell on my arm, and turning, I saw Mr. Gryce standing close
beside me, with his finger on his lip, and the last flickering shadow
of a flying emotion fading from his steady, almost compassionate

"Come, come," he exclaimed; "I see you don't begin to know what
kind of a world you are living in. Rouse yourself; remember they are
waiting down below."

"But who is it? Who was it that spoke?"

"That we shall soon see." And without waiting to meet, much less
answer, my appealing look, he struck his hand against the door, and
flung it wide open.

Instantly a flush of lovely color burst upon us. Blue curtains, blue
carpets, blue walls. It was like a glimpse of heavenly azure in a spot
where only darkness and gloom were to be expected. Fascinated by the
sight, I stepped impetuously forward, but instantly paused again,
overcome and impressed by the exquisite picture I saw before me.

Seated in an easy chair of embroidered satin, but rousing from her
half-recumbent position, like one who was in the act of launching a
powerful invective, I beheld a glorious woman. Fair, frail, proud,
delicate; looking like a lily in the thick creamy-tinted wrapper that
alternately clung to and swayed from her finely moulded figure; with
her forehead, crowned with the palest of pale tresses, lifted and
flashing with power; one quivering hand clasping the arm of her chair,
the other outstretched and pointing toward some distant object in the
room,--her whole appearance was so startling, so extraordinary, that I
held my breath in surprise, actually for the moment doubting if it were
a living woman I beheld, or some famous pythoness conjured up from
ancient story, to express in one tremendous gesture the supreme
indignation of outraged womanhood.

"Miss Mary Leavenworth," whispered that ever present voice over my

Ah! Mary Leavenworth! What a relief came with this name. This
beautiful creature, then, was not the Eleanore who could load, aim, and
fire a pistol. Turning my head, I followed the guiding of that uplifted
hand, now frozen into its place by a new emotion: the emotion of being
interrupted in the midst of a direful and pregnant revelation, and saw
--but, no, here description fails me! Eleanore Leavenworth must be
painted by other hands than mine. I could sit half the day and dilate
upon the subtle grace, the pale magnificence, the perfection of form
and feature which make Mary Leavenworth the wonder of all who behold
her; but Eleanore--I could as soon paint the beatings of my own heart.
Beguiling, terrible, grand, pathetic, that face of faces flashed upon
my gaze, and instantly the moonlight loveliness of her cousin faded
from my memory, and I saw only Eleanore--only Eleanore from that
moment on forever.

When my glance first fell upon her, she was standing by the side of
a small table, with her face turned towards her cousin, and her two
hands resting, the one upon her breast, the other on the table, in an
attitude of antagonism. But before the sudden pang which shot through
me at the sight of her beauty had subsided, her head had turned, her
gaze had encountered mine; all the horror of the situation had burst
upon her, and, instead of a haughty woman, drawn up to receive and
trample upon the insinuations of another, I beheld, alas! a trembling,
panting human creature, conscious that a sword hung above her head, and
without a word to say why it should not fall and slay her.

It was a pitiable change; a heart-rending revelation! I turned from
it as from a confession. But just then, her cousin, who had apparently
regained her self-possession at the first betrayal of emotion on the
part of the other, stepped forward and, holding out her hand, inquired:

"Is not this Mr. Raymond? How kind of you, sir. And you?"
turning to Mr. Gryce; "you have come to tell us we are wanted below,
is it not so?"

It was the voice I had heard through the door, but modulated to a
sweet, winning, almost caressing tone.

Glancing hastily at Mr. Gryce, I looked to see how he was affected
by it. Evidently much, for the bow with which he greeted her words was
lower than ordinary, and the smile with which he met her earnest look
both deprecatory and reassuring. His glance did not embrace her cousin,
though her eyes were fixed upon his face with an inquiry in their
depths more agonizing than the utterance of any cry would have been.
Knowing Mr. Gryce as I did, I felt that nothing could promise worse, or
be more significant, than this transparent disregard of one who seemed
to fill the room with her terror. And, struck with pity, I forgot that
Mary Leavenworth had spoken, forgot her very presence in fact, and,
turning hastily away, took one step towards her cousin, when Mr. Gryce's
hand falling on my arm stopped me.

"Miss Leavenworth speaks," said he.

Recalled to myself, I turned my back upon what had so interested me
even while it repelled, and forcing myself to make some sort of reply
to the fair creature before me, offered my arm and led her towards the

Immediately the pale, proud countenance of Mary Leavenworth softened
almost to the point of smiling;--and here let me say, there never was
a woman who could smile and not smile like Mary Leavenworth. Looking in
my face, with a frank and sweet appeal in her eyes, she murmured:

"You are very good. I do feel the need of support; the occasion is
so horrible, and my cousin there,"--here a little gleam of alarm
flickered into her eyes--"is so very strange to-day."

"Humph!" thought I to myself; "where is the grand indignant
pythoness, with the unspeakable wrath and menace in her countenance,
whom I saw when I first entered the room?" Could it be that she was
trying to beguile us from our conjectures, by making light of her
former expressions? Or was it possible she deceived herself so far as
to believe us unimpressed by the weighty accusation overheard by us at
a moment so critical?

But Eleanore Leavenworth, leaning on the arm of the detective, soon
absorbed all my attention. She had regained by this time her
self-possession, also, but not so entirely as her cousin. Her step
faltered as she endeavored to walk, and the hand which rested on his
arm trembled like a leaf. "Would to God I had never entered this
house," said I to myself. And yet, before the exclamation was half
uttered, I became conscious of a secret rebellion against the thought;
an emotion, shall I say, of thankfulness that it had been myself rather
than another who had been allowed to break in upon their privacy,
overhear that significant remark, and, shall I acknowledge it, follow
Mr. Gryce and the trembling, swaying figure of Eleanore Leavenworth
downstairs. Not that I felt the least relenting in my soul towards
guilt. Crime had never looked so black; revenge, selfishness, hatred,
cupidity, never seemed more loathsome; and yet--but why enter into
the consideration of my feelings at that time. They cannot be of
interest; besides, who can fathom the depths of his own soul, or
untangle for others the secret cords of revulsion and attraction which
are, and ever have been, a mystery and wonder to himself? Enough that,
supporting upon my arm the half-fainting form of one woman, but with my
attention, and interest devoted to another, I descended the stairs of
the Leavenworth mansion, and re-entered the dreaded presence of those
inquisitors of the law who had been so impatiently awaiting us.

As I once more crossed that threshold, and faced the eager
countenances of those I had left so short a time before, I felt as if
ages had elapsed in the interval; so much can be experienced by the
human soul in the short space of a few over-weighted moments.


    "For this relief much thanks."

HAVE you ever observed the effect of the sunlight bursting suddenly
upon the earth from behind a mass of heavily surcharged clouds? If so,
you can have some idea of the sensation produced in that room by the
entrance of these two beautiful ladies. Possessed of a loveliness which
would have been conspicuous in all places and under all circumstances,
Mary, at least, if not her less striking, though by no means less
interesting cousin, could never have entered any assemblage without
drawing to herself the wondering attention of all present. But,
heralded as here, by the most fearful of tragedies, what could you
expect from a collection of men such as I have already described, but
overmastering wonder and incredulous admiration? Nothing, perhaps, and
yet at the first murmuring sound of amazement and satisfaction, I felt
my soul recoil in disgust.

Making haste to seat my now trembling companion in the most retired
spot I could find, I looked around for her cousin. But Eleanore
Leavenworth, weak as she had appeared in the interview above, showed at
this moment neither hesitation nor embarrassment. Advancing upon the
arm of the detective, whose suddenly assumed air of persuasion in the
presence of the jury was anything but reassuring, she stood for an
instant gazing calmly upon the scene before her. Then bowing to the
coroner with a grace and condescension which seemed at once to place
him on the footing of a politely endured intruder in this home of
elegance, she took the seat which her own servants hastened to procure
for her, with an ease and dignity that rather recalled the triumphs of
the drawing-room than the self-consciousness of a scene such as that in
which we found ourselves. Palpable acting, though this was, it was not
without its effect. Instantly the murmurs ceased, the obtrusive glances
fell, and something like a forced respect made itself visible upon the
countenances of all present. Even I, impressed as I had been by her
very different demeanor in the room above, experienced a sensation of
relief; and was more than startled when, upon turning to the lady at my
side, I beheld her eyes riveted upon her cousin with an inquiry in
their depths that was anything but encouraging. Fearful of the effect
this look might have upon those about us, I hastily seized her hand
which, clenched and unconscious, hung over the edge of her chair, and
was about to beseech her to have care, when her name, called in a slow,
impressive way by the coroner, roused her from her abstraction.
Hurriedly withdrawing her gaze from her cousin, she lifted her face to
the jury, and I saw a gleam pass over it which brought back my early
fancy of the pythoness. But it passed, and it was with an expression of
great modesty she settled herself to respond to the demand of the
coroner and answer the first few opening inquiries.

But what can express the anxiety of that moment to me? Gentle as
she now appeared, she was capable of great wrath, as I knew. Was she
going to reiterate her suspicions here? Did she hate as well as
mistrust her cousin? Would she dare assert in this presence, and
before the world, what she found it so easy to utter in the privacy of
her own room and the hearing of the one person concerned? Did she wish
to? Her own countenance gave me no clue to her intentions, and, in my
anxiety, I turned once more to look at Eleanore. But she, in a dread
and apprehension I could easily understand, had recoiled at the first
intimation that her cousin was to speak, and now sat with her face
covered from sight, by hands blanched to an almost deathly whiteness.

The testimony of Mary Leavenworth was short. After some few
questions, mostly referring to her position in the house and her
connection with its deceased master, she was asked to relate what she
knew of the murder itself, and of its discovery by her cousin and the

Lifting up a brow that seemed never to have known till now the
shadow of care or trouble, and a voice that, whilst low and womanly,
rang like a bell through the room, she replied:

"You ask me, gentlemen, a question which I cannot answer of my own
personal knowledge. I know nothing of this murder, nor of its
discovery, save what has come to me through the lips of others."

My heart gave a bound of relief, and I saw Eleanore Leavenworth's
hands drop from her brow like stone, while a flickering gleam as of
hope fled over her face, and then died away like sunlight leaving

"For, strange as it may seem to you," Mary earnestly continued, the
shadow of a past horror revisiting her countenance, "I did not enter
the room where my uncle lay. I did not even think of doing so; my only
impulse was to fly from what was so horrible and heartrending. But
Eleanore went in, and she can tell you----"

"We will question Miss Eleanore Leavenworth later," interrupted the
coroner, but very gently for him. Evidently the grace and elegance of
this beautiful woman were making their impression. "What we want to
know is what _you_ saw. You say you cannot tell us of anything
that passed in the room at the time of the discovery?"

"No, sir."

"Only what occurred in the hall?"

"Nothing occurred in the hall," she innocently remarked.

"Did not the servants pass in from the hall, and your cousin come
out there after her revival from her fainting fit?"

Mary Leavenworth's violet eyes opened wonderingly.

"Yes, sir; but that was nothing."

"You remember, however, her coming into the hall?"

"Yes, sir."

"With a paper in her hand?"

"Paper?" and she wheeled suddenly and looked at her cousin. "Did
you have a paper, Eleanore?"

The moment was intense. Eleanore Leavenworth, who at the first
mention of the word paper had started perceptibly, rose to her feet at
this naive appeal, and opening her lips, seemed about to speak, when
the coroner, with a strict sense of what was regular, lifted his hand
with decision, and said:

"You need not ask your cousin, Miss; but let us hear what you have
to say yourself."

Immediately, Eleanore Leavenworth sank back, a pink spot breaking
out on either cheek; while a slight murmur testified to the
disappointment of those in the room, who were more anxious to have
their curiosity gratified than the forms of law adhered to.

Satisfied with having done his duty, and disposed to be easy with so
charming a witness, the coroner repeated his question. "Tell us, if
you please, if you saw any such thing in her hand?"

"I? Oh, no, no; I saw nothing."

Being now questioned in relation to the events of the previous
night, she had no new light to throw upon the subject. She acknowledged
her uncle to have been a little reserved at dinner, but no more so than
at previous times when annoyed by some business anxiety.

Asked if she had seen her uncle again that evening, she said no,
that she had been detained in her room. That the sight of him, sitting
in his seat at the head of the table, was the very last remembrance she
had of him.

There was something so touching, so forlorn, and yet so unobtrusive,
in this simple recollection of hers, that a look of sympathy passed
slowly around the room.

I even detected Mr. Gryce softening towards the inkstand. But
Eleanore Leavenworth sat unmoved.

"Was your uncle on ill terms with any one?" was now asked. "Had
he valuable papers or secret sums of money in his possession?"

To all these inquiries she returned an equal negative.

"Has your uncle met any stranger lately, or received any important
letter during the last few weeks, which might seem in any way to throw
light upon this mystery?"

There was the slightest perceptible hesitation in her voice, as she
replied: "No, not to my knowledge; I don't know of any such." But
here, stealing a side glance at Eleanore, she evidently saw something
that reassured her, for she hastened to add:

"I believe I may go further than that, and meet your question with
a positive no. My uncle was in the habit of confiding in me, and I
should have known if anything of importance to him had occurred."

Questioned in regard to Hannah, she gave that person the best of
characters; knew of nothing which could have led either to her strange
disappearance, or to her connection with crime. Could not say whether
she kept any company, or had any visitors; only knew that no one with
any such pretensions came to the house. Finally, when asked when she
had last seen the pistol which Mr. Leavenworth always kept in his stand
drawer, she returned, not since the day he bought it; Eleanore, and not
herself, having the charge of her uncle's apartments.

It was the only thing she had said which, even to a mind freighted
like mine, would seem to point to any private doubt or secret
suspicion; and this, uttered in the careless manner in which it was,
would have passed without comment if Eleanore herself had not directed
at that moment a very much aroused and inquiring look upon the speaker.

But it was time for the inquisitive juror to make himself heard
again. Edging to the brink of the chair, he drew in his breath, with a
vague awe of Mary's beauty, almost ludicrous to see, and asked if she
had properly considered what she had just said.

"I hope, sir, I consider all I am called upon to say at such a time
as this," was her earnest reply.

The little juror drew back, and I looked to see her examination
terminate, when suddenly his ponderous colleague of the watch-chain,
catching the young lady's eye, inquired:

"Miss Leavenworth, did your uncle ever make a will?"

Instantly every man in the room was in arms, and even she could not
prevent the slow blush of injured pride from springing to her cheek.
But her answer was given firmly, and without any show of resentment.

"Yes, sir," she returned simply.

"More than one?"

"I never heard of but one."

"Are you acquainted with the contents of that will?"

"I am. He made no secret of his intentions to any one."

The juryman lifted his eye-glass and looked at her. Her grace was
little to him, or her beauty or her elegance. "Perhaps, then, you can
tell me who is the one most likely to be benefited by his death?"

The brutality of this question was too marked to pass unchallenged.
Not a man in that room, myself included, but frowned with sudden
disapprobation. But Mary Leavenworth, drawing herself up, looked her
interlocutor calmly in the face, and restrained herself to say:

"I know who would be the greatest losers by it. The children he
took to his bosom in their helplessness and sorrow; the young girls he
enshrined with the halo of his love and protection, when love and
protection were what their immaturity most demanded; the women who
looked to him for guidance when childhood and youth were passed--
these, sir, these are the ones to whom his death is a loss, in
comparison to which all others which may hereafter befall them must
ever seem trivial and unimportant."

It was a noble reply to the basest of insinuations, and the juryman
drew back rebuked; but here another of them, one who had not spoken
before, but whose appearance was not only superior to the rest, but
also almost imposing in its gravity, leaned from his seat and in a
solemn voice said:

"Miss Leavenworth, the human mind cannot help forming impressions.
Now have you, with or without reason, felt at any time conscious of a
suspicion pointing towards any one person as the murderer of your

It was a frightful moment. To me and to one other, I am sure it was
not only frightful, but agonizing. Would her courage fail? would her
determination to shield her cousin remain firm in the face of duty and
at the call of probity? I dared not hope it.

But Mary Leavenworth, rising to her feet, looked judge and jury
calmly in the face, and, without raising her voice, giving it an
indescribably clear and sharp intonation, replied:

"No; I have neither suspicion nor reason for any. The assassin of
my uncle is not only entirely unknown to, but completely unsuspected
by, me."

It was like the removal of a stifling pressure. Amid a universal
outgoing of the breath, Mary Leavenworth stood aside and Eleanore was
called in her place.


    "O dark, dark, dark!"

AND now that the interest was at its height, that the veil which
shrouded this horrible tragedy seemed about to be lifted, if not
entirely withdrawn, I felt a desire to fly the scene, to leave the
spot, to know no more. Not that I was conscious of any particular fear
of this woman betraying herself. The cold steadiness of her now fixed
and impassive countenance was sufficient warranty in itself against the
possibility of any such catastrophe. But if, indeed, the suspicions of
her cousin were the offspring, not only of hatred, but of knowledge;
if that face of beauty was in truth only a mask, and Eleanore
Leavenworth was what the words of her cousin, and her own after
behavior would seem to imply, how could I bear to sit there and see the
frightful serpent of deceit and sin evolve itself from the bosom of
this white rose! And yet, such is the fascination of uncertainty that,
although I saw something of my own feelings reflected in the
countenances of many about me, not a man in all that assemblage showed
any disposition to depart, I least of all.

The coroner, upon whom the blonde loveliness of Mary had impressed
itself to Eleanor's apparent detriment, was the only one in the room
who showed himself unaffected at this moment. Turning towards the
witness with a look which, while respectful, had a touch of austerity
in it, he began:

"You have been an intimate of Mr. Leavenworth's family from
childhood, they tell me, Miss Leavenworth?"

"From my tenth year," was her quiet reply.

It was the first time I had heard her voice, and it surprised me; it
was so like, and yet so unlike, that of her cousin. Similar in tone, it
lacked its expressiveness, if I may so speak; sounding without
vibration on the ear, and ceasing without an echo.

"Since that time you have been treated like a daughter, they tell

"Yes, sir, like a daughter, indeed; he was more than a father to
both of us."

"You and Miss Mary Leavenworth are cousins, I believe. When did she
enter the family?"

"At the same time I did. Our respective parents were victims of the
same disaster. If it had not been for our uncle, we should have been
thrown, children as we were, upon the world. But he"--here she paused,
her firm lips breaking into a half tremble--"but he, in the goodness
of his heart, adopted us into his family, and gave us what we had
both lost, a father and a home."

"You say he was a father to you as well as to your cousin--that
he adopted you. Do you mean by that, that he not only surrounded you
with present luxury, but gave you to understand that the same should be
secured to you after his death; in short, that he intended to leave any
portion of his property to you?"

"No, sir; I was given to understand, from the first, that his
property would be bequeathed by will to my cousin."

"Your cousin was no more nearly related to him than yourself, Miss
Leavenworth; did he never give you any reason for this evident

"None but his pleasure, sir."

Her answers up to this point had been so straightforward and
satisfactory that a gradual confidence seemed to be taking the place of
the rather uneasy doubts which had from the first circled about this
woman's name and person. But at this admission, uttered as it was in a
calm, unimpassioned voice, not only the jury, but myself, who had so
much truer reason for distrusting her, felt that actual suspicion in
her case must be very much shaken before the utter lack of motive which
this reply so clearly betokened.

Meanwhile the coroner continued: "If your uncle was as kind to you
as you say, you must have become very much attached to him?"

"Yes, sir," her mouth taking a sudden determined curve.

"His death, then, must have been a great shock to you?"

"Very, very great."

"Enough of itself to make you faint away, as they tell me you did,
at the first glimpse you had of his body?"

"Enough, quite."

"And yet you seemed to be prepared for it?"


"The servants say you were much agitated at finding your uncle did
not make his appearance at the breakfast table."

"The servants!" her tongue seemed to cleave to the roof of her
mouth; she could hardly speak.

"That when you returned from his room you were very pale."

Was she beginning to realize that there was some doubt, if not
actual suspicion, in the mind of the man who could assail her with
questions like these? I had not seen her so agitated since that one
memorable instant up in her room. But her mistrust, if she felt any,
did not long betray itself. Calming herself by a great effort, she
replied, with a quiet gesture--

"That is not so strange. My uncle was a very methodical man; the
least change in his habits would be likely to awaken our apprehensions."

"You were alarmed, then?"

"To a certain extent I was."

"Miss Leavenworth, who is in the habit of overseeing the regulation
of your uncle's private apartments?"

"I am, sir."

"You are doubtless, then, acquainted with a certain stand in his
room containing a drawer?"

"Yes, sir."

"How long is it since you had occasion to go to this drawer?"

"Yesterday," visibly trembling at the admission.

"At what time?"

"Near noon, I should judge."

"Was the pistol he was accustomed to keep there in its place at the

"I presume so; I did not observe."

"Did you turn the key upon closing the drawer?"

"I did."

"Take it out?"

"No, sir."

"Miss Leavenworth, that pistol, as you have perhaps observed, lies
on the table before you. Will you look at it?" And lifting it up into
view, he held it towards her.

If he had meant to startle her by the sudden action, he amply
succeeded. At the first sight of the murderous weapon she shrank back,
and a horrified, but quickly suppressed shriek, burst from her lips.
"Oh, no, no!" she moaned, flinging out her hands before her.

"I must insist upon your looking at it, Miss Leavenworth," pursued
the coroner. "When it was found just now, all the chambers were

Instantly the agonized look left her countenance. "Oh, then--" She
did not finish, but put out her hand for the weapon.

But the coroner, looking at her steadily, continued: "It has been
lately fired off, for all that. The hand that cleaned the barrel forgot
the cartridge-chamber, Miss Leavenworth."

She did not shriek again, but a hopeless, helpless look slowly
settled over her face, and she seemed about to sink; but like a flash
the reaction came, and lifting her head with a steady, grand action I
have never seen equalled, she exclaimed, "Very well, what then?"

The coroner laid the pistol down; men and women glanced at each
other; every one seemed to hesitate to proceed. I heard a tremulous
sigh at my side, and, turning, beheld Mary Leavenworth staring at her
cousin with a startled flush on her cheek, as if she began to recognize
that the public, as well as herself, detected something in this woman,
calling for explanation.

At last the coroner summoned up courage to continue.

"You ask me, Miss Leavenworth, upon the evidence given, what then?
Your question obliges me to say that no burglar, no hired assassin,
would have used this pistol for a murderous purpose, and then taken the
pains, not only to clean it, but to reload it, and lock it up again in
the drawer from which he had taken it."

She did not reply to this; but I saw Mr. Gryce make a note of it
with that peculiar emphatic nod of his.

"Nor," he went on, even more gravely, "would it be possible for
any one who was not accustomed to pass in and out of Mr. Leavenworth's
room at all hours, to enter his door so late at night, procure this
pistol from its place of concealment, traverse his apartment, and
advance as closely upon him as the facts show to have been necessary,
without causing him at least to turn his head to one side; which, in
consideration of the doctor's testimony, we cannot believe he did."

It was a frightful suggestion, and we looked to see Eleanore
Leavenworth recoil. But that expression of outraged feeling was left
for her cousin to exhibit. Starting indignantly from her seat, Mary
cast one hurried glance around her, and opened her lips to speak; but
Eleanore, slightly turning, motioned her to have patience, and replied
in a cold and calculating voice: "You are not sure, sir, that this _
was_ done. If my uncle, for some purpose of his own, had fired the
pistol off yesterday, let us say--which is surely possible, if not
probable--the like results would be observed, and the same
conclusions drawn."

"Miss Leavenworth," the coroner went on, "the ball has been
extracted from your uncle's head!"


"It corresponds with those in the cartridges found in his stand
drawer, and is of the number used with this pistol."

Her head fell forward on her hands; her eyes sought the floor; her
whole attitude expressed disheartenment. Seeing it, the coroner grew
still more grave.

"Miss Leavenworth," said he, "I have now some questions to put you
concerning last night. Where did you spend the evening?"

"Alone, in my own room."

"You, however, saw your uncle or your cousin during the course of

"No, sir; I saw no one after leaving the dinner table--except
Thomas," she added, after a moment's pause.

"And how came you to see him?"

"He came to bring me the card of a gentleman who called."

"May I ask the name of the gentleman?"

"The name on the card was Mr. Le Roy Robbins."

The matter seemed trivial; but the sudden start given by the lady at
my side made me remember it.

"Miss Leavenworth, when seated in your room, are you in the habit
of leaving your door open?"

A startled look at this, quickly suppressed. "Not in the habit;
no, sir."

"Why did you leave it open last night?"

"I was feeling warm."

"No other reason?"

"I can give no other."

"When did you close it?"

"Upon retiring."

"Was that before or after the servants went up?"


"Did you hear Mr. Harwell when he left the library and ascended to
his room?"

"I did, sir."

"How much longer did you leave your door open after that?"

"I--I--a few minutes--a--I cannot say," she added, hurriedly.

"Cannot say? Why? Do you forget?"

"I forget just how long after Mr. Harwell came up I closed it."

"Was it more than ten minutes?"


"More than twenty?"

"Perhaps." How pale her face was, and how she trembled!

"Miss Leavenworth, according to evidence, your uncle came to his
death not very long after Mr. Harwell left him. If your door was open,
you ought to have heard if any one went to his room, or any pistol shot
was fired. Now, did you hear anything?"

"I heard no confusion; no, sir."

"Did you hear anything?"

"Nor any pistol shot."

"Miss Leavenworth, excuse my persistence, but did you hear

"I heard a door close."

"What door?"

"The library door."


"I do not know." She clasped her hands hysterically. "I cannot
say. Why do you ask me so many questions?"

I leaped to my feet; she was swaying, almost fainting. But before I
could reach her, she had drawn herself up again, and resumed her former
demeanor. "Excuse me," said she; "I am not myself this morning. I
beg your pardon," and she turned steadily to the coroner. "What was
it you asked?"

"I asked," and his voice grew thin and high,--evidently her manner
was beginning to tell against her,--"when it was you heard the
library door shut?"

"I cannot fix the precise time, but it was after Mr. Harwell came
up, and before I closed my own."

"And you heard no pistol shot?"

"No, sir."

The coroner cast a quick look at the jury, who almost to a man
glanced aside as he did so.

"Miss Leavenworth, we are told that Hannah, one of the servants,
started for your room late last night after some medicine. Did she come

"No, sir."

"When did you first learn of her remarkable disappearance from this
house during the night?"

"This morning before breakfast. Molly met me in the hall, and
asked how Hannah was. I thought the inquiry a strange one, and
naturally questioned her. A moment's talk made the conclusion plain
that the girl was gone."

"What did you think when you became assured of this fact?"

"I did not know what to think."

"No suspicion of foul play crossed your mind?"

"No, sir."

"You did not connect the fact with that of your uncle's murder?"

"I did not know of this murder then."

"And afterwards?"

"Oh, some thought of the possibility of her knowing something about
it may have crossed my mind; I cannot say."

"Can you tell us anything of this girl's past history?"

"I can tell you no more in regard to it than my cousin has done."

"Do you not know what made her sad at night?"

Her cheek flushed angrily; was it at his tone, or at the question
itself? "No, sir! she never confided her secrets to my keeping."

"Then you cannot tell us where she would be likely to go upon
leaving this house?"

"Certainly not."

"Miss Leavenworth, we are obliged to put another question to you.
We are told it was by your order your uncle's body was removed from
where it was found, into the next room."

She bowed her head.

"Didn't you know it to be improper for you or any one else to
disturb the body of a person found dead, except in the presence and
under the authority of the proper officer?"

"I did not consult my knowledge, sir, in regard to the subject:
only my feelings."

"Then I suppose it was your feelings which prompted you to remain
standing by the table at which he was murdered, instead of following
the body in and seeing it properly deposited? Or perhaps," he went on,
with relentless sarcasm, "you were too much interested, just then, in
the piece of paper you took away, to think much of the proprieties of
the occasion?"

"Paper?" lifting her head with determination. "Who says I took a
piece of paper from the table?"

"One witness has sworn to seeing you bend over the table upon which
several papers lay strewn; another, to meeting you a few minutes later
in the hall just as you were putting a piece of paper into your pocket.
The inference follows, Miss Leavenworth."

This was a home thrust, and we looked to see some show of agitation,
but her haughty lip never quivered.

"You have drawn the inference, and you must prove the fact."

The answer was stateliness itself, and we were not surprised to see
the coroner look a trifle baffled; but, recovering himself, he said:

"Miss Leavenworth, I must ask you again, whether you did or did not
take anything from that table?"

She folded her arms. "I decline answering the question," she
quietly said.

"Pardon me," he rejoined: "it is necessary that you should."

Her lip took a still more determined curve. "When any suspicious
paper is found in my possession, it will be time enough then for me to
explain how I came by it."

This defiance seemed to quite stagger the coroner.

"Do you realize to what this refusal is liable to subject you?"

She dropped her head. "I am afraid that I do; yes, sir."

Mr. Gryce lifted his hand, and softly twirled the tassel of the
window curtain.

"And you still persist?"

She absolutely disdained to reply.

The coroner did not press it further.

It had now become evident to all, that Eleanore Leavenworth not only
stood on her defence, but was perfectly aware of her position, and
prepared to maintain it. Even her cousin, who until now had preserved
some sort of composure, began to show signs of strong and
uncontrollable agitation, as if she found it one thing to utter an
accusation herself, and quite another to see it mirrored in the
countenances of the men about her.

"Miss Leavenworth," the coroner continued, changing the line of
attack, "you have always had free access to your uncle's apartments,
have you not?"

"Yes, sir."

"Might even have entered his room late at night, crossed it and
stood at his side, without disturbing him sufficiently to cause him to
turn his head?"

"Yes," her hands pressing themselves painfully together.

"Miss Leavenworth, the key to the library door is missing."

She made no answer.

"It has been testified to, that previous to the actual discovery of
the murder, you visited the door of the library alone. Will you tell us
if the key was then in the lock?"

"It was not."

"Are you certain?"

"I am."

"Now, was there anything peculiar about this key, either in size or

She strove to repress the sudden terror which this question
produced, glanced carelessly around at the group of servants stationed
at her back, and trembled. "It was a little different from the
others," she finally acknowledged.

"In what respect?"

"The handle was broken."

"Ah, gentlemen, the handle was broken!" emphasized the coroner,
looking towards the jury.

Mr. Gryce seemed to take this information to himself, for he gave
another of his quick nods.

"You would, then, recognize this key, Miss Leavenworth, if you
should see it?"

She cast a startled look at him, as if she expected to behold it in
his hand; but, seeming to gather courage at not finding it produced,
replied quite easily:

"I think I should, sir."

The coroner seemed satisfied, and was about to dismiss the witness
when Mr. Gryce quietly advanced and touched him on the arm. "One
moment," said that gentleman, and stooping, he whispered a few words in
the coroner's ear; then, recovering himself, stood with his right hand
in his breast pocket and his eye upon the chandelier.

I scarcely dared to breathe. Had he repeated to the coroner the
words he had inadvertently overheard in the hall above? But a glance
at the latter's face satisfied me that nothing of such importance had
transpired. He looked not only tired, but a trifle annoyed.

"Miss Leavenworth," said he, turning again in her direction; "you
have declared that you did not visit your uncle's room last evening. Do
you repeat the assertion?"

"I do."

He glanced at Mr. Gryce, who immediately drew from his breast a
handkerchief curiously soiled. "It is strange, then, that your
handkerchief should have been found this morning in that room."

The girl uttered a cry. Then, while Mary's face hardened into a sort
of strong despair, Eleanore tightened her lips and coldly replied,
"I do not see as it is so very strange. I was in that room early this

"And you dropped it then?"

A distressed blush crossed her face; she did not reply.

"Soiled in this way?" he went on.

"I know nothing about the soil. What is it? let me see."

"In a moment. What we now wish, is to know how it came to be in
your uncle's apartment."

"There are many ways. I might have left it there days ago. I have
told you I was in the habit of visiting his room. But first, let me see
if it is my handkerchief." And she held out her hand.

"I presume so, as I am told it has your initials embroidered in the
corner," he remarked, as Mr. Gryce passed it to her.

But she with horrified voice interrupted him. "These dirty spots!
What are they? They look like--"

"--what they are," said the coroner. "If you have ever cleaned a
pistol, you must know what they are, Miss Leavenworth."

She let the handkerchief fall convulsively from her hand, and stood
staring at it, lying before her on the floor. "I know nothing about
it, gentlemen," she said. "It is my handkerchief, but--" for some
cause she did not finish her sentence, but again repeated, "Indeed,
gentlemen, I know nothing about it!"

This closed her testimony.

Kate, the cook, was now recalled, and asked to tell when she last
washed the handkerchief?

"This, sir; this handkerchief? Oh, some time this week, sir,"
throwing a deprecatory glance at her mistress.

"What day?"

"Well, I wish I could forget, Miss Eleanore, but I can' t. It is
the only one like it in the house. I washed it day before yesterday."

"When did you iron it?"

"Yesterday morning," half choking over the words.

"And when did you take it to her room?"

The cook threw her apron over her head. "Yesterday afternoon, with
the rest of the clothes, just before dinner. Indade, I could not help
it, Miss Eleanore!" she whispered; "it was the truth."

Eleanore Leavenworth frowned. This somewhat contradictory evidence
had very sensibly affected her; and when, a moment later, the coroner,
having dismissed the witness, turned towards her, and inquired if she
had anything further to say in the way of explanation or otherwise, she
threw her hands up almost spasmodically, slowly shook her head and,
without word or warning, fainted quietly away in her chair.

A commotion, of course, followed, during which I noticed that Mary
did not hasten to her cousin, but left it for Molly and Kate to do what
they could towards her resuscitation. In a few moments this was in so
far accomplished that they were enabled to lead her from the room. As
they did so, I observed a tall man rise and follow her out.

A momentary silence ensued, soon broken, however, by an impatient
stir as our little juryman rose and proposed that the jury should now
adjourn for the day. This seeming to fall in with the coroner's views,
he announced that the inquest would stand adjourned till three o'clock
the next day, when he trusted all the jurors would be present.

A general rush followed, that in a few minutes emptied the room of
all but Miss Leavenworth, Mr. Gryce, and myself.


    "His rolling eies did never rest in place, But walkte each where
    for feare of hid mischance, Holding a lattis still before his face,
    Through which he still did peep as forward he did pace."

        Faerie Queene.

MISS LEAVENWORTH, who appeared to have lingered from a vague terror
of everything and everybody in the house not under her immediate
observation, shrank from my side the moment she found herself left
comparatively alone, and, retiring to a distant corner, gave herself up
to grief. Turning my attention, therefore, in the direction of Mr.
Gryce, I found that person busily engaged in counting his own fingers
with a troubled expression upon his countenance, which may or may not
have been the result of that arduous employment. But, at my approach,
satisfied perhaps that he possessed no more than the requisite number,
he dropped his hands and greeted me with a faint smile which was,
considering all things, too suggestive to be pleasant.

"Well," said I, taking my stand before him, "I cannot blame you.
You had a right to do as you thought best; but how had you the heart?
Was she not sufficiently compromised without your bringing out that
wretched handkerchief, which she may or may not have dropped in that
room, but whose presence there, soiled though it was with pistol
grease, is certainly no proof that she herself was connected with this

"Mr. Raymond," he returned, "I have been detailed as police
officer and detective to look after this case, and I propose to do it."

"Of course," I hastened to reply. "I am the last man to wish you
to shirk your duly; but you cannot have the temerity to declare that
this young and tender creature can by any possibility be considered as
at all likely to be implicated in a crime so monstrous and unnatural.
The mere assertion of another woman's suspicions on the subject ought

But here Mr. Gryce interrupted me. "You talk when your attention
should be directed to more important matters. That other woman, as you
are pleased to designate the fairest ornament of New York society, sits
over there in tears; go and comfort her."

Looking at him in amazement, I hesitated to comply; but, seeing he
was in earnest, crossed to Mary Leavenworth and sat down by her side.
She was weeping, but in a slow, unconscious way, as if grief had been
mastered by fear. The fear was too undisguised and the grief too
natural for me to doubt the genuineness of either.

"Miss Leavenworth," said I, "any attempt at consolation on the
part of a stranger must seem at a time like this the most bitter of
mockeries; but do try and consider that circumstantial evidence is not
always absolute proof."

Starting with surprise, she turned her eyes upon me with a slow,
comprehensive gaze wonderful to see in orbs so tender and womanly.

"No," she repeated; "circumstantial evidence is not absolute proof,
but Eleanore does not know this. She is so intense; she cannot see but
one thing at a time. She has been running her head into a noose, and
oh,--" Pausing, she clutched my arm with a passionate grasp: "Do you
think there is any danger? Will they--" She could not go on.

"Miss Leavenworth," I protested, with a warning look towards the
detective, "what do you mean?"

Like a flash, her glance followed mine, an instant change taking
place in her bearing.

"Your cousin may be intense," I went on, as if nothing had
occurred; "but I do not know to what you refer when you say she has
been running her head into a noose."

"I mean this," she firmly returned: "that, wittingly or
unwittingly, she has so parried and met the questions which have been
put to her in this room that any one listening to her would give her
the credit of knowing more than she ought to of this horrible affair.
She acts"--Mary whispered, but not so low but that every word could be
distinctly heard in all quarters of the room--"as if she were anxious
to conceal something. But she is not; I am sure she is not. Eleanore
and I are not good friends; but all the world can never make me believe
she has any more knowledge of this murder than I have. Won't somebody
tell her, then--won't you--that her manner is a mistake; that it is
calculated to arouse suspicion; that it has already done so? And oh,
don't forget to add"--her voice sinking to a decided whisper now--
"what you have just repeated to me: that circumstantial evidence is
not always absolute proof."

I surveyed her with great astonishment. What an actress this woman

"You request me to tell her this," said I. "Wouldn't it be
better for you to speak to her yourself?"

"Eleanore and I hold little or no confidential communication," she

I could easily believe this, and yet I was puzzled. Indeed, there
was something incomprehensible in her whole manner. Not knowing what
else to say, I remarked, "That is unfortunate. She ought to be told
that the straightforward course is the best by all means."

Mary Leavenworth only wept. "Oh, why has this awful trouble come
to me, who have always been so happy before!"

"Perhaps for the very reason that you have always been so happy."

"It was not enough for dear uncle to die in this horrible manner;
but she, my own cousin, had to----"

I touched her arm, and the action seemed to recall her to herself.
Stopping short, she bit her lip.

"Miss Leavenworth," I whispered, "you should hope for the best.
Besides, I honestly believe you to be disturbing yourself
unnecessarily. If nothing fresh transpires, a mere prevarication or so
of your cousin's will not suffice to injure her."

I said this to see if she had any reason to doubt the future. I was
amply rewarded.

"Anything fresh? How could there be anything fresh, when she is
perfectly innocent?"

Suddenly, a thought seemed to strike her. Wheeling round in her seat
till her lovely, perfumed wrapper brushed my knee, she asked: "Why
didn't they ask me more questions? I could have told them Eleanore
never left her room last night."

"You could?" What was I to think of this woman?

"Yes; my room is nearer the head of the stairs than hers; if she
had passed my door, I should have heard her, don't you see?"

Ah, that was all.

"That does not follow," I answered sadly. "Can you give no other

"I would say whatever was necessary," she whispered.

I started back. Yes, this woman would lie now to save her cousin;
had lied during the inquest. But then I felt grateful, and now I was
simply horrified.

"Miss Leavenworth," said I, "nothing can justify one in violating
the dictates of his own conscience, not even the safety of one we do
not altogether love."

"No?" she returned; and her lip took a tremulous curve, the
lovely bosom heaved, and she softly looked away.

If Eleanore's beauty had made less of an impression on my fancy, or
her frightful situation awakened less anxiety in my breast, I should
have been a lost man from that moment.

"I did not mean to do anything very wrong," Miss Leavenworth
continued. "Do not think too badly of me."

"No, no," said I; and there is not a man living who would not have
said the same in my place.

What more might have passed between us on this subject I cannot say,
for just then the door opened and a man entered whom I recognized as
the one who had followed Eleanore Leavenworth out, a short time before.

"Mr. Gryce," said he, pausing just inside the door; "a word if
you please."

The detective nodded, but did not hasten towards him; instead of
that, he walked deliberately away to the other end of the room, where
he lifted the lid of an inkstand he saw there, muttered some
unintelligible words into it, and speedily shut it again. Immediately
the uncanny fancy seized me that if I should leap to that inkstand,
open it and peer in, I should surprise and capture the bit of
confidence he had intrusted to it. But I restrained my foolish impulse,
and contented myself with noting the subdued look of respect with which
the gaunt subordinate watched the approach of his superior.

"Well?" inquired the latter as he reached him: "what now?"

The man shrugged his shoulders, and drew his principal through the
open door. Once in the hall their voices sank to a whisper, and as
their backs only were visible, I turned to look at my companion. She
was pale but composed.

"Has he come from Eleanore?"

"I do not know; I fear so. Miss Leavenworth," I proceeded, "can
it be possible that your cousin has anything in her possession she
desires to conceal?"

"Then you think she is trying to conceal something?"

"I do not say so. But there was considerable talk about a paper----"

"They will never find any paper or anything else suspicious in
Eleanore's possession," Mary interrupted. "In the first place, there
was no paper of importance enough"--I saw Mr. Gryce's form suddenly
stiffen--"for any one to attempt its abstraction and concealment."

"Can you be sure of that? May not your cousin be acquainted with

"There was nothing to be acquainted with, Mr. Raymond. We lived
the most methodical and domestic of lives. I cannot understand, for my
part, why so much should be made out of this. My uncle undoubtedly came
to his death by the hand of some intended burglar. That nothing was
stolen from the house is no proof that a burglar never entered it. As
for the doors and windows being locked, will you take the word of an
Irish servant as infallible upon such an important point? I cannot. I
believe the assassin to be one of a gang who make their living by
breaking into houses, and if you cannot honestly agree with me, do try
and consider such an explanation as possible; if not for the sake of
the family credit, why then"--and she turned her face with all its
fair beauty upon mine, eyes, cheeks, mouth all so exquisite and
winsome--"why then, for mine."

Instantly Mr. Gryce turned towards us. "Mr. Raymond, will you be
kind enough to step this way?"

Glad to escape from my present position, I hastily obeyed.

"What has happened?" I asked.

"We propose to take you into our confidence," was the easy
response. "Mr. Raymond, Mr. Fobbs."

I bowed to the man I saw before me, and stood uneasily waiting.
Anxious as I was to know what we really had to fear, I still
intuitively shrank from any communication with one whom I looked upon
as a spy.

"A matter of some importance," resumed the detective. "It is not
necessary for me to remind you that it is in confidence, is it?"


"I thought not. Mr. Fobbs you may proceed."

Instantly the whole appearance of the man Fobbs changed. Assuming an
expression of lofty importance, he laid his large hand outspread upon
his heart and commenced.

"Detailed by Mr. Gryce to watch the movements of Miss Eleanore
Leavenworth, I left this room upon her departure from it, and followed
her and the two servants who conducted her upstairs to her own
apartment. Once there---"

Mr. Gryce interrupted him. "Once there? where?"

"Her own room, sir."

"Where situated?"

"At the head of the stairs."

"That is not her room. Go on."

"Not her room? Then it _was_ the fire she was after!" he
cried, clapping himself on the knee.

"The fire?"

"Excuse me; I am ahead of my story. She did not appear to notice
me much, though I was right behind her. It was not until she had
reached the door of this room--which was not her room!" he
interpolated dramatically, "and turned to dismiss her servants, that
she seemed conscious of having been followed. Eying me then with an air
of great dignity, quickly eclipsed, however, by an expression of
patient endurance, she walked in, leaving the door open behind her in a
courteous way I cannot sufficiently commend."

I could not help frowning. Honest as the man appeared, this was
evidently anything but a sore subject with him. Observing me frown, he
softened his manner.

"Not seeing any other way of keeping her under my eye, except by
entering the room, I followed her in, and took a seat in a remote
corner. She flashed one look at me as I did so, and commenced pacing
the floor in a restless kind of way I'm not altogether unused to. At
last she stopped abruptly, right in the middle of the room. 'Get me a
glass of water!' she gasped; 'I'm faint again--quick! on the stand
in the corner.' Now in order to get that glass of water it was
necessary for me to pass behind a dressing mirror that reached almost
to the ceiling; and I naturally hesitated. But she turned and looked at
me, and--Well, gentlemen, I think either of you would have hastened to
do what she asked; or at least"--with a doubtful look at Mr. Gryce--
"have given your two ears for the privilege, even if you didn't
succumb to the temptation."

"Well, well!" exclaimed Mr. Gryce, impatiently.

"I am going on," said he. "I stepped out of sight, then, for a
moment; but it seemed long enough for her purpose; for when I emerged,
glass in hand, she was kneeling at the grate full five feet from the
spot where she had been standing, and was fumbling with the waist of
her dress in a way to convince me she had something concealed there
which she was anxious to dispose of. I eyed her pretty closely as I
handed her the glass of water, but she was gazing into the grate, and
didn't appear to notice. Drinking barely a drop, she gave it back, and
in another moment was holding out her hands over the fire. 'Oh, I am
so cold!' she cried, 'so cold.' And I verily believe she was. At any
rate, she shivered most naturally. But there were a few dying embers in
the grate, and when I saw her thrust her hand again into the folds of
her dress I became distrustful of her intentions and, drawing a step
nearer, looked over her shoulder, when I distinctly saw her drop
something into the grate that clinked as it fell. Suspecting what it
was, I was about to interfere, when she sprang to her feet, seized the
scuttle of coal that was upon the hearth, and with one move emptied the
whole upon the dying embers. 'I want a fire,' she cried, 'a fire!'
'That is hardly the way to make one,' I returned, carefully taking the
coal out with my hands, piece by piece, and putting it back into the
scuttle, till--"

"Till what?" I asked, seeing him and Mr. Gryce exchange a hurried

"Till I found this!" opening his large hand, and showing me _a
broken-handled key._


    "There's nothing ill
     Can dwell in such a temple."


THIS astounding discovery made a most unhappy impression upon me. It
was true, then. Eleanore the beautiful, the lovesome, was--I did not,
could not finish the sentence, even in the silence of my own mind.

"You look surprised," said Mr. Gryce, glancing curiously towards
the key. "Now, I ain't. A woman does not thrill, blush, equivocate, and
faint for nothing; especially such a woman as Miss Leavenworth."

"A woman who could do such a deed would be the last to thrill,
equivocate, and faint," I retorted. "Give me the key; let me see

He complacently put it in my hand. "It is the one we want. No
getting out of that."

I returned it. "If she declares herself innocent, I will believe

He stared with great amazement. "You have strong faith in the
women," he laughed. "I hope they will never disappoint you."

I had no reply for this, and a short silence ensued, first broken by
Mr. Gryce. "There is but one thing left to do," said he. "Fobbs,
you will have to request Miss Leavenworth to come down. Do not alarm
her; only see that she comes. To the reception room," he added, as the
man drew off.

No sooner were we left alone than I made a move to return to Mary,
but he stopped me.

"Come and see it out," he whispered. "She will be down in a
moment; see it out; you had best."

Glancing back, I hesitated; but the prospect of beholding Eleanore
again drew me, in spite of myself. Telling him to wait, I returned to
Mary's side to make my excuses.

"What is the matter--what has occurred?" she breathlessly asked.

"Nothing as yet to disturb you much. Do not be alarmed." But my
face betrayed me.

"There is something!" said she.

"Your cousin is coming down."

"Down here?" and she shrank visibly.

"No, to the reception room."

"I do not understand. It is all dreadful; and no one tells me

"I pray God there may be nothing to tell. Judging from your present
faith in your cousin, there will not be. Take comfort, then, and be
assured I will inform you if anything occurs which you ought to know."

Giving her a look of encouragement, I left her crushed against the
crimson pillows of the sofa on which she sat, and rejoined Mr. Gryce.
We had scarcely entered the reception room when Eleanore Leavenworth
came in.

More languid than she was an hour before, but haughty still, she
slowly advanced, and, meeting my eye, gently bent her head.

"I have been summoned here," said she, directing herself
exclusively to Mr. Gryce, "by an individual whom I take to be in your
employ. If so, may I request you to make your wishes known at once, as
I am quite exhausted, and am in great need of rest."

"Miss Leavenworth," returned Mr. Gryce, rubbing his hands together
and staring in quite a fatherly manner at the door-knob, "I am very
sorry to trouble you, but the fact is I wish to ask you----"

But here she stopped him. "Anything in regard to the key which that
man has doubtless told you he saw me drop into the ashes?"

"Yes, Miss."

"Then I must refuse to answer any questions concerning it. I have
nothing to say on the subject, unless it is this: "--giving him a look
full of suffering, but full of a certain sort of courage, too--"that
he was right if he told you I had the key in hiding about my person,
and that I attempted to conceal it in the ashes of the grate."

"Still, Miss----"

But she had already withdrawn to the door. "I pray you to excuse
me," said she. "No argument you could advance would make any
difference in my determination; therefore it would be but a waste of
energy on your part to attempt any." And, with a flitting glance in my
direction, not without its appeal, she quietly left the room.

For a moment Mr. Gryce stood gazing after her with a look of great
interest, then, bowing with almost exaggerated homage, he hastily
followed her out.

I had scarcely recovered from the surprise occasioned by this
unexpected movement when a quick step was heard in the hall, and Mary,
flushed and anxious, appeared at my side.

"What is it?" she inquired. "What has Eleanore been saying?"

"Alas!" I answered, "she has not said anything. That is the
trouble, Miss Leavenworth. Your cousin preserves a reticence upon
certain points very painful to witness. She ought to understand that if
she persists in doing this, that----"

"That what?" There was no mistaking the deep anxiety prompting
this question.

"That she cannot avoid the trouble that will ensue."

For a moment she stood gazing at me, with great horror-stricken,
incredulous eyes; then sinking back into a chair, flung her hands over
her face with the cry:

"Oh, why were we ever born! Why were we allowed to live! Why did
we not perish with those who gave us birth!"

In the face of anguish like this, I could not keep still.

"Dear Miss Leavenworth," I essayed, "there is no cause for such
despair as this. The future looks dark, but not impenetrable. Your
cousin will listen to reason, and in explaining----"

But she, deaf to my words, had again risen to her feet, and stood
before me in an attitude almost appalling.

"Some women in my position would go mad! mad! mad!"

I surveyed her with growing wonder. I thought I knew what she meant.
She was conscious of having given the cue which had led to this
suspicion of her cousin, and that in this way the trouble which hung
over their heads was of her own making. I endeavored to soothe her, but
my efforts were all unavailing. Absorbed in her own anguish, she paid
but little attention to me. Satisfied at last that I could do nothing
more for her, I turned to go. The movement seemed to arouse her.

"I am sorry to leave," said I, "without having afforded you any
comfort. Believe me; I am very anxious to assist you. Is there no one
I can send to your side; no woman friend or relative? It is sad to
leave you alone in this house at such a time."

"And do you expect me to remain here? Why, I should die! Here
to-night?" and the long shudders shook her very frame.

"It is not at all necessary for you to do so, Miss Leavenworth,"
broke in a bland voice over our shoulders.

I turned with a start. Mr. Gryce was not only at our back, but had
evidently been there for some moments. Seated near the door, one hand
in his pocket, the other caressing the arm of his chair, he met our
gaze with a sidelong smile that seemed at once to beg pardon for the
intrusion, and to assure us it was made with no unworthy motive.
"Everything will be properly looked after, Miss; you can leave with
perfect safety."

I expected to see her resent this interference; but instead of that,
she manifested a certain satisfaction in beholding him there.

Drawing me to one side, she whispered, "You think this Mr. Gryce
very clever, do you not?"

"Well," I cautiously replied, "he ought to be to hold the position
he does. The authorities evidently repose great confidence in him."

Stepping from my side as suddenly as she had approached it, she
crossed the room and stood before Mr. Gryce.

"Sir," said she, gazing at him with a glance of entreaty: "I hear
you have great talents; that you can ferret out the real criminal from
a score of doubtful characters, and that nothing can escape the
penetration of your eye. If this is so, have pity on two orphan girls,
suddenly bereft of their guardian and protector, and use your
acknowledged skill in finding out who has committed this crime. It
would be folly in me to endeavor to hide from you that my cousin in her
testimony has given cause for suspicion; but I here declare her to be
as innocent of wrong as I am; and I am only endeavoring to turn the eye
of justice from the guiltless to the guilty when I entreat you to look
elsewhere for the culprit who committed this deed." Pausing, she held
her two hands out before him. "It must have been some common burglar
or desperado; can you not bring him, then, to justice?"

Her attitude was so touching, her whole appearance so earnest and
appealing, that I saw Mr. Gryce's countenance brim with suppressed
emotion, though his eye never left the coffee-urn upon which it had
fixed itself at her first approach.

"You must find out--you can!" she went on. "Hannah--the girl who
is gone--must know all about it. Search for her, ransack the city, do
anything; my property is at your disposal. I will offer a large reward
for the detection of the burglar who did this deed!"

Mr. Gryce slowly rose. "Miss Leavenworth," he began, and stopped;
the man was actually agitated. "Miss Leavenworth, I did not need your
very touching appeal to incite me to my utmost duty in this case.
Personal and professional pride were in themselves sufficient. But,
since you have honored me with this expression of your wishes, I will
not conceal from you that I shall feel a certain increased interest in
the affair from this hour. What mortal man can do, I will do, and if in
one month from this day I do not come to you for my reward, Ebenezer
Gryce is not the man I have always taken him to be."

"And Eleanore?"

"We will mention no names," said he, gently waving his hand to
and fro.

A few minutes later, I left the house with Miss Leavenworth, she
having expressed a wish to have me accompany her to the home of her
friend, Mrs. Gilbert, with whom she had decided to take refuge. As we
rolled down the street in the carriage Mr. Gryce had been kind enough
to provide for us, I noticed my companion cast a look of regret behind
her, as if she could not help feeling some compunctions at this
desertion of her cousin.

But this expression was soon changed for the alert look of one who
dreads to see a certain face start up from some unknown quarter.
Glancing up and down the street, peering furtively into doorways as we
passed, starting and trembling if a sudden figure appeared on the
curbstone, she did not seem to breathe with perfect ease till we had
left the avenue behind us and entered upon Thirty-seventh Street. Then,
all at once her natural color returned and, leaning gently towards me,
she asked if I had a pencil and piece of paper I could give her. I
fortunately possessed both. Handing them to her, I watched her with
some little curiosity while she wrote two or three lines, wondering she
could choose such a time and place for the purpose.

"A little note I wish to send," she explained, glancing at the
almost illegible scrawl with an expression of doubt. "Couldn't you
stop the carriage a moment while I direct it?"

I did so, and in another instant the leaf which I had torn from my
note-book was folded, directed, and sealed with a stamp which she had
taken from her own pocket-book.

"That is a crazy-looking epistle," she muttered, as she laid it,
direction downwards, in her lap.

"Why not wait, then, till you arrive at your destination, where you
can seal it properly, and direct it at your leisure?"

"Because I am in haste. I wish to mail it now. Look, there is a box
on the corner; please ask the driver to stop once more."

"Shall I not post it for you?" I asked, holding out my hand.

But she shook her head, and, without waiting for my assistance,
opened the door on her own side of the carriage and leaped to the
ground. Even then she paused to glance up and down the street, before
venturing to drop her hastily written letter into the box. But when it
had left her hand, she looked brighter and more hopeful than I had yet
seen her. And when, a few moments later, she turned to bid me good-by
in front of her friend's house, it was with almost a cheerful air she
put out her hand and entreated me to call on her the next day, and
inform her how the inquest progressed.

I shall not attempt to disguise from you the fact that I spent all
that long evening in going over the testimony given at the inquest,
endeavoring to reconcile what I had heard with any other theory than
that of Eleanore's guilt. Taking a piece of paper, I jotted down the
leading causes of suspicion as follows:

1. Her late disagreement with her uncle, and evident estrangement
from him, as testified to by Mr. Harwell.

2. The mysterious disappearance of one of the servants of the house.

3. The forcible accusation made by her cousin,--overheard, however,
only by Mr. Gryce and myself.

4. Her equivocation in regard to the handkerchief found stained with
pistol smut on the scene of the tragedy.

5. Her refusal to speak in regard to the paper which she was
supposed to have taken from Mr. Leavenworth's table immediately upon
the removal of the body.

6. The finding of the library key in her possession.

"A dark record," I involuntarily decided, as I looked it over; but
even in doing so began jotting down on the other side of the sheet the
following explanatory notes:

1. Disagreements and even estrangements between relatives are
common. Cases where such disagreements and estrangements have led to
crime, rare.

2. The disappearance of Hannah points no more certainly in one
direction than another.

3. If Mary's private accusation of her cousin was forcible and
convincing, her public declaration that she neither knew nor suspected
who might be the author of this crime, was equally so. To be sure, the
former possessed the advantage of being uttered spontaneously; but it
was likewise true that it was spoken under momentary excitement,
without foresight of the consequences, and possibly without due
consideration of the facts.

4. 5. An innocent man or woman, under the influence of terror, will
often equivocate in regard to matters that seem to criminate them.

But the key! What could I say to that? Nothing. With that key in
her possession, and unexplained, Eleanore Leavenworth stood in an
attitude of suspicion which even I felt forced to recognize. Brought to
this point, I thrust the paper into my pocket, and took up the evening
_Express_. Instantly my eye fell upon these words:





Ah! here at least was one comfort; her name was not yet mentioned as
that of a suspected party. But what might not the morrow bring? I
thought of Mr. Gryce's expressive look as he handed me that key, and

"She must be innocent; she cannot be otherwise," I reiterated to
myself, and then pausing, asked what warranty I had of this? Only her
beautiful face; only, only her beautiful face. Abashed, I dropped the
newspaper, and went downstairs just as a telegraph boy arrived with a
message from Mr. Veeley. It was signed by the proprietor of the hotel
at which Mr. Veeley was then stopping and ran thus:


    "MR. Everett Raymond--

    "Mr. Veeley is lying at my house ill. Have not shown him telegram,
    fearing results. Will do so as soon as advisable.

    "Thomas Loworthy."

I went in musing. Why this sudden sensation of relief on my part?
Could it be that I had unconsciously been guilty of cherishing a latent
dread of my senior's return? Why, who else could know so well the
secret springs which governed this family? Who else could so
effectually put me upon the right track? Was it possible that I,
Everett Raymond, hesitated to know the truth in any case? No, that
should never be said; and, sitting down again, I drew out the
memoranda I had made and, looking them carefully over, wrote against
No. 6 the word suspicious in good round characters. There! do one
could say, after that, I had allowed myself to be blinded by a
bewitching face from seeing what, in a woman with no claims to
comeliness, would be considered at once an almost indubitable evidence
of guilt.

And yet, after it was all done, I found myself repeating aloud as I
gazed at it: "If she declares herself innocent, I will believe her." So
completely are we the creatures of our own predilections.


    "The pink of courtesy."
        Romeo and Juliet.

THE morning papers contained a more detailed account of the murder than
those of the evening before; but, to my great relief, in none of them
was Eleanore's name mentioned in the connection I most dreaded.

The final paragraph in the _Times_ ran thus: "The detectives
are upon the track of the missing girl, Hannah." And in the _Herald_ I
read the following notice:

"_A Liberal Reward_ will be given by the relatives of Horatio
Leavenworth, Esq., deceased, for any news of the whereabouts of one
Hannah Chester, disappeared from the house -------- Fifth Avenue since
the evening of March 4. Said girl was of Irish extraction; in age about
twenty-five, and may be known by the following characteristics. Form
tall and slender; hair dark brown with a tinge of red; complexion
fresh; features delicate and well made; hands small, but with the
fingers much pricked by the use of the needle; feet large, and of a
coarser type than the hands. She had on when last seen a checked
gingham dress, brown and white, and was supposed to have wrapped
herself in a red and green blanket shawl, very old. Beside the above
distinctive marks, she had upon her right hand wrist the scar of a
large burn; also a pit or two of smallpox upon the left temple."

This paragraph turned my thoughts in a new direction. Oddly enough,
I had expended very little thought upon this girl; and yet how apparent
it was that she was the one person upon whose testimony, if given, the
whole case in reality hinged, I could not agree with those who
considered her as personally implicated in the murder. An accomplice,
conscious of what was before her, would have hid in her pockets
whatever money she possessed. But the roll of bills found in Hannah's
trunk proved her _to_ have left too hurriedly for this precaution.
On the other hand, if this girl had come unexpectedly upon the assassin
at his work, how could she have been hustled from the house without
creating a disturbance loud enough to have been heard by the ladies,
one of whom had her door open? An innocent girl's first impulse upon
such an occasion would have been to scream; and yet no scream was
heard; she simply disappeared. What were we to think then? That the
person seen by her was one both known and trusted? I would not consider
such a possibility; so laying down the paper, I endeavored to put away
all further consideration of the affair till I had acquired more facts
upon which to base the theory. But who can control his thoughts when
over-excited upon any one theme? All the morning I found myself
turning the case over in my mind, arriving ever at one of two
conclusions. Hannah Chester must be found, or Eleanore Leavenworth must
explain when and by what means the key of the library door came into
her possession.

At two o'clock I started from my office to attend the inquest; but,
being delayed on the way, missed arriving at the house until after the
delivery of the verdict. This was a disappointment to me, especially as
by these means I lost the opportunity of seeing Eleanore Leavenworth,
she having retired to her room immediately upon the dismissal of the
jury. But Mr. Harwell was visible, and from him I heard what the
verdict had been.

"Death by means of a pistol shot from the hand of some person

The result of the inquest was a great relief to me. I had feared
worse. Nor could I help seeing that, for all his studied self-command,
the pale-faced secretary shared in my satisfaction.

What was less of a relief to me was the fact, soon communicated,
that Mr. Gryce and his subordinates had left the premises immediately
upon the delivery of the verdict. Mr. Gryce was not the man to forsake
an affair like this while anything of importance connected with it
remained unexplained. Could it be he meditated any decisive action?
Somewhat alarmed, I was about to hurry from the house for the purpose
of learning what his intentions were, when a sudden movement in the
front lower window of the house on the opposite side of the way
arrested my attention, and, looking closer, I detected the face of Mr.
Fobbs peering out from behind the curtain. The sight assured me I was
not wrong in my estimate of Mr. Gryce; and, struck with pity for the
desolate girl left to meet the exigencies of a fate to which this watch
upon her movements was but the evident precursor, I stepped back and
sent her a note, in which, as Mr. Veeley's representative, I proffered
my services in case of any sudden emergency, saying I was always to be
found in my rooms between the hours of six and eight. This done, I
proceeded to the house in Thirty-seventh Street where I had left Miss
Mary Leavenworth the day before.

Ushered into the long and narrow drawing-room which of late years
has been so fashionable in our uptown houses, I found myself almost
immediately in the presence of Miss Leavenworth.

"Oh," she cried, with an eloquent gesture of welcome, "I had begun
to think I was forsaken!" and advancing impulsively, she held out her
hand. "What is the news from home?"

"A verdict of murder, Miss Leavenworth."

Her eyes did not lose their question.

"Perpetrated by party or parties unknown."

A look of relief broke softly across her features.

"And they are all gone?" she exclaimed.

"I found no one in the house who did not belong there."

"Oh! then we can breathe easily again."

I glanced hastily up and down the room.

"There is no one here," said she.

And still I hesitated. At length, in an awkward way enough, I turned
towards her and said:

"I do not wish either to offend or alarm you, but I must say that I
consider it your duty to return to your own home to-night."

"Why?" she stammered. "Is there any particular reason for my
doing so? Have you not perceived the impossibility of my remaining in
the same house with Eleanore?"

"Miss Leavenworth, I cannot recognize any so-called impossibility
of this nature. Eleanore is your cousin; has been brought up to regard
you as a sister; it is not worthy of you to desert her at the time of
her necessity. You will see this as I do, if you will allow yourself a
moment's dispassionate thought."

"Dispassionate thought is hardly possible under the circumstances,"
she returned, with a smile of bitter irony.

But before I could reply to this, she softened, and asked if I was
very anxious to have her return; and when I replied, "More than I can
say," she trembled and looked for a moment as if she were half inclined
to yield; but suddenly broke into tears, crying it was impossible, and
that I was cruel to ask it.

I drew back, baffled and sore. "Pardon me," said I, "I have indeed
transgressed the bounds allotted to me. I will not do so again; you
have doubtless many friends; let some of them advise you."

She turned upon me all fire. "The friends you speak of are
flatterers. You alone have the courage to command me to do what is

"Excuse me, I do not command; I only entreat."

She made no reply, but began pacing the room, her eyes fixed, her
hands working convulsively. "You little know what you ask," said she.
"I feel as though the very atmosphere of that house would destroy me;
but--why cannot Eleanore come here?" she impulsively inquired. "I
know Mrs. Gilbert will be quite willing, and I could keep to my room, and
we need not meet."

"You forget that there is another call at home, besides the one I
have already mentioned. To-morrow afternoon your uncle is to be buried."

"O yes; poor, poor uncle!"

"You are the head of the household," I now ventured, "and the
proper one to attend to the final offices towards one who has done so
much for you."

There was something strange in the look which she gave me. "It is
true," she assented. Then, with a grand turn of her body, and a quick
air of determination: "I am desirous of being worthy of your good
opinion. I will go back to my cousin, Mr. Raymond."

I felt my spirits rise a little; I took her by the hand. "May
that cousin have no need of the comfort which I am now sure you will be
ready to give her."

Her hand dropped from mine. "I mean to do my duty," was her cold

As I descended the stoop, I met a certain thin and fashionably
dressed young man, who gave me a very sharp look as he passed. As he
wore his clothes a little too conspicuously for the perfect gentleman,
and as I had some remembrance of having seen him at the inquest, I set
him down for a man in Mr. Gryce's employ, and hasted on towards the
avenue; when what was my surprise to find on the corner another
person, who, while pretending to be on the look out for a car, cast
upon me, as I approached, a furtive glance of intense inquiry. As this
latter was, without question, a gentleman, I felt some annoyance, and,
walking quietly up to him, asked if he found my countenance familiar,
that he scrutinized it so closely.

"I find it a very agreeable one," was his unexpected reply, as he
turned from me and walked down the avenue.

Nettled, and in no small degree mortified, at the disadvantage in
which his courtesy had placed me, I stood watching him as he
disappeared, asking myself who and what he was. For he was not only a
gentleman, but a marked one; possessing features of unusual symmetry as
well as a form of peculiar elegance. Not so very young--he might well
be forty--there were yet evident on his face the impress of youth's
strongest emotions, not a curve of his chin nor a glance of his eye
betraying in any way the slightest leaning towards _ennui,_ though
face and figure were of that type which seems most to invite and
cherish it.

"He can have no connection with the police force," thought I; "nor
is it by any means certain that he knows me, or is interested in my
affairs; but I shall not soon forget him, for all that."

The summons from Eleanore Leavenworth came about eight o'clock in
the evening. It was brought by Thomas, and read as follows:

"Come, Oh, come! I--" there breaking off in a tremble, as if the
pen had fallen from a nerveless hand.

It did not take me long to find my way to her home.


    "Constant you are-- . . . And for secrecy No lady closer."
        Henry IV.

    "No, 't is slander,
    Whose edge is sharper than the sword whose tongue
    Outvenoms all the worms of Nile."


THE door was opened by Molly. "You will find Miss Eleanore in the
drawing room, sir," she said, ushering me in.

Fearing I knew not what, I hurried to the room thus indicated,
feeling as never before the sumptuousness of the magnificent hall with
its antique flooring, carved woods, and bronze ornamentations:--the
mockery of _things_ for the first time forcing itself upon me.
Laying my hand on the drawing-room door, I listened. All was silent.
Slowly pulling it open, I lifted the heavy satin curtains hanging
before me to the floor, and looked within. What a picture met my eyes!

Sitting in the light of a solitary gas jet, whose faint glimmering
just served to make visible the glancing satin and stainless marble of
the gorgeous apartment, I beheld Eleanore Leavenworth. Pale as the
sculptured image of the Psyche that towered above her from the mellow
dusk of the bow-window near which she sat, beautiful as it, and almost
as immobile, she crouched with rigid hands frozen in forgotten entreaty
before her, apparently insensible to sound, movement, or touch; a
silent figure of despair in presence of an implacable fate.

Impressed by the scene, I stood with my hand upon the curtain,
hesitating if to advance or retreat, when suddenly a sharp tremble
shook her impassive frame, the rigid hands unlocked, the stony eyes
softened, and, springing to her feet, she uttered a cry of
satisfaction, and advanced towards me.

"Miss Leavenworth!" I exclaimed, starting at the sound of my own

She paused, and pressed her hands to her face, as if the world and
all she had forgotten had rushed back upon her at this simple utterance
of her name.

"What is it?" I asked.

Her hands fell heavily. "Do you not know? They--they are beginning
to say that I--" she paused, and clutched her throat. "Read!" she
gasped, pointing to a newspaper lying on the floor at her feet.

I stooped and lifted what showed itself at first glance to be the _
Evening Telegram._ It needed but a single look to inform me to what
she referred. There, in startling characters, I beheld:






I was prepared for it; had schooled myself for this very thing, you
might say; and yet I could not help recoiling. Dropping the paper from
my hand, I stood before her, longing and yet dreading to look into her

"What does it mean?" she panted; "what, what does it mean? Is the
world mad?" and her eyes, fixed and glassy, stared into mine as if she
found it impossible to grasp the sense of this outrage.

I shook my head. I could not reply.

"To accuse _me"_ she murmured; "me, me!" striking her breast
with her clenched hand, "who loved the very ground he trod upon; who
would have cast my own body between him and the deadly bullet if I had
only known his danger. "Oh!" she cried, "it is not a slander they
utter, but a dagger which they thrust into my heart!"

Overcome by her misery, but determined not to show my compassion
until more thoroughly convinced of her complete innocence, I replied,
after a pause:

"This seems to strike you with great surprise, Miss Leavenworth;
were you not then able to foresee what must follow your determined
reticence upon certain points? Did you know so little of human nature
as to imagine that, situated as you are, you could keep silence in
regard to any matter connected with this crime, without arousing the
antagonism of the crowd, to say nothing of the suspicions of the police?"


I hurriedly waved my hand. "When you defied the coroner to find
any suspicious paper in your possession; when"--I forced myself to
speak--"you refused to tell Mr. Gryce how you came in possession of
the key--"

She drew hastily back, a heavy pall seeming to fall over her with my

"Don't," she whispered, looking in terror about her. "Don't!
Sometimes I think the walls have ears, and that the very shadows

"Ah," I returned; "then you hope to keep from the world what is
known to the detectives?"

She did not answer.

"Miss Leavenworth," I went on, "I am afraid you do not
comprehend your position. Try to look at the case for a moment in the
light of an unprejudiced person; try to see for yourself the necessity
of explaining----"

"But I cannot explain," she murmured huskily.


I do not know whether it was the tone of my voice or the word
itself, but that simple expression seemed to affect her like a blow.

"Oh!" she cried, shrinking back: "you do not, cannot doubt me,
too? I thought that you--" and stopped. "I did not dream that I--"
and stopped again. Suddenly her whole form quivered. "Oh, I see! You
have mistrusted me from the first; the appearances against me have been
too strong"; and she sank inert, lost in the depths of her shame and
humiliation. "Ah, but now I am forsaken!" she murmured.

The appeal went to my heart. Starting forward, I exclaimed: "Miss
Leavenworth, I am but a man; I cannot see you so distressed. Say that
you are innocent, and I will believe you, without regard to

Springing erect, she towered upon me. "Can any one look in my face
and accuse me of guilt?" Then, as I sadly shook my head, she
hurriedly gasped: "You want further proof!" and, quivering with an
extraordinary emotion, she sprang to the door.

"Come, then," she cried, "come!" her eyes flashing full of
resolve upon me.

Aroused, appalled, moved in spite of myself, I crossed the room to
where she stood; but she was already in the hall. Hastening after her,
filled with a fear I dared not express, I stood at the foot of the
stairs; she was half-way to the top. Following her into the hall'
above, I saw her form standing erect and noble at the door of her
uncle's bedroom.

"Come!" she again cried, but this time in a calm and reverential
tone; and flinging the door open before her, she passed in.

Subduing the wonder which I felt, I slowly followed her. There was
no light in the room of death, but the flame of the gas-burner, at the
far end of the hall, shone weirdly in, and by its glimmering I beheld
her kneeling at the shrouded bed, her head bowed above that of the
murdered man, her hand upon his breast.

"You have said that if I declared my innocence you would believe
me," she exclaimed, lifting her head as I entered. "See here," and
laying her cheek against the pallid brow of her dead benefactor, she
kissed the clay-cold lips softly, wildly, agonizedly, then, leaping to
her feet, cried, in a subdued but thrilling tone: "Could I do that if
I were guilty? Would not the breath freeze on my lips, the blood
congeal in my veins, and my heart faint at this contact? Son of a
father loved and reverenced, can you believe me to be a woman stained
with crime when I can do this?" and kneeling again she cast her arms
over and about that inanimate form, looking in my face at the same time
with an expression no mortal touch could paint, nor tongue describe.

"In olden times," she went on, "they used to say that a dead body
would bleed if its murderer came in contact with it. What then would
happen here if I, his daughter, his cherished child, loaded with
benefits, enriched with his jewels, warm with his kisses, should be the
thing they accuse me of? Would not the body of the outraged dead burst
its very shroud and repel me?"

I could not answer; in the presence of some scenes the tongue
forgets its functions.

"Oh!" she went on, "if there is a God in heaven who loves
justice and hates a crime, let Him hear me now. If I, by thought or
action, with or without intention, have been the means of bringing this
dear head to this pass; if so much as the shadow of guilt, let alone
the substance, lies upon my heart and across these feeble woman's
hands, may His wrath speak in righteous retribution to the world, and
here, upon the breast of the dead, let this guilty forehead fall, never
to rise again!"

An awed silence followed this invocation; then a long, long sigh of
utter relief rose tremulously from my breast, and all the feelings
hitherto suppressed in my heart burst their bonds, and leaning towards
her I took her hand in mine.

"You do not, cannot believe me tainted by crime now?" she
whispered, the smile which does not stir the lips, but rather emanates
from the countenance, like the flowering of an inner peace, breaking
softly out on cheek and brow.

"Crime!" The word broke uncontrollably from my lips; "crime!"

"No," she said calmly, "the man does not live who could accuse me
of crime, _here"_

For reply, I took her hand, which lay in mine, and placed it on the
breast of the dead.

Softly, slowly, gratefully, she bowed her head.

"Now let the struggle come!" she whispered. "There is one who
will believe in me, however dark appearances may be."


    "But who would force the soul, tilts with a straw
     Against a champion cased in adamant."

WHEN we re-entered the parlor below, the first sight that met our
eyes was Mary, standing wrapped in her long cloak in the centre of the
room. She had arrived during our absence, and now awaited us with
lifted head and countenance fixed in its proudest expression. looking
in her face, I realized what the embarrassment of this meeting must be
to these women, and would have retreated, but something in the attitude
of Mary Leavenworth seemed to forbid my doing so. At the same time,
determined that the opportunity should not pass without some sort of
reconcilement between them, I stepped forward, and, bowing to Mary,

"Your cousin has just succeeded in convincing me of her entire
innocence, Miss Leavenworth. I am now ready to join Mr. Gryce, heart
and soul, in finding out the true culprit."

"I should have thought one look into Eleanore Leavenworth's face
would have been enough to satisfy you that she is incapable of crime,"
was her unexpected answer; and, lifting her head with a proud gesture,
Mary Leavenworth fixed her eyes steadfastly on mine.

I felt the blood flash to my brow, but before I could speak, her
voice rose again still more coldly than before.

"It is hard for a delicate girl, unused to aught but the most
flattering expressions of regard, to be obliged to assure the world of
her innocence in respect to the committal of a great crime. Eleanore
has my sympathy." And sweeping her cloak from her shoulders with a
quick gesture, she turned her gaze for the first time upon her cousin.

Instantly Eleanore advanced, as if to meet it; and I could not but
feel that, for some reason, this moment possessed an importance for
them which I was scarcely competent to measure. But if I found myself
unable to realize its significance, I at least responded to its
intensity. And indeed it was an occasion to remember. To behold two
such women, either of whom might be considered the model of her time,
face to face and drawn up in evident antagonism, was a sight to move
the dullest sensibilities. But there was something more in this scene
than that. It was the shock of all the most passionate emotions of the
human soul; the meeting of waters of whose depth and force I could only
guess by the effect. Eleanore was the first to recover. Drawing back
with the cold haughtiness which, alas, I had almost forgotten in the
display of later and softer emotions, she exclaimed:

"There is something better than sympathy, and that is justice";
and turned, as if to go. "I will confer with you in the reception room,
Mr. Raymond."

But Mary, springing forward, caught her back with one powerful hand.
"No," she cried, "you shall confer with _me!_ I have something to
say to you, Eleanore Leavenworth." And, taking her stand in the centre
of the room, she waited.

I glanced at Eleanore, saw this was no place for me, and hastily
withdrew. For ten long minutes I paced the floor of the reception room,
a prey to a thousand doubts and conjectures. What was the secret of
this home? What had given rise to the deadly mistrust continually
manifested between these cousins, fitted by nature for the completest
companionship and the most cordial friendship? It was not a thing of
to-day or yesterday. No sudden flame could awake such concentrated heat
of emotion as that of which I had just been the unwilling witness. One
must go farther back than this murder to find the root of a mistrust so
great that the struggle it caused made itself felt even where I stood,
though nothing but the faintest murmur came to my ears through the
closed doors.

Presently the drawing-room curtain was raised, and Mary's voice was
heard in distinct articulation.

"The same roof can never shelter us both after this. To-morrow,
you or I find another home." And, blushing and panting, she stepped
into the hall and advanced to where I stood. But at the first sight of
my face, a change came over her; all her pride seemed to dissolve,
and, flinging out her hands, as if to ward off scrutiny, she fled from
my side, and rushed weeping upstairs.

I was yet laboring under the oppression caused by this painful
termination of the strange scene when the parlor curtain was again
lifted, and Eleanore entered the room where I was. Pale but calm,
showing no evidences of the struggle she had just been through, unless
by a little extra weariness about the eyes, she sat down by my side,
and, meeting my gaze with one unfathomable in its courage, said after a
pause: "Tell me where I stand; let me know the worst at once; I
fear that I have not indeed comprehended my own position."

Rejoiced to hear this acknowledgment from her lips, I hastened to
comply. I began by placing before her the whole case as it appeared to
an unprejudiced person; enlarged upon the causes of suspicion, and
pointed out in what regard some things looked dark against her, which
perhaps to her own mind were easily explainable and of small account;
tried to make her see the importance of her decision, and finally wound
up with an appeal. Would she not confide in me?

"But I thought you were satisfied?" she tremblingly remarked.

"And so I am; but I want the world to be so, too."

"Ah; now you ask too much! The finger of suspicion never forgets
the way it has once pointed," she sadly answered. "My name is tainted

"And you will submit to this, when a word--"

"I am thinking that any word of mine now would make very little
difference," she murmured.

I looked away, the vision of Mr. Fobbs, in hiding behind the
curtains of the opposite house, recurring painfully to my mind.

"If the affair looks as bad as you say it does," she pursued, "it
is scarcely probable that Mr. Gryce will care much for any
interpretation of mine in regard to the matter."

"Mr. Gryce would be glad to know where you procured that key, if
only to assist him in turning his inquiries in the right direction."

She did not reply, and my spirits sank in renewed depression.

"It is worth your while to satisfy him," I pursued; "and though
it may compromise some one you desire to shield----"

She rose impetuously. "I shall never divulge to any one how I came
in possession of that key." And sitting again, she locked her hands in
fixed resolve before her.

I rose in my turn and paced the floor, the fang of an unreasoning
jealousy striking deep into my heart.

"Mr. Raymond, if the worst should come, and all who love me should
plead on bended knees for me to tell, I will never do it."

"Then," said I, determined not to disclose my secret thought, but
equally resolved to find out if possible her motive for this silence,
"you desire to defeat the cause of justice."

She neither spoke nor moved.

"Miss Leavenworth," I now said, "this determined shielding of
another at the expense of your own good name is no doubt generous of
you; but your friends and the lovers of truth and justice cannot accept
such a sacrifice."

She started haughtily. "Sir!" she said.

"If you will not assist us," I went on calmly, but determinedly,
"we must do without your aid. After the scene I have just witnessed
above; after the triumphant conviction which you have forced upon me,
not only of your innocence, but your horror of the crime and its
consequences, I should feel myself less than a man if I did not
sacrifice even your own good opinion, in urging your cause, and
clearing your character from this foul aspersion."

Again that heavy silence.

"What do you propose to do?" she asked, at last.

Crossing the room, I stood before her. "I propose to relieve you
utterly and forever from suspicion, by finding out and revealing to the
world the true culprit."

I expected to see her recoil, so positive had I become by this time
as to who that culprit was. But instead of that, she merely folded her
hands still more tightly and exclaimed:

"I doubt if you will be able to do that, Mr. Raymond."

"Doubt if I will be able to put my finger upon the guilty man, or
doubt if I will be able to bring him to justice?"

"I doubt," she said with strong effort, "if any one ever knows who
is the guilty person in this case."

"There is one who knows," I said with a desire to test her.


"The girl Hannah is acquainted with the mystery of that night's
evil doings, Miss Leavenworth. Find Hannah, and we find one who can
point out to us the assassin of your uncle."

"That is mere supposition," she said; but I saw the blow had told.

"Your cousin has offered a large reward for the girl, and the whole
country is on the lookout. Within a week we shall see her in our midst."

A change took place in her expression and bearing.

"The girl cannot help me," she said.

Baffled by her manner, I drew back. "Is there anything or anybody
that can?"

She slowly looked away.

"Miss Leavenworth," I continued with renewed earnestness, "you
have no brother to plead with you, you have no mother to guide you; let
me then entreat, in default of nearer and dearer friends, that you will
rely sufficiently upon me to tell me one thing."

"What is it?" she asked.

"Whether you took the paper imputed to you from the library table?"

She did not instantly respond, but sat looking earnestly before her
with an intentness which seemed to argue that she was weighing the
question as well as her reply. Finally, turning towards me, she said:

"In answering you, I speak in confidence. Mr. Raymond, I did."

Crushing back the sigh of despair that arose to my lips, I went on.

"I will not inquire what the paper was,"--she waved her hand
deprecatingly,--"but this much more you will tell me. Is that paper
still in existence?"

She looked me steadily in the face.

"It is not."

I could with difficulty forbear showing my disappointment. "Miss
Leavenworth," I now said, "it may seem cruel for me to press you at
this time; nothing less than my strong realization of the peril in
which you stand would induce me to run the risk of incurring your
displeasure by asking what under other circumstances would seem puerile
and insulting questions. You have told me one thing which I strongly
desired to know; will you also inform me what it was you heard that
night while sitting in your room, between the time of Mr. Harwell's
going upstairs and the closing of the library door, of which you made
mention at the inquest?"

I had pushed my inquiries too far, and I saw it immediately.

"Mr. Raymond," she returned, "influenced by my desire not to
appear utterly ungrateful to you, I have been led to reply in
confidence to one of your urgent appeals; but I can go no further. Do
not ask me to."

Stricken to the heart by her look of reproach, I answered with some
sadness that her wishes should be respected. "Not but what I intend to
make every effort in my power to discover the true author of this
crime. That is a sacred duty which I feel myself called upon to perform;
but I will ask you no more questions, nor distress you with further
appeals. What is done shall be done without your assistance, and with
no other hope than that in the event of my success you will acknowledge
my motives to have been pure and my action disinterested."

"I am ready to acknowledge that now," she began, but paused and
looked with almost agonized entreaty in my face. "Mr. Raymond, cannot
you leave things as they are? Won't you? I don't ask for assistance,
nor do I want it; I would rather----"

But I would not listen. "Guilt has no right to profit by the
generosity of the guiltless. The hand that struck this blow shall not
be accountable for the loss of a noble woman's honor and happiness as

"I shall do what I can, Miss Leavenworth."

As I walked down the avenue that night, feeling like an adventurous
traveller that in a moment of desperation has set his foot upon a plank
stretching in narrow perspective over a chasm of immeasurable depth,
this problem evolved itself from the shadows before me: How, with no
other clue than the persuasion that Eleanore Leavenworth was engaged in
shielding another at the expense of her own good name, I was to combat
the prejudices of Mr. Gryce, find out the real assassin of Mr.
Leavenworth, and free an innocent woman from the suspicion that had,
not without some show of reason, fallen upon her?



    "Nay, but hear me."
        Measure for Measure.

THAT the guilty person for whom Eleanore Leavenworth stood ready to
sacrifice herself was one for whom she had formerly cherished
affection, I could no longer doubt; love, or the strong sense of duty
growing out of love, being alone sufficient to account for such
determined action. Obnoxious as it was to all my prejudices, one name
alone, that of the commonplace secretary, with his sudden heats and
changeful manners, his odd ways and studied self-possession, would
recur to my mind whenever I asked myself who this person could be.

Not that, without the light which had been thrown upon the affair by
Eleanore's strange behavior, I should have selected this man as one in
any way open to suspicion; the peculiarity of his manner at the inquest
not being marked enough to counteract the improbability of one in his
relations to the deceased finding sufficient motive for a crime so
manifestly without favorable results to himself. But if love had
entered as a factor into the affair, what might not be expected? James
Harwell, simple amanuensis to a retired tea-merchant, was one man;
James Harwell, swayed by passion for a woman beautiful as Eleanore
Leavenworth, was another; and in placing him upon the list of those
parties open to suspicion I felt I was only doing what was warranted by
a proper consideration of probabilities.

But, between casual suspicion and actual proof, what a gulf! To
believe James Harwell capable of guilt, and to find evidence enough to
accuse him of it, were two very different things. I felt myself
instinctively shrink from the task, before I had fully made up my mind
to attempt it; some relenting thought of his unhappy position, if
innocent, forcing itself upon me, and making my very distrust of him
seem personally ungenerous if not absolutely unjust. If I had liked the
man better, I should not have been so ready to look upon him with doubt.

But Eleanore must be saved at all hazards. Once delivered up to the
blight of suspicion, who could tell what the result might be? the
arrest of her person perhaps,--a thing which, once accomplished, would
cast a shadow over her young life that it would take more than time to
dispel. The accusation of an impecunious secretary would be less
horrible than this. I determined to make an early call upon Mr. Gryce.

Meanwhile the contrasted pictures of Eleanore standing with her hand
upon the breast of the dead, her face upraised and mirroring a glory I
could not recall without emotion; and Mary, fleeing a short half-hour
later indignantly from her presence, haunted me and kept me awake long
after midnight. It was like a double vision of light and darkness that,
while contrasting, neither assimilated nor harmonized. I could not flee
from it. Do what I would, the two pictures followed me, filling my soul
with alternate hope and distrust, till I knew not whether to place my
hand with Eleanore on the breast of the dead, and swear implicit faith
in her truth and purity, or to turn my face like Mary, and fly from
what I could neither comprehend nor reconcile.

Expectant of difficulty, I started next morning upon my search for
Mr. Gryce, with strong determination not to allow myself to become
flurried by disappointment nor discouraged by premature failure. My
business was to save Eleanore Leavenworth; and to do that, it was
necessary for me to preserve, not only my equanimity, but my
self-possession. The worst fear I anticipated was that matters would
reach a crisis before I could acquire the right, or obtain the
opportunity, to interfere. However, the fact of Mr. Leavenworth's
funeral being announced for that day gave me some comfort in that
direction; my knowledge of Mr. Gryce being sufficient, as I thought,
to warrant me in believing he would wait till after that ceremony
before proceeding to extreme measures.

I do not know that I had any vary definite ideas of what a
detective's home should be; but when I stood before the neat
three-story brick house to which I had been directed, I could not but
acknowledge there was something in the aspect of its half-open
shutters, over closely drawn curtains of spotless purity, highly
suggestive of the character of its inmate.

A pale-looking youth, with vivid locks of red hair hanging straight
down over either ear, answered my rather nervous ring. To my inquiry as
to whether Mr. Gryce was in, he gave a kind of snort which might have
meant no, but which I took to mean yes.

"My name is Raymond, and I wish to see him."

He gave me one glance that took in every detail of my person and
apparel, and pointed to a door at the head of the stairs. Not waiting
for further directions, I hastened up, knocked at the door he had
designated, and went in. The broad back of Mr. Gryce, stooping above a
desk that might have come over in the _Mayflower,_ confronted me.

"Well!" he exclaimed; "this is an honor." And rising, he
opened with a squeak and shut with a bang the door of an enormous stove
that occupied the centre of the room. "Rather chilly day, eh?"

"Yes," I returned, eying him closely to see if he was in a
communicative mood. "But I have had but little time to consider the
state of the weather. My anxiety in regard to this murder----"

"To be sure," he interrupted, fixing his eyes upon the poker,
though not with any hostile intention, I am sure." A puzzling piece of
business enough. But perhaps it is an open book to you. I see you have
something to communicate."

"I have, though I doubt if it is of the nature you expect. Mr.
Gryce, since I saw you last, my convictions upon a certain point have
been strengthened into an absolute belief. The object of your
suspicious is an innocent woman."

If I had expected him to betray any surprise at this, I was destined
to be disappointed." That is a very pleasing belief," he observed.
"I honor you for entertaining it, Mr. Raymond."

I suppressed a movement of anger. "So thoroughly is it mine," I
went on, in the determination to arouse him in some way, "that I have
come here to-day to ask you in the name of justice and common humanity
to suspend action in that direction till we can convince ourselves
there is no truer scent to go upon."

But there was no more show of curiosity than before. "Indeed!" he
cried; "that is a singular request to come from a man like you."

I was not to be discomposed, "Mr. Gryce," I went on, "a woman's
name, once tarnished, remains so forever. Eleanore Leavenworth has too
many noble traits to be thoughtlessly dealt with in so momentous a
crisis. If you will give me your attention, I promise you shall not
regret it."

He smiled, and allowed his eyes to roam from the poker to the arm of
my chair. "Very well," he remarked; "I hear you; say on."

I drew my notes from my pocket-book, and laid them on the table.

"What! memoranda?" he exclaimed. "Unsafe, very; never put your
plans on paper."

Taking no heed of the interruption, I went on.

"Mr. Gryce, I have had fuller opportunities than yourself for
studying this woman. I have seen her in a position which no guilty
person could occupy, and I am assured, beyond all doubt, that not only
her hands, but her heart, are pure from this crime. She may have some
knowledge of its secrets; that I do not presume to deny. The key seen
in her possession would refute me if I did. But what if she has? You
can never wish to see so lovely a being brought to shame for
withholding information which she evidently considers it her duty to
keep back, when by a little patient finesse we may succeed in our
purposes without it."

"But," interposed the detective, "say this is so; how are we to
arrive at the knowledge we want without following out the only clue
which has yet been given us?"

"You will never reach it by following out any clue given you by
Eleanore Leavenworth."

His eyebrows lifted expressively, but he said nothing.

"Miss Eleanore Leavenworth has been used by some one acquainted
with her firmness, generosity, and perhaps love. Let us discover who
possesses sufficient power over her to control her to this extent, and
we find the man we seek."

"Humph!" came from Mr. Gryce's compressed lips, and no more.

Determined that he should speak, I waited.

"You have, then, some one in your mind "; he remarked at last,
almost flippantly.

"I mention no names," I returned. "All I want is further time."

"You are, then, intending to make a personal business of this

"I am."

He gave a long, low whistle. "May I ask," he inquired at length,
"whether you expect to work entirely by yourself; or whether, if a
suitable coadjutor were provided, you would disdain his assistance and
slight his advice?"

"I desire nothing more than to have you for my colleague."

The smile upon his face deepened ironically. "You must feel very
sure of yourself!" said he.

"I am very sure of Miss Leavenworth."

The reply seemed to please him. "Let us hear what you propose

I did not immediately answer. The truth was, I had formed no plans.

"It seems to me," he continued, "that you have undertaken a rather
difficult task for an amateur. Better leave it to me, Mr. Raymond;
better leave it to me."

"I am sure," I returned, "that nothing would please me better----"

"Not," he interrupted, "but that a word from you now and then
would be welcome. I am not an egotist. I am open to suggestions: as,
for instance, now, if you could conveniently inform me of all you have
yourself seen and heard in regard to this matter, I should be most
happy to listen."

Relieved to find him so amenable, I asked myself what I really had
to tell; not so much that he would consider vital. However, it would
not do to hesitate now.

"Mr. Gryce," said I, "I have but few facts to add to those already
known to you. Indeed, I am more moved by convictions than facts. That
Eleanore Leavenworth never committed this crime, I am assured. That, on
the other hand, the real perpetrator is known to her, I am equally
certain; and that for some reason she considers it a sacred duty to
shield the assassin, even at the risk of her own safety, follows as a
matter of course from the facts. Now, with such data, it cannot be a
very difficult task for you or me to work out satisfactorily, to our
own minds at least, who this person can be. A little more knowledge of
the family--"

"You know nothing of its secret history, then?"


"Do not even know whether either of these girls is engaged to be

"I do not," I returned, wincing at this direct expression of my own

He remained a moment silent. "Mr. Raymond," he cried at last,
"have you any idea of the disadvantages under which a detective labors?
For instance, now, you imagine I can insinuate myself into all sorts of
society, perhaps; but you are mistaken. Strange as it may appear, I
have never by any possibility of means succeeded with one class of
persons at all. I cannot pass myself off for a gentleman. Tailors and
barbers are no good; I am always found out."

He looked so dejected I could scarcely forbear smiling,
notwithstanding my secret care and anxiety.

"I have even employed a French valet, who understood dancing and
whiskers; but it was all of no avail. The first gentleman I approached
stared at me,--real gentleman, I mean, none of your American
dandies,--and I had no stare to return; I had forgotten that
emergency in my confabs with Pierre Catnille Marie Make-face."

Amused, but a little discomposed by this sudden turn in the
conversation, I looked at Mr. Gryce inquiringly.

"Now you, I dare say, have no trouble? Was born one, perhaps. Can
even ask a lady to dance without blushing, eh?"

"Well,--" I commenced.

"Just so," he replied; "now, I can't. I can enter a house, bow to
the mistress of it, let her be as elegant as she will, so long as I
have a writ of arrest in my hand, or some such professional matter upon
my mind; but when it comes to visiting in kid gloves, raising a glass
of champagne in response to a toast--and such like, I am absolutely
good for nothing." And he plunged his two hands into his hair, and
looked dolefully at the head of the cane I carried in my hand. "But
it is much the same with the whole of us. When we are in want of a
gentleman to work for us, we have to go outside of our profession."

I began to see what he was driving at; but held my peace, vaguely
conscious I was likely to prove a necessity to him, after all.

"Mr. Raymond," he now said, almost abruptly; "do you know a
gentleman by the name of Clavering residing at present at the Hoffman

"Not that I am aware of."

"He is very polished in his manners; would you mind making his

I followed Mr. Gryce's example, and stared at the chimney-piece. "I
cannot answer till I understand matters a little better," I returned at

"There is not much to understand. Mr. Henry Clavering, a gentleman
and a man of the world, resides at the Hoffman House. He is a stranger
in town, without being strange; drives, walks, smokes, but never
visits; looks at the ladies, but is never seen to bow to one. In
short, a person whom it is desirable to know; but whom, being a proud
man, with something of the old-world prejudice against Yankee freedom
and forwardness, I could no more approach in the way of acquaintance
than I could the Emperor of Austria."

"And you wish----"

"He would make a very agreeable companion for a rising young lawyer
of good family and undoubted respectability. I have no doubt, if you
undertook to cultivate him, you would find him well worth the trouble."


"Might even desire to take him into familiar relations; to confide
in him, and----"

"Mr. Gryce," I hastily interrupted; "I can never consent to plot
for any man's friendship for the sake of betraying him to the police."

"It is essential to your plans to make the acquaintance of Mr.
Clavering," he dryly replied.

"Oh!" I returned, a light breaking in upon me; "he has some
connection with this case, then?"

Mr. Gryce smoothed his coat-sleeve thoughtfully. "I don't know as
it will be necessary for you to betray him. You wouldn't object to
being introduced to him?"


"Nor, if you found him pleasant, to converse with him?"


"Not even if, in the course of conversation, you should come across
something that might serve as a clue in your efforts to save Eleanore

The no I uttered this time was less assured; the part of a spy was
the very last one I desired to play in the coming drama.

"Well, then," he went on, ignoring the doubtful tone in which my
assent had been given, "I advise you to immediately take up your
quarters at the Hoffman House."

"I doubt if that would do," I said. "If I am not mistaken, I
have already seen this gentleman, and spoken to him."


"Describe him first."

"Well, he is tall, finely formed, of very upright carriage, with a
handsome dark face, brown hair streaked with gray, a piercing eye, and
a smooth address. A very imposing personage, I assure you."

"I have reason to think I have seen him," I returned; and in a few
words told him when and where.

"Humph!" said he at the conclusion; "he is evidently as much
interested in you as we are in him.

"How's that? I think I see," he added, after a moment's thought.
"Pity you spoke to him; may have created an unfavorable impression; and
everything depends upon your meeting without any distrust."

He rose and paced the floor.

"Well, we must move slowly, that is all. Give him a chance to see
you in other and better lights. Drop into the Hoffman House
reading room. Talk with the best men you meet while there; but not too
much, or too indiscriminately. Mr. Clavering is fastidious, and will
not feel honored by the attentions of one who is hail-fellow-well-met
with everybody. Show yourself for what you are, and leave all advances
to him; he'll make them."

"Supposing we are under a mistake, and the man I met on the corner
of Thirty-seventh Street was not Mr. Clavering?"

"I should be greatly surprised, that's all."

Not knowing what further objection to make, I remained silent.

"And this head of mine would have to put on its thinking-cap," he
pursued jovially.

"Mr. Gryce," I now said, anxious to show that all this talk about
an unknown party had not served to put my own plans from my mind,
"there is one person of whom we have not spoken."

"No?" he exclaimed softly, wheeling around until his broad back
confronted me. "And who may that be?"

"Why, who but Mr.--" I could get no further. What right had I to
mention any man's name in this connection, without possessing
sufficient evidence against him to make such mention justifiable? "I
beg your pardon," said I; "but I think I will hold to my first
impulse, and speak no names."

"Harwell?" he ejaculated easily.

The quick blush rising to my face gave an involuntary assent.

"I see no reason why we shouldn't speak of him," he went on; "that
is, if there is anything to be gained by it."

"His testimony at the inquest was honest, you think?"

"It has not been disproved."

"He is a peculiar man."

"And so am I."

I felt myself slightly nonplussed; and, conscious of appearing at a
disadvantage, lifted my hat from the table and prepared to take my
leave; but, suddenly thinking of Hannah, turned and asked if there was
any news of her.

He seemed to debate with himself, hesitating so long that I began to
doubt if this man intended to confide in me, after all, when suddenly
he brought his two hands down before him and exclaimed vehemently:

"The evil one himself is in this business! If the earth had opened
and swallowed up this girl, she couldn't have more effectually

I experienced a sinking of the heart. Eleanore had said: "Hannah
can do nothing for me." Could it be that the girl was indeed gone, and

"I have innumerable agents at work, to say nothing of the general
public; and yet not so much as a whisper has come to me in regard to
her whereabouts or situation. I am only afraid we shall find her
floating in the river some fine morning, without a confession in her

"Everything hangs upon that girl's testimony," I remarked.

He gave a short grunt. "What does Miss Leavenworth say about it?"

"That the girl cannot help her."

I thought he looked a trifle surprised at this, but he covered it
with a nod and an exclamation. "She must be found for all that," said
he, "and shall, if I have to send out Q."


"An agent of mine who is a living interrogation point; so we call
him _Q,_ which is short for query." Then, as I turned again to go:
"When the contents of the will are made known, come to me."

The will! I had forgotten the will.


    "It is not and it cannot come to good."

I ATTENDED the funeral of Mr. Leavenworth, but did not see the
ladies before or after the ceremony. I, however, had a few moments'
conversation with Mr. Harwell; which, without eliciting anything new,
provided me with food for abundant conjecture. For he had asked, almost
at first greeting, if I had seen the _Telegram_ of the night
before; and when I responded in the affirmative, turned such a look of
mingled distress and appeal upon me, I was tempted to ask how such a
frightful insinuation against a young lady of reputation and breeding
could ever have got into the papers. It was his reply that struck me.

"That the guilty party might be driven by remorse to own himself
the true culprit."

A curious remark to come from a person who had no knowledge or
suspicion of the criminal and his character; and I would have pushed
the conversation further, but the secretary, who was a man of few
words, drew off at this, and could be induced to say no more. Evidently
it was my business to cultivate Mr. Clavering, or any one else who
could throw any light upon the secret history of these girls.

That evening I received notice that Mr. Veeley had arrived home, but
was in no condition to consult with me upon so painful a subject as the
murder of Mr. Leavenworth. Also a line from Eleanore, giving me her
address, but requesting me at the same time not to call unless I had
something of importance to communicate, as she was too ill to receive
visitors. The little note affected me. Ill, alone, and in a strange
home,--'twas pitiful!

The next day, pursuant to the wishes of Mr. Gryce, in I stepped into
the Hoffman House, and took a seat in the reading room. I had been
there but a few moments when a gentleman entered whom I immediately
recognized as the same I had spoken to on the corner of Thirty-seventh
Street and Sixth Avenue. He must have remembered me also, for he seemed
to be slightly embarrassed at seeing me; but, recovering himself, took
up a paper and soon became to all appearance lost in its contents,
though I could feel his handsome black eye upon me, studying my
features, figure, apparel, and movements with a degree of interest
which equally astonished and disconcerted me. I felt that it would be
injudicious on my part to return his scrutiny, anxious as I was to meet
his eye and learn what emotion had so fired his curiosity in regard to
a perfect stranger; so I rose, and, crossing to an old friend of mine
who sat at a table opposite, commenced a desultory conversation, in the
course of which I took occasion to ask if he knew who the handsome
stranger was. Dick Furbish was a society man, and knew everybody.

"His name is Clavering, and he comes from London. I don't know
anything more about him, though he is to be seen everywhere except in
private houses. He has not been received into society yet; waiting for
litters of introduction, perhaps."

"A gentleman?"


"One you speak to?"

"Oh, yes; I talk to him, but the conversation is very one-sided."

I could not help smiling at the grimace with which Dick accompanied
this remark. "Which same goes to prove," he went on, "that he is the
real thing."

Laughing outright this time, I left him, and in a few minutes
sauntered from the room.

As I mingled again with the crowd on Broadway, I found myself
wondering immensely over this slight experience. That this unknown
gentleman from London, who went everywhere except into private houses,
could be in any way connected with the affair I had so at heart, seemed
not only improbable but absurd; and for the first time I felt tempted
to doubt the sagacity of Mr. Gryce in recommending him to my attention.

The next day I repeated the experiment, but with no greater success
than before. Mr. Clavering came into the room, but, seeing me, did not
remain. I began to realize it was no easy matter to make his
acquaintance. To atone for my disappointment, I called on Mary
Leavenworth in the evening. She received me with almost a sister-like

"Ah," she cried, after introducing me to an elderly lady at her
side,--some connection of the family, I believe, who had come to remain
with her for a while,--"you are here to tell me Hannah is found; is it
not so?"

I shook my head, sorry to disappoint her. "No," said I; "not yet."

"But Mr. Gryce was here to-day, and he told me he hoped she would
be heard from within twenty-four hours."

"Mr. Gryce here!"

"Yes; came to report how matters were progressing,--not that they seemed
to have advanced very far."

"You could hardly have expected that yet. You must not be so easily

"But I cannot help it; every day, every hour that passes in this
uncertainty, is like a mountain weight here"; and she laid one
trembling hand upon her bosom. "I would have the whole world at work.
I would leave no stone unturned; I----"

"What would you do?"

"Oh, I don't know," she cried, her whole manner suddenly changing;
"nothing, perhaps." Then, before I could reply to this: "Have you
seen Eleanore to-day?"

I answered in the negative.

She did not seem satisfied, but waited till her friend left the room
before saying more. Then, with an earnest look, inquired if I knew
whether Eleanore was well.

"I fear she is not," I returned.

"It is a great trial to me, Eleanore being away. Not," she resumed,
noting, perhaps, my incredulous look, "that I would have you think I
wish to disclaim my share in bringing about the present unhappy state
of things. I am willing to acknowledge I was the first to propose a
separation. But it is none the easier to bear on that account."

"It is not as hard for you as for her," said I.

"Not as hard? Why? because she is left comparatively poor, while
I am rich--is that what you would say? Ah," she went on, without
waiting for my answer, "would I could persuade Eleanore to share my
riches with me! Willingly would I bestow upon her the half I have
received; but I fear she could never be induced to accept so much as a
dollar from me."

"Under the circumstances it would be better for her not to."

"Just what I thought; yet it would ease me of a great weight if she
would. This fortune, suddenly thrown into my lap, sits like an incubus
upon me, Mr. Raymond. When the will was read to-day which makes me
possessor of so much wealth, I could not but feel that a heavy,
blinding pall had settled upon me, spotted with blood and woven of
horrors. Ah, how different from the feelings with which I have been
accustomed to anticipate this day! For, Mr. Raymond," she went on,
with a hurried gasp, "dreadful as it seems now, I have been reared to
look forward to this hour with pride, if not with actual longing. Money
has been made so much of in my small world. Not that I wish in this
evil time of retribution to lay blame upon any one; least of all upon
my uncle; but from the day, twelve years ago, when for the first time
he took us in his arms, and looking down upon our childish faces,
exclaimed: 'The light-haired one pleases me best; she shall be my
heiress,' I have been petted, cajoled, and spoiled; called little
princess, and uncle's darling, till it is only strange I retain in this
prejudiced breast any of the impulses of generous womanhood; yes,
though I was aware from the first that whim alone had raised this
distinction between myself and cousin; a distinction which superior
beauty, worth, or accomplishments could never have drawn; Eleanore
being more than my equal in all these things." Pausing, she choked back
the sudden sob that rose in her throat, with an effort at self-control
which was at once touching and admirable. Then, while my eyes stole to
her face, murmured in a low, appealing voice: "If I have faults, you
see there is some slight excuse for them; arrogance, vanity, and
selfishness being considered in the gay young heiress as no more than
so many assertions of a laudable dignity. Ah! ah," she bitterly
exclaimed "money alone has been the ruin of us all!" Then, with a
falling of her voice: "And now it has come to me with its heritage of
evil, and I--I would give it all for--But this is weakness! I have
no right to afflict you with my griefs. Pray forget all I have said,
Mr. Raymond, or regard my complaints as the utterances of an unhappy
girl loaded down with sorrows and oppressed by the weight of many
perplexities and terrors."

"But I do not wish to forget," I replied. "You have spoken some
good words, manifested much noble emotion. Your possessions cannot but
prove a blessing to you if you enter upon them with such feelings as

But, with a quick gesture, she ejaculated: "Impossible! they
cannot prove a blessing." Then, as if startled at her own words, bit
her lip and hastily added: "Very great wealth is never a blessing.

"And now," said she, with a total change of manner, "I wish to
address you on a subject which may strike you as ill-timed, but which,
nevertheless, I must mention, if the purpose I have at heart is ever to
be accomplished. My uncle, as you know, was engaged at the time of his
death in writing a book on Chinese customs and prejudices. It was a
work which he was anxious to see published, and naturally I desire to
carry out his wishes; but, in order to do so, I find it necessary not
only to interest myself in the matter now,--Mr. Harwell's services
being required, and it being my wish to dismiss that gentleman as soon
as possible--but to find some one competent to supervise its
completion. Now I have heard,--I have been told,--that you were the one
of all others to do this; and though it is difficult if not improper
for me to ask so great a favor of one who but a week ago was a perfect
stranger to me, it would afford me the keenest pleasure if you would
consent to look over this manuscript and tell me what remains to be

The timidity with which these words were uttered proved her to be in
earnest, and I could not but wonder at the strange coincidence of this
request with my secret wishes; it having been a question with me for
some time how I was to gain free access to this house without in any
way compromising either its inmates or myself. I did not know then that
Mr. Gryce had been the one to recommend me to her favor in this
respect. But, whatever satisfaction I may have experienced, I felt
myself in duty bound to plead my incompetence for a task so entirely
out of the line of my profession, and to suggest the employment of some
one better acquainted with such matters than myself. But she would not
listen to me.

"Mr. Harwell has notes and memoranda in plenty," she exclaimed,
"and can give you all the information necessary. You will have no
difficulty; indeed, you will not."

"But cannot Mr. Harwell himself do all that is requisite? He seems
to be a clever and diligent young man."

But she shook her head. "He thinks he can; but I know uncle never
trusted him with the composition of a single sentence."

"But perhaps he will not be pleased,--Mr. Harwell, I mean--with
the intrusion of a stranger into his work."

She opened her eyes with astonishment. "That makes no difference,"
she cried. "Mr. Harwell is in my pay, and has nothing to say about it.
But he will not object. I have already consulted him, and he expresses
himself as satisfied with the arrangement."

"Very well," said I; "then I will promise to consider the subject.
I can at any rate look over the manuscript and give you my opinion of
its condition."

"Oh, thank you," said she, with the prettiest gesture of
satisfaction. "How kind you are, and what can I ever do to repay you?
But would you like to see Mr. Harwell himself?" and she moved towards
the door; but suddenly paused, whispering, with a short shudder of
remembrance: "He is in the library; do you mind?"

Crushing down the sick qualm that arose at the mention of that spot,
I replied in the negative.

"The papers are all there, and he says he can work better in his
old place than anywhere else; but if you wish, I can call him down."

But I would not listen to this, and myself led the way to the foot
of the stairs.

"I have sometimes thought I would lock up that room," she hurriedly
observed; "but something restrains me. I can no more do so than I can
leave this house; a power beyond myself forces me to confront all its
horrors. And yet I suffer continually from terror. Sometimes, in the
darkness of the night--But I will not distress you. I have already
said too much; come," and with a sudden lift of the head she mounted
the stairs.

Mr. Harwell was seated, when we entered that fatal room, in the one
chair of all others I expected to see unoccupied; and as I beheld his
meagre figure bending where such a little while before his eyes had
encountered the outstretched form of his murdered employer, I could not
but marvel over the unimaginativeness of the man who, in the face of
such memories, could not only appropriate that very spot for his own
use, but pursue his avocations there with so much calmness and evident
precision. But in another moment I discovered that the disposition of
the light in the room made that one seat the only desirable one for his
purpose; and instantly my wonder changed to admiration at this quiet
surrender of personal feeling to the requirements of the occasion.

He looked up mechanically as we came in, but did not rise, his
countenance wearing the absorbed expression which bespeaks the
preoccupied mind.

"He is utterly oblivious," Mary whispered; "that is a way of his.
I doubt if he knows who or what it is that has disturbed him." And,
advancing into the room, she passed across his line of vision, as if to
call attention to herself, and said: "I have brought Mr. Raymond
upstairs to see you, Mr. Harwell. He has been so kind as to accede to
my wishes in regard to the completion of the manuscript now before you."

Slowly Mr. Harwell rose, wiped his pen, and put it away;
manifesting, however, a reluctance in doing so that proved this
interference to be in reality anything but agreeable to him. Observing
this, I did not wait for him to speak, but took up the pile of
manuscript, arranged in one mass on the table, saying:

"This seems to be very clearly written; if you will excuse me, I
will glance over it and thus learn something of its general character."

He bowed, uttered a word or so of acquiescence, then, as Mary left
the room, awkwardly reseated himself, and took up his pen.

Instantly the manuscript and all connected with it vanished from my
thoughts; and Eleanore, her situation, and the mystery surrounding this
family, returned upon me with renewed force. Looking the secretary
steadily in the face, I remarked:

"I am very glad of this opportunity of seeing you a moment alone,
Mr. Harwell, if only for the purpose of saying----"

"Anything in regard to the murder?"

"Yes," I began.

"Then you must pardon me," he respectfully but firmly replied. "It
is a disagreeable subject which I cannot bear to think of, much less

Disconcerted and, what was more, convinced of the impossibility of
obtaining any information from this man, I abandoned the attempt; and,
taking up the manuscript once more, endeavored to master in some small
degree the nature of its contents. Succeeding beyond my hopes, I opened
a short conversation with him in regard to it, and finally, coming to
the conclusion I could accomplish what Miss Leavenworth desired, left
him and descended again to the reception room.

When, an hour or so later, I withdrew from the house, it was with
the feeling that one obstacle had been removed from my path. If I
failed in what I had undertaken, it would not be from lack of
opportunity of studying the inmates of this dwelling.


    "Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to Heaven."
        All's Well that Ends Well.

THE next morning's _Tribune_ contained a synopsis of Mr.
Leavenworth's will. Its provisions were a surprise to me; for, while
the bulk of his immense estate was, according to the general
understanding, bequeathed to his niece, Mary, it appeared by a codicil,
attached to his will some five years before, that Eleanore was not
entirely forgotten, she having been made the recipient of a legacy
which, if not large, was at least sufficient to support her in comfort.
After listening to the various comments of my associates on the
subject, I proceeded to the house of Mr. Gryce, in obedience to his
request to call upon him as soon as possible after the publication of
the will.

"Good-morning," he remarked as I entered, but whether addressing me
or the frowning top of the desk before which he was sitting it would be
difficult to say. "Won't you sit?" nodding with a curious back
movement of his head towards a chair in his rear.

I drew up the chair to his side. "I am curious to know," I
remarked, "what you have to say about this will, and its probable
effect upon the matters we have in hand."

"What is your own idea in regard to it?"

"Well, I think upon the whole it will make but little difference in
public opinion. Those who thought Eleanore guilty before will feel that
they possess now greater cause than ever to doubt her innocence; while
those who have hitherto hesitated to suspect her will not consider that
the comparatively small amount bequeathed her would constitute an
adequate motive for so great a crime."

"You have heard men talk; what seems to be the general opinion
among those you converse with?"

"That the motive of the tragedy will be found in the partiality
shown in so singular a will, though how, they do not profess to know."

Mr. Gryce suddenly became interested in one of the small drawers
before him.

"And all this has not set you thinking?" said he.

"Thinking," returned I. "I don't know what you mean. I am sure I
have done nothing but think for the last three days. I----"

"Of course--of course," he cried. "I didn't mean to say
anything disagreeable. And so you have seen Mr. Clavering?"

"Just seen him; no more."

"And are you going to assist Mr. Harwell in finishing Mr. Leaven
worth's book?"

"How did you learn that?"

He only smiled.

"Yes," said I; "Miss Leavenworth has requested me to do her that
little favor."

"She is a queenly creature!" he exclaimed in a burst of
enthusiasm. Then, with an instant return to his business-like tone:
"You are going to have opportunities, Mr. Raymond. Now there are two
things I want you to find out; first, what is the connection between
these ladies and Mr. Clavering----"

"There is a connection, then?"

"Undoubtedly. And secondly, what is the cause of the unfriendly
feeling which evidently exists between the cousins."

I drew back and pondered the position offered me. A spy in a fair
woman's house! How could I reconcile it with my natural instincts as a

"Cannot you find some one better adapted to learn these secrets for
you?" I asked at length. "The part of a spy is anything but
agreeable to my feelings, I assure you."

Mr. Gryce's brows fell.

"I will assist Mr. Harwell in his efforts to arrange Mr. Leaven
worth's manuscript for the press," I said; "I will give Mr. Clavering
an opportunity to form my acquaintance; and I will listen, if Miss
Leavenworth chooses to make me her confidant in any way. But any
hearkening at doors, surprises, unworthy feints or ungentlemanly
subterfuges, I herewith disclaim as outside of my province; my task
being to find out what I can in an open way, and yours to search into
the nooks and corners of this wretched business."

"In other words, you are to play the hound, and I the mole; just
so, I know what belongs to a gentleman."

"And now," said I, "what news of Hannah?" He shook both hands
high in the air. "None."

I cannot say I was greatly surprised, that evening, when, upon
descending from an hour's labor with Mr. Harwell, I encountered Miss
Leavenworth standing at the foot of the stairs. There had been
something in her bearing, the night before, which prepared me for
another interview this evening, though her manner of commencing it was
a surprise. "Mr. Raymond," said she, with an air of marked
embarrassment, "I want to ask you a question. I believe you to be a
good man, and I know you will answer me conscientiously. As a brother
would," she added, lifting her eyes for a moment to my face. "I know
it will sound strange; but remember, I have no adviser but you, and I
must ask some one. Mr. Raymond, do you think a person could do
something that was very wrong, and yet grow to be thoroughly good

"Certainly," I replied; "if he were truly sorry for his fault."

"But say it was more than a fault; say it was an actual harm;
would not the memory of that one evil hour cast a lasting shadow over
one's life?"

"That depends upon the nature of the harm and its effect upon
others. If one had irreparably injured a fellow-being, it would be hard
for a person of sensitive nature to live a happy life afterwards;
though the fact of not living a happy life ought to be no reason why
one should not live a good life."

"But to live a good life would it be necessary to reveal the evil
you had done? Cannot one go on and do right without confessing to the
world a past wrong?"

"Yes, unless by its confession he can in some way make reparation."

My answer seemed to trouble her. Drawing back, she stood for one
moment in a thoughtful attitude before me, her beauty shining with
almost a statuesque splendor in the glow of the porcelain-shaded lamp
at her side. Nor, though she presently roused herself, leading the way
into the drawing room with a gesture that was allurement itself, did
she recur to this topic again; but rather seemed to strive, in the
conversation that followed, to make me forget what had already passed
between us. That she did not succeed, was owing to my intense and
unfailing interest in her cousin.

As I descended the stoop, I saw Thomas, the butler, leaning over the
area gate. Immediately I was seized with an impulse to interrogate him
in regard to a matter which had more or less interested me ever since
the inquest; and that was, who was the Mr. Robbins who had called upon
Eleanore the night of the murder? But Thomas was decidedly
uncommunicative. He remembered such a person called, but could not
describe his looks any further than to say that he was not a small man.

I did not press the matter.


    "Vous regardez une etoile pour deux motifs, parce qu'elle est
    lumineuse et parce qu'elle est impenetrable. Vous avez aupres
    de vous un plus doux rayonnement et un pas grand mystere, la femme."
        Les Miserables.

AND now followed days in which I seemed to make little or no
progress. Mr. Clavering, disturbed perhaps by my presence, forsook his
usual haunts, thus depriving me of all opportunity of making his
acquaintance in any natural manner, while the evenings spent at Miss
Leavenworth's were productive of little else than constant suspense
and uneasiness.

The manuscript required less revision than I supposed. But, in the
course of making such few changes as were necessary, I had ample
opportunity of studying the character of Mr. Harwell. I found him to be
neither more nor less than an excellent amanuensis. Stiff, unbending,
and sombre, but true to his duty and reliable in its performance, I
learned to respect him, and even to like him; and this, too, though I
saw the liking was not reciprocated, whatever the respect may have
been. He never spoke of Eleanore Leavenworth or, indeed, mentioned the
family or its trouble in any way; till I began to feel that all this
reticence had a cause deeper than the nature of the man, and that if he
did speak, it would be to some purpose. This suspicion, of course, kept
me restlessly eager in his presence. I could not forbear giving him sly
glances now and then, to see how he acted when he believed himself
unobserved; but he was ever the same, a passive, diligent, unexcitable

This continual beating against a stone wall, for thus I regarded it,
became at last almost unendurable. Clavering shy, and the secretary
unapproachable--how was I to gain anything? The short interviews I had
with Mary did not help matters. Haughty, constrained, feverish,
pettish, grateful, appealing, everything at once, and never twice the
same, I learned to dread, even while I coveted, an interview. She
appeared to be passing through some crisis which occasioned her the
keenest suffering. I have seen her, when she thought herself alone,
throw up her hands with the gesture which we use to ward off a coming
evil or shut out some hideous vision. I have likewise beheld her
standing with her proud head abased, her nervous hands drooping, her
whole form sinking and inert, as if the pressure of a weight she could
neither upbear nor cast aside had robbed her even of the show of
resistance. But this was only once. Ordinarily she was at least stately
in her trouble. Even when the softest appeal came into her eyes she
stood erect, and retained her expression of conscious power. Even the
night she met me in the hall, with feverish cheeks and lips trembling
with eagerness, only to turn and fly again without giving utterance to
what she had to say, she comported herself with a fiery dignity that
was well nigh imposing.

That all this meant something, I was sure; and so I kept my patience
alive with the hope that some day she would make a revelation. Those
quivering lips would not always remain closed; the secret involving
Eleanore's honor and happiness would be divulged by this restless
being, if by no one else. Nor was the memory of that extraordinary, if
not cruel, accusation I had heard her make enough to destroy this hope
--for hope it had grown to be--so that I found myself insensibly
shortening my time with Mr. Harwell in the library, and extending my _
tete-a-tete_ visits with Mary in the reception room, till the
imperturbable secretary was forced to complain that he was often left
for hours without work.

But, as I say, days passed, and a second Monday evening came round
without seeing me any further advanced upon the problem I had set
myself to solve than when I first started upon it two weeks before. The
subject of the murder had not even been broached; nor was Hannah spoken
of, though I observed the papers were not allowed to languish an
instant upon the stoop; mistress and servants betraying equal interest
in their contents. All this was strange to me. It was as if you saw a
group of human beings eating, drinking, and sleeping upon the sides of
a volcano hot with a late eruption and trembling with the birth of a
new one. I longed to break this silence as we shiver glass: by shouting
the name of Eleanore through those gilded rooms and satin-draped
vestibules. But this Monday evening I was in a calmer mood. I was
determined to expect nothing from my visits to Mary Leavenworth's
house; and entered it upon the eve in question with an equanimity such
as I had not experienced since the first day I passed under its unhappy

But when, upon nearing the reception room, I saw Mary pacing the
floor with the air of one who is restlessly awaiting something or
somebody, I took a sudden resolution, and, advancing towards her, said:
"Do I see you alone, Miss Leavenworth?"

She paused in her hurried action, blushed and bowed, but, contrary
to her usual custom, did not bid me enter.

"Will it be too great an intrusion on my part, if I venture to
come in?" I asked.

Her glance flashed uneasily to the clock, and she seemed about to
excuse herself, but suddenly yielded, and, drawing up a chair before
the fire, motioned me towards it. Though she endeavored to appear calm,
I vaguely felt I had chanced upon her in one of her most agitated
moods, and that I had only to broach the subject I had in mind to
behold her haughtiness disappear before me like melting snow. I also
felt that I had but few moments in which to do it. I accordingly
plunged immediately into the subject.

"Miss Leavenworth," said I, "in obtruding upon you to-night, I have
a purpose other than that of giving myself a pleasure. I have come to
make an appeal."

Instantly I saw that in some way I had started wrong. "An appeal to
make to me?" she asked, breathing coldness from every feature of her

"Yes," I went on, with passionate recklessness. "Balked in every
other endeavor to learn the truth, I have come to you, who I believe
to be noble at the core, for that help which seems likely to fail us in
every other direction: for the word which, if it does not absolutely
save your cousin, will at least put us upon the track of what will."

"I do not understand what you mean," she protested, slightly

"Miss Leavenworth," I pursued, "it is needless for me to tell you
in what position your cousin stands. You, who remember both the form
and drift of the questions put to her at the inquest, comprehend it all
without any explanation from me. But what you may not know is this,
that unless she is speedily relieved from the suspicion which, justly
or not, has attached itself to her name, the consequences which such
suspicion entails must fall upon her, and----"

"Good God!" she cried; "you do not mean she will be----"

"Subject to arrest? Yes."

It was a blow. Shame, horror, and anguish were in every line of her
white face. "And all because of that key!" she murmured.

"Key? How did you know anything about a key?"

"Why," she cried, flushing painfully; "I cannot say; didn't you
tell me?"

"No," I returned.

"The papers, then?"

"The papers have never mentioned it."

She grew more and more agitated. "I thought every one knew. No, I
did not, either," she avowed, in a sudden burst of shame and penitence.
"I knew it was a secret; but--oh, Mr. Raymond, it was Eleanore herself
who told me."


"Yes, that last evening she was here; we were together in the
drawing room."

"What did she tell?"

"That the key to the library had been seen in her possession."

I could scarcely conceal my incredulity. Eleanore, conscious of the
suspicion with which her cousin regarded her, inform that cousin of a
fact calculated to add weight to that suspicion? I could not believe

"But you knew it?" Mary went on. "I have revealed nothing I ought to
have kept secret?"

"No," said I; "and, Miss Leavenworth, it is this thing which makes
your cousin's position absolutely dangerous. It is a fact that, left
unexplained, must ever link her name with infamy; a bit of
circumstantial evidence no sophistry can smother, and no denial
obliterate. Only her hitherto spotless reputation, and the efforts of
one who, notwithstanding appearances, believes in her innocence, keeps
her so long from the clutch of the officers of justice. That key, and
the silence preserved by her in regard to it, is sinking her slowly
into a pit from which the utmost endeavors of her best friends will
soon be inadequate to extricate her."

"And you tell me this----"

"That you may have pity on the poor girl, who will not have pity on
herself, and by the explanation of a few circumstances, which cannot be
mysteries to you, assist in bringing her from under the dreadful shadow
that threatens to overwhelm her."

"And would you insinuate, sir," she cried, turning upon me with a
look of great anger, "that I know any more than you do of this matter?
that I possess any knowledge which I have not already made public
concerning the dreadful tragedy which has transformed our home into a
desert, our existence into a lasting horror? Has the blight of
suspicion fallen upon me, too; and have you come to accuse me in my own

"Miss Leavenworth," I entreated; "calm yourself. I accuse you of
nothing. I only desire you to enlighten me as to your cousin's probable
motive for this criminating silence. You cannot be ignorant of it. You
are her cousin, almost her sister, have been at all events her daily
companion for years, and must know for whom or for what she seals her
lips, and conceals facts which, if known, would direct suspicion to the
real criminal--that is, if you really believe what you have hitherto
stated, that your cousin is an innocent woman."

She not making any answer to this, I rose and confronted her. "Miss
Leavenworth, do you believe your cousin guiltless of this crime, or not?"

"Guiltless? Eleanore? Oh! my God; if all the world were only as
innocent as she!"

"Then," said I, "you must likewise believe that if she refrains
from speaking in regard to matters which to ordinary observers ought to
be explained, she does it only from motives of kindness towards one
less guiltless than herself."

"What? No, no; I do not say that. What made you think of any such

"The action itself. With one of Eleanore's character, such conduct
as hers admits of no other construction. Either she is mad, or she is
shielding another at the expense of herself."

Mary's lip, which had trembled, slowly steadied itself. "And whom
have you settled upon, as the person for whom Eleanore thus sacrifices

"Ah," said I, "there is where I seek assistance from you. With your
knowledge of her history----"

But Mary Leavenworth, sinking haughtily back into her chair, stopped
me with a quiet gesture. "I beg your pardon," said she; "but you make
a mistake. I know little or nothing of Eleanore's personal feelings.
The mystery must be solved by some one besides me."

I changed my tactics.

"When Eleanore confessed to you that the missing key had been seen
in her possession, did she likewise inform you where she obtained it,
and for what reason she was hiding it?"


"Merely told you the fact, without any explanation?"


"Was not that a strange piece of gratuitous information for her to
give one who, but a few hours before, had accused her to the face of
committing a deadly crime?"

"What do you mean?"' she asked, her voice suddenly sinking.

"You will not deny that you were once, not only ready to believe
her guilty, but that you actually charged her with having perpetrated
this crime."

"Explain yourself!" she cried.

"Miss Leavenworth, do you not remember what you said in that room
upstairs, when you were alone with your cousin on the morning of the
inquest, just before Mr. Gryce and I entered your presence?"

Her eyes did not fall, but they filled with sudden terror.

"You heard?" she whispered.

"I could not help it. I was just outside the door, and----"

"What did you hear?"

I told her.

"And Mr. Gryce?"

"He was at my side."

It seemed as if her eyes would devour my face. "Yet nothing was
said when you came in?"


"You, however, have never forgotten it?"

"How could we, Miss Leavenworth?"

Her head fell forward in her hands, and for one wild moment she
seemed lost in despair. Then she roused, and desperately exclaimed:

"And that is why you come here to-night. With that sentence written
upon your heart, you invade my presence, torture me with questions----"

"Pardon me," I broke in; "are my questions such as you, with
reasonable regard for the honor of one with whom you are accustomed to
associate, should hesitate to answer? Do I derogate from my manhood in
asking you how and why you came to make an accusation of so grave a
nature, at a time when all the circumstances of the case were freshly
before you, only to insist fully as strongly upon your cousin's
innocence when you found there was even more cause for your imputation
than you had supposed?"

She did not seem to hear me. "Oh, my cruel fate!" she murmured.
"Oh, my cruel fate!"

"Miss Leavenworth," said I, rising, and taking my stand before her;
"although there is a temporary estrangement between you and your
cousin, you cannot wish to seem her enemy. Speak, then; let me at
least know the name of him for whom she thus immolates herself. A hint
from you----"

But rising, with a strange look, to her feet, she interrupted me
with a stern remark: "If you do not know, I cannot inform you; do not
ask me, Mr. Raymond." And she glanced at the clock for the second time.

I took another turn.

"Miss Leavenworth, you once asked me if a person who had committed
a wrong ought necessarily to confess it; and I replied no, unless by
the confession reparation could be made. Do you remember?"

Her lips moved, but no words issued from them.

"I begin to think," I solemnly proceeded, following the lead of her
emotion, "that confession is the only way out of this difficulty:
that only by the words you can utter Eleanore can be saved from the
doom that awaits her. Will you not then show yourself a true woman by
responding to my earnest entreaties?"

I seemed to have touched the right chord; for she trembled, and a
look of wistfulness filled her eyes. "Oh, if I could!" she murmured.

"And why can you not? You will never be happy till you do.
Eleanore persists in silence; but that is no reason why you should
emulate her example. You only make her position more doubtful by it."

"I know it; but I cannot help myself. Fate has too strong a hold
upon me; I cannot break away."

"That is not true. Any one can escape from bonds imaginary as

"No, no," she protested; "you do not understand."

"I understand this: that the path of rectitude is a straight one,
and that he who steps into devious byways is going astray."

A flicker of light, pathetic beyond description, flashed for a moment
across her face; her throat rose as with one wild sob; her lips
opened; she seemed yielding, when--A sharp ring at the front door-bell!

"Oh," she cried, sharply turning, "tell him I cannot see him;
tell him----"

"Miss Leavenworth," said I, taking her by both hands, "never mind
the door; never mind anything but this. I have asked you a question
which involves the mystery of this whole affair; answer me, then, for
your soul's sake; tell me, what the unhappy circumstances were which
could induce you--"

But she tore her hands from mine. "The door!" she cried; "it
will open, and--"

Stepping into the hall, I met Thomas coming up the basement stairs.
"Go back," said I; "I will call you when you are wanted."

With a bow he disappeared.

"You expect me to answer," she exclaimed, when I re-entered, "now,
in a moment? I cannot."


"Impossible!" fastening her gaze upon the front door.

"Miss Leavenworth!"

She shuddered.

"I fear the time will never come, if you do not speak now."

"Impossible," she reiterated.

Another twang at the bell.

"You hear!" said she.

I went into the hall and called Thomas. "You may open the door
now," said I, and moved to return to her side.

But, with a gesture of command, she pointed upstairs. "Leave me!"
and her glance passed on to Thomas, who stopped where he was.

"I will see you again before I go," said I, and hastened upstairs.

Thomas opened the door. "Is Miss Leavenworth in?" I heard a rich,
tremulous voice inquire.

"Yes, sir," came in the butler's most respectful and measured
accents, and, leaning over the banisters I beheld, to my amazement, the
form of Mr. Clavering enter the front hall and move towards the
reception room.


    "You cannot _say_ I did it."

EXCITED, tremulous, filled with wonder at this unlooked-for event, I
paused for a moment to collect my scattered senses, when the sound of a
low, monotonous voice breaking upon my ear from the direction of the
library, I approached and found Mr. Harwell reading aloud from his late
employer's manuscript. It would be difficult for me to describe the
effect which this simple discovery made upon me at this time. There, in
that room of late death, withdrawn from the turmoil of the world, a
hermit in his skeleton-lined cell, this man employed himself in reading
and rereading, with passive interest, the words of the dead, while
above and below, human beings agonized in doubt and shame. Listening, I
heard these words:

"By these means their native rulers will not only lose their
jealous terror of our institutions, but acquire an actual curiosity in
regard to them."

Opening the door I went in.

"Ah! you are late, sir," was the greeting with which he rose and
brought forward a chair.

My reply was probably inaudible, for he added, as he passed to his
own seat:

"I am afraid you are not well."

I roused myself.

"I am not ill." And, pulling the papers towards me, I began looking
them over. But the words danced before my eyes, and I was obliged to
give up all attempt at work for that night.

"_I_ fear I am unable to assist you this evening, Mr. Harwell.
The fact is, I find it difficult to give proper attention to this
business while the man who, by a dastardly assassination has made it
necessary, goes unpunished."

The secretary in his turn pushed the papers aside, as if moved by a
sudden distaste of them, but gave me no answer.

"You told me, when you first came to me with news of this fearful
tragedy, that it was a mystery; but it is one which must be solved,
Mr. Harwell; it is wearing out the lives of too many whom we love and

The secretary gave me a look. "Miss Eleanore?" he murmured.

"And Miss Mary," I went on; "myself, you, and many others."

"You have manifested much interest in the matter from the
beginning,"--he said, methodically dipping his pen into the

I stared at him in amazement.

"And you," said I; "do you take no interest in that which involves
not only the safety, but the happiness and honor, of the family in
which you have dwelt so long?"

He looked at me with increased coldness. "I have no wish to discuss
this subject. I believe I have before prayed you to spare me its
introduction." And he arose.

"But I cannot consider your wishes in this regard," I persisted.
"If you know any facts, connected with this affair, which have not yet
been made public, it is manifestly your duty to state them. The
position which Miss Eleanore occupies at this time is one which should
arouse the sense of justice in every true breast; and if you----"

"If I knew anything which would serve to release her from her
unhappy position, Mr. Raymond, I should have spoken long ago."

I bit my lip, weary of these continual bafflings, and rose also.

"If you have nothing more to say," he went on, "and feel utterly
disinclined to work, why, I should be glad to excuse myself, as I have
an engagement out."

"Do not let me keep you," I said, bitterly. "I can take care of

He turned upon me with a short stare, as if this display of feeling
was well nigh incomprehensible to him; and then, with a quiet, almost
compassionate bow left the room. I heard him go upstairs, felt the jar
when his room door closed, and sat down to enjoy my solitude. But
solitude in that room was unbearable. By the time Mr. Harwell again
descended, I felt I could remain no longer, and, stepping into the
hall, told him that if he had no objection I would accompany him for a
short stroll.

He bowed a stiff assent, and hastened before me down the stairs. By
the time I had closed the library door, he was half-way to the foot,
and I was just remarking to myself upon the unpliability of his figure
and the awkwardness of his carriage, as seen from my present
standpoint, when suddenly I saw him stop, clutch the banister at his
side, and hang there with a startled, deathly expression upon his
half-turned countenance, which fixed me for an instant where I was in
breathless astonishment, and then caused me to rush down to his side,
catch him by the arm, and cry:

"What is it? what is the matter?"

But, thrusting out his hand, he pushed me upwards. "Go back!" he
whispered, in a voice shaking with intensest emotion, "go back." And
catching me by the arm, he literally pulled me up the stairs. Arrived
at the top, he loosened his grasp, and leaning, quivering from head to
foot, over the banisters, glared below.

"Who is that?" he cried. "Who is that man? What is his name?"

Startled in my turn, I bent beside him, and saw Henry Clavering come
out of the reception room and cross the hall.

"That is Mr. Clavering," I whispered, with all the self-possession
I could muster; "do you know him?"

Mr. Harwell fell back against the opposite wall. "Clavering,
Clavering," he murmured with quaking lips; then, suddenly bounding
forward, clutched the railing before him, and fixing me with his eyes,
from which all the stoic calmness had gone down forever in flame and
frenzy, gurgled into my ear: "You want to know who the assassin of
Mr. Leavenworth is, do you? Look there, then: that is the man,
Clavering!" And with a leap, he bounded from my side, and, swaying
like a drunken man, disappeared from my gaze in the hall above.

My first impulse was to follow him. Rushing upstairs, I knocked at
the door of his room, but no response came to my summons. I then called
his name in the hall, but without avail; he was determined not to show
himself. Resolved that he should not thus escape me, I returned to the
library, and wrote him a short note, in which I asked for an
explanation of his tremendous accusation, saying I would be in my rooms
the next evening at six, when I should expect to see him. This done I
descended to rejoin Mary.

But the evening was destined to be full of disappointments. She had
retired to her room while I was in the library, and I lost the
interview from which I expected so much." The woman is slippery as an
eel," I inwardly commented, pacing the hall in my chagrin. "Wrapped in
mystery, she expects me to feel for her the respect due to one of frank
and open nature."

I was about to leave the house, when I saw Thomas descending the
stairs with a letter in his hand.

"Miss Leavenworth's compliments, sir, and she is too fatigued to
remain below this evening."

I moved aside to read the note he handed me, feeling a little
conscience-stricken as I traced the hurried, trembling handwriting
through the following words:

    "You ask more than I can give. Matters must be received as they are
    without explanation from me. It is the grief of my life to deny you;
    but I have no choice. God forgive us all and keep us from despair.


And below:

    "As we cannot meet now without embarrassment, it is better we should
    bear our burdens in silence and apart. Mr. Harwell will visit you.

As I was crossing Thirty-second Street, I heard a quick footstep
behind me, and turning, saw Thomas at my side. "Excuse me, sir," said
he, "but I have something a little particular to say to you. When you
asked me the other night what sort of a person the gentleman was who
called on Miss Eleanore the evening of the murder, I didn't answer you
as I should. The fact is, the detectives had been talking to me about
that very thing, and I felt shy; but, sir, I know you are a friend of
the family, and I want to tell you now that that same gentleman,
whoever he was,--Mr. Robbins, he called himself then,--was at the
house again tonight, sir, and the name he gave me this time to carry to
Miss Leavenworth was Clavering. Yes, sir," he went on, seeing me start;
"and, as I told Molly, he acts queer for a stranger. When he came the
other night, he hesitated a long time before asking for Miss Eleanore,
and when I wanted his name, took out a card and wrote on it the one I
told you of, sir, with a look on his face a little peculiar for a
caller; besides----"


"Mr. Raymond," the butler went on, in a low, excited voice, edging
up very closely to me in the darkness. "There is something I have
never told any living being but Molly, sir, which may be of use to
those as wishes to find out who committed this murder."

"A fact or a suspicion?" I inquired.

"A fact, sir; which I beg your pardon for troubling you with at
this time; but Molly will give me no rest unless I speak of it to you
or Mr. Gryce; her feelings being so worked up on Hannah's account,
who we all know is innocent, though folks do dare to say as how she
must be guilty just because she is not to be found the minute they want

"But this fact?" I urged.

"Well, the fact is this. You see--I would tell Mr. Gryce," he
resumed, unconscious of my anxiety, "but I have my fears of detectives,
sir; they catch you up so quick at times, and seem to think you know so
much more than you really do."

"But this fact," I again broke in.

"O yes, sir; the fact is, that that night, the one of the murder
you know, I saw Mr. Clavering, Robbins, or whatever his name is, enter
the house, but neither I nor any one else saw him go out of it; nor do
I know that he _did."_

"What do you mean?"

"Well, sir, what I mean is this. When I came down from Miss
Eleanore and told Mr. Robbins, as he called himself at that time, that
my mistress was ill and unable to see him (the word she gave me, sir,
to deliver) Mr. Robbins, instead of bowing and leaving the house like a
gentleman, stepped into the reception room and sat down. He may have
felt sick, he looked pale enough; at any rate, he asked me for a glass
of water. Not knowing any reason then for suspicionat-ing any one's
actions, I immediately went down to the kitchen for it, leaving him
there in the reception room alone. But before I could get it, I heard
the front door close. 'What's that?' said Molly, who was helping me,
sir. 'I don't know,' said I, 'unless it's the gentleman has got tired
of waiting and gone.' 'If he's gone, he won't want the water,' she
said. So down I set the pitcher, and upstairs I come; and sure enough
he was gone, or so I thought then. But who knows, sir, if he was not in
that room or the drawing room, which was dark that night, all the time
I was a-shutting up of the house?"

I made no reply to this; I was more startled than I cared to reveal.

"You see, sir, I wouldn't speak of such a thing about any person
that comes to see the young ladies; but we all know some one who was
in the house that night murdered my master, and as it was not

"You say that Miss Eleanore refused to see him," I interrupted, in
the hope that the simple suggestion would be enough to elicitate
further details of his interview with Eleanore.

"Yes, sir. When she first looked at the card, she showed a little
hesitation; but in a moment she grew very flushed in the face, and
bade me say what I told you. I should never have thought of it again if
I had not seen him come blazoning and bold into the house this evening,
with a new name on his tongue. Indeed, and I do not like to think any
evil of him now; but Molly would have it I should speak to you, sir,
and ease my mind,--and that is all, sir."

When I arrived home that night, I entered into my memorandum-book a
new list of suspicious circumstances, but this time they were under the
caption "C" instead of "E."


    "Something between a hindrance and a help."

THE next day as, with nerves unstrung and an exhausted brain, I
entered my office, I was greeted by the announcement:

"A gentleman, sir, in your private room--been waiting some time,
very impatient."

Weary, in no mood to hold consultation with clients new or old, I
advanced with anything but an eager step towards my room, when, upon
opening the door, I saw--Mr. Clavering.

Too much astounded for the moment to speak, I bowed to him silently,
whereupon he approached me with the air and dignity of a highly bred
gentleman, and presented his card, on which I saw written, in free and
handsome characters, his whole name, Henry Ritchie Clavering. After
this introduction of himself, he apologized for making so unceremonious
a call, saying, in excuse, that he was a stranger in town; that his
business was one of great urgency; that he had casually heard
honorable mention of me as a lawyer and a gentleman, and so had
ventured to seek this interview on behalf of a friend who was so
unfortunately situated as to require the opinion and advice of a lawyer
upon a question which not only involved an extraordinary state of
facts, but was of a nature peculiarly embarrassing to him, owing to his
ignorance of American laws, and the legal bearing of these facts upon
the same.

Having thus secured my attention, and awakened my curiosity, he
asked me if I would permit him to relate his story. Recovering in a
measure from my astonishment, and subduing the extreme repulsion,
almost horror, I felt for the man, I signified my assent; at which he
drew from his pocket a memorandum-book from which he read in substance
as follows:

"An Englishman travelling in this country meets, at a fashionable
watering-place, an American girl, with whom he falls deeply in love,
and whom, after a few days, he desires to marry. Knowing his position
to be good, his fortune ample, and his intentions highly honorable, he
offers her his hand, and is accepted. But a decided opposition arising
in the family to the match, he is compelled to disguise his sentiments,
though the engagement remained unbroken. While matters were in this
uncertain condition, he received advices from England demanding his
instant return, and, alarmed at the prospect of a protracted absence
from the object of his affections, he writes to the lady, informing her
of the circumstances, and proposing a secret marriage. She consents
with stipulations; the first of which is, that he should leave her
instantly upon the conclusion of the ceremony, and the second, that he
should intrust the public declaration of the marriage to her. It was
not precisely what he wished, but anything which served to make her his
own was acceptable at such a crisis. He readily enters into the plans
proposed. Meeting the lady at a parsonage, some twenty miles from the
watering-place at which she was staying, he stands up with her before a
Methodist preacher, and the ceremony of marriage is performed. There
were two witnesses, a hired man of the minister, called in for the
purpose, and a lady friend who came with the bride; but there was no
license, and the bride had not completed her twenty-first year. Now,
was that marriage legal? If the lady, wedded in good faith upon that
day by my friend, chooses to deny that she is his lawful wife, can he
hold her to a compact entered into in so informal a manner? In short,
Mr. Raymond, is my friend the lawful husband of that girl or not?"

While listening to this story, I found myself yielding to feelings
greatly in contrast to those with which I greeted the relator but a
moment before. I became so interested in his "friend's" case as to
quite forget, for the time being, that I had ever seen or heard of
Henry Clavering; and after learning that the marriage ceremony took
place in the State of New York, I replied to him, as near as I can
remember, in the following words: "In this State, and I believe it to
be American law, marriage is a civil contract, requiring neither
license, priest, ceremony, nor certificate--and in some cases
witnesses are not even necessary to give it validity. Of old, the modes
of getting a wife were the same as those of acquiring any other species
of property, and they are not materially changed at the present time.
It is enough that the man and woman say to each other, 'From this time
we are married,' or, 'You are now my wife,' or, 'my husband,' as the
case may be. The mutual consent is all that is necessary. In fact, you
may contract marriage as you contract to lend a sum of money, or to buy
the merest trifle."

"Then your opinion is----"

"That upon your statement, your friend is the lawful husband of
the lady in question; presuming, of course, that no legal disabilities
of either party existed to prevent such a union. As to the young lady's
age, I will merely say that any fourteen-year-old girl can be a party
to a marriage contract."

Mr. Clavering bowed, his countenance assuming a look of great
satisfaction. "I am very glad to hear this," said he; "my friend's
happiness is entirely involved in the establishment, of his marriage."

He appeared so relieved, my curiosity was yet further aroused. I
therefore said: "I have given you my opinion as to the legality of
this marriage; but it may be quite another thing to prove it, should
the same be contested."

He started, cast me an inquiring look, and murmured:


"Allow me to ask you a few questions. Was the lady married under
her own name?"

"She was."

"The gentleman?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did the lady receive a certificate?"

"She did."

"Properly signed by the minister and witnesses?"

He bowed his head in assent.

"Did she keep this?"

"I cannot say; but I presume she did."

"The witnesses were----"

"A hired man of the minister----"

"Who can be found?"

"Who cannot be found."

"Dead or disappeared?"

"The minister is dead, the man has disappeared."

"The minister dead!"

"Three months since."

"And the marriage took place when?"

"Last July."

"The other witness, the lady friend, where is she?"

"She can be found; but her action is not to be depended upon."

"Has the gentleman himself no proofs of this marriage?"

Mr. Clavering shook his head. "He cannot even prove he was in the
town where it took place on that particular day."

"The marriage certificate was, however, filed with the clerk of the
town?" said I.

"It was not, sir."

"How was that?"

"I cannot say. I only know that my friend has made inquiry, and
that no such paper is to be found."

I leaned slowly back and looked at him. "I do not wonder your
friend is concerned in regard to his position, if what you hint is
true, and the lady seems disposed to deny that any such ceremony ever
took place. Still, if he wishes to go to law, the Court may decide in
his favor, though I doubt it. His sworn word is all he would have to go
upon, and if she contradicts his testimony under oath, why the sympathy
of a jury is, as a rule, with the woman."

Mr. Clavering rose, looked at me with some earnestness, and finally
asked, in a tone which, though somewhat changed, lacked nothing of its
former suavity, if I would be kind enough to give him in writing that
portion of my opinion which directly bore upon the legality of the
marriage; that such a paper would go far towards satisfying his friend
that his case had been properly presented; as he was aware that no
respectable lawyer would put his name to a legal opinion without first
having carefully arrived at his conclusions by a thorough examination
of the law bearing upon the facts submitted.

This request seeming so reasonable, I unhesitatingly complied with
it, and handed him the opinion. He took it, and, after reading it
carefully over, deliberately copied it into his memorandum-book. This
done, he turned towards me, a strong, though hitherto subdued, emotion
showing itself in his countenance.

"Now, sir," said he, rising upon me to the full height of his
majestic figure, "I have but one more request to make; and that is,
that you will receive back this opinion into your own possession, and
in the day you think to lead a beautiful woman to the altar, pause and
ask yourself: 'Am I sure that the hand I clasp with such impassioned
fervor is free? Have I any certainty for knowing that it has not
already been given away, like that of the lady who, in this opinion of
mine, I have declared to be a wedded wife according to the laws of my
country? '"

"Mr. Clavering!"

But he, with an urbane bow, laid his hand upon the knob of the door.
"I thank you for your courtesy, Mr. Raymond, and I bid you good-day. I
hope you will have no need of consulting that paper before I see you
again." And with another bow, he passed out.

It was the most vital shock I had yet experienced; and for a moment
I stood paralyzed. Me! me! Why should he mix me up with the affair
unless--but I would not contemplate that possibility. Eleanore
married, and to this man? No, no; anything but that! And yet I found
myself continually turning the supposition over in my mind until, to
escape the torment of my own conjectures, I seized my hat, and rushed
into the street in the hope of finding him again and extorting from him
an explanation of his mysterious conduct. But by the time I reached the
sidewalk, he was nowhere to be seen. A thousand busy men, with their
various cares and purposes, had pushed themselves between us, and I was
obliged to return to my office with my doubts unsolved.

I think I never experienced a longer day; but it passed, and at
five o'clock, I had the satisfaction of inquiring for Mr.
Clavering at the Hoffman House. Judge of my surprise when I learned
that his visit to my office was his last action before taking passage
upon the steamer leaving that day for Liverpool; that he was now on the
high seas, and all chance of another interview with him was at an end.
I could scarcely believe the fact at first; but after a talk with the
cabman who had driven him off to my office and thence to the steamer, I
became convinced. My first feeling was one of shame. I had been brought
face to face with the accused man, had received an intimation from him
that he was not expecting to see me again for some time, and had weakly
gone on attending to my own affairs and allowed him to escape, like the
simple tyro that I was. My next, the necessity of notifying Mr. Gryce
of this man's departure. But it was now six o'clock, the hour set apart
for my interview with Mr. Harwell. I could not afford to miss that, so
merely stopping to despatch a line to Mr. Gryce, in which I promised to
visit him that evening, I turned my steps towards home. I found Mr.
Harwell there before me.


    "Often do the spirits
    Of great events stride on before the events,
    And in to-day already walks to-morrow."

INSTANTLY a great dread seized me. What revelations might not this
man be going to make! But I subdued the feeling; and, greeting him
with what cordiality I could, settled myself to listen to his

But Trueman Harwell had no explanations to give, or so it seemed;
on the contrary, he had come to apologize for the very violent words he
had used the evening before; words which, whatever their effect upon
me, he now felt bound to declare had been used without sufficient basis
in fact to make their utterance of the least importance.

"But you must have thought you had grounds for so tremendous an
accusation, or your act was that of a madman."

His brow wrinkled heavily, and his eyes assumed a very gloomy
expression. "It does not follow," he returned. "Under the pressure of
surprise, I have known men utter convictions no better founded than
mine without running the risk of being called mad."

"Surprise? Mr. Clavering's face or form must, then, have been known
to you. The mere fact of seeing a strange gentleman in the hall would
have been insufficient to cause you astonishment, Mr. Harwell."

He uneasily fingered the back of the chair before which he stood,
but made no reply.

"Sit down," I again urged, this time with a touch of command in my
voice. "This is a serious matter, and I intend to deal with it
as it deserves. You once said that if you knew anything which might
serve to exonerate Eleanore Leavenworth from the suspicion under which
she stands, you would be ready to impart it."

"Pardon me. I said that if I had ever known anything calculated to
release her from her unhappy position, I would have spoken," he coldly

"Do not quibble. You know, and I know, that you are keeping
something back; and I ask you, in her behalf, and in the cause of
justice, to tell me what it is."

"You are mistaken," was his dogged reply. "I have reasons,
perhaps, for certain conclusions I may have drawn; but my conscience
will not allow me in cold blood to give utterance to suspicions which
may not only damage the reputation of an honest man, but place me in
the unpleasant position of an accuser without substantial foundation
for my accusations."

"You occupy that position already," I retorted, with equal
coldness. "Nothing can make me forget that in my presence you have
denounced Henry Clavering as the murderer of Mr. Leavenworth. You had
better explain yourself, Mr. Harwell."

He gave me a short look, but moved around and took the chair. "You
have me at a disadvantage," he said, in a lighter tone. "If you choose
to profit by your position, and press me to disclose the little I know,
I can only regret the necessity under which I lie, and speak."

"Then you are deterred by conscientious scruples alone?"

"Yes, and by the meagreness of the facts at my command."

"I will judge of the facts when I have heard them."

He raised his eyes to mine, and I was astonished to observe a
strange eagerness in their depths; evidently his convictions were
stronger than his scruples. "Mr. Raymond," he began, "you are a
lawyer, and undoubtedly a practical man; but you may know what it is to
scent danger before you see it, to feel influences working in the air
over and about you, and yet be in ignorance of what it is that affects
you so powerfully, till chance reveals that an enemy has been at your
side, or a friend passed your window, or the shadow of death crossed
your book as you read, or mingled with your breath as you slept?"

I shook my head, fascinated by the intensity of his gaze into some
sort of response.

"Then you cannot understand me, or what I have suffered these last
three weeks." And he drew back with an icy reserve that seemed to
promise but little to my now thoroughly awakened curiosity.

"I beg your pardon," I hastened to say; "but the fact of my never
having experienced such sensations does not hinder me from
comprehending the emotions of others more affected by spiritual
influences than myself."

He drew himself slowly forward. "Then you will not ridicule me if I
say that upon the eve of Mr. Leavenworth's murder I experienced in a
dream all that afterwards occurred; saw him murdered, saw"--and he
clasped his hands before him, in an attitude inexpressibly convincing,
while his voice sank to a horrified whisper, "saw the face of his

I started, looked at him in amazement, a thrill as at a ghostly
presence running through me.

"And was that----" I began.

"My reason for denouncing the man I beheld before me in the hall of
Miss Leavenworth's house last night? It was." And, taking out his
handkerchief, he wiped his forehead, on which the perspiration was
standing in large drops.

"You would then intimate that the face you saw in your dream and
the face you saw in the hall last night were the same?"

He gravely nodded his head.

I drew my chair nearer to his. "Tell me your dream," said I.

"It was the night before Mr. Leavenworth's murder. I had gone to
bed feeling especially contented with myself and the world at large;
for, though my life is anything but a happy one," and he heaved a short
sigh, "some pleasant words had been said to me that day, and I was
revelling in the happiness they conferred, when suddenly a chill struck
my heart, and the darkness which a moment before had appeared to me as
the abode of peace thrilled to the sound of a supernatural cry, and I
heard my name, 'Trueman, Trueman, Trueman,' repeated three times in a
voice I did not recognize, and starting from my pillow beheld at my
bedside a woman. Her face was strange to me," he solemnly proceeded,
"but I can give you each and every detail of it, as, bending above me,
she stared into my eyes with a growing terror that seemed to implore
help, though her lips were quiet, and only the memory of that cry
echoed in my ears."

"Describe the face," I interposed.

"It was a round, fair, lady's face. Very lovely in contour, but
devoid of coloring; not beautiful, but winning from its child-like look
of trust. The hair, banded upon the low, broad forehead, was brown;
the eyes, which were very far apart, gray; the mouth, which was its
most charming feature, delicate of make and very expressive. There was
a dimple in the chin, but none in the cheeks. It was a face to be

"Go on," said I.

"Meeting the gaze of those imploring eyes, I started up. Instantly
the face and all vanished, and I became conscious, as we sometimes do
in dreams, of a certain movement in the hall below, and the next
instant the gliding figure of a man of imposing size entered the
library. I remember experiencing a certain thrill at this, half terror,
half curiosity, though I seemed to know, as if by intuition, what he
was going to do. Strange to say, I now seemed to change my personality,
and to be no longer a third party watching these proceedings, but Mr.
Leavenworth himself, sitting at his library table and feeling his doom
crawling upon him without capacity for speech or power of movement to
avert it. Though my back was towards the man, I could feel his stealthy
form traverse the passage, enter the room beyond, pass to that stand
where the pistol was, try the drawer, find it locked, turn the key,
procure the pistol, weigh it in an accustomed hand, and advance again.
I could feel each footstep he took as though his feet were in truth
upon my heart, and I remember staring at the table before me as if I
expected every moment to see it run with my own blood. I can see now
how the letters I had been writing danced upon the paper before me,
appearing to my eyes to take the phantom shapes of persons and things
long ago forgotten; crowding my last moments with regrets and dead
shames, wild longings, and unspeakable agonies, through all of which
that face, the face of my former dream, mingled, pale, sweet, and
searching, while closer and closer behind me crept that noiseless foot
till I could feel the glaring of the assassin's eyes across the narrow
threshold separating me from death and hear the click of his teeth as
he set his lips for the final act. Ah!" and the secretary's livid face
showed the touch of awful horror, "what words can describe such an
experience as that? In one moment, all the agonies of hell in the
heart and brain, the next a blank through which I seemed to see afar,
and as if suddenly removed from all this, a crouching figure looking at
its work with starting eyes and pallid back-drawn lips; and seeing,
recognize no face that I had ever known, but one so handsome, so
remarkable, so unique in its formation and character, that it would be
as easy for me to mistake the countenance of my father as the look and
figure of the man revealed to me in my dream."

"And this face?" said I, in a voice I failed to recognize as my

"Was that of him whom we saw leave Mary Leavenworth's presence
last night and go down the hall to the front door."


    "True, I talk of dreams,
    Which are the children of an idle brain
     Begot of nothing but vain phantasy."
        --Romeo and Juliet.

FOR one moment I sat a prey to superstitious horror; then, my
natural incredulity asserting itself, I looked up and remarked:

"You say that all this took place the night previous to the actual

He bowed his head. "For a warning," he declared.

"But you did not seem to take it as such?"

"No; I am subject to horrible dreams. I thought but little of it
in a superstitious way till I looked next day upon Mr. Leavenworth's
dead body."

"I do not wonder you behaved strangely at the inquest."

"Ah, sir," he returned, with a slow, sad smile; "no one knows
what I suffered in my endeavors not to tell more than I actually knew,
irrespective of my dream, of this murder and the manner of its

"You believe, then, that your dream foreshadowed the manner of the
murder as well as the fact?"

"I do."

"It is a pity it did not go a little further, then, and tell us how
the assassin escaped from, if not how he entered, a house so securely

His face flushed. "That would have been convenient," he repeated.
"Also, if I had been informed where Hannah was, and why a stranger and a
gentleman should have stooped to the committal of such a crime."

Seeing that he was nettled, I dropped my bantering vein. "Why do
you say a stranger?" I asked; "are you so well acquainted with all
who visit that house as to be able to say who are and who are not
strangers to the family?

"I am well acquainted with the faces of their friends, and Henry
Clavering is not amongst the number; but----"

"Were you ever with Mr. Leavenworth," I interrupted, "when he has
been away from home; in the country, for instance, or upon his travels?"

"No." But the negative came with some constraint.

"Yet I suppose he was in the habit of absenting himself from home?"


"Can you tell me where he was last July, he and the ladies?"

"Yes, sir; they went to R----. The famous watering-place, you know.
Ah," he cried, seeing a change in my face, "do you think he could have
met them there?"

I looked at him for a moment, then, rising in my turn, stood level
with him, and exclaimed:

"You are keeping something back, Mr. Harwell; you have more
knowledge of this man than you have hitherto given me to understand.
What is it?"

He seemed astonished at my penetration, but replied: "I know no
more of the man than I have already informed you; but"--and a burning
flush crossed his face, "if you are determined to pursue this matter
--" and he paused, with an inquiring look.

"I am resolved to find out all I can about Henry Clavering," was my
decided answer.

"Then," said he, "I can tell you this much. Henry Clavering
wrote a letter to Mr. Leavenworth a few days before the murder, which I
have some reason to believe produced a marked effect upon the
household." And, folding his arms, the secretary stood quietly awaiting
my next question.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"I opened it by mistake. I was in the habit of reading Mr. Leavenworth's
business letters, and this, being from one unaccustomed to
write to him, lacked the mark which usually distinguished those of a
private nature."

"And you saw the name of Clavering?"

"I did; Henry Ritchie Clavering."

"Did you read the letter?" I was trembling now.

The secretary did not reply.

"Mr. Harwell," I reiterated, "this is no time for false delicacy.
Did you read that letter?"

"I did; but hastily, and with an agitated conscience."

"You can, however, recall its general drift?"

"It was some complaint in regard to the treatment received by him
at the hand of one of Mr. Leavenworth's nieces. I remember nothing

"Which niece?"

"There were no names mentioned."

"But you inferred----"

"No, sir; that is just what I did not do. I forced myself to
forget the whole thing."

"And yet you say it produced an effect upon the family?"

"I can see now that it did. None of them have ever appeared quite
the same as before."

"Mr. Harwell," I gravely continued; "when you were questioned as
to the receipt of any letter by Mr. Leavenworth, which might seem in
any manner to be connected with this tragedy, you denied having seen
any such; how was that?"

"Mr. Raymond, you are a gentleman; have a chivalrous regard for
the ladies; do you think you could have brought yourself (even if in
your secret heart you considered some such result possible, which I am
not ready to say I did) to mention, at such a time as that, the receipt
of a letter complaining of the treatment received from one of Mr.
Leavenworth's nieces, as a suspicious circumstance worthy to be taken
into account by a coroner's jury?"

I shook my head. I could not but acknowledge the impossibility.

"What reason had I for thinking that letter was one of importance?
I knew of no Henry Ritchie Clavering."

"And yet you seemed to think it was. I remember you hesitated
before replying."

"It is true; but not as I should hesitate now, if the question were
put to me again."

Silence followed these words, during which I took two or three turns
up and down the room.

"This is all very fanciful," I remarked, laughing in the vain
endeavor to throw off the superstitious horror his words had awakened.

He bent his head in assent. "I know it," said he. "I am practical
myself in broad daylight, and recognize the nimsiness of an accusation
based upon a poor, hardworking secretary's dream, as plainly as you do.
This is the reason I desired to keep from speaking at all; but, Mr.
Raymond," and his long, thin hand fell upon my arm with a nervous
intensity which gave me almost the sensation of an electrical shock,
"if the murderer of Mr. Leavenworth is ever brought to confess his deed,
mark my words, he will prove to be the man of my dream."

I drew a long breath. For a moment his belief was mine; and a
mingled sensation of relief and exquisite pain swept over me as I
thought of the possibility of Eleanore being exonerated from crime only
to be plunged into fresh humiliation and deeper abysses of suffering.

"He stalks the streets in freedom now," the secretary went on, as
if to himself; "even dares to enter the house he has so wofully
desecrated; but justice is justice and, sooner or later, something will
transpire which will prove to you that a premonition so wonderful as
that I received had its significance; that the voice calling 'Trueman,
Trueman,' was something more than the empty utterances of an excited
brain; that it was Justice itself, calling attention to the guilty."

I looked at him in wonder. Did he know that the officers of justice
were already upon the track of this same Clavering? I judged not from
his look, but felt an inclination to make an effort and see.

"You speak with strange conviction," I said; "but in all
probability you are doomed to be disappointed. So far as we know, Mr.
Clavering is a respectable man."

He lifted his hat from the table. "I do not propose to denounce him;
I do not even propose to speak his name again. I am not a fool, Mr.
Raymond. I have spoken thus plainly to you only in explanation of last
night's most unfortunate betrayal; and while I trust you will regard
what I have told you as confidential, I also hope you will give me
credit for behaving, on the whole, as well as could be expected under
the circumstances." And he held out his hand.

"Certainly," I replied as I took it. Then, with a sudden impulse to
test the accuracy of this story of his, inquired if he had any means of
verifying his statement of having had this dream at the time spoken of:
that is, before the murder and not afterwards.

"No, sir; I know myself that I had it the night previous to that of
Mr. Leavenworth's death; but I cannot prove the fact."

"Did not speak of it next morning to any one?"

"O no, sir; I was scarcely in a position to do so."

"Yet it must have had a great effect upon you, unfitting you for

"Nothing unfits me for work," was his bitter reply.

"I believe you," I returned, remembering his diligence for the last
few days. "But you must at least have shown some traces of having
passed an uncomfortable night. Have you no recollection of any one
speaking to you in regard to your appearance the next morning?"

"Mr. Leavenworth may have done so; no one else would be likely to
notice." There was sadness in the tone, and my own voice softened as I

"I shall not be at the house to-night, Mr. Harwell; nor do I know
when I shall return there. Personal considerations keep me from Miss
Leavenworth's presence for a time, and I look to you to carry on the
work we have undertaken without my assistance, unless you can bring it

"I can do that."

"I shall expect you, then, to-morrow evening."

"Very well, sir "; and he was going, when a sudden thought seemed
to strike him. "Sir," he said, "as we do not wish to return to this
subject again, and as I have a natural curiosity in regard to this man,
would you object to telling me what you know of him? You believe him
to be a respectable man; are you acquainted with him, Mr. Raymond?"

"I know his name, and where he resides."

"And where is that?"

"In London; he is an Englishman."

"Ah!" he murmured, with a strange intonation.

"Why do you say that?"

He bit his lip, looked down, then up, finally fixed his eyes on
mine, and returned, with marked emphasis: "I used an exclamation,
sir, because I was startled."


"Yes; you say he is an Englishman. Mr. Leavenworth had the most
bitter antagonism to the English. It was one of his marked
peculiarities. He would never be introduced to one if he could help it."

It was my turn to look thoughtful.

"You know," continued the secretary, "that Mr. Leavenworth was a
man who carried his prejudices to the extreme. He had a hatred for the
English race amounting to mania. If he had known the letter I have
mentioned was from an Englishman, I doubt if he would have read it. He
used to say he would sooner see a daughter of his dead before him than
married to an Englishman."

I turned hastily aside to hide the effect which this announcement
made upon me.

"You think I am exaggerating," he said. "Ask Mr. Veeley."

"No," I replied. "I have no reason for thinking so."

"He had doubtless some cause for hating the English with which we
are unacquainted," pursued the secretary. "He spent some time in
Liverpool when young, and had, of course, many opportunities for
studying their manners and character." And the secretary made another
movement, as if to leave.

But it was my turn to detain him now. "Mr. Harwell, you must excuse
me. You have been on familiar terms with Mr. Leavenworth for so long.
Do you think that, in the case of one of his nieces, say, desiring to
marry a gentleman of that nationality, his prejudice was sufficient to
cause him to absolutely forbid the match?"

"I do."

I moved back. I had learned what I wished, and saw no further reason
for prolonging the interview.


    "Come, give us a taste of your quality."

STARTING with the assumption that Mr. Clavering in his conversation
of the morning had been giving me, with more or less accuracy, a
detailed account of his own experience and position regarding Eleanore
Leavenworth, I asked myself what particular facts it would be necessary
for me to establish in order to prove the truth of this assumption, and
found them to be:

I. That Mr. Clavering had not only been in this country at the time
designated, but that he had been located for some little time at a
watering-place in New York State.

II. That this watering-place should correspond to the one in which
Miss Eleanore Leavenworth was staying at the same time.

III. That they had been seen while there to hold more or less

IV. That they had both been absent from town, at one time,
long enough to have gone through the ceremony of marriage at a point
twenty miles or so away.

V. That a Methodist clergyman, who has since died, lived at that
time within a radius of twenty miles of said watering-place.

I next asked myself how I was to establish these acts. Mr.
Clavering's life was as yet too little known to me to offer me any
assistance; so, leaving it for the present, I took up the thread of
Eleanore's history, and found that at the time given me she had been in
R----, a fashionable watering-place in this State. Now, if his was
true, and my theory correct, he must have been there also. To prove
this fact, became, consequently, my first business. I resolved to go to
R---- on the morrow.

But before proceeding in an undertaking of such importance, I
considered it expedient to make such inquiries and collect such facts
as the few hours I had left to work in rendered possible. I went first
to the house of Mr. Gryce.

I found him lying upon a hard sofa, in the bare sitting room I have
before mentioned, suffering from a severe attack of rheumatism. His
hands were done up in bandages, and his feet incased in multiplied
folds of a dingy red shawl which looked as if it had been through the
wars. Greeting me with a short nod that was both a welcome and an
apology, he devoted a few words to an explanation of his unwonted
position; and then, without further preliminaries, rushed into the
subject which was uppermost in both our minds by inquiring, in a
slightly sarcastic way, if I was very much surprised to find my bird
flown when I returned to the Hoffman House that afternoon.

"I was astonished to find you allowed him to fly at this time," I
replied. "From the manner in which you requested me to make his
acquaintance, I supposed you considered him an important character in
the tragedy which has just been enacted."

"And what makes you think I don't? Oh, the fact that I let him go
off so easily? That's no proof. I never fiddle with the brakes till
the car starts downhill. But let that pass for the present; Mr.
Clavering, then, did not explain himself before going?"

"That is a question which I find it exceedingly difficult to
answer. Hampered by circumstances, I cannot at present speak with the
directness which is your due, but what I can say, I will. Know, then,
that in my opinion Mr. Clavering did explain himself in an interview
with me this morning. But it was done in so blind a way, it will be
necessary for me to make a few investigations before I shall feel
sufficiently sure of my ground to take you into my confidence. He has
given me a possible clue----"

"Wait," said Mr. Gryce; "does he know this? Was it done
intentionally and with sinister motive, or unconsciously and in plain
good faith?"

"In good faith, I should say."

Mr. Gryce remained silent for a moment. "It is very unfortunate you
cannot explain yourself a little more definitely," he said at last. "I
am almost afraid to trust you to make investigations, as you call them,
on your own hook. You are not used to the business, and will lose time,
to say nothing of running upon false scents, and using up your strength
on unprofitable details."

"You should have thought of that when you admitted me into

"And you absolutely insist upon working this mine alone?"

"Mr. Gryce, the matter stands just here. Mr. Clavering, for all I
know, is a gentleman of untarnished reputation. I am not even aware for
what purpose you set me upon his trail. I only know that in thus
following it I have come upon certain facts that seem worthy of further

"Well, well; you know best. But the days are slipping by. Something
must be done, and soon. The public are becoming clamorous."

"I know it, and for that reason I have come to you for such
assistance as you can give me at this stage of the proceedings. You are
in possession of certain facts relating to this man which it concerns
me to know, or your conduct in reference to him has been purposeless.
Now, frankly, will you make me master of those facts: in short, tell
me all you know of Mr. Clavering, without requiring an immediate return
of confidence on my part?"

"That is asking a great deal of a professional detective."

"I know it, and under other circumstances I should hesitate long
before preferring such a request; but as things are, I don't see how I
am to proceed in the matter without some such concession on your part.
At all events----"

"Wait a moment! Is not Mr. Clavering the lover of one of the young

Anxious as I was to preserve the secret of my interest in that
gentleman, I could not prevent the blush from rising to my face at the
suddenness of this question.

"I thought as much," he went on. "Being neither a relative nor
acknowledged friend, I took it for granted he must occupy some such
position as that in the family."

"I do not see why you should draw such an inference," said I,
anxious to determine how much he knew about him. "Mr. Clavering is a
stranger in town; has not even been in this country long; has indeed
had no time to establish himself upon any such footing as you suggest."

"This is not the only time Mr. Clavering has been in New York. He
was here a year ago to my certain knowledge."

"You know that?"


"How much more do you know? Can it be possible I am groping
blindly about for facts which are already in your possession? I pray
you listen to my entreaties, Mr. Gryce, and acquaint me at once with
what I want to know. You will not regret it. I have no selfish motive
in this matter. If I succeed, the glory shall be yours; it I fail, the
shame of the defeat shall be mine."

"That is fair," he muttered. "And how about the reward?"

"My reward will be to free an innocent woman from the imputation of
crime which hangs over her."

This assurance seemed to satisfy him. His voice and appearance
changed; for a moment he looked quite confidential. "Well, well," said
he; "and what is it you want to know?"

"I should first like to know how your suspicions came to light on
him at all. What reason had you for thinking a gentleman of his bearing
and position was in any way connected with this affair?"

"That is a question you ought not to be obliged to put," he

"How so?"

"Simply because the opportunity of answering it was in your hands
before ever it came into mine."

"What do you mean?"

"Don't you remember the letter mailed in your presence by Miss Mary
Leavenworth during your drive from her home to that of her friend in
Thirty-seventh Street?"

"On the afternoon of the inquest?"


"Certainly, but----"

"You never thought to look at its superscription before it was
dropped into the box."

"I had neither opportunity nor right to do so."

"Was it not written in your presence?"

"It was."

"And you never regarded the affair as worth your attention?"

"However I may have regarded it, I did not see how I could prevent
Miss Leavenworth from dropping a letter into a box if she chose to do

"That is because you are a _gentleman._ Well, it has its
disadvantages," he muttered broodingly.

"But you," said I; "how came you to know anything about this
letter? Ah, I see," remembering that the carriage in which we were
riding at the time had been procured for us by him. "The man on the
box was in your pay, and informed, as you call it."

Mr. Gryce winked at his muffled toes mysteriously. "That is not the
point," he said. "Enough that I heard that a letter, which might
reasonably prove to be of some interest to me, had been dropped at such
an hour into the box on the corner of a certain street. That,
coinciding in the opinion of my informant, I telegraphed to the station
connected with that box to take note of the address of a
suspicious-looking letter about to pass through their hands on the way
to the General Post Office, and following up the telegram in person,
found that a curious epistle addressed in lead pencil and sealed with a
stamp, had just arrived, the address of which I was allowed to see----"

"And which was?"

"Henry R. Clavering, Hoffman House, New York."

I drew a deep breath. "And so that is how your attention first came
to be directed to this man?"


"Strange. But go on--what next?"

"Why, next I followed up the clue by going to the Hoffman House and
instituting inquiries. I learned that Mr. Clavering was a regular guest
of the hotel. That he had come there, direct from the Liverpool steamer,
about three months since, and, registering his name as Henry R.
Clavering, Esq., London, had engaged a first-class room which he had
kept ever since. That, although nothing definite was known concerning
him, he had been seen with various highly respectable people, both of
his own nation and ours, by all of whom he was treated with respect. And
lastly, that while not liberal, he had given many evidences of being a
man of means. So much done, I entered the office, and waited for him to
come in, in the hope of having an opportunity to observe his manner when
the clerk handed him that strange-looking letter from Mary Leavenworth."

"And did you succeed?"

"No; an awkward gawk of a fellow stepped between us just at the
critical moment, and shut off my view. But I heard enough that evening
from the clerk and servants, of the agitation he had shown on receiving
it, to convince me I was upon a trail worth following. I accordingly
put on my men, and for two days Mr. Clavering was subjected to the most
rigid watch a man ever walked under. But nothing was gained by it; his
interest in the murder, if interest at all, was a secret one; and
though he walked the streets, studied the papers, and haunted the
vicinity of the house in Fifth Avenue, he not only refrained from
actually approaching it, but made no attempt to communicate with any of
the family. Meanwhile, you crossed my path, and with your determination
incited me to renewed effort. Convinced from Mr. Clavering's bearing,
and the gossip I had by this time gathered in regard to him, that no
one short of a gentleman and a friend could succeed in getting at the
clue of his connection with this family, I handed him over to you,

"Found me rather an unmanageable colleague."

Mr. Gryce smiled very much as if a sour plum had been put in his
mouth, but made no reply; and a momentary pause ensued.

"Did you think to inquire," I asked at last, "if any one knew
where Mr. Clavering had spent the evening of the murder?"

"Yes; but with no good result. It was agreed he went out during
the evening; also that he was in his bed in the morning when the
servant came in to make his fire; but further than this no one seemed
to know."

"So that, in fact, you gleaned nothing that would in any way
connect this man with the murder except his marked and agitated
interest in it, and the fact that a niece of the murdered man had
written a letter to him?"

"That is all."

"Another question; did you hear in what manner and at what time he
procured a newspaper that evening?"

"No; I only learned that he was observed, by more than one, to
hasten out of the dining room with the _Post_ in his hand, and go
immediately to his room without touching his dinner."

"Humph! that does not look----"

"If Mr. Clavering had had a guilty knowledge of the crime, he would
either have ordered dinner before opening the paper, or, having ordered
it, he would have eaten it."

"Then you do not believe, from what you have learned, that Mr.
Clavering is the guilty party?"

Mr. Gryce shifted uneasily, glanced at the papers protruding from my
coat pocket and exclaimed: "I am ready to be convinced by you that he

That sentence recalled me to the business in hand. Without appearing
to notice his look, I recurred to my questions.

"How came you to know that Mr. Clavering was in this city last
summer? Did you learn that, too, at the Hoffman House?"

"No; I ascertained that in quite another way. In short, I have had
a communication from London in regard to the matter.

"From London?"

"Yes; I've a friend there in my own line of business, who
sometimes assists me with a bit of information, when requested."

"But how? You have not had time to write to London, and receive
an answer since the murder."

"It is not necessary to write. It is enough for me to telegraph him
the name of a person, for him to understand that I want to know
everything he can gather in a reasonable length of time about that

"And you sent the name of Mr. Clavering to him?"

"Yes, in cipher."

"And have received a reply?"

"This morning."

I looked towards his desk.

"It is not there," he said; "if you will be kind enough to feel in
my breast pocket you will find a letter----"

It was in my hand before he finished his sentence. "Excuse my
eagerness," I said. "This kind of business is new to me, you know."

He smiled indulgently at a very old and faded picture hanging on the
wall before him. "Eagerness is not a fault; only the betrayal of it.
But read out what you have there. Let us hear what my friend Brown has
to tell us of Mr. Henry Ritchie Clavering, of Portland Place, London."

I took the paper to the light and read as follows:

    "Henry Ritchie Clavering, Gentleman, aged 43. Born in

    ----, Hertfordshire, England. His father was Chas. Clavering, for
    short time in the army. Mother was Helen Ritchie, of Dumfriesshire,
    Scotland; she is still living. Home with H. R. C., in Portland Place,
    London. H. R. C. is a bachelor, 6 ft. high, squarely built, weight
    about 12 stone. Dark complexion, regular features. Eyes dark brown;
    nose straight. Called a handsome man; walks erect and rapidly. In
    society is considered a good fellow; rather a favorite, especially with
    ladies. Is liberal, not extravagant; reported to be worth about
    5000 pounds per year, and appearances give color to this statement.
    Property consists of a small estate in Hertfordshire, and some funds,
    amount not known. Since writing this much, a correspondent sends the
    following in regard to his history. In '46 went from uncle's house to
    Eton. From Eton went to Oxford, graduating in '56. Scholarship good. In
    1855 his uncle died, and his father succeeded to the estates. Father
    died in '57 by a fall from his horse or a similar accident. Within a
    very short time H. R. C. took his mother to London, to the residence
    named, where they have lived to the present time.

    "Travelled considerably in 1860; part of the time was with
    ----, of Munich; also in party of Vandervorts from New York; went
    as far east as Cairo. Went to America in 1875 alone, but at end of
    three months returned on account of mother's illness. Nothing is known
    of his movements while in America.

    "From servants learn that he was always a favorite from a boy. More
    recently has become somewhat taciturn. Towards last of his stay watched
    the post carefully, especially foreign ones. Posted scarcely anything
    but newspapers. Has written to Munich. Have seen, from waste-paper
    basket, torn envelope directed to Amy Belden, no address. American
    correspondents mostly in Boston; two in New York. Names not known, but
    supposed to be bankers. Brought home considerable luggage, and fitted
    up part of house, as for a lady. This was closed soon afterwards. Left
    for America two months since. Has been, I understand, travelling in the
    south. Has telegraphed twice to Portland Place. His friends hear from
    him but rarely. Letters rec'd recently, posted in New York. One by last
    steamer posted in F----, N. Y.

    "Business here conducted by ----. In the country, ---- of ---- has
    charge of the property.


The document fell from my hands.

F----, N. Y., was a small town near R----.

"Your friend _is a_ trump," I declared. "He tells me just
what I wanted most to know." And, taking out my book, I made memoranda
of the facts which had most forcibly struck me during my perusal of the
communication before me. "With the aid of what he tells me, I shall
ferret out the mystery of Henry Clavering in a week; see if I do not."

"And how soon," inquired Mr. Gryce, "may I expect to be allowed to
take a hand in the game?"

"As soon as I am reasonably assured I am upon the right tack."

"And what will it take to assure you of that?"

"Not much; a certain point settled, and----"

"Hold on; who knows but what I can do that for you?" And,
looking towards the desk which stood in the corner, Mr. Gryce asked me
if I would be kind enough to open the top drawer and bring him the bits
of partly-burned paper I would find there.

Hastily complying, I brought three or four strips of ragged paper,
and laid them on the table at his side.

"Another result of Fobbs' researches under the coal on the first
day of the inquest," Mr. Gryce abruptly explained. "You thought the
key was all he found. Well, it wasn't. A second turning over of the
coal brought these to light, and very interesting they are, too."

I immediately bent over the torn and discolored scraps with great
anxiety. They were four in number, and appeared at first glance to be
the mere remnants of a sheet of common writing-paper, torn lengthwise
into strips, and twisted up into lighters; but, upon closer
inspection, they showed traces of writing upon one side, and, what was
more important still, the presence of one or more drops of spattered
blood. This latter discovery was horrible to me, and so overcame me for
the moment that I put the scraps down, and, turning towards Mr. Gryce,

"What do you make of them?"

"That is just the question I was going to put to you."

Swallowing my disgust, I took them up again. "They look like the
remnants of some old letter," said I.

"They have that appearance," Mr. Gryce grimly assented.

"A letter which, from the drop of blood observable on the written
side, must have been lying face up on Mr. Leavenworth's table at the
time of the murder--"

"Just so."

"And from the uniformity in width of each of these pieces, as well
as their tendency to curl up when left alone, must first have been torn
into even strips, and then severally rolled up, before being tossed
into the grate where they were afterwards found."

"That is all good," said Mr. Gryce; "go on."

"The writing, so far as discernible, is that of a cultivated
gentleman. It is not that of Mr. Leavenworth; for I have studied his
chirography too much lately not to know it at a glance; but it may be--
Hold!" I suddenly exclaimed, "have you any mucilage handy? I think,
if I could paste these strips down upon a piece of paper, so that they
would remain flat, I should be able to tell you what I think of them
much more easily."

"There is mucilage on the desk," signified Mr. Gryce.

Procuring it, I proceeded to consult the scraps once more for
evidence to guide me in their arrangement. These were more marked than
I expected; the longer and best preserved strip, with its "Mr. Hor" at
the top, showing itself at first blush to be the left-hand margin of
the letter, while the machine-cut edge of the next in length presented
tokens fully as conclusive of its being the right-hand margin of the
same. Selecting these, then, I pasted them down on a piece of paper at
just the distance they would occupy if the sheet from which they were
torn was of the ordinary commercial note size. Immediately it became
apparent: first, that it would take two other strips of the same width
to fill up the space left between them; and secondly, that the writing
did not terminate at the foot of the sheet, but was carried on to
another page.

Taking up the third strip, I looked at its edge; it was machine-cut
at the top, and showed by the arrangement of its words that it was the
margin strip of a second leaf. Pasting that down by itself, I
scrutinized the fourth, and finding it also machine-cut at the top but
not on the side, endeavored to fit it to the piece already pasted down,
but the words would not match. Moving it along to the position it would
hold if it were the third strip, I fastened it down; the
whole presenting, when completed, the appearance seen on the opposite

"Well!" exclaimed Mr. Gryce, "that's business." Then, as I held
it up before his eyes: "But don't show it to me. Study it yourself,
and tell me what you think of it."

"Well," said I, "this much is certain: that it is a letter
directed to Mr. Leavenworth from some House, and dated--let's see;
that is an _h,_ isn't it?" And I pointed to the one letter just
discernible on the line under the word House.

"I should think so; but don't ask me."

"It must be an _h._ The year is 1875, and this is not the
termination of either January or February. Dated, then, March 1st,
1876, and signed----"

Mr. Gryce rolled his eyes in anticipatory ecstasy towards the

"By Henry Clavering," I announced without hesitation.

Mr. Gryce's eyes returned to his swathed finger-ends. "Humph! how
do you know that?"

"Wait a moment, and I'll show you"; and, taking out of my
pocket the card which Mr. Clavering had handed me as an introduction at
our late interview, I laid it underneath the last line of writing on
the second page. One glance was sufficient. Henry Ritchie Clavering on
the card; H----chie--in the same handwriting on the letter.

"Clavering it is," said he, "without a doubt." But I saw he was
not surprised.

"And now," I continued, "for its general tenor and meaning." And,
commencing at the beginning, I read aloud the words as they came, with
pauses at the breaks, something as follows: "Mr. Hor--Dear--_a_
niece whom yo--one too who see--the love and trus-- any other man
ca--autiful, so char----s she in face fo----conversation, ery rose has
its----rose is no exception------ ely as she is, char----tender as she
is, s----------pable of tramplin------one who trusted----
heart------------. -------------------- him to----he owes

"If------t believe ---- her to----cruel----face,---- what is----
ble serv----yours


"It reads like a complaint against one of Mr. Leavenworth's
nieces," I said, and started at my own words.

"What is it?" cried Mr. Gryce; "what is the matter?"

"Why," said I, "the fact is I have heard this very letter spoken
of. It _is_ a complaint against one of Mr. Leavenworth's nieces,
and was written by Mr. Clavering." And I told him of Mr. Harwell's
communication in regard to the matter.

"Ah! then Mr. Harwell has been talking, has he? I thought he had
forsworn gossip."

"Mr. Harwell and I have seen each other almost daily for the last
two weeks," I replied. "It would be strange if he had nothing to tell

"And he says he has read a letter written to Mr. Leavenworth by Mr.

"Yes; but the particular words of which he has now forgotten."

"These few here may assist him in recalling the rest."

"I would rather not admit him to a knowledge of the existence of
this piece of evidence. I don't believe in letting any one into our
confidence whom we can conscientiously keep out."

"I see you don't," dryly responded Mr. Gryce.

Not appearing to notice the fling conveyed by these words, I took up
the letter once more, and began pointing out such half-formed words in
it as I thought we might venture to complete, as the Hor--, yo--, see--
utiful----, har----, for----, tramplin----, pable----, serv----.

This done, I next proposed the introduction of such others as seemed
necessary to the sense, as _Leavenworth_ after _Horatio; Sir_
after _Dear; have_ with a possible _you_ before _a niece;
thorn_ after _Us_ in the phrase _rose has its; on_ after _
trampling; whom_ after _to; debt after a; you_ after _If; me
ask_ after _believe; beautiful_ after _cruel._

Between the columns of words thus furnished I interposed a phrase or
two, here and there, the whole reading upon its completion as follows:

"------------ House." March 1st, 1876.

"_Mr. Horatio Leavenworth; "Dear Sir:_

"(You) have a niece whom you one too who seems worthy the love and
trust of any other man ca so beautiful, so charming is she in face form
and conversation. But every rose has its thorn and (this) rose is no
exception lovely as she is, charming (as she is,) tender as she is, she is
capable of trampling on one who trusted her heart a him to whom she owes
a debt of honor a ance

"If you don't believe me ask her to her cruel beautiful face what is
(her) humble servant

"Henry Ritchie Clavering."

"I think that will do," said Mr. Gryce. "Its general tenor is
evident, and that is all we want at this time."

"The whole tone of it is anything but complimentary to the lady it
mentions," I remarked. "He must have had, or imagined he had, some
desperate grievance, to provoke him to the use of such plain language
in regard to one he can still characterize as tender, charming,

"Grievances are apt to lie back of mysterious crimes."

"I think I know what this one was," I said; "but"--seeing him
look up--"must decline to communicate my suspicion to you for the
present. My theory stands unshaken, and in some degree confirmed; and
that is all I can say."

"Then this letter does not supply the link you wanted?"

"No: it is a valuable bit of evidence; but it is not the link I am
in search of just now."

"Yet it must be an important clue, or Eleanore Leavenworth would
not have been to such pains, first to take it in the way she did from
her uncle's table, and secondly----"

"Wait! what makes you think this is the paper she took, or was
believed to have taken, from Mr. Leavenworth's table on that fatal

"Why, the fact that it was found together with the key, which we
know she dropped into the grate, and that there are drops of blood on

I shook my head.

"Why do you shake your head?" asked Mr. Gryce.

"Because I am not satisfied with your reason for believing this to
be the paper taken by her from Mr. Leavenworth's table."

"And why?"

"Well, first, because Fobbs does not speak of seeing any paper in
her hand, when she bent over the fire; leaving us to conclude that
these pieces were in the scuttle of coal she threw upon it; which
surely you must acknowledge to be a strange place for her to have put a
paper she took such pains to gain possession of; and, secondly, for the
reason that these scraps were twisted as if they had been used for curl
papers, or something of that kind; a fact hard to explain by your

The detective's eye stole in the direction of my necktie, which was
as near as he ever came to a face. "You are a bright one," said he;
"a very bright one. I quite admire you, Mr. Raymond."

A little surprised, and not altogether pleased with this unexpected
compliment, I regarded him doubtfully for a moment and then asked:

"What is your opinion upon the matter?"

"Oh, you know I have no opinion. I gave up everything of that kind
when I put the affair into your hands."


"That the letter of which these scraps are the remnant was on Mr.
Leavenworth's table at the time of the murder is believed. That upon
the body being removed, a paper was taken from the table by Miss
Eleanore Leavenworth, is also believed. That, when she found her action
had been noticed, and attention called to this paper and the key, she
resorted to subterfuge in order to escape the vigilance of the watch
that had been set over her, and, partially succeeding in her endeavor,
flung the key into the fire from which these same scraps were
afterwards recovered, is also known. The conclusion I leave to your

"Very well, then," said I, rising; "we will let conclusions go for
the present. My mind must be satisfied in regard to the truth or
falsity of a certain theory of mine, for my judgment to be worth much
on this or any other matter connected with the affair."

And, only waiting to get the address of his subordinate Q., in case
I should need assistance in my investigations, I left Mr. Gryce, and
proceeded immediately to the house of Mr. Veeley.


    "Fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."
        --Old Song.

    "I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted."
        --Measure for Measure.

"YOU have never heard, then, the particulars of Mr. Leavenworth's

It was my partner who spoke. I had been asking him to explain to me
Mr. Leavenworth's well-known antipathy to the English race.


"If you had, you would not need to come to me for this explanation.
But it is not strange you are ignorant of the matter. I doubt if there
are half a dozen persons in existence who could tell you where Horatio
Leavenworth found the lovely woman who afterwards became his wife, much
less give you any details of the circumstances which led to his

"I am very fortunate, then, in being in the confidence of one who
can. What were those circumstances, Mr. Veeley?"

"It will aid you but little to hear. Horatio Leavenworth, when a
young man, was very ambitious; so much so, that at one time he aspired
to marry a wealthy lady of Providence. But, chancing to go to England,
he there met a young woman whose grace and charm had such an effect
upon him that he relinquished all thought of the Providence lady,
though it was some time before he could face the prospect of marrying
the one who had so greatly interested him; as she was not only in
humble circumstances, but was encumbered with a child concerning whose
parentage the neighbors professed ignorance, and she had nothing to
say. But, as is very apt to be the case in an affair like this, love
and admiration soon got the better of worldly wisdom. Taking his future
in his hands, he offered himself as her husband, when she immediately
proved herself worthy of his regard by entering at once into those
explanations he was too much of a gentleman to demand. The story she
told was pitiful. She proved to be an American by birth, her father
having been a well-known merchant of Chicago. While he lived, her home
was one of luxury, but just as she was emerging into womanhood he died.
It was at his funeral she met the man destined to be her ruin. How he
came there she never knew; he was not a friend of her father's. It is
enough he was there, and saw her, and that in three weeks--don't
shudder, she was such a child--they were married. In twenty-four
hours she knew what that word meant for her; it meant blows. Everett,
I am telling no fanciful story. In twenty-four hours after that girl
was married, her husband, coming drunk into the house, found her in his
way, and knocked her down. It was but the beginning. Her father's
estate, on being settled up, proving to be less than expected, he
carried her off to England, where he did not wait to be drunk in order
to maltreat her. She was not free from his cruelty night or day. Before
she was sixteen, she had run the whole gamut of human suffering; and
that, not at the hands of a coarse, common ruffian, but from an
elegant, handsome, luxury-loving gentleman, whose taste in dress was so
nice he would sooner fling a garment of hers into the fire than see her
go into company clad in a manner he did not consider becoming. She bore
it till her child was born, then she fled. Two days after the little
one saw the light, she rose from her bed and, taking her baby in her
arms, ran out of the house. The few jewels she had put into her pocket
supported her till she could set up a little shop. As for her husband,
she neither saw him, nor heard from him, from the day she left him till
about two weeks before Horatio Leavenworth first met her, when she
learned from the papers that he was dead. She was, therefore, free;
but though she loved Horatio Leavenworth with all her heart, she would
not marry him. She felt herself forever stained and soiled by the one
awful year of abuse and contamination. Nor could he persuade her. Not
till the death of her child, a month or so after his proposal, did she
consent to give him her hand and what remained of her unhappy life. He
brought her to New York, surrounded her with luxury and every tender
care, but the arrow had gone too deep; two years from the day her
child breathed its last, she too died. It was the blow of his life to
Horatio Leavenworth; he was never the same man again. Though Mary and
Eleanore shortly after entered his home, he never recovered his old
light-heartedness. Money became his idol, and the ambition to make and
leave a great fortune behind him modified all his views of life. But
one proof remained that he never forgot the wife of his youth, and that
was, he could not bear to have the word 'Englishman' uttered in his

Mr. Veeley paused, and I rose to go. "Do you remember how Mrs.
Leavenworth looked?" I asked. "Could you describe her to me?"

He seemed a little astonished at my request, but immediately replied:
"She was a very pale woman; not strictly beautiful, but of a
contour and expression of great charm. Her hair was brown, her eyes

"And very wide apart?"

He nodded, looking still more astonished. "How came you to know?
Have you seen her picture?"

I did not answer that question.

On my way downstairs, I bethought me of a letter which I had in my
pocket for Mr. Veeley's son, Fred, and, knowing of no surer way of
getting it to him that night than by leaving it on the library table, I
stepped to the door of that room, which in this house was at the rear
of the parlors, and receiving no reply to my knock, opened it and
looked in.

The room was unlighted, but a cheerful fire was burning in the
grate, and by its glow I espied a lady crouching on the hearth, whom at
first glance I took for Mrs. Veeley. But, upon advancing and addressing
her by that name, I saw my mistake; for the person before me not only
refrained from replying, but, rising at the sound of my voice, revealed
a form of such noble proportions that all possibility of its being that
of the dainty little wife of my partner fled.

"I see I have made a mistake," said I. "I beg your pardon "; and
would have left the room, but something in the general attitude of the
lady before me restrained me, and, believing it to be Mary
Leavenworth, I inquired:

"Can it be this is Miss Leavenworth?"

The noble figure appeared to droop, the gently lifted head to fall,
and for a moment I doubted if I had been correct in my supposition.
Then form and head slowly erected themselves, a soft voice spoke, and I
heard a low "yes," and hurriedly advancing, confronted--not Mary,
with her glancing, feverish gaze, and scarlet, trembling lips--but
Eleanore, the woman whose faintest look had moved me from the first,
the woman whose husband I believed myself to be even then pursuing to
his doom!

The surprise was too great; I could neither sustain nor conceal it.
Stumbling slowly back, I murmured something about having believed it to
be her cousin; and then, conscious only of the one wish to fly a
presence I dared not encounter in my present mood, turned, when her
rich, heart-full voice rose once more and I heard:

"You will not leave me without a word, Mr. Raymond, now that chance
has thrown us together?" Then, as I came slowly forward: "Were you
so very much astonished to find me here?"

"I do not know--I did not expect--" was my incoherent reply. "I
had heard you were ill; that you went nowhere; that you had no wish to
see your friends."

"I have been ill," she said; "but I am better now, and have come
to spend the night with Mrs. Veeley, because I could not endure the
stare of the four walls of my room any longer."

This was said without any effort at plaintiveness, but rather as if
she thought it necessary to excuse herself for being where she was.

"I am glad you did so," said I. "You ought to be here all the
while. That dreary, lonesome boarding-house is no place for you, Miss
Leavenworth. It distresses us all to feel that you are exiling yourself
at this time."

"I do not wish anybody to be distressed," she returned. "It is best
for me to be where I am. Nor am I altogether alone. There is a child
there whose innocent eyes see nothing but innocence in mine. She will
keep me from despair. Do not let my friends be anxious; I can bear
it." Then, in a lower tone: "There is but one thing which really
unnerves me; and that is my ignorance of what is going on at home.
Sorrow I can bear, but suspense is killing me. Will you not tell me
something of Mary and home? I cannot ask Mrs. Veeley; she is kind,
but has no real knowledge of Mary or me, nor does she know anything of
our estrangement. She thinks me obstinate, and blames me for leaving my
cousin in her trouble. But you know I could not help it. You know,--"
her voice wavered off into a tremble, and she did not conclude.

"I cannot tell you much," I hastened to reply; "but whatever
knowledge is at my command is certainly yours. Is there anything in
particular you wish to know?"

"Yes, how Mary is; whether she is well, and--and composed."

"Your cousin's health is good," I returned; "but I fear I cannot
say she is composed. She is greatly troubled about you."

"You see her often, then?"

"I am assisting Mr. Harwell in preparing your uncle's book for the
press, and necessarily am there much of the time."

"My uncle's book!" The words came in a tone of low horror.

"Yes, Miss Leavenworth. It has been thought best to bring it before
the world, and----"

"And Mary has set you at the task?"


It seemed as if she could not escape from the horror which this
caused. "How could she? Oh, how could she!"

"She considers herself as fulfilling her uncle's wishes. He was
very anxious, as you know, to have the book out by July."

"Do not speak of it!" she broke in, "I cannot bear it." Then, as
if she feared she had hurt my feelings by her abruptness, lowered her
voice and said: "I do not, however, know of any one I should be better
pleased to have charged with the task than yourself. With you it will
be a work of respect and reverence; but--a stranger--Oh, I could not
have endured a stranger touching it."

She was fast falling into her old horror; but rousing herself,
murmured: "I wanted to ask you something; ah, I know"--and she
moved so as to face me. "I wish to inquire if everything is as before
in the house; the servants the same and--and other things?"

"There is a Mrs. Darrell there; I do not know of any other change."

"Mary does not talk of going away?"

"I think not."

"But she has visitors? Some one besides Mrs. Darrell to help her
bear her loneliness?"

I knew what was coming, and strove to preserve my composure.

"Yes," I replied; "a few."

"Would you mind naming them?" How low her tones were, but how

"Certainly not. Mrs. Veeley, Mrs. Gilbert, Miss Martin, and

"Go on," she whispered.

"A gentleman by the name of Clavering."

"You speak that name with evident embarrassment," she said, after
a moment of intense anxiety on my part. "May I inquire why?"

Astounded, I raised my eyes to her face. It was very pale, and wore
the old look of self-repressed calm I remembered so well. I immediately
dropped my gaze.

"Why? because there are some circumstances surrounding him which
have struck me as peculiar."

"How so?" she asked.

"He appears under two names. To-day it is Clavering; a short time
ago it was----"

"Go on."


Her dress rustled on the hearth; there was a sound of desolation in
it; but her voice when she spoke was expressionless as that of an

"How many times has this person, of whose name you do not appear to
be certain, been to see Mary?"


"When was it?"

"Last night."

"Did he stay long?"

"About twenty minutes, I should say."

"And do you think he will come again?"



"He has left the country."

A short silence followed this, I felt her eyes searching my face,
but doubt whether, if I had known she held a loaded pistol, I could
have looked up at that moment.

"Mr. Raymond," she at length observed, in a changed tone, "the
last time I saw you, you told me you were going to make some endeavor
to restore me to my former position before the world. I did not wish
you to do so then; nor do I wish you to do so now. Can you not make me
comparatively happy, then, by assuring me you have abandoned or will
abandon a project so hopeless?"

"It is impossible," I replied with emphasis. "I cannot abandon it.
Much as I grieve to be a source of--sorrow to you, it is best you should
know that I can never give up the hope of righting you while I live."

She put out her hand in a sort of hopeless appeal inexpressibly
touching to behold in the fast waning firelight. But I was relentless.

"I should never be able to face the world or my own conscience if,
through any weakness of my own, I should miss the blessed privilege of
setting the wrong right, and saving a noble woman from unmerited
disgrace." And then, seeing she was not likely to reply to this, drew a
step nearer and said: "Is there not some little kindness I can show
you, Miss Leavenworth? Is there no message you would like taken, or
act it would give you pleasure to see performed?"

She stopped to think. "No," said she; "I have only one request to
make, and that you refuse to grant."

"For the most unselfish of reasons," I urged.

She slowly shook her head. "You think so"; then, before I could
reply, "I could desire one little favor shown me, however."

"What is that?"

"That if anything should transpire; if Hannah should be found, or
--or my presence required in any way,--you will not keep me in
ignorance. That you will let me know the worst when it conies, without

"I will."

"And now, good-night. Mrs. Veeley is coming back, and you would
scarcely wish to be found here by her."

"No," said I.

And yet I did not go, but stood watching the firelight flicker on
her black dress till the thought of Clavering and the duty I had for
the morrow struck coldly to my heart, and I turned away towards the
door. But at the threshold I paused again, and looked back. Oh, the
flickering, dying fire flame! Oh, the crowding, clustering shadows!
Oh, that drooping figure in their midst, with its clasped hands and its
hidden face! I see it all again; I see it as in a dream; then darkness
falls, and in the glare of gas-lighted streets, I am hastening along,
solitary and sad, to my lonely home.


    "Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
    Where most it promises; and oft it hits
    Where Hope is coldest, and Despair most sits."
        --All's Well that Ends Well.

WHEN I told Mr. Gryce I only waited for the determination of one
fact, to feel justified in throwing the case unreservedly into his
hands, I alluded to the proving or disproving of the supposition that
Henry Clavering had been a guest at the same watering-place with
Eleanore Leavenworth the summer before.

When, therefore, I found myself the next morning with the Visitor
Book of the Hotel Union at R---- in my hands, it was only by the
strongest effort of will I could restrain my impatience. The suspense,
however, was short. Almost immediately I encountered his name, written
not half a page below those of Mr. Leavenworth and his nieces, and,
whatever may have been my emotion at finding my suspicions thus
confirmed, I recognized the fact that I was in the possession of a clue
which would yet lead to the solving of the fearful problem which had
been imposed upon me.

Hastening to the telegraph office, I sent a message for the man
promised me by Mr. Gryce, and receiving for an answer that he could not
be with me before three o'clock, started for the house of Mr. Monell, a
client of ours, living in R----. I found him at home and, during our
interview of two hours, suffered the ordeal of appearing at ease and
interested in what he had to say, while my heart was heavy with its
first disappointment and my brain on fire with the excitement of the
work then on my hands.

I arrived at the depot just as the train came in.

There was but one passenger for R----, a brisk young man, whose
whole appearance differed so from the description which had been given
me of Q that I at once made up my mind he could not be the man I
was looking for, and was turning away disappointed, when he approached,
and handed me a card on which was inscribed the single character "?"
Even then I could not bring myself to believe that the slyest and most
successful agent in Mr. Gryce's employ was before me, till, catching
his eye, I saw such a keen, enjoyable twinkle sparkling in its depths
that all doubt fled, and, returning his bow with a show of
satisfaction, I remarked:

"You are very punctual. I like that."

He gave another short, quick nod. "Glad, sir, to please you.
Punctuality is too cheap a virtue not to be practised by a man on the
lookout for a rise. But what orders, sir? Down train due in ten
minutes; no time to spare."

"Down train? What have we to do with that?"

"I thought you might wish to take it, sir. Mr. Brown"--winking
expressively at the name, "always checks his carpet-bag for home when
he sees me coming. But that is your affair; I am not particular."

"I wish to do what is wisest under the circumstances."

"Go home, then, as speedily as possible." And he gave a third sharp
nod exceedingly business-like and determined.

"If I leave you, it is with the understanding that you bring your
information first to me; that you are in my employ, and in that of no
one else for the time being; and that _mum_ is the word till I
give you liberty to speak."

"Yes, sir. When I work for Brown & Co. I do not work for Smith &
Jones. That you can count on."

"Very well then, here are your instructions."

He looked at the paper I handed him with a certain degree of care,
then stepped into the waiting room and threw it into the stove, saying
in a low tone: "So much in case I should meet with some accident: have
an apoplectic fit, or anything of that sort."


"Oh, don't worry; I sha'n't forget. I've a memory, sir. No
need of anybody using pen and paper with me."

And laughing in the short, quick way one would expect from a person
of his appearance and conversation, he added: "You will probably
hear from me in a day or so," and bowing, took his brisk, free way down
the street just as the train came rushing in from the West.

My instructions to Q were as follows:

1. To find out on what day, and in whose company, the Misses Leavenworth
 arrived at R---- the year before. What their movements had been
while there, and in whose society they were oftenest to be seen. Also
the date of their departure, and such facts as could be gathered in
regard to their habits, etc.

2. Ditto in respect to a Mr. Henry Clavering, fellow-guest and
probable friend of said ladies.

3. Name of individual fulfilling the following requirements:
Clergyman, Methodist, deceased since last December or thereabouts, who
in July of Seventy-five was located in some town not over twenty miles
from R----.

4. Also name and present whereabouts of a man at that time in
service of the above.

To say that the interval of time necessary to a proper inquiry into
these matters was passed by me in any reasonable frame of mind, would
be to give myself credit for an equanimity of temper which I
unfortunately do not possess. Never have days seemed so long as the two
which interposed between my return from R---- and the receipt of the
following letter:


"Individuals mentioned arrived in R---- July 3, 1875. Party
consisted of four; the two ladies, their uncle, and the girl named
Hannah. Uncle remained three days, and then left for a short tour
through Massachusetts. Gone two weeks, during which ladies were seen
more or less with the gentleman named between us, but not to an extent
sufficient to excite gossip or occasion remark, when said gentleman
left R---- abruptly, two days after uncle's return. Date July 19. As to
habits of ladies, more or less social. They were always to be seen at
picnics, rides, etc., and in the ballroom. M---- liked best. E----
considered grave, and, towards the last of her stay, moody. It is
remembered now that her manner was always peculiar, and that she was
more or less shunned by her cousin.

However, in the opinion of one girl still to be found at the hotel,
she was the sweetest lady that ever breathed. No particular reason for
this opinion. Uncle, ladies, and servants left R---- for New York,
August 7, 1875.

"2. H. C. arrived at the hotel in R----July 6, 1875, in company with
Mr. and Mrs. Vandervort, friends of the above. Left July 19, two weeks
from day of arrival. little to be learned in regard to him. Remembered
as the handsome gentleman who was in the party with the L, girls, and
that is all.

"3. F----, a small town, some sixteen or seventeen miles from R----,
had for its Methodist minister, in July of last year, a man who has
since died, Samuel Stebbins by name. Date of decease, Jan. 7 of this

"4. Name of man in employ of S. S. at that time is Timothy Cook. He
has been absent, but returned to P---- two days ago. Can be seen if

"Ah, ha!" I cried aloud at this point, in my sudden surprise and
satisfaction; "now we have something to work upon!" And sitting down
I penned the following reply:

"T. C. wanted by all means. Also any evidence going to prove that H.
C. and B. L. were married at the house of Mr. S. on any day of July or
August last."

Next morning came the following telegram:

"T. C. on the road. Remembers a marriage. Will be with you by 2 p.m."

At three o'clock of that same day, I stood before Mr. Gryce. "I am
here to make my report," I announced.

The flicker of a smile passed over his face, and he gazed for the
first time at his bound-up finger-ends with a softening aspect which
must have done them good. "I'm ready," said he.

"Mr. Gryce," I began, "do you remember the conclusion we came to
at our first interview in this house?"

"I remember the _one you_ came to."

"Well, well," I acknowledged a little peevishly, "the one I came
to, then. It was this: that if we could find to whom Eleanore
Leavenworth felt she owed her best duty and love, we should discover
the man who murdered her uncle."

"And do you imagine you have done this?"

"I do."

His eyes stole a little nearer my face. "Well! that is good; go

"When I undertook this business of clearing Eleanore Leavenworth
from suspicion," I resumed, "it was with the premonition that this
person would prove to be her lover; but I had no idea he would prove
to be her husband."

Mr. Gryce's gaze flashed like lightning to the ceiling.

"What!" he ejaculated with a frown.

"The lover of Eleanore Leavenworth is likewise her husband," I
repeated. "Mr. Clavering holds no lesser connection to her than that."

"How have you found that out?" demanded Mr. Gryce, in a harsh
tone that argued disappointment or displeasure.

"That I will not take time to state. The question is not how I
became acquainted with a certain thing, but is what I assert in regard
to it true. If you will cast your eye over this summary of events
gleaned by me from the lives of these two persons, I think you will
agree with me that it is." And I held up before his eyes the following:

"During the two weeks commencing July 6, of the year 1875, and
ending July 19, of the same year, Henry R. Clavering, of London, and
Eleanore Leavenworth, of New York, were guests of the same hotel. _
Fact proved by Visitor Book of the Hotel Union at R_----, _New

"They were not only guests of the same hotel, but are known to have
held more or less communication with each other. _Fact proved by such
servants now employed in R---- as were in the hotel at that time._

"July 19. Mr. Clavering left R---- abruptly, a circumstance that
would not be considered remarkable if Mr. Leavenworth, whose violent
antipathy to Englishmen as husbands is publicly known, had not just
returned from a journey.

"July 30. Mr. Clavering was seen in the parlor of Mr. Stebbins, the
Methodist minister at F----, a town about sixteen miles from R----,
where he was married to a lady of great beauty. _Proved by Timothy
Cook, a man in the employ of Mr. Stebbins, who was called in from the
garden to witness the ceremony and sign a paper supposed to be a

"July 31. Mr. Clavering takes steamer for Liverpool. _Proved by
newspapers of that date._

"September. Eleanore Leavenworth in her uncle's house in New York,
conducting herself as usual, but pale of face and preoccupied in
manner. _Proved by servants then in her service._ Mr. Clavering in
London; watches the United States mails with eagerness, but receives
no letters. Fits up room elegantly, as for a lady. _Proved by secret
communication from London._

"November. Miss Leavenworth still in uncle's house. No publication
of her marriage ever made. Mr. Clavering in London; shows signs of
uneasiness; the room prepared for lady closed. _Proved as above._

"January 17, 1876. Mr. Clavering, having returned to America,
engages room at Hoffman House, New York.

"March 1 or 2. Mr. Leavenworth receives a letter signed by Henry
Clavering, in which he complains of having been ill-used by one of that
gentleman's nieces. A manifest shade falls over the family at this time.

"March 4. Mr. Clavering under a false name inquires at the door of
Mr. Leavenworth's house for Miss Eleanore Leavenworth. _Proved by

"March 4th?" exclaimed Mr. Gryce at this point. "That was the
night of the murder."

"Yes; the Mr. Le Roy Robbins said to have called that evening was
none other than Mr. Clavering."

"March 19. Miss Mary Leavenworth, in a conversation with me,
acknowledges that there is a secret in the family, and is just upon the
point of revealing its nature, when Mr. Clavering enters the house.
Upon his departure she declares her unwillingness ever to mention the
subject again."

Mr. Gryce slowly waved the paper aside. "And from these facts you
draw the inference that Eleanore Leavenworth is the wife of Mr.

"I do."

"And that, being his wife----"

"It would be natural for her to conceal anything she knew likely to
criminate him."

"Always supposing Clavering himself had done anything criminal!"

"Of course."

"Which latter supposition you now propose to justify!"

"Which latter supposition it is left for _us_ to justify."

A peculiar gleam shot over Mr. Gryce's somewhat abstracted
countenance. "Then you have no new evidence against Mr. Clavering?"

"I should think the fact just given, of his standing in the
relation of unacknowledged husband to the suspected party was

"No positive evidence as to his being the assassin of Mr.
Leavenworth, I mean?"

I was obliged to admit I had none which he would Consider positive.
"But I can show the existence of motive; and I can likewise show it
was not only possible, but probable, he was in the house at the time of
the murder."

"Ah, you can!" cried Mr. Gryce, rousing a little from his

"The motive was the usual one of self-interest. Mr. Leavenworth
stood in the way of Eleanore's acknowledging him as a husband, and he
must therefore be put out of the way."


"Motives for murders are sometimes weak."

"The motive for this was not. Too much calculation was shown for
the arm to have been nerved by anything short of the most deliberate
intention, founded upon the deadliest necessity of passion or avarice."


"One should never deliberate upon the causes which have led to the
destruction of a rich man without taking into account that most common
passion of the human race."


"Let us hear what you have to say of Mr. Clavering's presence in
the house at the time of the murder."

I related what Thomas the butler had told me in regard to Mr.
Clavering's call upon Miss Leavenworth that night, and the lack of
proof which existed as to his having left the house when supposed to do

"That is worth remembering," said Mr. Gryce at the conclusion.
"Valueless as direct evidence, it might prove of great value as
corroborative." Then, in a graver tone, he went on to say: "Mr.
Raymond, are you aware that in all this you have been strengthening the
case against Eleanore Leavenworth instead of weakening it?"

I could only ejaculate, in my sudden wonder and dismay.

"You have shown her to be secret, sly, and unprincipled; capable
of wronging those to whom she was most bound, her uncle and her

"You put it very strongly," said I, conscious of a shocking
discrepancy between this description of Eleanore's character and all
that I had preconceived in regard to it.

"No more so than your own conclusions from this story warrant me
in doing." Then, as I sat silent, murmured low, and as if to himself:
"If the case was dark against her before, it is doubly so with this
supposition established of her being the woman secretly married to Mr.

"And yet," I protested, unable to give up my hope without a
struggle; "you do not, cannot, believe the noble-looking Eleanore
guilty of this horrible crime?"

"No," he slowly said; "you might as well know right here what I
think about that. I believe Eleanore Leavenworth to be an innocent

"You do? Then what," I cried, swaying between joy at this admission
and doubt as to the meaning of his former expressions, "remains to be

Mr. Gryce quietly responded: "Why, nothing but to prove your
supposition a false one."


    "Look here upon this picture and on this."

I STARED at him in amazement. "I doubt if it will be so very
difficult," said he. Then, in a sudden burst, "Where is the man Cook?"

"He is below with Q."

"That was a wise move; let us see the boys; have them up."

Stepping to the door I called them.

"I expected, of course, you would want to question them," said I,
coming back.

In another moment the spruce Q and the shock-headed Cook entered the

"Ah," said Mr. Gryce, directing his attention at the latter in his
own whimsical, non-committal way; "this is the deceased Mr. Stebbins'
hired man, is it? Well, you look as though you could tell the truth."

"I usually calculate to do that thing, sir; at all events, I was
never called a liar as I can remember."

"Of course not, of course not," returned the affable detective.
Then, without any further introduction: "What was the first name of
the lady you saw married in your master's house last summer?"

"Bless me if I know! I don't think I heard, sir."

"But you recollect how she looked?"

"As well as if she was my own mother. No disrespect to the lady,
sir, if you know her," he made haste to add, glancing hurriedly at me.
"What I mean is, she was so handsome, I could never forget the look
of her sweet face if I lived a hundred years."

"Can you describe her?"

"I don't know, sirs; she was tall and grand-looking, had the
brightest eyes and the whitest hand, and smiled in a way to make even a
common man like me wish he had never seen her."

"Would you know her in a crowd?"

"I would know her anywhere."

"Very well; now tell us all you can about that marriage."

"Well, sirs, it was something like this. I had been in Mr.
Stebbins' employ about a year, when one morning as I was hoeing in the
garden I saw a gentleman walk rapidly up the road to our gate and come
in. I noticed him particularly, because he was so fine-looking; unlike
anybody in F----, and, indeed, unlike anybody I had ever seen, for that
matter; but I shouldn't have thought much about that if there hadn't
come along, not five minutes after, a buggy with two ladies in it,
which stopped at our gate, too. I saw they wanted to get out, so I went
and held their horse for them, and they got down and went into the

"Did you see their faces?"

"No, sir; not then. They had veils on."

"Very well, go on."

"I hadn't been to work long, before I heard some one calling my
name, and looking up, saw Mr. Stebbins standing in the doorway
beckoning. I went to him, and he said, 'I want you, Tim; wash your
hands and come into the parlor.' I had never been asked to do that
before, and it struck me all of a heap; but I did what he asked, and
was so taken aback at the looks of the lady I saw standing up on the
floor with the handsome gentleman, that I stumbled over a stool and
made a great racket, and didn't know much where I was or what was going
on, till I heard Mr. Stebbins say 'man and wife'; and then it came
over me in a hot kind of way that it was a marriage I was seeing."

Timothy Cook stopped to wipe his forehead, as if overcome with the
very recollection, and Mr. Gryce took the opportunity to remark:

"You say there were two ladies; now where was the other one at this

"She was there, sir; but I didn't mind much about her, I was so
taken up with the handsome one and the way she had of smiling when any
one looked at her. I never saw the beat."

I felt a quick thrill go through me.

"Can you remember the color of her hair or eyes?"

"No, sir; I had a feeling as if she wasn't dark, and that is all I

"But you remember her face?"

"Yes, sir!"

Mr. Gryce here whispered me to procure two pictures which I would
find in a certain drawer in his desk, and set them up in different
parts of the room unbeknown to the man.

"You have before said," pursued Mr. Gryce, "that you have no
remembrance of her name. Now, how was that? Weren't you called upon to
sign the certificate?"

"Yes, sir; but I am most ashamed to say it; I was in a sort of
maze, and didn't hear much, and only remember it was a Mr. Clavering
she was married to, and that some one called some one else Elner, or
something like that. I wish I hadn't been so stupid, sir, if it would
have done you any good."

"Tell us about the signing of the certificate," said Mr. Gryce.

"Well, sir, there isn't much to tell. Mr. Stebbins asked me to put
my name down in a certain place on a piece of paper he pushed towards
me, and I put it down there; that is all."

"Was there no other name there when you wrote yours?"

"No, sir. Afterwards Mr. Stebbins turned towards the other lady,
who now came forward, and asked her if she wouldn't please sign it,
too; and she said,' yes,' and came very quickly and did so."

"And didn't you see her face then?"

"No, sir; her back was to me when she threw by her veil, and I
only saw Mr. Stebbins staring at her as she stooped, with a kind of
wonder on his face, which made me think she might have been something
worth looking at too; but I didn't see her myself."

"Well, what happened then?"

"I don't know, sir. I went stumbling out of the room, and didn't
see anything more."

"Where were you when the ladies went away?"

"In the garden, sir. I had gone back to my work."

"You saw them, then. Was the gentleman with them?"

"No, sir; that was the queer part of it all. They went back as they
came, and so did he; and in a few minutes Mr. Stebbins came out where
I was, and told me I was to say nothing about what I had seen, for it
was a secret."

"Were you the only one in the house who knew anything about it?
Weren't there any women around?"

"No, sir; Miss Stebbins had gone to the sewing circle."

I had by this time some faint impression of what Mr. Gryce's
suspicions were, and in arranging the pictures had placed one, that of
Eleanore, on the mantel-piece, and the other, which was an uncommonly
fine photograph of Mary, in plain view on the desk. But Mr. Cook's back
was as yet towards that part of the room, and, taking advantage of the
moment, I returned and asked him if that was all he had to tell us
about this matter.

"Yes, sir."

"Then," said Mr. Gryce, with a glance at Q, "isn't there something
you can give Mr. Cook in payment for his story? Look around, will you?"

Q nodded, and moved towards a cupboard in the wall at the side of
the mantel-piece; Mr. Cook following him with his eyes, as was natural,
when, with a sudden start, he crossed the room and, pausing before the
mantelpiece, looked at the picture of Eleanore which I had put there,
gave a low grunt of satisfaction or pleasure, looked at it again, and
walked away. I felt my heart leap into my throat, and, moved by what
impulse of dread or hope I cannot say, turned my back, when suddenly I
heard him give vent to a startled exclamation, followed by the words:
"Why! here she is; this is her, sirs," and turning around saw him
hurrying towards us with Mary's picture in his hands.

I do not know as I was greatly surprised. I was powerfully excited,
as well as conscious of a certain whirl of thought, and an unsettling
of old conclusions that was very confusing; but surprised? No. Mr.
Gryce's manner had too well prepared me.

"This the lady who was married to Mr. Clavering, my good man? I
guess you are mistaken," cried the detective, in a very incredulous

"Mistaken? Didn't I say I would know her anywhere? This is the
lady, if she is the president's wife herself." And Mr. Cook leaned over
it with a devouring look that was not without its element of homage.

"I am very much astonished," Mr. Gryce went on, winking at me in a
slow, diabolical way which in another mood would have aroused my
fiercest anger. "Now, if you had said the other lady was the one "--
pointing to the picture on the mantel-piece,"! shouldn't have wondered."

"She? I never saw that lady before; but this one --would you mind
telling me her name, sirs?"

"If what you say is true, her name is Mrs. Clavering."

"Clavering? Yes, that was his name."

"And a very lovely lady," said Mr. Gryce. "Morris, haven't you
found anything yet?"

Q, for answer, brought forward glasses and a bottle.

But Mr. Cook was in no mood for liquor. I think he was struck with
remorse; for, looking from the picture to Q, and from Q to the picture,
he said:

"If I have done this lady wrong by my talk, I'll never forgive
myself. You told me I would help her to get her rights; if you have
deceived me ----"

"Oh, I haven't deceived you," broke in Q, in his short, sharp way.
"Ask that gentleman there if we are not all interested in Mrs.
Clavering getting her due."

He had designated me; but I was in no mood to reply. I longed to
have the man dismissed, that I might inquire the reason of the great
complacency which I now saw overspreading Mr. Gryce's frame, to his
very finger-ends.

"Mr. Cook needn't be concerned," remarked Mr. Gryce. "If he will
take a glass of warm drink to fortify him for his walk, I think he may
go to the lodgings Mr. Morris has provided for him without fear. Give
the gent a glass, and let him mix for himself."

But it was full ten minutes before we were delivered of the man and
his vain regrets. Mary's image had called up every latent feeling in
his heart, and I could but wonder over a loveliness capable of swaying
the low as well as the high. But at last he yielded to the seductions
of the now wily _Q,_ and departed.

Left alone with Mr. Gryce, I must have allowed some of the confused
emotions which filled my breast to become apparent on my countenance;
for after a few minutes of ominous silence, be exclaimed very grimly,
and yet with a latent touch of that complacency I had before noticed:

"This discovery rather upsets you, doesn't it? Well, it don't me,"
shutting his mouth like a trap. "I expected it."

"Your conclusions must differ very materially from mine," I
returned; "or you would see that this discovery alters the complexion
of the whole affair."

"It does not alter the truth."

"What is the truth?"

Mr. Gryce's very legs grew thoughtful; his voice sank to its deepest
tone. "Do you very much want to know?"

"Want to know the truth? What else are we after?"

"Then," said he, "to my notion, the complexion of things has
altered, but very much for the better. As long as Eleanore was believed
to be the wife, her action in this matter was accounted for; but the
tragedy itself was not. Why should Eleanore or Eleanore's husband wish
the death of a man whose bounty they believed would end with his life?
But with Mary, the heiress, proved the wife!--I tell you, Mr.
Raymond, it all hangs together now. You must never, in reckoning up an
affair of murder like this, forget who it is that most profits by the
deceased man's death."

"But Eleanore's silence? her concealment of certain proofs and
evidences in her own breast--how will you account for that? I can
imagine a woman devoting herself to the shielding of a husband from the
consequences of crime; but a cousin's husband, never."

Mr. Gryce put his feet very close together, and softly grunted.
"Then you still think Mr. Clavering the assassin of Mr. Leavenworth?"

I could only stare at him in my sudden doubt and dread. "Still
think?" I repeated.

"Mr. Clavering the murderer of Mr. Leavenworth?"

"Why, what else is there to think? You don't--you can't--suspect
Eleanore of having deliberately undertaken to help her cousin out of a
difficulty by taking the life of their mutual benefactor?"

"No," said Mr. Gryce; "no, I do not think Eleanore Leavenworth
had any hand in the business."

"Then who--" I began, and stopped, lost in the dark vista that was
opening before me.

"Who? Why, who but the one whose past deceit and present necessity
demanded his death as a relief? Who but the beautiful, money-loving,
man-deceiving goddess----"

I leaped to my feet in my sudden horror and repugnance. "Do not
mention the name! You are wrong; but do not speak the name."

"Excuse me," said he; "but it will have to be spoken many times,
and we may as well begin here and now--who then but Mary Leavenworth;
or, if you like it better, Mrs. Henry Clavering? Are you so much
surprised? It has been my thought from the beginning."


    "Sits the wind in that corner?"
        --Much Ado about Nothing.

I DO not propose to enter into a description of the mingled feelings
aroused in me by this announcement. As a drowning man is said to live
over in one terrible instant the events of a lifetime, so each word
uttered in my hearing by Mary, from her first introduction to me in her
own room, on the morning of the inquest, to our final conversation on
the night of Mr. Clavering's call, swept in one wild phantasmagoria
through my brain, leaving me aghast at the signification which her
whole conduct seemed to acquire from the lurid light which now fell
upon it.

"I perceive that I have pulled down an avalanche of doubts about
your ears," exclaimed my companion from the height of his calm
superiority. "You never thought of this possibility, then, yourself?"

"Do not ask me what I have thought. I only know I will never
believe your suspicions true. That, however much Mary may have been
benefited by her uncle's death, she never had a hand in it; actual
hand, I mean."

"And what makes you so sure of this?"

"And what makes you so sure of the contrary? It is for you to
prove, not for me to prove her innocence."

"Ah," said Mr. Gryce, in his slow, sarcastic way, "you recollect
that principle of law, do you? If I remember rightly, you have not
always been so punctilious in regarding it, or wishing to have it
regarded, when the question was whether Mr. Clavering was the assassin
or not."

"But he is a man. It does not seem so dreadful to accuse a man of
a crime. But a woman! and such a woman! I cannot listen to it; it is
horrible. Nothing short of absolute confession on her part will ever
make me believe Mary Leavenworth, or any other woman, committed this
deed. It was too cruel, too deliberate, too----"

"Read the criminal records," broke in Mr. Gryce.

But I was obstinate. "I do not care for the criminal records. All
the criminal records in the world would never make me believe Eleanore
perpetrated this crime, nor will I be less generous towards her cousin
Mary Leavenworth is a faulty woman, but not a guilty one."

"You are more lenient in your judgment of her than her cousin was,
it appears."

"I do not understand you," I muttered, feeling a new and yet more
fearful light breaking upon me.

"What! have you forgotten, in the hurry of these late events, the
sentence of accusation which we overheard uttered between these ladies
on the morning of the inquest?"

"No, but----"

"You believed it to have been spoken by Mary to Eleanore?"

"Of course; didn't you?"

Oh, the smile which crossed Mr. Gryce's face! "Scarcely. I left
that baby-play for you. I thought one was enough to follow on that

The light, the light that was breaking upon me! "And do you mean
to say it was Eleanore who was speaking at that time? That I have been
laboring all these weeks under a terrible mistake, and that you could
have righted me with a word, and did not?"

"Well, as to that, I had a purpose in letting you follow your own
lead for a while. In the first place, I was not sure myself which spoke;
though I had but little doubt about the matter. The voices are, as
you must have noticed, very much alike, while the attitudes in which we
found them upon entering were such as to be explainable equally by the
supposition that Mary was in the act of launching a denunciation, or in
that of repelling one. So that, while I did not hesitate myself as to
the true explanation of the scene before me, I was pleased to find you
accept a contrary one; as in this way both theories had a chance of
being tested; as was right in a case of so much mystery. You
accordingly took up the affair with one idea for your starting-point,
and I with another. You saw every fact as it developed through the
medium of Mary's belief in Eleanore's guilt, and I through the
opposite. And what has been the result? With you, doubt,
contradiction, constant unsettlement, and unwarranted resorts to
strange sources for reconcilement between appearances and your own
convictions; with me, growing assurance, and a belief which each and
every development so far has but served to strengthen and make more

Again that wild panorama of events, looks, and words swept before
me. Mary's reiterated assertions of her cousin's innocence, Eleanore's
attitude of lofty silence in regard to certain matters which might be
considered by her as pointing towards the murderer.

"Your theory must be the correct one," I finally admitted; "it
was undoubtedly Eleanore who spoke. She believes in Mary's guilt, and I
have been blind, indeed, not to have seen it from the first."

"If Eleanore Leavenworth believes in her cousin's criminality, she
must have some good reasons for doing so."

I was obliged to admit that too. "She did not conceal in her bosom
that telltale key,--found who knows where?--and destroy, or seek
to destroy, it and the letter which introduced her cousin to the public
as the unprincipled destroyer of a trusting man's peace, for nothing."

"No, no."

"And yet you, a stranger, a young man who have never seen Mary
Leavenworth in any other light than that in which her coquettish nature
sought to display itself, presume to say she is innocent, in the face
of the attitude maintained from the first by her cousin!"

"But," said I, in my great unwillingness to accept his conclusions,
"Eleanore Leavenworth is but mortal. She may have been mistaken in her
inferences. She has never stated what her suspicion was founded upon;
nor can we know what basis she has for maintaining the attitude you
speak of. Clavering is as likely as Mary to be the assassin, for all we
know, and possibly for all she knows."

"You seem to be almost superstitious in your belief in Clavering's

I recoiled. Was I? Could it be that Mr. Harwell's fanciful
conviction in regard to this man had in any way influenced me to the
detriment of my better judgment?

"And you may be right," Mr. Gryce went on. "I do not pretend to be
set in my notions. Future investigation may succeed in fixing something
upon him; though I hardly think it likely. His behavior as the secret
husband of a woman possessing motives for the commission of a crime has
been too consistent throughout."

"All except his leaving her."

"No exception at all; for he hasn't left her."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that, instead of leaving the country, Mr. Clavering has
only made pretence of doing so. That, in place of dragging himself off
to Europe at her command, he has only changed his lodgings, and can now
be found, not only in a house opposite to hers, but in the window of
that house, where he sits day after day watching who goes in and out of
her front door."

I remembered his parting injunction to me, in that memorable
interview we had in my office, and saw myself compelled to put a new
construction upon it.

"But I was assured at the Hoffman House that he had sailed for
Europe, and myself saw the man who professes to have driven him to the

"Just so."

"And Mr. Clavering returned to the city after that?"

"In another carriage, and to another house."

"And you tell me that man is all right?"

"No; I only say there isn't the shadow of evidence against him as
the person who shot Mr. Leavenworth."

Rising, I paced the floor, and for a few minutes silence fell
between us. But the clock, striking, recalled me to the necessity of
the hour, and, turning, I asked Mr. Gryce what he proposed to do now.

"There is but one thing I can do," said he.

"And that is?"

"To go upon such lights as I have, and cause the arrest of Miss

I had by this time schooled myself to endurance, and was able to
hear this without uttering an exclamation. But I could not let it pass
without making one effort to combat his determination.

"But," said I, "I do not see what evidence you have, positive
enough in its character, to warrant extreme measures. You have yourself
intimated that the existence of motive is not enough, even though taken
with the fact of the suspected party being in the house at the time of
the murder; and what more have you to urge against Miss Leavenworth?"

"Pardon me. I said 'Miss Leavenworth'; I should have said
'Eleanore Leavenworth.'"

"Eleanore? What! when you and all unite in thinking that she alone
of all these parties to the crime is utterly guiltless of wrong?"

"And yet who is the only one against whom positive testimony of
any kind can be brought."

I could but acknowledge that.

"Mr. Raymond," he remarked very gravely; "the public is becoming
clamorous; something must be done to satisfy it, if only for the
moment. Eleanore has laid herself open to the suspicion of the police,
and must take the consequences of her action. I am sorry; she is a
noble creature; I admire her; but justice is justice, and though I
think her innocent, I shall be forced to put her under arrest

"But I cannot be reconciled to it. It is doing an irretrievable
injury to one whose only fault is an undue and mistaken devotion to an
unworthy cousin. If Mary is the----."

"Unless something occurs between now and tomorrow morning," Mr.
Gryce went on, as if I had not spoken.

"To-morrow morning?"


I tried to realize it; tried to face the fact that all my efforts
had been for nothing, and failed.

"Will you not grant me one more day?" I asked in my desperation.

"What to do?"

Alas, I did not know. "To confront Mr. Clavering, and force from
him the truth."

"To make a mess of the whole affair!" he growled. "No, sir; the
die is cast. Eleanore Leavenworth knows the one point which fixes this
crime upon her cousin, and she must tell us that point or suffer the
consequences of her refusal."

I made one more effort.

"But why to-morrow? Having exhausted so much time already in our
inquiries, why not take a little more; especially as the trail is
constantly growing warmer? A little more moling----"

"A little more folderol!" exclaimed Mr. Gryce, losing his temper.
"No, sir; the hour for moling has passed; something decisive has got
to be done now; though, to be sure, if I could find the one missing
link I want----"

"Missing link? What is that?"

"The immediate motive of the tragedy; a bit of proof that Mr.
Leavenworth threatened his niece with his displeasure, or Mr. Clavering
with his revenge, would place me on the vantage point at once; no
arresting of Eleanore then! No, my lady! I would walk right into your
own gilded parlors, and when you asked me if I had found the murderer
yet, say 'yes,' and show you a bit of paper which would surprise you!
But missing links are not so easily found. This has been moled for, and
moled for, as you are pleased to call our system of investigation, and
totally without result. Nothing but the confession of some one of these
several parties to the crime will give us what we want. I will tell you
what I will do," he suddenly cried. "Miss Leavenworth has desired me
to report to her; she is very anxious for the detection of the
murderer, you know, and offers an immense reward. Well, I will gratify
this desire of hers. The suspicions I have, together with my reasons
for them, will make an interesting disclosure. I should not greatly
wonder if they produced an equally interesting confession."

I could only jump to my feet in my horror.

"At all events, I propose to try it. Eleanore is worth that much
risk any way."

"It will do no good," said I. "If Mary is guilty, she will never
confess it. If not----"

"She will tell us who is."

"Not if it is Clavering, her husband."

"Yes; even if it is Clavering, her husband. She has not the
devotion of Eleanore."

That I could but acknowledge. She would hide no keys for the sake of
shielding another: no, if Mary were accused, she would speak. The
future opening before us looked sombre enough. And yet when, in a short
time from that, I found myself alone in a busy street, the thought that
Eleanore was free rose above all others, filling and moving me till my
walk home in the rain that day has become a marked memory of my life.
It was only with nightfall that I began to realize the truly critical
position in which Mary stood if Mr. Gryce's theory was correct. But,
once seized with this thought, nothing could drive it from my mind.
Shrink as I would, it was ever before me, haunting me with the direst
forebodings. Nor, though I retired early, could I succeed in getting
either sleep or rest. All night I tossed on my pillow, saying over to
myself with dreary iteration: "Something must happen, something will
happen, to prevent Mr. Gryce doing this dreadful thing." Then I would
start up and ask what could happen; and my mind would run over various
contingencies, such as,--Mr. Clavering might confess; Hannah might
come back; Mary herself wake up to her position and speak the word I
had more than once seen trembling on her lips. But further thought
showed me how unlikely any of these things were to happen, and it was
with a brain utterly exhausted that I fell asleep in the early dawn, to
dream I saw Mary standing above Mr. Gryce with a pistol in her hand. I
was awakened from this pleasing vision by a heavy knock at the door.
Hastily rising, I asked who was there. The answer came in the shape of
an envelope thrust under the door. Raising it, I found it to be a note.
It was from Mr. Gryce, and ran thus:

"Come at once; Hannah Chester is found."

"Hannah found?"

"So we have reason to think."

When? where? by whom?"

"Sit down, and I will tell you."

Drawing up a chair in a flurry of hope and fear, I sat down by Mr.
Gryce's side.

"She is not in the cupboard," that person dryly assured me, noting
without doubt how my eyes went travelling about the room in my anxiety
and impatience. "We are not absolutely sure that she is anywhere. But
word has come to us that a girl's face believed to be Hannah's has been
seen at the upper window of a certain house in--don't start-- R----,
where a year ago she was in the habit of visiting while at the hotel
with the Misses Leavenworth. Now, as it has already been determined
that she left New York the night of the murder, by the ------ ----
Railroad, though for what point we have been unable to ascertain, we
consider the matter worth inquiring into."


"If she is there," resumed Mr. Gryce, "she is secreted; kept very
close. No one except the informant has ever seen her, nor is there any
suspicion among the neighbors of her being in town."

"Hannah secreted at a certain house in R----? Whose house?"

Mr. Gryce honored me with one of his grimmest smiles. "The name of
the lady she's with is given in the communication as Belden; Mrs. Amy

"Amy Belden! the name found written on a torn envelope by Mr.
Clavering's servant girl in London?"


I made no attempt to conceal my satisfaction. "Then we are upon
the verge of some discovery; Providence has interfered, and Eleanore
will be saved! But when did you get this word?"

"Last night, or rather this morning; Q brought it."

"It was a message, then, to Q?"

"Yes, the result of his molings while in R----, I suppose."

"Whom was it signed by?"

"A respectable tinsmith who lives next door to Mrs. B."

"And is this the first you knew of an Amy Belden living in R----?"


"Widow or wife?"

"Don't know; don't know anything about her but her name."

"But you have already sent Q to make inquiries?"

"No; the affair is a little too serious for him to manage alone. He
is not equal to great occasions, and might fail just for the lack of a
keen mind to direct him."

"In short----"

"I wish you to go. Since I cannot be there myself, I know of no one
else sufficiently up in the affair to conduct it to a successful issue.
You see, it is not enough to find and identify the girl. The present
condition of things demands that the arrest of so important a witness
should be kept secret. Now, for a man to walk into a strange house in a
distant village, find a girl who is secreted there, frighten her,
cajole her, force her, as the case may be, from her hiding-place to a
detective's office in New York, and all without the knowledge of the
next-door neighbor, if possible, requires judgment, brains, genius.
Then the woman who conceals her! She must have her reasons for doing
so; and they must be known. Altogether, the affair is a delicate one.
Do you think you can manage it?"

"I should at least like to try."

Mr. Gryce settled himself on the sofa. "To think what pleasure I am
losing on your account!" he grumbled, gazing reproachfully at his
helpless limbs. "But to business. How soon can you start?"


"Good! a train leaves the depot at 12.15. Take that. Once in
R----, it will be for you to decide upon the means of making Mrs.
Belden's acquaintance without arousing her suspicions. Q, who will
follow you, will hold himself in readiness to render you any assistance
you may require. Only this thing is to be understood: as he will
doubtless go in disguise, you are not to recognize him, much less
interfere with him and his plans, till he gives you leave to do so, by
some preconcerted signal. You are to work in your way, and he in his,
till circumstances seem to call for mutual support and countenance. I
cannot even say whether you will see him or not; he may find it
necessary to keepout of the way; but you may be sure of one thing,
that he will know where you are, and that the display of, well, let us
say a red silk handkerchief--have you such a thing?"

"I will get one."

"Will be regarded by him as a sign that you desire his presence or
assistance, whether it be shown about your person or at the window of
your room."

"And these are all the instructions you can give me?" I said, as
he paused.

"Yes, I don't know of anything else. You must depend largely upon
your own discretion, and the exigencies of the moment. I cannot tell
you now what to do. Your own wit will be the best guide. Only, if
possible, let me either hear from you or see you by to-morrow at this

And he handed me a cipher in case I should wish to telegraph.



    "A merrier man
    Within the limits of becoming mirth,
    I never spent an hour's talk withal."
        --Love's Labour's Last.

I HAD a client in R---- by the name of Monell; and it was from him I
had planned to learn the best way of approaching Mrs. Belden. When,
therefore, I was so fortunate as to meet him, almost on my arrival,
driving on the long road behind his famous trotter Alfred, I regarded
the encounter as a most auspicious beginning of a very doubtful

"Well, and how goes the day?" was his exclamation as, the first
greetings passed, we drove rapidly into town.

"Your part in it goes pretty smoothly," I returned; and thinking I
could never hope to win his attention to my own affairs till I had
satisfied him in regard to his, I told him all I could concerning the
law-suit then pending; a subject so prolific of question and answer,
that we had driven twice round the town before he remembered he had a
letter to post. As it was an important one, admitting of no delay, we
hasted at once to the post-office, where he went in, leaving me outside
to watch the rather meagre stream of goers and comers who at that time
of day make the post-office of a country town their place of
rendezvous. Among these, for some reason, I especially noted one
middle-aged woman; why, I cannot say; her appearance was anything but
remarkable. And yet when she came out, with two letters in her hand,
one in a large and one in a small envelope, and meeting my eye hastily
drew them under her shawl, I found myself wondering what it was in her
letters and who she could be, that the casual glance of a stranger should
unconsciously lead her to an action so suspicious.
But Mr Monell's reappearance at the same moment, diverted my attention,
and in the interest of the conversation that followed, I soon forgot both
the woman and her letters.  For determined that he should have no
opportunity to revert to that endless topic, a law case
I exclaimed, with the first crack of the whip--There, I knew there was
something I wanted to ask you. Do you know a woman here named Belden?"

"A widow?"

"I don't know. Is her first name Amy?"

"Yes, Mrs. Amy Belden."

"That is the one. What can you tell me about her?"

"Well, she's the last person I should expect to see you interested in.
She is the very respectable relict of a deceased cabinet-maker of this
town; lives in a little house down the street there, and if you have
any forlorn old tramp to be lodged over night, or any destitute family
of little ones to be looked after, she is the one to go to."

"A respectable widow, you say. Any family?"

"No; lives alone; has a little income, I believe; but spends her time in
plain sewing and such deeds of charity as one with small means, but
willing heart, can find an opportunity for in a town like this. But why
in the name of wonders do you ask?"

"Business," and I, "business. Mrs. Belden--don't mention it, by the
way--has got mixed up in a case of mine, and I felt curious to know
something about her. And I am not satisfied yet. The fact is, I would
give something for the opportunity of studying this woman's character.
Now, could n't you manage to get me introduced into her house in some
way that would make it possible and proper for me to converse with her
at my leisure? Business would thank you if you could."

"Well, I suppose it can be done. She used to take lodgers in the summer
when the hotel was full, and
 might be induced to give a bed to a friend of
mine who is very anxious to be near the post-office on account of a
business telegram he is expecting, and which when it comes will demand
his immediate attention." And Mr. Monell gave me a sly wink of his eye,
little imagining how near the mark he had struck.

"You need not say that. Tell her I have a peculiar dislike to
sleeping in a public house, and that you know of no one better fitted
to accommodate me, for the short time I desire to be in town, than

"And what will be said of my hospitality in allowing you under
these circumstances to remain in any other house than my own?"

"I don't know; very hard things, no doubt; but I guess your
hospitality can stand it."

"Well, if you persist, we will see what can be done." And driving
up to a neat white cottage of homely, but sufficiently attractive
appearance, he stopped.

"This is her house," said he, jumping to the ground; "let's go in
and see what we can do."

Glancing up at the windows, which were all closed save the two on
the veranda overlooking the street, I thought to myself, "If she has
anybody in hiding here, whose presence in the house she desires to keep
secret, it is folly to hope she will take me in, however well
recommended I may come." But, yielding to the example of my friend, I
alighted in my turn and followed him up the short, grass-bordered walk
to the front door.

"As she has no servant, she will come to the door herself, so be
ready," he remarked as he knocked.

I had barely time to observe that the curtains to the window at my
left suddenly dropped, when a hasty step made itself heard within, and
a quick hand drew open the door; and I saw before me the woman whom I
had observed at the post-office, and whose action with the letters had
struck me as peculiar. I recognized her at first glance, though she was
differently dressed, and had evidently passed through some worry or
excitement that had altered the expression of her countenance, and made
her manner what it was not at that time, strained and a trifle
uncertain. But I saw no reason for thinking she remembered me. On the
contrary, the look she directed towards me had nothing but inquiry in
it, and when Mr. Monell pushed me forward with the remark, "A friend
of mine; in fact my lawyer from New York," she dropped a hurried
old-fashioned curtsey whose only expression vas a manifest desire to
appear sensible of the honor conferred upon her, through the mist of a
certain trouble that confused everything about her.

"We have come to ask a favor, Mrs. Belden; but may we not come in?
"said my client in a round, hearty voice well calculated to recall a
person's thoughts into their proper channel. "I have heard many times
of your cosy home, and am glad of this opportunity of seeing it." And
with a blind disregard to the look of surprised resistance with which
she met his advance, he stepped gallantly into the little room whose
cheery red carpet and bright picture-hung walls showed invitingly
through the half-open door at our left.

Finding her premises thus invaded by a sort of French _coup
d'etat,_ Mrs. Belden made the best of the situation, and pressing me
to enter also, devoted herself to hospitality. As for Mr. Monell, he
quite blossomed out in his endeavors to make himself agreeable; so
much so, that I shortly found myself laughing at his sallies, though my
heart was full of anxiety lest, after all, our efforts should fail of
the success they certainly merited. Meanwhile, Mrs. Belden softened
more and more, joining in the conversation with an ease hardly to be
expected from one in her humble circumstances. Indeed, I soon saw she
was no common woman. There was a refinement in her speech and manner,
which, combined with her motherly presence and gentle air, was very
pleasing. The last woman in the world to suspect of any underhanded
proceeding, if she had not shown a peculiar hesitation when Mr. Monell
broached the subject of my entertainment there.

"I don't know, sir; I would be glad, but," and she turned a very
scrutinizing look upon me, "the fact is, I have not taken lodgers of
late, and I have got out of the way of the whole thing, and am afraid I
cannot make him comfortable. In short, you will have to excuse me."

"But we can't," returned Mr. Monell. "What, entice a fellow into a
room like this"--and he cast a hearty admiring glance round the
apartment which, for all its simplicity, both its warm coloring and
general air of cosiness amply merited, "and then turn a cold shoulder
upon him when he humbly entreats the honor of staying a single night in
the enjoyment of its attractions? No, no, Mrs. Belden; I know you too
well for that. Lazarus himself couldn't come to your door and be turned
away; much less a good-hearted, clever-headed young gentleman like my
friend here."

"You are very good," she began, an almost weak love of praise
showing itself for a moment in her eyes; "but I have no room prepared.
I have been house-cleaning, and everything is topsy-turvy. Mrs. Wright.
now, over the way----"

"My young friend is going to stop here," Mr. Mouell broke in, with
frank positiveness. "If I cannot have him at my own house,--and for
certain reasons it is not advisable,--I shall at least have the
satisfaction of knowing he is in the charge of the best housekeeper in

"Yes," I put in, but without too great a show of interest; "I
should be sorry, once introduced here, to be obliged to go elsewhere."

The troubled eye wavered away from us to the door.

"I was never called inhospitable," she commenced; "but everything
in such disorder. What time would you like to come?"

"I was in hopes I might remain now," I replied; "I have some
letters to write, and ask nothing better than for leave to sit here and
write them."

At the word letters I saw her hand go to her pocket in a movement
which must have been involuntary, for her countenance did not change,
and she made the quick reply:

"Well, you may. If you can put up with such poor accommodations as
I can offer, it shall not be said I refused you what Mr. Monell is
pleased to call a favor."

And, complete in her reception as she had been in her resistance,
she gave us a pleasant smile, and, ignoring my thanks, bustled out with
Mr. Monell to the buggy, where she received my bag and what was,
doubtless, more to her taste, the compliments he was now more than ever
ready to bestow upon her.

"I will see that a room is got ready for you in a very short space
of time," she said, upon re-entering. "Meanwhile, make yourself at
home here; and if you wish to write, why I think you will find
everything for the purpose in these drawers." And wheeling up a table
to the easy chair in which I sat, she pointed to the small compartments
beneath, with an air of such manifest desire to have me make use of
anything and everything she had, that I found myself wondering over my
position with a sort of startled embarrassment that was not remote from

"Thank you; I have materials of my own," said I, and hastened to
open my bag and bring out the writing-case, which I always carried with

"Then I will leave you," said she; and with a quick bend and a
short, hurried look out of the window, she hastily quitted the room.

I could hear her steps cross the hall, go up two or three stairs,
pause, go up the rest of the flight, pause again, and then pass on. I
was left on the first floor alone.


    "Flat burglary as ever was committed."
        --Much Ado about Nothing.

THE first thing I did was to inspect with greater care the room in
which I sat.

It was a pleasant apartment, as I have already said; square, sunny,
and well furnished. On the floor was a crimson carpet, on the walls
several pictures, at the windows, cheerful curtains of white,
tastefully ornamented with ferns and autumn leaves; in one corner an
old melodeon, and in the centre of the room a table draped with a
bright cloth, on which were various little knick-knacks which, without
being rich or expensive, were both pretty and, to a certain extent,
ornamental. But it was not these things, which I had seen repeated in
many other country homes, that especially attracted my attention, or
drew me forward in the slow march which I now undertook around the
room. It was the something underlying all these, the evidences which I
found, or sought to find, not only in the general aspect of the room,
but in each trivial object I encountered, of the character,
disposition, and history of the woman with whom I now had to deal. It
was for this reason I studied the daguerreotypes on the mantel-piece,
the books on the shelf, and the music on the rack; for this and the
still further purpose of noting if any indications were to be found of
there being in the house any such person as Hannah.

First then, for the little library, which I was pleased to see
occupied one corner of the room. Composed of a few well-chosen books,
poetical, historical, and narrative, it was of itself sufficient to
account for the evidences of latent culture observable in Mrs. Belden's
conversation. Taking out a well-worn copy of _Byron,_ I opened it.
There were many passages marked, and replacing the book with a mental
comment upon her evident impressibility to the softer emotions, I
turned towards the melodeon fronting me from the opposite wall. It was
closed, but on its neatly-covered top lay one or two hymn-books, a
basket of russet apples, and a piece of half-completed knitting work.

I took up the latter, but was forced to lay it down again without a
notion for what it was intended. Proceeding, I next stopped before a
window opening upon the small yard that ran about the house, and
separated it from the one adjoining. The scene without failed to
attract me, but the window itself drew my attention, for, written with
a diamond point on one of the panes, I perceived a row of letters
which, as nearly as I could make out, were meant for some word or
words, but which utterly failed in sense or apparent connection.
Passing it by as the work of some school-girl, I glanced down at the
work-basket standing on a table at my side. It was full of various
kinds of work, among which I spied a pair of stockings, which were much
too small, as well as in too great a state of disrepair, to belong to
Mrs. Belden; and drawing them carefully out, I examined them for any
name on them. Do not start when I say I saw the letter H plainly marked
upon them. Thrusting them back, I drew a deep breath of relief, gazing,
as I did so, out of the window, when those letters again attracted my

What could they mean? Idly I began to read them backward, when--
But try for yourself, reader, and judge of my surprise! Elate at the
discovery thus made, I sat down to write my letters. I had barely
finished them, when Mrs. Belden came in with the announcement that
supper was ready. "As for your room," said she, "I have prepared my
own room for your use, thinking you would like to remain on the first
floor." And, throwing open a door at my side, she displayed a
small, but comfortable room, in which I could dimly see a bed, an
immense bureau, and a shadowy looking-glass in a dark, old-fashioned

"I live in very primitive fashion," she resumed, leading the way
into the dining room; "but I mean to be comfortable and make others

"I should say you amply succeeded," I rejoined, with an
appreciative glance at her well-spread board.

She smiled, and I felt I had paved the way to her good graces in a
way that would yet redound to my advantage.

Shall I ever forget that supper! its dainties, its pleasant
freedom, its mysterious, pervading atmosphere of unreality: and the
constant sense which every bountiful dish she pressed upon me brought
of the shame of eating this woman's food with such feelings of
suspicion in my heart! Shall I ever forget the emotion I experienced
when I first perceived she had something on her mind, which she longed,
yet hesitated, to give utterance to! Or how she started when a cat
jumped from the sloping roof of the kitchen on to the grass-plot at the
back of the house; or how my heart throbbed when I heard, or thought I
heard, a board creak overhead! We were in a long and narrow room which
seemed, curiously enough, to run crosswise of the house, opening on one
side into the parlor, and on the other into the small bedroom, which
had been allotted to my use.

"You live in this house alone, without fear?" I asked, as Mrs.
Belden, contrary to my desire, put another bit of cold chicken on my
plate. "Have you no marauders in this town: no tramps, of whom a
solitary woman like you might reasonably be afraid?"

"No one will hurt me," said she; "and no one ever came here for
food or shelter but got it."

"I should think, then, that living as you do, upon a railroad, you
would be constantly overrun with worthless beings whose only trade is
to take all they can get without giving a return."

"I cannot turn them away. It is the only luxury I have: to feed the

"But the idle, restless ones, who neither will work, nor let others

"Are still the poor."

Mentally remarking, here is the woman to shield an unfortunate who
has somehow become entangled in the meshes of a great crime, I drew
back from the table. As I did so, the thought crossed me that, in case
there was any such person in the house as Hannah, she would take the
opportunity of going upstairs with something for her to eat; and that
she might not feel hampered by my presence, I stepped out on the
veranda with my cigar.

While smoking it, I looked about for_Q_. I felt that the least token
of his presence in town would be very encouraging at this time. But it
seemed I was not to be afforded even that small satisfaction. If Q
was anywhere near, he was lying very low.

Once again seated with Mrs. Belden (who I know came downstairs with
an empty plate, for going into the kitchen for a drink, I caught her in
the act of setting it down on the table), I made up my mind to wait a
reasonable length of time for what she had to say; and then, if she did
not speak, make an endeavor on my own part to surprise her secret.

But her avowal was nearer and of a different nature from what I
expected, and brought its own train of consequences with it.

"You are a lawyer, I believe," she began, taking down her knitting
work, with a forced display of industry.

"Yes," I said; "that is my profession."

She remained for a moment silent, creating great havoc in her work I
am sure, from the glance of surprise and vexation she afterwards threw
it. Then, in a hesitating voice, remarked:

"Perhaps you may be willing, then, to give me some advice. The
truth is, I am in a very curious predicament; one from which I don't
know how to escape, and yet which demands immediate action. I should
like to tell you about it; may I?"

"You may; I shall be only too happy to give you any advice in my

She drew in her breath with a sort of vague relief, though her
forehead did not lose its frown.

"It can all be said in a few words. I have in my possession a
package of papers which were intrusted to me by two ladies, with the
understanding that I should neither return nor destroy them without the
full cognizance and expressed desire of both parties, given in person
or writing. That they were to remain in my hands till then, and that
nothing or nobody should extort them from me."

"That is easily understood," said I; for she stopped.

"But, now comes word from one of the ladies, the one, too, most
interested in the matter, that, for certain reasons, the immediate
destruction of those papers is necessary to her peace and safety."

"And do you want to know what your duty is in this case?"

"Yes," she tremulously replied.

I rose. I could not help it: a flood of conjectures rushing in
tumult over me.

"It is to hold on to the papers like grim death till released from
your guardianship by the combined wish of both parties."

"Is that your opinion as a lawyer?"

"Yes, and as a man. Once pledged in that way, you have no choice.
It would be a betrayal of trust to yield to the solicitations of one
party what you have undertaken to return to both. The fact that grief
or loss might follow your retention of these papers does not release
you from your bond. You have nothing to do with that; besides, you are
by no means sure that the representations of the so-called interested
party are true. You might be doing a greater wrong, by destroying in
this way, what is manifestly considered of value to them both, than by
preserving the papers intact, according to compact."

"But the circumstances? Circumstances alter cases; and in short,
it seems to me that the wishes of the one most interested ought to be
regarded, especially as there is an estrangement between these ladies
which may hinder the other's consent from ever being obtained."

"No," said I; "two wrongs never make a right; nor are we at
liberty to do an act of justice at the expense of an injustice. The
papers must be preserved, Mrs. Belden."

Her head sank very despondingly; evidently it had been her wish to
please the interested party. "Law is very hard," she said; "very

"This is not only law, but plain duty," I remarked. "Suppose a
case different; suppose the honor and happiness of the other party
depended upon the preservation of the papers; where would your duty be


"A contract is a contract," said I, "and cannot be tampered with.
Having accepted the trust and given your word, you are obliged to
fulfil, to the letter, all its conditions. It would be a breach of
trust for you to return or destroy the papers without the mutual
consent necessary."

An expression of great gloom settled slowly over her features. "I
suppose you are right," said she, and became silent.

Watching her, I thought to myself, "If I were Mr. Gryce, or even Q,
I would never leave this seat till I had probed this matter to the
bottom, learned the names of the parties concerned, and where those
precious papers are hidden, which she declares to be of so much
importance." But being neither, I could only keep her talking upon the
subject until she should let fall some word that might serve as a guide
to my further enlightenment; I therefore turned, with the intention of
asking her some question, when my attention was attracted by the figure
of a woman coming out of the back door of the neighboring house, who,
for general dilapidation and uncouthness of bearing, was a perfect type
of the style of tramp of whom we had been talking at the supper table.
Gnawing a crust which she threw away as she reached the street, she
trudged down the path, her scanty dress, piteous in its rags and soil,
flapping in the keen spring wind, and revealing ragged shoes red with
the mud of the highway.

"There is a customer that may interest you," said I.

Mrs. Belden seemed to awake from a trance. Rising slowly, she looked
out, and with a rapidly softening gaze surveyed the forlorn creature
before her.

"Poor thing!" she muttered; "but I cannot do much for her
to-night. A good supper is all I can give her."

And, going to the front door, she bade her step round the house to
the kitchen, where, in another moment, I heard the rough creature's
voice rise in one long "Bless you!" that could only have been
produced by the setting before her of the good things with which Mrs.
Belden's larder seemed teeming.

But supper was not all she wanted. After a decent length of time,
employed as I should judge in mastication, I heard her voice rise once
more in a plea for shelter.

"The barn, ma'am, or the wood-house. Any place where I can lie out
of the wind." And she commenced a long tale of want and disease, so
piteous to hear that I was not at all surprised when Mrs. Belden told
me, upon re-entering, that she had consented, notwithstanding her
previous determination, to allow the woman to lie before the kitchen
fire for the night.

"She has such an honest eye," said she; "and charity is my only

The interruption of this incident effectually broke up our
conversation. Mrs. Belden went upstairs, and for some time I was left
alone to ponder over what I had heard, and determine upon my future
course of action. I had just reached the conclusion that she would be
fully as liable to be carried away by her feelings to the destruction
of the papers in her charge, as to be governed by the rules of equity I
had laid down to her, when I heard her stealthily descend the stairs
and go out by the front door. Distrustful of her intentions, I took up
my hat and hastily followed her. She was on her way down the main
street, and my first thought was, that she was bound for some
neighbor's house or perhaps for the hotel itself; but the settled swing
into which she soon altered her restless pace satisfied me that she had
some distant goal in prospect; and before long I found myself passing
the hotel with its appurtenances, even the little schoolhouse, that was
the last building at this end of the village, and stepping out into the
country beyond. What could it mean?

But still her fluttering figure hasted on, the outlines of her form,
with its close shawl and neat bonnet, growing fainter and fainter in
the now settled darkness of an April night; and still I followed,
walking on the turf at the side of the road lest she should hear my
footsteps and look round. At last we reached a bridge. Over this I
could hear her pass, and then every sound ceased. She had paused, and
was evidently listening. It would not do for me to pause too, so
gathering myself into as awkward a shape as possible, I sauntered by
her down the road, but arrived at a certain point, stopped, and began
retracing my steps with a sharp lookout for her advancing figure, till
I had arrived once more at the bridge. She was not there.

Convinced now that she had discovered my motive for being in her
house and, by leading me from it, had undertaken to supply Hannah with
an opportunity for escape, I was about to hasten back to the charge I
had so incautiously left, when a strange sound heard at my left
arrested me. It came from the banks of the puny stream which ran under
the bridge, and was like the creaking of an old door on worn-out hinges.

Leaping the fence, I made my way as best I could down the sloping
field in the direction from which the sound came. It was quite dark,
and my progress was slow; so much so, that I began to fear I had
ventured upon a wild-goose chase, when an unexpected streak of
lightning shot across the sky, and by its glare I saw before me what
seemed, in the momentary glimpse I had of it, an old barn. From the
rush of waters near at hand, I judged it to be somewhere on the edge of
the stream, and consequently hesitated to advance, when I heard the
sound of heavy breathing near me, followed by a stir as of some one
feeling his way over a pile of loose boards; and presently, while I
stood there, a faint blue light flashed up from the interior of the
barn, and I saw, through the tumbled-down door that faced me, the form
of Mrs. Belden standing with a lighted match in her hand, gazing round
on the four walls that encompassed her. Hardly daring to breathe, lest
I should alarm her, I watched her while she turned and peered at the
roof above her, which was so old as to be more than half open to the
sky, at the flooring beneath, which was in a state of equal
dilapidation, and finally at a small tin box which she drew from under
her shawl and laid on the ground at her feet. The sight of that box at
once satisfied me as to the nature of her errand. She was going to hide
what she dared not destroy; and, relieved upon this point, I was about
to take a step forward when the match went out in her hand. While she
was engaged in lighting another, I considered that perhaps it would be
better for me not to arouse her apprehensions by accosting her at this
time, and thus endanger the success of my main scheme; but to wait till
she was gone, before I endeavored to secure the box. Accordingly I
edged my way up to the side of the barn and waited till she should
leave it, knowing that if I attempted to peer in at the door, I ran
great risk of being seen, owing to the frequent streaks of lightning
which now flashed about us on every side. Minute after minute went by,
with its weird alternations of heavy darkness and sudden glare; and
still she did not come. At last, just as I was about to start
impatiently from my hiding-place, she reappeared, and began to withdraw
with faltering steps towards the bridge. When I thought her quite out of
hearing, I stole from my retreat and entered the barn. It was of course
as dark as Erebus, but thanks to being a smoker I was as well provided
with matches as she had been, and having struck one, I held it up; but
the light it gave was very feeble, and as I did not know just where to
look, it went out before I had obtained more than a cursory glimpse of
the spot where I was. I thereupon lit another; but though I confined
my attention to one place, namely, the floor at my feet, it too went
out before I could conjecture by means of any sign seen there where she
had hidden the box. I now for the first time realized the difficulty
before me. She had probably made up her mind, before she left home, in
just what portion of this old barn she would conceal her treasure; but
I had nothing to guide me: I could only waste matches. And I did waste
them. A dozen had been lit and extinguished before I was so much as
sure the box was not under a pile of debris that lay in one corner, and
I had taken the last in my hand before I became aware that one of the
broken boards of the floor was pushed a little out of its proper
position. One match! and that board was to be raised, the space beneath
examined, and the box, if there, lifted safely out. I concluded not to
waste my resources, so kneeling down in the darkness, I groped for the
board, tried it, and found it to be loose. Wrenching at it with all my
strength, I tore it free and cast it aside; then lighting my match
looked into the hole thus made. Something, I could not tell what, stone
or box, met my eye, but while I reached for it, the match flew out of
my hand. Deploring my carelessness, but determined at all hazards to
secure what I had seen, I dived down deep into the hole, and in another
moment had the object of my curiosity in my hands. It was the box!

Satisfied at this result of my efforts, I turned to depart, my one
wish now being to arrive home before Mrs. Belden. Was this possible?
She had several minutes the start of me; I would have to pass her on
the road, and in so doing might be recognized. Was the end worth the
risk? I decided that it was.

Regaining the highway, I started at a brisk pace. For some little
distance I kept it up, neither overtaking nor meeting any one. But
suddenly, at a turn in the road, I came unexpectedly upon Mrs. Belden,
standing in the middle of the path, looking back. Somewhat
disconcerted, I hastened swiftly by her, expecting her to make some
effort to stop me. But she let me pass without a word. Indeed, I doubt
now if she even saw or heard me. Astonished at this treatment, and
still more surprised that she made no attempt to follow me, I looked
back, when I saw what enchained her to the spot, and made her so
unmindful of my presence. The barn behind us was on fire!

Instantly I realized it was the work of my hands; I had dropped a
half-extinguished match, and it had fallen upon some inflammable

Aghast at the sight, I paused in my turn, and stood staring. Higher
and higher the red flames mounted, brighter and brighter glowed the
clouds above, the stream beneath; and in the fascination of watching
it all, I forgot Mrs. Belden. But a short, agitated gasp in my vicinity
soon recalled her presence to my mind, and drawing nearer, I heard her
exclaim like a person speaking in a dream, "Well, I didn't mean to do
it"; then lower, and with a certain satisfaction in her tone, "But
it's all right, any way; the thing is lost now for good, and Mary will
be satisfied without any one being to blame."

I did not linger to hear more; if this was the conclusion she had
come to, she would not wait there long, especially as the sound of
distant shouts and running feet announced that a crowd of village boys
was on its way to the scene of the conflagration.

The first thing I did, upon my arrival at the house, was to assure
myself that no evil effects had followed my inconsiderate desertion of
it to the mercies of the tramp she had taken in; the next to retire to
my room, and take a peep at the box. I found it to be a neat tin
coffer, fastened with a lock. Satisfied from its weight that it
contained nothing heavier than the papers of which Mrs. Belden had
spoken, I hid it under the bed and returned to the sitting room. I had
barely taken a seat and lifted a book when Mrs. Belden came in.

"Well!" cried she, taking off her bonnet and revealing a face much
flushed with exercise, but greatly relieved in expression; "this is
a night! It lightens, and there is a fire somewhere down street, and
altogether it is perfectly dreadful out. I hope you have not been
lonesome," she continued, with a keen searching of my face which I bore
in the best way I could. "I had an errand to attend to, but didn't
expect to stay so long."

I returned some nonchalant reply, and she hastened from the room to
fasten up the house.

I waited, but she did not come back; fearful, perhaps, of betraying
herself, she had retired to her own apartment, leaving me to take care
of myself as best I might. I own that I was rather relieved at this.
The fact is, I did not feel equal to any more excitement that night,
and was glad to put off further action until the next day. As soon,
then, as the storm was over, I myself went to bed, and, after several
ineffectual efforts, succeeded in getting asleep.


    "I fled and cried out death."


The voice was low and searching; it reached me in my dreams, waked
me, and caused me to look up. Morning had begun to break, and by its
light I saw, standing in the open door leading into the dining room,
the forlorn figure of the tramp who had been admitted into the house
the night before. Angry and perplexed, I was about to bid her be gone,
when, to my great surprise, she pulled out a red handkerchief from her
pocket, and I recognized Q.

"Read that," said he, hastily advancing and putting a slip of
paper into my hand. And, without another word or look, left the room,
closing the door behind him.

Rising in considerable agitation, I took it to the window, and by
the rapidly increasing light, succeeded in making out the rudely
scrawled lines as follows:

"She is here; I have seen her; in the room marked with a cross in
the accompanying plan. Wait till eight o'clock, then go up. I will
contrive some means of getting Mrs. B---- out of the house."

Sketched below this was the following plan of the upper floor:

Hannah, then, was in the small back room over the dining room, and I
had not been deceived in thinking I had heard steps overhead, the
evening before. Greatly relieved, and yet at the same time much moved
at the near prospect of being brought face to face with one who we had
every reason to believe was acquainted with the dreadful secret
involved in the Leavenworth murder, I lay down once more, and
endeavored to catch another hour's rest. But I soon gave up the effort
in despair, and contented myself with listening to the sounds of
awakening life which now began to make themselves heard in the house
and neighborhood.

As Q had closed the door after him, I could only faintly hear Mrs.
Belden when she came downstairs. But the short, surprised exclamation
which she uttered upon reaching the kitchen and finding the tramp gone
and the back door wide open, came plainly enough to my ears, and for a
moment I was not sure but that Q had made a mistake in thus leaving so
unceremoniously. But he had not studied Mrs. Belden's character in
vain. As she came, in the course of her preparations for breakfast,
into the room adjoining mine, I could hear her murmur to herself:

"Poor thing! She has lived so long in the fields and at the
roadside, she finds it unnatural to be cooped up in the house all

The trial of that breakfast! The effort to eat and appear
unconcerned, to chat and make no mistake,--may I never be called upon
to go through such another! But at last it was over, and I was left
free to await in my own room the time for the dreaded though
much-to-be-desired interview. Slowly the minutes passed; eight o'clock
struck, when, just as the last vibration ceased, there came a loud
knock at the back door, and a little boy burst into the kitchen, crying
at the top of his voice: "Papa's got a fit! Oh, Mrs. Belden! papa's
got a fit; do come!"

Rising, as was natural, I hastened towards the kitchen, meeting Mrs.
Belden's anxious face in the doorway.

"A poor wood-chopper down the street has fallen in a fit," she
said. "Will you please watch over the house while I see what I can do
for him? I won't be absent any longer than I can help."

And almost without waiting for my reply, she caught up a shawl,
threw it over her head, and followed the urchin, who was in a state of
great excitement, out into the street.

Instantly the silence of death seemed to fill the house, and a dread
the greatest I had ever experienced settled upon me. To leave the
kitchen, go up those stairs, and confront that girl seemed for the
moment beyond my power; but, once on the stair, I found myself
relieved from the especial dread which had overwhelmed me, and
possessed, instead, of a sort of combative curiosity that led me to
throw open the door which I saw at the top with a certain fierceness
new to my nature, and not altogether suitable, perhaps, to the occasion.

I found myself in a large bedroom, evidently the one occupied by
Mrs. Belden the night before. Barely stopping to note certain evidences
of her having passed a restless night, I passed on to the door leading
into the room marked with a cross in the plan drawn for me by Q. It was
a rough affair, made of pine boards rudely painted. Pausing before it,
I listened. All was still. Raising the latch, I endeavored to enter.
The door was locked. Pausing again, I bent my ear to the keyhole. Not a
sound came from within; the grave itself could not have been stiller.
Awe-struck and irresolute, I looked about me and questioned what I had
best do. Suddenly I remembered that, in the plan Q had given me, I had
seen intimation of another door leading into this same room from the
one on the opposite side of the hall. Going hastily around to it, I
tried it with my hand. But it was as fast as the other. Convinced at
last that nothing was left me but force, I spoke for the first time,
and, calling the girl by name, commanded her to open the door.
Receiving no response, I said aloud with an accent of severity:

"Hannah Chester, you are discovered; if you do not open the door,
we shall be obliged to break it down; save us the trouble, then, and
open immediately."

Still no reply.

Going back a step, I threw my whole weight against the door. It
creaked ominously, but still resisted.

Stopping only long enough to be sure no movement had taken place
within, I pressed against it once more, this time with all my strength,
when it flew from its hinges, and I fell forward into a room so
stifling, chill, and dark that I paused for a moment to collect my
scattered senses before venturing to look around me. It was well I did
so. In another moment, the pallor and fixity of the pretty Irish face
staring upon me from amidst the tumbled clothes of a bed, drawn up
against the wall at my side, struck me with so deathlike a chill that,
had it not been for that one instant of preparation, I should have been
seriously dismayed. As it was, I could not prevent a feeling of sickly
apprehension from seizing me as I turned towards the silent figure
stretched so near, and observed with what marble-like repose it lay
beneath the patchwork quilt drawn across it, asking myself if sleep
could be indeed so like death in its appearance. For that it was a
sleeping woman I beheld, I did not seriously doubt. There were too many
evidences of careless life in the room for any other inference. The
clothes, left just as she had stepped from them in a circle on the
floor; the liberal plate of food placed in waiting for her on the
chair by the door,

--food amongst which I recognized, even in this casual glance, the
same dish which we had had for breakfast

--all and everything in the room spoke of robust life and reckless
belief in the morrow.

And yet so white was the brow turned up to the bare beams of the
unfinished wall above her, so glassy the look of the half-opened eyes,
so motionless the arm lying half under, half over, the edge of the
coverlid that it was impossible not to shrink from contact with a
creature so sunk in unconsciousness. But contact seemed to be
necessary; any cry which I could raise at that moment would be
ineffectual enough to pierce those dull ears. Nerving myself,
therefore, I stooped and lifted the hand which lay with its telltale
scar mockingly uppermost, intending to speak, call, do something,
anything, to arouse her. But at the first touch of her hand on mine an
unspeakable horror thrilled me. It was not only icy cold, but stiff.
Dropping it in my agitation, I started back and again surveyed the
face. Great God! when did life ever look like that? What sleep ever
wore such pallid hues, such accusing fixedness? Bending once more I
listened at the lips. Not a breath, nor a stir. Shocked to the core of
my being, I made one final effort. Tearing down the clothes, I laid my
hand upon her heart. It was pulseless as stone.


    "I could have better spared a better man."
        --Henry IV.

I DO not think I called immediately for help. The awful shock of
this discovery, coming as it did at the very moment life and hope were
strongest within me; the sudden downfall which it brought of all the
plans based upon this woman's expected testimony; and, worst of all,
the dread coincidence between this sudden death and the exigency in
which the guilty party, whoever it was, was supposed to be at that hour
were much too appalling for instant action. I could only stand and
stare at the quiet face before me, smiling in its peaceful rest as if
death were pleasanter than we think, and marvel over the providence
which had brought us renewed fear instead of relief, complication
instead of enlightenment, disappointment instead of realization. For
eloquent as is death, even on the faces of those unknown and unloved by
us, the causes and consequences of this one were much too important to
allow the mind to dwell upon the pathos of the scene itself. Hannah,
the girl, was lost in Hannah the witness.

But gradually, as I gazed, the look of expectation which I perceived
hovering about the wistful mouth and half-open lids attracted me, and I
bent above her with a more personal interest, asking myself if she were
quite dead, and whether or not immediate medical assistance would be of
any avail. But the more closely I looked, the more certain I became
that she had been dead for some hours; and the dismay occasioned by
this thought, taken with the regrets which I must ever feel, that I had
not adopted the bold course the evening before, and, by forcing my way
to the hiding-place of this poor creature, interrupted, if not
prevented the consummation of her fate, startled me into a realization
of my present situation; and, leaving her side, I went into the next
room, threw up the window, and fastened to the blind the red
handkerchief which I had taken the precaution to bring with me.

Instantly a young man, whom I was fain to believe Q, though he bore
not the least resemblance, either in dress or facial expression to any
renderings of that youth which I had yet seen, emerged from the
tinsmith's house, and approached the one I was in.

Observing him cast a hurried glance in my direction, I crossed the
floor, and stood awaiting him at the head of the stairs.

"Well?" he whispered, upon entering the house and meeting my
glance from below; "have you seen her?"

"Yes," I returned bitterly, "I have seen her!"

He hurriedly mounted to my side. "And she has confessed?"

"No; I have had no talk with her." Then, as I perceived him
growing alarmed at my voice and manner, I drew him into Mrs. Belden's
room and hastily inquired: "What did you mean this morning when you
informed me you had seen this girl? that she was in a certain room
where I might find her?"

"What I said."

"You have, then, been to her room?"

"No; I have only been on the outside of it. Seeing a light, I
crawled up on to the ledge of the slanting roof last night while both
you and Mrs. Belden were out, and, looking through the window, saw her
moving round the room." He must have observed my countenance change,
for he stopped. "What is to pay?" he cried.

I could restrain myself no longer. "Come," I said, "and see for
yourself!" And, leading him to the little room I had just left, I
pointed to the silent form lying within. "You told me I should find
Hannah here; but you did not tell me I should find her in this

"Great heaven!" he cried with a start: "not dead?"

"Yes," I said, "dead."

It seemed as if he could not realize it. "But it is impossible!"
he returned. "She is in a heavy sleep, has taken a narcotic----"

"It is not sleep," I said, "or if it is, she will never wake. Look!"
And, taking the hand once more in mine, I let it fall in its stone
weight upon the bed.

The sight seemed to convince him. Calming down, he stood gazing at
her with a very strange expression upon his face. Suddenly he moved and
began quietly turning over the clothes that were lying on the floor.

"What are you doing?" I asked. "What are you looking for?"

"I am looking for the bit of paper from which I saw her take what
I supposed to be a dose of medicine last night. Oh, here it is!" he
cried, lifting a morsel of paper that, lying on the floor under the
edge of the bed, had hitherto escaped his notice.

"Let me see!" I anxiously exclaimed.

He handed me the paper, on the inner surface of which I could dimly
discern the traces of an impalpable white powder.

"This is important," I declared, carefully folding the paper
together. "If there is enough of this powder remaining to show that
the contents of this paper were poisonous, the manner and means of the
girl's death are accounted for, and a case of deliberate suicide made

"I am not so sure of that," he retorted. "If I am any judge of
countenances, and I rather flatter myself I am, this girl had no more
idea she was taking poison than I had. She looked not only bright but
gay; and when she tipped up the paper, a smile of almost silly triumph
crossed her face. If Mrs. Belden gave her that dose to take, telling
her it was medicine----"

"That is something which yet remains to be learned; also whether
the dose, as you call it, was poisonous or not. It may be she died of
heart disease."

He simply shrugged his shoulders, and pointed first at the plate of
breakfast left on the chair, and secondly at the broken-down door.

"Yes," I said, answering his look, "Mrs. Belden has been in here
this morning, and Mrs. Belden locked the door when she went out; but
that proves nothing beyond her belief in the girl's hearty condition."

"A belief which that white face on its tumbled pillow did not seem
to shake?"

"Perhaps in her haste she may not have looked at the girl, but have
set the dishes down without more than a casual glance in her direction?"

"I don't want to suspect anything wrong, but it is such a

This was touching me on a sore point, and I stepped back. "Well,"
said I, "there is no use in our standing here busying ourselves with
conjectures. There is too much to be done. Come!" and I moved
hurriedly towards the door.

"What are you going to do?" he asked. "Have you forgotten this
is but an episode in the one great mystery we are sent here to unravel?
If this girl has come to her death by some foul play, it is our
business to find it out."

"That must be left for the coroner. It has now passed out of our

"I know; but we can at least take full note of the room and
everything in it before throwing the affair into the hands of
strangers. Mr. Gryce will expect that much of us, I am sure."

"I have looked at the room. The whole is photographed on my mind. I
am only afraid I can never forget it."

"And the body? Have you noticed its position? the lay of the
bed-clothes around it? the lack there is of all signs of struggle or
fear? the repose of the countenance? the easy fall of the hands?"

"Yes, yes; don't make me look at it any more."

"Then the clothes hanging on the wall? "--rapidly pointing out
each object as he spoke. "Do you see? a calico dress, a shawl,--not
the one in which she was believed to have run away, but an old black
one, probably belonging to Mrs. Belden. Then this chest,"--opening
it,--" containing a few underclothes marked,--let us see, ah, with the
name of the lady of the house, but smaller than any she ever wore;
made for Hannah, you observe, and marked with her own name to prevent
suspicion. And then these other clothes lying on the floor, all new,
all marked in the same way. Then this--Halloo! look here!" he
suddenly cried.

Going over to where he stood I stooped down, when a wash-bowl half
full of burned paper met my eye.

"I saw her bending over something in this corner, and could not
think what it was. Can it be she is a suicide after all? She has
evidently destroyed something here which she didn't wish any one to

"I do not know," I said. "I could almost hope so."

"Not a scrap, not a morsel left to show what it was; how

"Mrs. Belden must solve this riddle," I cried.

"Mrs. Belden must solve the whole riddle," he replied; "the secret
of the Leavenworth murder hangs upon it." Then, with a lingering look
towards the mass of burned paper, "Who knows but what that was a

The conjecture seemed only too probable.

"Whatever it was," said I, "it is now ashes, and we have got to
accept the fact and make the best of it."

"Yes," said he with a deep sigh; "that's so; but Mr. Gryce will
never forgive me for it, never. He will say I ought to have known it
was a suspicious circumstance for her to take a dose of medicine at the
very moment detection stood at her back."

"But she did not know that; she did not see you."

"We don't know what she saw, nor what Mrs. Belden saw. Women are a
mystery; and though I flatter myself that ordinarily I am a match for
the keenest bit of female flesh that ever walked, I must say that in
this case I feel myself thoroughly and shamefully worsted."

"Well, well," I said, "the end has not come yet; who knows what a
talk with Mrs. Belden will bring out? And, by the way, she will be
coming back soon, and I must be ready to meet her. Everything depends
upon finding out, if I can, whether she is aware of this tragedy or
not. It is just possible she knows nothing about it."

And, hurrying him from the room, I pulled the door to behind me, and
led the way downstairs.

"Now," said I, "there is one thing you must attend to at once. A
telegram must be sent Mr. Gryce acquainting him with this unlooked-for

"All right, sir," and Q started for the door.

"Wait one moment," said I. "I may not have another opportunity to
mention it. Mrs. Belden received two letters from the postmaster
yesterday; one in a large and one in a small envelope; if you could
find out where they were postmarked----"

Q put his hand in his pocket. "I think I will not have to go far
to find out where one of them came from. Good George, I have lost it!"
And before I knew it, he had returned upstairs.

That moment I heard the gate click.

XXXI. "Thereby hangs a tale."

    --Taming of the Shrew.

"IT was all a hoax; nobody was ill; I have been
imposed upon, meanly imposed upon!" And Mrs. Belden, flushed and
panting, entered the room where I was, and proceeded to take off her
bonnet; but whilst doing so paused, and suddenly exclaimed: "What is
the matter? How you look at me! Has anything happened?"

"Something very serious has occurred," I replied; "you have been
gone but a little while, but in that time a discovery has been made--"
I purposely paused here that the suspense might elicit from her some
betrayal; but, though she turned pale, she manifested less emotion than
I expected, and I went on--"which is likely to produce very
important consequences."

To my surprise she burst violently into tears. "I knew it, I knew
it!" she murmured. "I always said it would be impossible to keep it
secret if I let anybody into the house; she is so restless. But I
forget," she suddenly said, with a frightened look; "you haven't told
me what the discovery was. Perhaps it isn't what I thought; perhaps----"

I did not hesitate to interrupt her. "Mrs. Belden," I said, "I
shall not try to mitigate the blow. A woman who, in the face of the
most urgent call from law and justice, can receive into her house and
harbor there a witness of such importance as Hannah, cannot stand in
need of any great preparation for hearing that her efforts, have been
too successful, that she has accomplished her design of suppressing
valuable testimony, that law and justice are outraged, and that the
innocent woman whom this girl's evidence might have saved stands for
ever compromised in the eyes of the world, if not in those of the
officers of the law."

Her eyes, which had never left me during this address, flashed wide
with dismay.

"What do you mean?" she cried. "I have intended no wrong; I have
only tried to save people. I--I--But who are you? What have you
got to do with all this? What is it to you what I do or don't do? You
said you were a lawyer. Can it be you are come from Mary Leavenworth to
see how I am fulfilling her commands, and----"

"Mrs. Belden," I said, "it is of small importance now as to who I
am, or for what purpose I am here. But that my words may have the more
effect, I will say, that whereas I have not deceived you, either as to
my name or position, it is true that I am the friend of the Misses
Leavenworth, and that anything which is likely to affect them, is of
interest to me. When, therefore, I say that Eleanore Leavenworth is
irretrievably injured by this girl's death----"

"Death? What do you mean? Death!"

The burst was too natural, the tone too horror-stricken for me to
doubt for another moment as to this woman's ignorance of the true state
of affairs.

"Yes," I repeated, "the girl you have been hiding so long and so
well is now beyond your control. Only her dead body remains, Mrs.

I shall never lose from my ears the shriek which she uttered, nor
the wild, "I don't believe it! I don't believe it!" with which she
dashed from the room and rushed upstairs.

Nor that after-scene when, in the presence of the dead, she stood
wringing her hands and protesting, amid sobs of the sincerest grief and
terror, that she knew nothing of it; that she had left the girl in the
best of spirits the night before; that it was true she had locked her
in, but this she always did when any one was in the house; and that if
she died of any sudden attack, it must have been quietly, for she had
heard no stir all night, though she had listened more than once, being
naturally anxious lest the girl should make some disturbance that would
arouse me.

"But you were in here this morning?" said I.

"Yes; but I didn't notice. I was in a hurry, and thought she was
asleep; so I set the things down where she could get them and came
right away, locking the door as usual."

"It is strange she should have died this night of all others. Was
she ill yesterday?"

"No, sir; she was even brighter than common; more lively. I never
thought of her being sick then or ever. If I had----"

"You never thought of her being sick?" a voice here interrupted.
"Why, then, did you take such pains to give her a dose of medicine last
night?" And Q entered from the room beyond.

"I didn't!" she protested, evidently under the supposition it was
I who had spoken. "Did I, Hannah, did I, poor girl?" stroking the
hand that lay in hers with what appeared to be genuine sorrow and

"How came she by it, then? Where she did she get it if you didn't
give it to her?"

This time she seemed to be aware that some one besides myself was
talking to her, for, hurriedly rising, she looked at the man with a
wondering stare, before replying.

"I don't know who you are, sir; but I can tell you this, the girl
had no medicine,--took no dose; she wasn't sick last night that I know

"Yet I saw her swallow a powder."

"Saw her!--the world is crazy, or I am--saw her swallow a
powder! How could you see her do that or anything else? Hasn't she
been shut up in this room for twenty-four hours?"

"Yes; but with _a_ window like that in the roof, it isn't so
very difficult to see into the room, madam."

"Oh," she cried, shrinking, "I have a spy in the house, have I?
But I deserve it; I kept her imprisoned in four close walls, and never
came to look at her once all night. I don't complain; but what was it
you say you saw her take? medicine? poison?"

"I didn't say poison."

"But you meant it. You think she has poisoned herself, and that I
had a hand in it!"

"No," I hastened to remark, "he does not think you had a hand in
it. He says he saw the girl herself swallow something which he believes
to have been the occasion of her death, and only asks you now where she
obtained it."

"How can I tell? I never gave her anything; didn't know she had

Somehow, I believed her, and so felt unwilling to prolong the
present interview, especially as each moment delayed the action which I
felt it incumbent upon us to take. So, motioning Q to depart upon his
errand, I took Mrs. Belden by the hand and endeavored to lead her from
the room. But she resisted, sitting down by the side of the bed with
the expression, "I will not leave her again; do not ask it; here is
my place, and here I will stay," while Q, obdurate for the first time,
stood staring severely upon us both, and would not move, though I urged
him again to make haste, saying that the morning was slipping away, and
that the telegram to Mr. Gryce ought to be sent.

"Till that woman leaves the room, I don't; and unless you promise to
take my place in watching her, I don't quit the house."

Astonished, I left her side and crossed to him.

"You carry your suspicions too far," I whispered, "and I think
you are too rude. We have seen nothing, I am sure, to warrant us in any
such action; besides, she can do no harm here; though, as for watching
her, I promise to do that much if it will relieve your mind."

"I don't want her watched here; take her below. I cannot leave
while she remains."

"Are you not assuming a trifle the master?"

"Perhaps; I don't know. If I am, it is because I have something in
my possession which excuses my conduct."

"What is that? the letter?"


Agitated now in my turn, I held out my hand. "Let me see," I said.

"Not while that woman remains in the room."

Seeing him implacable, I returned to Mrs. Belden.

"I must entreat you to come with me," said I. "This is not a
common death; we shall be obliged to have the coroner here and others.
You had better leave the room and go below."

"I don't mind the coroner; he is a neighbor of mine; his coming
won't prevent my watching over the poor girl until he arrives."

"Mrs. Belden," I said, "your position as the only one conscious of
the presence of this girl in your house makes it wiser for you not to
invite suspicion by lingering any longer than is necessary in the room
where her dead body lies."

"As if my neglect of her now were the best surety of my good
intentions towards her in time past!"

"It will not be neglect for you to go below with me at my earnest
request. You can do no good here by staying; will, in fact, be doing
harm. So listen to me or I shall be obliged to leave you in charge of
this man and go myself to inform the authorities."

This last argument seemed to affect her, for with one look of
shuddering abhorrence at Q she rose, saying, "You have me in
your power," and then, without another word, threw her handkerchief
over the girl's face and left the room. In two minutes more I had the
letter of which Q had spoken in my hands.

"It is the only one I could find, sir. It was in the pocket of the
dress Mrs. Belden had on last night. The other must be lying around
somewhere, but I haven't had time to find it. This will do, though, I
think. You will not ask for the other."

Scarcely noticing at the time with what deep significance he spoke,
I opened the letter. It was the smaller of the two I had seen her draw
under her shawl the day before at the post-office, and read as follows:


    "I am in awful trouble. You who love me must know it. I cannot
    explain, I can only make one prayer. Destroy what you have,
    to-day, instantly, without question or hesitation. The consent
    of any one else has nothing to do with it. You must obey. I am
    lost if you refuse. Do then what I ask, and save


It was addressed to Mrs. Belden; there was no signature or date,
only the postmark New York; but I knew the handwriting. It was Mary

"A damning letter!" came in the dry tones which Q seemed to think
fit to adopt on this occasion. "And a damning bit of evidence against
the one who wrote it, and the woman who received it!"

"A terrible piece of evidence, indeed," said I, "if I did not
happen to know that this letter refers to the destruction of something
radically different from what you suspect. It alludes to some papers in
Mrs. Belden's charge; nothing else."

"Are you sure, sir?"

"Quite; but we will talk of this hereafter. It is time you sent
your telegram, and went for the coroner."

"Very well, sir." And with this we parted; he to perform his role
and I mine.

I found Mrs. Belden walking the floor below, bewailing her
situation, and uttering wild sentences as to what the neighbors would
say of her; what the minister would think; what Clara, whoever that
was, would do, and how she wished she had died before ever she had
meddled with the affair.

Succeeding in calming her after a while, I induced her to sit down
and listen to what I had to say. "You will only injure yourself by
this display of feeling," I remarked, "besides unfitting yourself for
what you will presently be called upon to go through." And, laying
myself out to comfort the unhappy woman, I first explained the
necessities of the case, and next inquired if she had no friend upon
whom she could call in this emergency.

To my great surprise she replied no; that while she had kind
neighbors and good friends, there was no one upon whom she could call
in a case like this, either for assistance or sympathy, and that,
unless I would take pity on her, she would have to meet it alone--"As
I have met everything," she said, "from Mr. Belden's death to the loss
of most of my little savings in a town fire last year."

I was touched by this,--that she who, in spite of her weakness and
inconsistencies of character, possessed at least the one virtue of
sympathy with her kind, should feel any lack of friends.
Unhesitatingly, I offered to do what I could for her, providing she
would treat me with the perfect frankness which the case demanded. To
my great relief, she expressed not only her willingness, but her strong
desire, to tell all she knew. "I have had enough secrecy for my whole
life," she said. And indeed I do believe she was so thoroughly
frightened, that if a police-officer had come into the house and asked
her to reveal secrets compromising the good name of her own son, she
would have done so without cavil or question. "I feel as if I wanted
to take my stand out on the common, and, in the face of the whole
world, declare what I have done for Mary Leavenworth. But first," she
whispered, "tell me, for God's sake, how those girls are situated. I
have not dared to ask or write. The papers say a good deal about
Eleanore, but nothing about Mary; and yet Mary writes of her own peril
only, and of the danger she would be in if certain facts were known.
What is the truth? I don't want to injure them, only to take care of

"Mrs. Belden," I said, "Eleanore Leavenworth has got into her
present difficulty by not telling all that was required of her. Mary
Leavenworth--but I cannot speak of her till I know what you have to
divulge. Her position, as well as that of her cousin, is too anomalous
for either you or me to discuss. What we want to learn from you is, how
you became connected with this affair, and what it was that Hannah knew
which caused her to leave New York and take refuge here."

But Mrs. Belden, clasping and unclasping her hands, met my gaze with
one full of the most apprehensive doubt. "You will never believe me,"
she cried; "but I don't know what Hannah knew. I am in utter ignorance
of what she saw or heard on that fatal night; she never told, and I
never asked. She merely said that Miss Leavenworth wished me to secrete
her for a short time; and I, because I loved Mary Leavenworth and
admired her beyond any one I ever saw, weakly consented, and----"

"Do you mean to say," I interrupted, "that after you knew of the
murder, you, at the mere expression of Miss Leavenworth's wishes,
continued to keep this girl concealed without asking her any questions
or demanding any explanations?"

"Yes, sir; you will never believe me, but it is so. I thought that,
since Mary had sent her here, she must have her reasons; and--and--I
cannot explain it now; it all looks so differently; but I did do as I
have said."

"But that was very strange conduct. You must have had strong reason
for obeying Mary Leavenworth so blindly."

"Oh, sir," she gasped, "I thought I understood it all; that Mary,
the bright young creature, who had stooped from her lofty position to
make use of me and to love me, was in some way linked to the criminal,
and that it would be better for me to remain in ignorance, do as I was
bid, and trust all would come right. I did not reason about it; I only
followed my impulse. I couldn't do otherwise; it isn't my nature. When
I am requested to do anything for a person I love, I cannot refuse."

"And you love Mary Leavenworth; a woman whom you yourself seem to
consider capable of a great crime?"

"Oh, I didn't say that; I don't know as I thought that. She might
be in some way connected with it, without being the actual perpetrator.
She could never be that; she is too dainty."

"Mrs. Belden," I said, "what do you know of Mary Leavenworth which
makes even that supposition possible?"

The white face of the woman before me flushed. "I scarcely know
what to reply," she cried. "It is a long story, and----"

"Never mind the long story," I interrupted. "Let me hear the one
vital reason."

"Well," said she, "it is this; that Mary was in an emergency from
which nothing but her uncle's death could release her."

"Ah, how's that?"

But here we were interrupted by the sound of steps on the porch,
and, looking out, I saw Q entering the house alone. Leaving Mrs.
Belden where she was, I stepped into the hall.

"Well," said I, "what is the matter? Haven't you found the coroner?
Isn't he at home?"

"No, gone away; off in a buggy to look after a man that was found
some ten miles from here, lying in a ditch beside a yoke of oxen."
Then, as he saw my look of relief, for I was glad of this temporary
delay, said, with an expressive wink: "It would take a fellow a long
time to go to him--if he wasn't in a hurry--hours, I think."

"Indeed!" I returned, amused at his manner. "Rough road?"

"Very; no horse I could get could travel it faster than a walk."

"Well," said I, "so much the better for us. Mrs. Belden has a long
story to tell, and----"

"Doesn't wish to be interrupted. I understand."

I nodded and he turned towards the door.

"Have you telegraphed Mr. Gryce?" I asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Do you think he will come?"

"Yes, sir; if he has to hobble on two sticks."

"At what time do you look for him?"

"_You_ will look for him as early as three o'clock. I shall be
among the mountains, ruefully eying my broken-down team." And leisurely
donning his hat he strolled away down the street like one who has the
whole day on his hands and does not know what to do with it.

An opportunity being thus given for Mrs. Belden's story, she at once
composed herself to the task, with the following result.


    "Cursed, destructive Avarice,
     Thou everlasting foe to Love and Honor."
        --Trap's Abram.

    "Mischief never thrives
     Without the help of Woman.
        --The Same.

IT will be a year next July since I first saw Mary Leavenworth. I
was living at that time a most monotonous existence. Loving what was
beautiful, hating what was sordid, drawn by nature towards all that was
romantic and uncommon, but doomed by my straitened position and the
loneliness of my widowhood to spend my days in the weary round of plain
sewing, I had begun to think that the shadow of a humdrum old age was
settling down upon me, when one morning, in the full tide of my
dissatisfaction, Mary Leavenworth stepped across the threshold of my
door and, with one smile, changed the whole tenor of my life.

This may seem exaggeration to you, especially when I say that her
errand was simply one of business, she having heard I was handy with my
needle; but if you could have seen her as she appeared that day,
marked the look with which she approached me, and the smile with which
she left, you would pardon the folly of a romantic old woman, who
beheld a fairy queen in this lovely young lady. The fact is, I was
dazzled by her beauty and her charms. And when, a few days after, she
came again, and crouching down on the stool at my feet, said she was so
tired of the gossip and tumult down at the hotel, that it was a relief
to run away and hide with some one who would let her act like the child
she was, I experienced for the moment, I believe, the truest happiness
of my life. Meeting her advances with all the warmth her manner
invited, I found her ere long listening eagerly while I told her,
almost without my own volition, the story of my past life, in the form
of an amusing allegory.

The next day saw her in the same place; and the next; always with
the eager, laughing eyes, and the fluttering, uneasy hands, that
grasped everything they touched, and broke everything they grasped.

But the fourth day she was not there, nor the fifth, nor the sixth,
and I was beginning to feel the old shadow settling back upon me, when
one night, just as the dusk of twilight was merging into evening gloom,
she came stealing in at the front door, and, creeping up to my side,
put her hands over my eyes with such a low, ringing laugh, that I

"You don't know what to make of me!" she cried, throwing aside
her cloak, and revealing herself in the full splendor of evening
attire. "I don't know what to make of myself. Though it seems folly, I
felt that I must run away and tell some one that a certain pair of eyes
have been looking into mine, and that for the first time in my life I
feel myself a woman as well as a queen." And with a glance in which
coyness struggled with pride, she gathered up her cloak around her, and
laughingly cried:

"Have you had a visit from a flying sprite? Has one little ray of
moonlight found its way into your prison for a wee moment, with Mary's
laugh and Mary's snowy silk and flashing diamonds? Say!" and she patted
my cheek, and smiled so bewilderingly, that even now, with all the dull
horror of these after-events crowding upon me, I cannot but feel
something like tears spring to my eyes at the thought of it.

"And so the Prince has come for you?" I whispered, alluding to a
story I had told her the last time she had visited me; a story in
which a girl, who had waited all her life in rags and degradation for
the lordly knight who was to raise her from a hovel to a throne, died
just as her one lover, an honest peasant-lad whom she had discarded in
her pride, arrived at her door with the fortune he had spent all his
days in amassing for her sake.

But at this she flushed, and drew back towards the door. "I don't
know; I am afraid not. I--I don't think anything about that. Princes
are not so easily won," she murmured.

"What! are you going?" I said, "and alone? Let me accompany

But she only shook her fairy head, and replied: "No, no; that
would be spoiling the romance, indeed. I have come upon you like a
sprite, and like a sprite I will go." And, flashing like the moonbeam
she was, she glided out into the night, and floated away down the

When she next came, I observed a feverish excitement in her manner,
which assured me, even plainer than the coy sweetness displayed in our
last interview, that her heart had been touched by her lover's
attentions. Indeed, she hinted as much before she left, saying in a
melancholy tone, when I had ended my story in the usual happy way, with
kisses and marriage, "I shall never marry!" finishing the
exclamation with a long-drawn sigh, that somehow emboldened me to say,
perhaps because I knew she had no mother:

"And why? What reason can there be for such rosy lips saying their
possessor will never marry?"

She gave me one quick look, and then dropped her eyes. I feared I
had offended her, and was feeling very humble, when she suddenly
replied, in an even but low tone, "I said I should never marry,
because the one man who pleases me can never be my husband."

All the hidden romance in my nature started at once into life. "Why
not? What do you mean? Tell me."

"There is nothing to tell," said she; "only I have been so weak
as to"--she would not say, fall in love, she was a proud woman--
"admire a man whom my uncle will never allow me to marry."

And she rose as if to go; but I drew her back. "Whom your uncle
will not allow you to marry!" I repeated. "Why? because he is poor?"

"No; uncle loves money, but not to such an extent as that.
Besides, Mr. Clavering is not poor. He is the owner of a beautiful
place in his own country----"

"Own country?" I interrupted. "Is he not an American?"

"No," she returned; "he is an Englishman."

I did not see why she need say that in just the way she did, but,
supposing she was aggravated by some secret memory, went on to inquire:
"Then what difficulty can there be? Isn't he--" I was going to say
steady, but refrained.

"He is an Englishman," she emphasized in the same bitter tone as
before. "In saying that, I say it all. Uncle will never let me marry
an Englishman."

I looked at her in amazement. Such a puerile reason as this had
never entered my mind.

"He has an absolute mania on the subject," resumed she. "I might
as well ask him to allow me to drown myself as to marry an Englishman."

A woman of truer judgment than myself would have said: "Then, if
that is so, why not discard from your breast all thought of him? Why
dance with him, and talk to him, and let your admiration develop into
love?" But I was all romance then, and, angry at a prejudice I could
neither understand nor appreciate, I said:

"But that is mere tyranny! Why should he hate the English so? And
why, if he does, should you feel yourself obliged to gratify him in a
whim so unreasonable?"

"Why? Shall I tell you, auntie?" she said, flushing and looking

"Yes," I returned; "tell me everything."

"Well, then, if you want to know the worst of me, as you already
know the best, I hate to incur my uncle's displeasure,
because--because--I have always been brought up to regard myself as his
heiress, and I know that if I were to marry contrary to his wishes, he
would instantly change his mind, and leave me penniless."

"But," I cried, my romance a little dampened by this admission,
"you tell me Mr. Clavering has enough to live upon, so you would not
want; and if you love--"

Her violet eyes fairly flashed in her amazement.

"You don't understand," she said; "Mr. Clavering is not poor; but
uncle is rich. I shall be a queen--" There she paused, trembling, and
falling on my breast. "Oh, it sounds mercenary, I know, but it is the
fault of my bringing up. I have been taught to worship money. I would
be utterly lost without it. And yet"--her whole face softening with the
light of another emotion, "I cannot say to Henry Clavering, 'Go! my
prospects are dearer to me than you!' I cannot, oh, I cannot!"

"You love him, then?" said I, determined to get at the truth of
the matter if possible.

She rose restlessly. "Isn't that a proof of love? If you knew me,
you would say it was." And, turning, she took her stand before a
picture that hung on the wall of my sitting room.

"That looks like me," she said.

It was one of a pair of good photographs I possessed.

"Yes," I remarked, "that is why I prize it."

She did not seem to hear me; she was absorbed in gazing at the
exquisite face before her. "That is a winning face," I heard her say.
"Sweeter than mine. I wonder if she would ever hesitate between love
and money. I do not believe she would," her own countenance growing
gloomy and sad as she said so; "she would think only of the happiness
she would confer; she is not hard like me. Eleanore herself would love
this girl."

I think she had forgotten my presence, for at the mention of her
cousin's name she turned quickly round with a half suspicious look,
saying lightly:

"My dear old Mamma Hubbard looks horrified. She did not know she
had such a very unromantic little wretch for a listener, when she was
telling all those wonderful stories of Love slaying dragons, and living
in caves, and walking over burning ploughshares as if they were tufts
of spring grass?"

"No," I said, taking her with an irresistible impulse of admiring
affection into my arms; "but if I had, it would have made no
difference. I should still have talked about love, and of all it can do
to make this weary workaday world sweet and delightful."

"Would you? Then you do not think me such a wretch?"

What could I say? I thought her the winsomest being in the world,
and frankly told her so. Instantly she brightened into her very gayest
self. Not that I thought then, much less do I think now, she
partiallaly cared for my good opinion; but her nature demanded
admiration, and unconsciously blossomed under it, as a flower under the

"And you will still let me come and tell you how bad I am,--that
is, if I go on being bad, as I doubtless shall to the end of the
chapter? You will not turn me off?"

"I will never turn you off."

"Not if I should do a dreadful thing? Not if I should run away
with my lover some fine night, and leave uncle to discover how his
affectionate partiality had been requited?"

It was lightly said, and lightly meant, for she did not even wait
for my reply. But its seed sank deep into our two hearts for all that.
And for the next few days I spent my time in planning how I should
manage, if it should ever fall to my lot to conduct to a successful
issue so enthralling a piece of business as an elopement. You may
imagine, then, how delighted I was, when one evening Hannah, this
unhappy girl who is now lying dead under my roof, and who was occupying
the position of lady's maid to Miss Mary Leavenworth at that time,
came to my door with a note from her mistress, running thus:

    "Have the loveliest story of the season ready for me tomorrow; and
    let the prince be as handsome as--as some one you have heard of,
    and the princess as foolish as your little yielding pet,


Which short note could only mean that she was engaged. But the next
day did not bring me my Mary, nor the next, nor the next; and beyond
hearing that Mr. Leavenworth had returned from his trip I received
neither word nor token. Two more days dragged by, when, just as
twilight set in, she came. It had been a week since I had seen her, but
it might have been a year from the change I observed in her countenance
and expression. I could scarcely greet her with any show of pleasure,
she was so unlike her former self.

"You are disappointed, are you not?" said she, looking at me.
"You expected revelations, whispered hopes, and all manner of sweet
confidences; and you see, instead, a cold, bitter woman, who for the
first time in your presence feels inclined to be reserved and

"That is because you have had more to trouble than encourage you in
your love," I returned, though not without a certain shrinking, caused
more by her manner than words.

She did not reply to this, but rose and paced the floor, coldly at
first, but afterwards with a certain degree of excitement that proved
to be the prelude to a change in her manner; for, suddenly pausing, she
turned to me and said: "Mr. Clavering has left R----, Mrs. Belden."


"Yes, my uncle commanded me to dismiss him, and I obeyed."

The work dropped from my hands, in my heartfelt disappointment.
"Ah! then he knows of your engagement to Mr. Clavering?"

"Yes; he had not been in the house five minutes before Eleanore
told him."

"Then _she_ knew?"

"Yes," with a half sigh. "She could hardly help it. I was foolish
enough to give her the cue in my first moment of joy and weakness. I
did not think of the consequences; but I might have known. She is so

"I do not call it conscientiousness to tell another's secrets," I

"That is because you are not Eleanore."

Not having a reply for this, I said, "And so your uncle did not
regard your engagement with favor?"

"Favor! Did I not tell you he would never allow me to marry an
Englishman? He said he would sooner see me buried."

"And you yielded? Made no struggle? Let the hard, cruel man have his

She was walking off to look again at that picture which had
attracted her attention the time before, but at this word gave me one
little sidelong look that was inexpressibly suggestive.

"I obeyed him when he commanded, if that is what you mean."

"And dismissed Mr. Clavering after having given him your word of
honor to be his wife?"

"Why not, when I found I could not keep my word."

"Then you have decided not to marry him?"

She did not reply at once, but lifted her face mechanically to the

"My uncle would tell you that I had decided to be governed wholly
by his wishes!" she responded at last with what I felt was
self-scornful bitterness.

Greatly disappointed, I burst into tears. "Oh, Mary!" I cried, "Oh, Mary!"
and instantly blushed, startled that I had called her by her first name.

But she did not appear to notice.

"Have you any complaint to make?" she asked. "Is it not my
manifest duty to be governed by my uncle's wishes? Has he not brought
me up from childhood? lavished every luxury upon me? made me all I
am, even to the love of riches which he has instilled into my soul with
every gift he has thrown into my lap, every word he has dropped into my
ear, since I was old enough to know what riches meant? Is it for me
now to turn my back upon fostering care so wise, beneficent, and free,
just because a man whom I have known some two weeks chances to offer me
in exchange what he pleases to call his love?"

"But," I feebly essayed, convinced perhaps by the tone of sarcasm
in which this was uttered that she was not far from my way of thinking
after all, "if in two weeks you have learned to love this man more
than everything else, even the riches which make your uncle's favor a
thing of such moment--"

"Well," said she, "what then?"

"Why, then I would say, secure your happiness with the man of your
choice, if you have to marry him in secret, trusting to your influence
over your uncle to win the forgiveness he never can persistently deny."

You should have seen the arch expression which stole across her face
at that. "Would it not be better," she asked, creeping to my arms, and
laying her head on my shoulder, "would it not be better for me to make
sure of that uncle's favor first, before undertaking the hazardous
experiment of running away with a too ardent lover?"

Struck by her manner, I lifted her face and looked at it. It was one
amused smile.

"Oh, my darling," said I, "you have not, then dismissed Mr.

"I have sent him away," she whispered demurely.

"But not without hope?"

She burst into a ringing laugh.

"Oh, you dear old Mamma Hubbard; what a matchmaker you are, to be
sure! You appear as much interested as if you were the lover

"But tell me," I urged.

In a moment her serious mood returned. "He will wait for me," said

The next day I submitted to her the plan I had formed for her
clandestine intercourse with Mr. Clavering. It was for them both to
assume names, she taking mine, as one less liable to provoke conjecture
than a strange name, and he that of Le Roy Robbins. The plan pleased
her, and with the slight modification of a secret sign being used on
the envelope, to distinguish her letters from mine, was at once adopted.

And so it was I took the fatal step that has involved me in all this
trouble. With the gift of my name to this young girl to use as she
would and sign what she would, I seemed to part with what was left me
of judgment and discretion. Henceforth, I was only her scheming,
planning, devoted slave; now copying the letters which she brought me,
and enclosing them to the false name we had agreed upon, and now
busying myself in devising ways to forward to her those which I
received from him, without risk of discovery. Hannah was the medium we
employed, as Mary felt it would not be wise for her to come too often
to my house. To this girl's charge, then, I gave such notes as I could
not forward in any other way, secure in the reticence of her nature, as
well as in her inability to read, that these letters addressed to Mrs.
Amy Belden would arrive at their proper destination without mishap.
And. I believe they always did. At all events, no difficulty that I
ever heard of arose out of the use of this girl as a go-between.

But a change was at hand. Mr. Clavering, who had left an invalid
mother in England, was suddenly summoned home. He prepared to go, but,
flushed with love, distracted by doubts, smitten with the fear that,
once withdrawn from the neighborhood of a woman so universally courted
as Mary, he would stand small chance of retaining his position in her
regard, he wrote to her, telling his fears and asking her to marry him
before he went.

"Make me your husband, and I will follow your wishes in all
things," he wrote. "The certainty that you are mine will make parting
possible; without it, I cannot go; no, not if my mother should die
without the comfort of saying good-by to her only child."

By some chance she was in my house when I brought this letter from
the post-office, and I shall never forget how she started when she read
it. But, from looking as if she had received an insult, she speedily
settled down into a calm consideration of the subject, writing and
delivering into my charge for copying a few lines in which she promised
to accede to his request, if he would agree to leave the public
declaration of the marriage to her discretion, and consent to bid her
farewell at the door of the church or wherever the ceremony of marriage
should take place, never to come into her presence again till such
declaration had been made. Of course this brought in a couple of days
the sure response: "Anything, so you will be mine."

And Amy Belden's wits and powers of planning were all summoned into
requisition for the second time, to devise how this matter could be
arranged without subjecting the parties to the chance of detection. I
found the thing very difficult. In the first place, it was essential
that the marriage should come off within three days, Mr. Clavering
having, upon the receipt of her letter, secured his passage upon a
steamer that sailed on the following Saturday; and, next, both he and
Miss Leavenworth were too conspicuous in their personal appearance to
make it at all possible for them to be secretly married anywhere within
gossiping distance of this place. And yet it was desirable that the
scene of the ceremony should not be too far away, or the time occupied
in effecting the journey to and from the place would necessitate an
absence from the hotel on the part of Miss Leavenworth long enough to
arouse the suspicions of Eleanore; something which Mary felt it wiser
to avoid. Her uncle, I have forgotten to say, was not here--having
gone away again shortly after the apparent dismissal of Mr. Clavering.
F----, then, was the only town I could think of which combined the two
advantages of distance and accessibility. Although upon the railroad,
it was an insignificant place, and had, what was better yet, a very
obscure man for its clergyman, living, which was best of all, not ten
rods from the depot. If they could meet there? Making inquiries, I
found that it could be done, and, all alive to the romance of the
occasion, proceeded to plan the details.

And now I am coming to what might have caused the overthrow of the
whole scheme: I allude to the detection on the part of Eleanore of the
correspondence between Mary and Mr. Clavering. It happened thus.
Hannah, who, in her frequent visits to my house, had grown very fond of
my society, had come in to sit with me for a while one evening. She had
not been in the house, however, more than ten minutes, before there
came a knock at the front door; and going to it I saw Mary, as I
supposed, from the long cloak she wore, standing before me. Thinking
she had come with a letter for Mr. Clavering, I grasped her arm and
drew her into the hall, saying, "Have you got it? I must post it
to-night, or he will not receive it in time."

There I paused, for, the panting creature I had by the arm turning
upon me, I saw myself confronted by a stranger.

"You have made a mistake," she cried. "I am Eleanore Leavenworth,
and I have come for my girl Hannah. Is she here?"

I could only raise my hand in apprehension, and point to the girl
sitting in the corner of the room before her. Miss Leavenworth
immediately turned back.

"Hannah, I want you," said she, and would have left the house
without another word, but I caught her by the arm.

"Oh, miss--" I began, but she gave me such a look, I dropped her

"I have nothing to say to you!" she cried in a low, thrilling
voice. "Do not detain me." And, with a glance to see if Hannah were
following her, she went out.

For an hour I sat crouched on the stair just where she had left me.
Then I went to bed, but I did not sleep a wink that night. You can
imagine, then, my wonder when, with the first glow of the early morning
light, Mary, looking more beautiful than ever, came running up the
steps and into the room where I was, with the letter for Mr. Clavering
trembling in her hand.

"Oh!" I cried in my joy and relief, "didn't she understand me,

The gay look on Mary's face turned to one of reckless scorn. "If
you mean Eleanore, yes. She is duly initiated, Mamma Hubbard. Knows
that I love Mr. Clavering and write to him. I couldn't keep it secret
after the mistake you made last evening; so I did the next best thing,
told her the truth."

"Not that you were about to be married?"

"Certainly not. I don't believe in unnecessary communications."

"And you did not find her as angry as you expected?"

"I will not say that; she was angry enough. And yet," continued
Mary, with a burst of self-scornful penitence, "I will not call
Eleanore's lofty indignation anger. She was grieved, Mamma Hubbard,
grieved." And with a laugh which I believe was rather the result of her
own relief than of any wish to reflect on her cousin, she threw her
head on one side and eyed me with a look which seemed to say, "Do I
plague you so very much, you dear old Mamma Hubbard?"

She did plague me, and I could not conceal it. "And will she not
tell her uncle?" I gasped.

The naive expression on Mary's face quickly changed. "No," said she.

I felt a heavy hand, hot with fever, lifted from my heart. "And we
can still go on?"

She held out the letter for reply.

The plan agreed upon between us for the carrying out of our
intentions was this. At the time appointed, Mary was to excuse herself
to her cousin upon the plea that she had promised to take me to see a
friend in the next town. She was then to enter a buggy previously
ordered, and drive here, where I was to join her. We were then to
proceed immediately to the minister's house in F----, where we had
reason to believe we should find everything prepared for us. But in
this plan, simple as it was, one thing was forgotten, and that was the
character of Eleanore's love for her cousin. That her suspicions would
be aroused we did not doubt; but that she would actually follow Mary up
and demand an explanation of her conduct, was what neither she, who
knew her so well, nor I, who knew her so little, ever imagined
possible. And yet that was just what occurred. But let me explain.
Mary, who had followed out the programme to the point of leaving a
little note of excuse on Eleanore's dressing-table, had come to my
house, and was just taking off her long cloak to show me her dress,
when there came a commanding knock at the front door. Hastily pulling
her cloak about her I ran to open it, intending, you may be sure, to
dismiss my visitor with short ceremony, when I heard a voice behind me
say, "Good heavens, it is Eleanore!" and, glancing back, saw Mary
looking through the window-blind upon the porch without.

"What shall we do?" I cried, in very natural dismay.

"Do? why, open the door and let her in; I am not afraid of

I immediately did so, and Eleanore Leavenworth, very pale, but with
a resolute countenance, walked into the house and into this room,
confronting Mary in very nearly the same spot where you are now
sitting. "I have come," said she, lifting a face whose expression of
mingled sweetness and power I could not but admire, even in that moment
of apprehension, "to ask you without any excuse for my request, if you
will allow me to accompany you upon your drive this morning?"

Mary, who had drawn herself up to meet some word of accusation or
appeal, turned carelessly away to the glass. "I am very sorry," she
said, "but the buggy holds only two, and I shall be obliged to refuse."

"I will order a carriage."

"But I do not wish your company, Eleanore. We are off on a pleasure
trip, and desire to have our fun by ourselves."

"And you will not allow me to accompany you?"

"I cannot prevent your going in another carriage."

Eleanore's face grew yet more earnest in its expression. "Mary,"
said she, "we have been brought up together. I am your sister in
affection if not in blood, and I cannot see you start upon this
adventure with no other companion than this woman. Then tell me, shall
I go with you, as a sister, or on the road behind you as the enforced
guardian of your honor against your will?"

"My honor?"

"You are going to meet Mr. Clavering."


"Twenty miles from home."


"Now is it discreet or honorable in you to do this?"

Mary's haughty lip took an ominous curve. "The same hand that
raised you has raised me," she cried bitterly.

"This is no time to speak of that," returned Eleanore.

Mary's countenance flushed. All the antagonism of her nature was
aroused. She looked absolutely Juno-like in her wrath and reckless
menace. "Eleanore," she cried, "I am going to F---- to marry Mr.
Clavering! _Now_ do you wish to accompany me?"

"I do."

Mary's whole manner changed. Leaping forward, she grasped her
cousin's arm and shook it. "For what reason?" she cried. "What do
you intend to do?"

"To witness the marriage, if it be a true one; to step between you
and shame if any element of falsehood should come in to affect its

Mary's hand fell from her cousin's arm. "I do not understand you,"
said she. "I thought you never gave countenance to what you considered

"Nor do I. Any one who knows me will understand that I do not give
my approval to this marriage just because I attend its ceremonial in
the capacity of an unwilling witness."

"Then why go?"

"Because I value your honor above my own peace. Because I love our
common benefactor, and know that he would never pardon me if I let his
darling be married, however contrary her union might be to his wishes,
without lending the support of my presence to make the transaction at
least a respectable one."

"But in so doing you will be involved in a world of deception--
which you hate."

"Any more so than now?"

"Mr. Clavering does not return with me, Eleanore."

"No, I supposed not."

"I leave him immediately after the ceremony."

Eleanore bowed her head.

"He goes to Europe." A pause.

"And I return home."

"There to wait for what, Mary?"

Mary's face crimsoned, and she turned slowly away.

"What every other girl does under such circumstances, I suppose.
The development of more reasonable feelings in an obdurate parent's

Eleanore sighed, and a short silence ensued, broken by Eleanore's
suddenly falling upon her knees, and clasping her cousin's hand. "Oh,
Mary," she sobbed, her haughtiness all disappearing in a gush of wild
entreaty, "consider what you are doing! Think, before it is too
late, of the consequences which must follow such an act as this.
Marriage founded upon deception can never lead to happiness. Love--
but it is not that. Love would have led you either to have dismissed
Mr. Clavering at once, or to have openly accepted the fate which a
union with him would bring. Only passion stoops to subterfuge like
this. And you," she continued, rising and turning towards me in a sort
of forlorn hope very touching to see, "can you see this young
motherless girl, driven by caprice, and acknowledging no moral
restraint, enter upon the dark and crooked path she is planning for
herself, without uttering one word of warning and appeal? Tell me,
mother of children dead and buried, what excuse you will have for your
own part in this day's work, when she, with her face marred by the
sorrows which must follow this deception, comes to you----"

"The same excuse, probably," Mary's voice broke in, chill and
strained, "which you will have when uncle inquires how you came to
allow such an act of disobedience to be perpetrated in his absence:
that she could not help herself, that Mary would gang her ain gait, and
every one around must accommodate themselves to it,"

It was like a draught of icy air suddenly poured into a room heated
up to fever point. Eleanore stiffened immediately, and drawing back,
pale and composed, turned upon her cousin with the remark:

"Then nothing can move you?"

The curling of Mary's lips was her only reply.

Mr. Raymond, I do not wish to weary you with my feelings, but the
first great distrust I ever felt of my wisdom in pushing this matter so
far came with that curl of Mary's lip. More plainly than Eleanore's
words it showed me the temper with which she was entering upon this
undertaking; and, struck with momentary dismay, I advanced to speak
when Mary stopped me.

"There, now, Mamma Hubbard, don't you go and acknowledge that you
are frightened, for I won't hear it. I have promised to marry Henry
Clavering to-day, and I am going to keep my word--if I don't love him,"
she added with bitter emphasis. Then, smiling upon me in a way which
caused me to forget everything save the fact that she was going to her
bridal, she handed me her veil to fasten. As I was doing this, with
very trembling fingers, she said, looking straight at Eleanore:

"You have shown yourself more interested in my fate than I had any
reason to expect. Will you continue to display this concern all the way
to F----, or may I hope for a few moments of peace in which to dream
upon the step which, according to you, is about to hurl upon me such
dreadful consequences?"

"If I go with you to F----," Eleanore returned, "it is as a
witness, no more. My sisterly duty is done."

"Very well, then," Mary said, dimpling with sudden gayety; "I
suppose I shall have to accept the situation. Mamma Hubbard, I am so
sorry to disappoint you, but the buggy _won't_ hold three. If you
are good you shall be the first to congratulate me when I come home
to-night." And, almost before I knew it, the two had taken their seats
in the buggy that was waiting at the door. "Good-by," cried Mary,
waving her hand from the back; "wish me much joy--of my ride."

I tried to do so, but the words wouldn't come. I could only wave my
hand in response, and rush sobbing into the house.

Of that day, and its long hours of alternate remorse and anxiety, I
cannot trust myself to speak. Let me come at once to the time when,
seated alone in my lamp-lighted room, I waited and watched for the
token of their return which Mary had promised me. It came in the shape
of Mary herself, who, wrapped in her long cloak, and with her beautiful
face aglow with blushes, came stealing into the house just as I was
beginning to despair.

A strain of wild music from the hotel porch, where they were having
a dance, entered with her, producing such a weird effect upon my fancy
that I was not at all surprised when, in flinging off her cloak, she
displayed garments of bridal white and a head crowned with snowy roses.

"Oh, Mary!" I cried, bursting into tears; "you are then----"

"Mrs. Henry Clavering, at your service. I'm a bride, Auntie."

"Without a bridal," I murmured, taking her passionately into my

She was not insensible to my emotion. Nestling close to me, she gave
herself up for one wild moment to a genuine burst of tears, saying
between her sobs all manner of tender things; telling me how she loved
me, and how I was the only one in all the world to whom she dared come
on this, her wedding night, for comfort or congratulation, and of how
frightened she felt now it was all over, as if with her name she had
parted with something of inestimable value.

"And does not the thought of having made some one the proudest of
men solace you?" I asked, more than dismayed at this failure of mine
to make these lovers happy.

"I don't know," she sobbed. "What satisfaction can it be for him
to feel himself tied for life to a girl who, sooner than lose a
prospective fortune, subjected him to such a parting?"

"Tell me about it," said I.

But she was not in the mood at that moment. The excitement of the
day had been too much for her. A thousand fears seemed to beset her
mind. Crouching down on the stool at my feet, she sat with her hands
folded and a glare on her face that lent an aspect of strange unreality
to her brilliant attire. "How shall I keep it secret! The thought
haunts me every moment; how can I keep it secret!"

"Why, is there any danger of its being known?" I inquired. "Were
you seen or followed?"

"No," she murmured. "It all went off well, but----"

"Where is the danger, then?"

"I cannot say; but some deeds are like ghosts. They will not be
laid; they reappear; they gibber; they make themselves known whether
we will or not. I did not think of this before. I was mad, reckless,
what you will. But ever since the night has come, I have felt it
crushing upon me like a pall that smothers life and youth and love out
of my heart. While the sunlight remained I could endure it; but now--
oh, Auntie, I have done something that will keep me in constant fear. I
have allied myself to a living apprehension. I have destroyed my

I was too aghast to speak.

"For two hours I have played at being gay. Dressed in my bridal
white, and crowned with roses, I have greeted my friends as if they
were wedding-guests, and made believe to myself that all the
compliments bestowed upon me--and they are only too numerous--were just
so many congratulations upon my marriage. But it was no use; Eleanore
knew it was no use. She has gone to her room to pray, while I--I have
come here for the first time, perhaps for the last, to fall at some
one's feet and cry,--' God have mercy upon me!'"

I looked at her in uncontrollable emotion. "Oh, Mary, have I only
succeeded, then, in making you miserable?"

She did not answer; she was engaged in picking up the crown of roses
which had fallen from her hair to the floor.

"If I had not been taught to love money so!" she said at length.
"If, like Eleanore, I could look upon the splendor which has been ours
from childhood as a mere accessory of life, easy to be dropped at the
call of duty or affection! If prestige, adulation, and elegant
belongings were not so much to me; or love, friendship, and domestic
happiness more! If only I could walk a step without dragging the chain
of a thousand luxurious longings after me. Eleanore can. Imperious as
she often is in her beautiful womanhood, haughty as she can be when the
delicate quick of her personality is touched too rudely, I have known
her to sit by the hour in a low, chilly, ill-lighted and ill-smelling
garret, cradling a dirty child on her knee, and feeding with her own
hand an impatient old woman whom no one else would consent to touch.
Oh, oh! they talk about repentance and a change of heart! If some one
or something would only change mine! But there is no hope of that! no
hope of my ever being anything else than what I am: a selfish, wilful,
mercenary girl."

Nor was this mood a mere transitory one. That same night she made a
discovery which increased her apprehension almost to terror. This was
nothing less than the fact that Eleanore had been keeping a diary of
the last few weeks. "Oh," she cried in relating this to me the next
day, "what security shall I ever feel as long as this diary of hers
remains to confront me every time I go into her room? And she will not
consent to destroy it, though I have done my best to show her that it
is a betrayal of the trust I reposed in her. She says it is all she has
to show in the way of defence, if uncle should ever accuse her of
treachery to him and his happiness. She promises to keep it locked up;
but what good will that do! A thousand accidents might happen, any of
them sufficient to throw it into uncle's hands. I shall never feel safe
for a moment while it exists."

I endeavored to calm her by saying that if Eleanore was without
malice, such fears were groundless. But she would not be comforted, and
seeing her so wrought up, I suggested that Eleanore should be asked to
trust it into my keeping till such time as she should feel the
necessity of using it. The idea struck Mary favorably. "O yes," she
cried; "and I will put my certificate with it, and so get rid of all
my care at once." And before the afternoon was over, she had seen
Eleanore and made her request.

It was acceded to with this proviso, that I was neither to destroy
nor give up all or any of the papers except upon their united demand. A
small tin box was accordingly procured, into which were put all the
proofs of Mary's marriage then existing, viz.: the certificate, Mr.
Clavering's letters, and such leaves from Eleanore's diary as referred
to this matter. It was then handed over to me with the stipulation I
have already mentioned, and I stowed it away in a certain closet
upstairs, where it has lain undisturbed till last night.

Here Mrs. Belden paused, and, blushing painfully, raised her eyes to
mine with a look in which anxiety and entreaty were curiously blended.

"I don't know what you will say," she began, "but, led away by my
fears, I took that box out of its hiding-place last evening and,
notwithstanding your advice, carried it from the house, and it is

"In my possession," I quietly finished.

I don't think I ever saw her look more astounded, not even when I
told her of Hannah's death. "Impossible!" she exclaimed. "I left it
last night in the old barn that was burned down. I merely meant to hide
it for the present, and could think of no better place in my hurry;
for the barn is said to be haunted--a man hung himself there once--
and no one ever goes there. I--I--you cannot have it!" she cried,

"Unless I found and brought it away before the barn was destroyed,"
I suggested.

Her face flushed deeper. "Then you followed me?"

"Yes," said I. Then, as I felt my own countenance redden, hastened
to add: "We have been playing strange and unaccustomed parts, you and
I. Some time, when all these dreadful events shall be a mere dream of
the past, we will ask each other's pardon. But never mind all this now.
The box is safe, and I am anxious to hear the rest of your story."

This seemed to compose her, and after a minute she continued:

Mary seemed more like herself after this. And though, on account of
Mr. Leavenworth's return and their subsequent preparations for
departure, I saw but little more of her, what I did see was enough to
make me fear that, with the locking up of the proofs of her marriage,
she was indulging the idea that the marriage itself had become void.
But I may have wronged her in this.

The story of those few weeks is almost finished. On the eve of the
day before she left, Mary came to my house to bid me good-by. She had a
present in her hand the value of which I will not state, as I did not
take it, though she coaxed me with all her prettiest wiles. But she
said something that night that I have never been able to forget. It was
this. I had been speaking of my hope that before two months had elapsed
she would find herself in a position to send for Mr. Clavering, and
that when that day came I should wish to be advised of it; when she
suddenly interrupted me by saying:

"Uncle will never be won upon, as you call it, while he lives. If I
was convinced of it before, I am sure of it now. Nothing but his death
will ever make it possible for me to send for Mr. Clavering." Then,
seeing me look aghast at the long period of separation which this
seemed to betoken, blushed a little and whispered: "The prospect
looks somewhat dubious, doesn't it? But if Mr. Clavering loves me, he
can wait."

"But," said I, "your uncle is only little past the prime of life
and appears to be in robust health; it will be years of waiting, Mary."

"I don't know," she muttered, "I think not. Uncle is not as strong
as he looks and--" She did not say any more, horrified perhaps at the
turn the conversation was taking. But there was an expression on her
countenance that set me thinking at the time, and has kept me thinking
ever since.

Not that any actual dread of such an occurrence as has since
happened came to oppress my solitude during the long months which now
intervened. I was as yet too much under the spell of her charm to allow
anything calculated to throw a shadow over her image to remain long in
my thoughts. But when, some time in the fall, a letter came to me
personally from Mr. Clavering, filled with a vivid appeal to tell him
something of the woman who, in spite of her vows, doomed him to a
suspense so cruel, and when, on the evening of the same day, a friend
of mine who had just returned from New York spoke of meeting Mary
Leavenworth at some gathering, surrounded by manifest admirers, I began
to realize the alarming features of the affair, and, sitting down, I
wrote her a letter. Not in the strain in which I had been accustomed to
talk to her,--I had not her pleading eyes and trembling, caressing
hands ever before me to beguile my judgment from its proper exercise,
--but honestly and earnestly, telling her how Mr. Clavering felt, and
what a risk she ran in keeping so ardent a lover from his rights. The
reply she sent rather startled me.

"I have put Mr. Robbins out of my calculations for the present, and
advise you to do the same. As for the gentleman himself, I have told
him that when I could receive him I would be careful to notify him.
That day has not yet come.

"But do not let him be discouraged," she added in a postscript.
"When he does receive his happiness, it will be _a_ satisfying one."

_I thought. Ah, it is that _when_ which is likely to ruin all!
But, intent only upon fulfilling her will, I sat down and wrote a
letter to Mr. Clavering, in which I stated what she had said, and
begged him to have patience, adding that I would surely let him know if
any change took place in Mary or her circumstances. And, having
despatched it to his address in London, awaited the development of

They were not slow in transpiring. In two weeks I heard of the
sudden death of Mr. Stebbins, the minister who had married them; and
while yet laboring under the agitation produced by this shock, was
further startled by seeing in a New York paper the name of Mr.
Clavering among the list of arrivals at the Hoffman House; showing
that my letter to him had failed in its intended effect, and that the
patience Mary had calculated upon so blindly was verging to its end. I
was consequently far from being surprised when, in a couple of weeks or
so afterwards, a letter came from him to my address, which, owing to
the careless omission of the private mark upon the envelope, I opened,
and read enough to learn that, driven to desperation by the constant
failures which he had experienced in all his endeavors to gain access
to her in public or private, _a_ failure which he was not
backward in ascribing to her indisposition to see him, he had made up
his mind to risk everything, even her displeasure; and, by making an
appeal to her uncle, end the suspense under which he was laboring,
definitely and at once. "I want you," he wrote; "dowered or
dowerless, it makes little difference to me. If you will not come of
yourself, then I must follow the example of the brave knights, my
ancestors; storm the castle that holds you, and carry you off by force
of arms."

Neither can I say I was much surprised, knowing Mary as I did, when,
in a few days from this, she forwarded to me for copying, this reply:
"If Mr. Robbins ever expects to be happy with Amy Belden, let him
reconsider the determination of which he speaks. Not only would he by
such an action succeed in destroying the happiness of her he professes
to love, but run the greater risk of effectually annulling the
affection which makes the tie between them endurable."

To this there was neither date nor signature. It was the cry of
warning which a spirited, self-contained creature gives when brought to
bay. It made even me recoil, though I had known from the first that her
pretty wilfulness was but the tossing foam floating above the soundless
depths of cold resolve and most deliberate purpose.

What its real effect was upon him and her fate I can only
conjecture. All I know is that in two weeks thereafter Mr. Leavenworth
was found murdered in his room, and Hannah Chester, coming direct to my
door from the scene of violence, begged me to take her in and secrete
her from public inquiry, as I loved and desired to serve Mary


    _Pol._What do you read, my lord?
    _Ham._ Words, words, words.


MRS. BELDEN paused, lost in the sombre shadow which these words were
calculated to evoke, and a short silence fell upon the room. It was
broken by my asking for some account of the occurrence she had just
mentioned, it being considered a mystery how Hannah could have found
entrance into her house without the knowledge of the neighbors.

"Well," said she, "it was a chilly night, and I had gone to bed
early (I was sleeping then in the room off this) when, at about a
quarter to one--the last train goes through R---- at 12.50--there
came a low knock on the window-pane at the head of my bed. Thinking
that some of the neighbors were sick, I hurriedly rose on my elbow and
asked who was there. The answer came in low, muffled tones, 'Hannah,
Miss Leavenworth's girl! Please let me in at the kitchen door.'
Startled at hearing the well-known voice, and fearing I knew not what,
I caught up a lamp and hurried round to the door. 'Is any one with you?'
I asked. 'No,' she replied. 'Then come in.' But no sooner had she
done so than my strength failed me, and I had to sit down, for I saw
she looked very pale and strange, was without baggage, and altogether
had the appearance of some wandering spirit. 'Hannah!' I gasped, '
what is it? what has happened? what brings you here in this condition
and at this time of night?' 'Miss Leavenworth has sent me,' she
replied, in the low, monotonous tone of one repeating a lesson by rote.
'She told me to come here; said you would keep me. I am not to go out
of the house, and no one is to know I am here.' 'But why?' I asked,
trembling with a thousand undefined fears; 'what has occurred?' 'I
dare not say,' she whispered; 'I am forbid; I am just to stay here,
and keep quiet.' 'But,' I began, helping her to take off her
shawl,--the dingy blanket advertised for in the papers--'you must tell
me. She surely did not forbid you to tell _me?_' 'Yes she did;
every one,' the girl replied, growing white in her persistence, 'and I
never break my word; fire couldn't draw it out of me.' She looked so
determined, so utterly unlike herself, as I remembered her in the meek,
unobtrusive days of our old acquaintance, that I could do nothing but
stare at her. 'You will keep me,' she said; 'you will not turn me
away?' 'No,' I said, 'I will not turn you away.' 'And tell no one?'
she went on. 'And tell no one,' I repeated.

"This seemed to relieve her. Thanking me, she quietly followed me
upstairs. I put her into the room in which you found her, because it
was the most secret one in the house; and there she has remained ever
since, satisfied and contented, as far as I could see, till this very
same horrible day."

"And is that all?" I asked. "Did you have no explanation with
her afterwards? Did she never give you any information in regard to
the transactions which led to her flight?"

"No, sir. She kept a most persistent silence. Neither then nor when,
upon the next day, I confronted her with the papers in my hand, and the
awful question upon my lips as to whether her flight had been
occasioned by the murder which had taken place in Mr. Leavenworth's
household, did she do more than acknowledge she had run away on this
account. Some one or something had sealed her lips, and, as she said, '
Fire and torture should never make her speak.'"

Another short pause followed this; then, with my mind still hovering
about the one point of intensest interest to me, I said:

"This story, then, this account which you have just given me of
Mary Leavenworth's secret marriage and the great strait it put her into
--a strait from which nothing but her uncle's death could relieve her
--together with this acknowledgment of Hannah's that she had left home
and taken refuge here on the insistence of Mary Leavenworth, is the
groundwork you have for the suspicions you have mentioned?"

"Yes, sir; that and the proof of her interest in the matter which
is given by the letter I received from her yesterday, and which you say
you have now in your possession."

Oh, that letter!

"I know," Mrs. Belden went on in a broken voice, "that it is
wrong, in a serious case like this, to draw hasty conclusions; but,
oh, sir, how can I help it, knowing what I do?"

I did not answer; I was revolving in my mind the old question: was
it possible, in face of all these later developments, still to believe
Mary Leavenworth's own hand guiltless of her uncle's blood?

"It is dreadful to come to such conclusions," proceeded Mrs. Belden,
"and nothing but her own words written in her own hand would ever have
driven me to them, but----"

"Pardon me," I interrupted; "but you said in the beginning of
this interview that you did not believe Mary herself had any direct
hand in her uncle's murder. Are you ready to repeat that assertion?"

"Yes, yes, indeed. Whatever I may think of her influence in
inducing it, I never could imagine her as having anything to do with
its actual performance. Oh, no! oh, no! whatever was done on that
dreadful night, Mary Leavenworth never put hand to pistol or ball, or
even stood by while they were used; that you may be sure of. Only the
man who loved her, longed for her, and felt the impossibility of
obtaining her by any other means, could have found nerve for an act so

"Then you think----"

"Mr. Clavering is the man? I do: and oh, sir, when you consider
that he is her husband, is it not dreadful enough?"

"It is, indeed," said I, rising to conceal how much I was affected
by this conclusion of hers.

Something in my tone or appearance seemed to startle her. "I hope
and trust I have not been indiscreet," she cried, eying me with
something like an incipient distrust. "With this dead girl lying in my
house, I ought to be very careful, I know, but----"

"You have said nothing," was my earnest assurance as I edged
towards the door in my anxiety to escape, if but for a moment, from an
atmosphere that was stifling me. "No one can blame you for anything
you have either said or done to-day. But"--and here I paused and
walked hurriedly back,--"I wish to ask one question more. Have you any
reason, beyond that of natural repugnance to believing a young and
beautiful woman guilty of a great crime, for saying what you have of
Henry Clavering, a gentleman who has hitherto been mentioned by you
with respect?"

"No," she whispered, with a touch of her old agitation.

I felt the reason insufficient, and turned away with something of
the same sense of suffocation with which I had heard that the missing
key had been found in Eleanore Leavenworth's possession. "You must
excuse me," I said; "I want to be a moment by myself, in order to
ponder over the facts which I have just heard; I will soon return ";
and without further ceremony, hurried from the room.

By some indefinable impulse, I went immediately upstairs, and took
my stand at the western window of the large room directly over Mrs.
Belden. The blinds were closed; the room was shrouded in funereal
gloom, but its sombreness and horror were for the moment unfelt; I was
engaged in a fearful debate with myself. Was Mary Leavenworth the
principal, or merely the accessory, in this crime? Did the determined
prejudice of Mr. Gryce, the convictions of Eleanore, the circumstantial
evidence even of such facts as had come to our knowledge, preclude the
possibility that Mrs. Belden's conclusions were correct? That all the
detectives interested in the affair would regard the question as
settled, I did not doubt; but need it be? Was it utterly impossible to
find evidence yet that Henry Clavering was, after all, the assassin of
Mr. Leavenworth?

Filled with the thought, I looked across the room to the closet
where lay the body of the girl who, according to all probability, had
known the truth of the matter, and a great longing seized me. Oh, why
could not the dead be made to speak? Why should she lie there so
silent, so pulseless, so inert, when a word from her were enough to
decide the awful question? Was there no power to compel those pallid
lips to move?

Carried away by the fervor of the moment, I made my way to her side.
Ah, God, how still! With what a mockery the closed lips and lids
confronted my demanding gaze! A stone could not have been more

With a feeling that was almost like anger, I stood there, when--
what was it I saw protruding from beneath her shoulders where they
crushed against the bed? An envelope? a letter? Yes.

Dizzy with the sudden surprise, overcome with the wild hopes this
discovery awakened, I stooped in great agitation and drew the letter
out. It was sealed but not directed. Breaking it hastily open, I took a
glance at its contents. Good heavens! it was the work of the girl
herself!--its very appearance was enough to make that evident! Feeling
as if a miracle had happened, I hastened with it into the other room,
and set myself to decipher the awkward scrawl.

This is what I saw, rudely printed in lead pencil on the inside of a
sheet of common writing-paper:

"I am a wicked girl. I have knone things all the time which I had
ought to have told but I didn't dare to he said he would kill me if I
did I mene the tall splendud looking gentulman with the black mustash
who I met coming out of Mister Levenworth's room with a key in his hand
the night Mr. Levenworth was murdered. He was so scared he gave me
money and made me go away and come here and keep every thing secret but
I can't do so no longer. I seem to see Miss Elenor all the time crying
and asking me if I want her sent to prisuu. God knows I'd rathur die.
And this is the truth and my last words and I pray every body's
forgivness and hope nobody will blame me and that they wont bother Miss
Elenor any more but go and look after the handsome gentulman with the
black mushtash."



    "It out-Herods Herod."

    "A thing devised by the enemy."
        --Richard III

A HALF-HOUR had passed. The train upon which I had every reason to
expect Mr. Gryce had arrived, and I stood in the doorway awaiting with
indescribable agitation the slow and labored approach of the motley
group of men and women whom I had observed leave the depot at the
departure of the cars. Would he be among them? Was the telegram of a
nature peremptory enough to make his presence here, sick as he was, an
absolute certainty? The written confession of Hannah throbbing against
my heart, a heart all elation now, as but a short half-hour before it
had been all doubt and struggle, seemed to rustle distrust, and the
prospect of a long afternoon spent in impatience was rising before me,
when a portion of the advancing crowd turned off into a side street,
and I saw the form of Mr. Gryce hobbling, not on two sticks, but very
painfully on one, coming slowly down the street.

His face, as he approached, was a study.

"Well, well, well," he exclaimed, as we met at the gate; "this is
a pretty how-d'ye-do, I must say. Hannah dead, eh? and everything
turned topsy-turvy! Humph, and what do you think of Mary Leavenworth

It would therefore seem natural, in the conversation which followed
his introduction into the house and installment in Mrs. Belden's
parlor, that I should begin my narration by showing him Hannah's
confession; but it was not so. Whether it was that I felt anxious to
have him go through the same alternations of hope and fear it had been
my lot to experience since I came to R----; or whether, in the
depravity of human nature, there lingered within me sufficient
resentment for the persistent disregard he had always paid to my
suspicions of Henry Clavering to make it a matter of moment to me to
spring this knowledge upon him just at the instant his own convictions
seemed to have reached the point of absolute certainty, I cannot say.
Enough that it was not till I had given him a full account of every
other matter connected with my stay in this house; not till I saw his
eye beaming, and his lip quivering with the excitement incident upon
the perusal of the letter from Mary, found in Mrs. Belden's pocket;
not, indeed, until I became assured from such expressions as
"Tremendous! The deepest game of the season! Nothing like it since the
Lafarge affair!" that in another moment he would be uttering some
theory or belief that once heard would forever stand like a barrier
between us, did I allow myself to hand him the letter I had taken from
under the dead body of Hannah.

I shall never forget his expression as he received it; "Good
heavens!" cried he, "what's this?"

"A dying confession of the girl Hannah. I found it lying in her bed
when I went up, a half-hour ago, to take a second look at her."

Opening it, he glanced over it with an incredulous air that
speedily, however, turned to one of the utmost astonishment, as he
hastily perused it, and then stood turning it over and over in his
hand, examining it.

"A remarkable piece of evidence," I observed, not without a certain
feeling of triumph; "quite changes the aspect of affairs!"

"Think so?" he sharply retorted; then, whilst I stood staring at
him in amazement, his manner was so different from what I expected,
looked up and said: "You tell me that you found this in her bed.
Whereabouts in her bed?"

"Under the body of the girl herself," I returned. "I saw one
corner of it protruding from beneath her shoulders, and drew it out."

He came and stood before me. "Was it folded or open, when you first
looked at it?"

"Folded; fastened up in this envelope," showing it to him.

He took it, looked at it for a moment, and went on with his

"This envelope has a very crumpled appearance, as well as the
letter itself. Were they so when you found them?"

"Yes, not only so, but doubled up as you see."

"Doubled up? You are sure of that? Folded, sealed, and then
doubled up as if her body had rolled across it while alive?"


"No trickery about it? No look as if the thing had been insinuated
there since her death?"

"Not at all. I should rather say that to every appearance she held
it in her hand when she lay down, but turning over, dropped it and then
lay upon it."

Mr. Gryce's eyes, which had been very bright, ominously clouded;
evidently he had been disappointed in my answers, paying the letter
down, he stood musing, but suddenly lifted it again, scrutinized the
edges of the paper on which it was written, and, darting me a quick
look, vanished with it into the shade of the window curtain. His manner
was so peculiar, I involuntarily rose to follow; but he waved me back,

"Amuse yourself with that box on the table, which you had such an
ado over; see if it contains all we have a right to expect to find in
it. I want to be by myself for a moment."

Subduing my astonishment, I proceeded to comply with his request,
but scarcely had I lifted the lid of the box before me when he came
hurrying back, flung the letter down on the table with an air of the
greatest excitement, and cried:

"Did I say there had never been anything like it since the Lafarge
affair? I tell you there has never been anything like it in any
affair. It is the rummest case on record! Mr. Raymond," and his eyes,
in his excitement, actually met mine for the first time in my
experience of him, "prepare yourself for a disappointment. This
pretended confession of Hannah's is a fraud!"

"A fraud?"

"Yes; fraud, forgery, what you will; the girl never wrote it."

Amazed, outraged almost, I bounded from my chair. "How do you know
that?" I cried.

Bending forward, he put the letter into my hand. "Look at it," said
he; "examine it closely. Now tell me what is the first thing you
notice in regard to it?"

"Why, the first thing that strikes me, is that the words are
printed, instead of written; something which might be expected from
this girl, according to all accounts."


"That they are printed on the inside of a sheet of ordinary

"Ordinary paper?"


"That is, a sheet of commercial note of the ordinary quality."

"Of course."

"But is it?"

"Why, yes; I should say so."

"Look at the lines."

"What of them? Oh, I see, they run up close to the top of the page;
evidently the scissors have been used here."

"In short, it is a large sheet, trimmed down to the size of
commercial note?"


"And is that all you see?"

"All but the words."

"Don't you perceive what has been lost by means of this trimming

"No, unless you mean the manufacturer's stamp in the corner." Mr.
Gryce's glance took meaning. "But I don't see why the loss of that
should be deemed a matter of any importance."

"Don't you? Not when you consider that by it we seem to be
deprived of all opportunity of tracing this sheet back to the quire of
paper from which it was taken?"


"Humph! then you are more of an amateur than I thought you. Don't
you see that, as Hannah could have had no motive for concealing where
the paper came from on which she wrote her dying words, this sheet must
have been prepared by some one else?"

"No," said I; "I cannot say that I see all that."

"Can't! Well then, answer me this. Why should Hannah, a girl about
to commit suicide, care whether any clue was furnished, in her
confession, to the actual desk, drawer, or quire of paper from which
the sheet was taken, on which she wrote it?"

"She wouldn't."

"Yet especial pains have been taken to destroy that clue."


"Then there is another thing. Read the confession itself, Mr.
Raymond, and tell me what you gather from it."

"Why," said I, after complying, "that the girl, worn out with
constant apprehension, has made up her mind to do away with herself,
and that Henry Clavering----"

"Henry Clavering?"

The interrogation was put with so much meaning, I looked up. "Yes,"
said I.

"Ah, I didn't know that Mr. Clavering's name was mentioned there;
excuse me."

"His name is not mentioned, but a description is given so
strikingly in accordance----"

Here Mr. Gryce interrupted me. "Does it not seem a little
surprising to you that a girl like Hannah should have stopped to
describe a man she knew by name?"

I started; it was unnatural surely.

"You believe Mrs. Belden's story, don't you?"


"Consider her accurate in her relation of what took place here a
year ago?"

"I do."

"Must believe, then, that Hannah, the go-between, was acquainted
with Mr. Clavering and with his name?"


"Then why didn't she use it? If her intention was, as she here
professes, to save Eleanore Leavenworth from the false imputation which
had fallen upon her, she would naturally take the most direct method of
doing it. This description of a man whose identity she could have at
once put beyond a doubt by the mention of his name is the work, not of
a poor, ignorant girl, but of some person who, in attempting to play
the _role_ of one, has signally failed. But that is not all. Mrs.
Belden, according to you, maintains that Hannah told her, upon entering
the house, that Mary Leavenworth sent her here. But in this document,
she declares it to have been the work of Black Mustache."

"I know; but could they not have both been parties to the

"Yes," said he; "yet it is always a suspicious circumstance, when
there is a discrepancy between the written and spoken declaration of a
person. But why do we stand here fooling, when a few words from this
Mrs. Belden, you talk so much about, will probably settle the whole

"A few words from Mrs. Belden," I repeated. "I have had thousands
from her to-day, and find the matter no nearer settled than in the

"_You_ have had," said he, "but I have not. Fetch her in, Mr.

I rose. "One thing," said I, "before I go. What if Hannah had
found the sheet of paper, trimmed just as it is, and used it without
any thought of the suspicions it would occasion!"

"Ah!" said he, "that is just what we are going to find out."

Mrs. Belden was in a flutter of impatience when I entered the
sitting-room. When did I think the coroner would come? and what did I
imagine this detective would do for us? It was dreadful waiting there
alone for something, she knew not what.

I calmed her as well as I could, telling her the detective had not
yet informed me what he could do, having some questions to ask her
first. Would she come in to see him? She rose with alacrity. Anything
was better than suspense.

Mr. Gryce, who in the short interim of my absence had altered his
mood from the severe to the beneficent, received Mrs. Belden with just
that show of respectful courtesy likely to impress a woman as dependent
as she upon the good opinion of others.

"Ah! and this is the lady in whose house this very disagreeable
event has occurred," he exclaimed, partly rising in his enthusiasm to
greet her. "May I request you to sit," he asked; "if a stranger may
be allowed to take the liberty of inviting a lady to sit in her own

"It does not seem like my own house any longer," said she, but in a
sad, rather than an aggressive tone; so much had his genial way
imposed upon her. "Little better than a prisoner here, go and come,
keep silence or speak, just as I am bidden; and all because an unhappy
creature, whom I took in for the most unselfish of motives, has chanced
to die in my house!"

"Just so!" exclaimed Mr. Gryce; "it is very unjust. But perhaps
we can right matters. I have every reason to believe we can. This
sudden death ought to be easily explained. You say you had no poison in
the house?"

"No, sir."

"And that the girl never went out?"

"Never, sir."

"And that no one has ever been here to see her?"

"No one, sir."

"So that she could not have procured any such thing if she had

"No, sir."

"Unless," he added suavely, "she had it with her when she came

"That couldn't have been, sir. She brought no baggage; and as for
her pocket, I know everything there was in it, for I looked."

"And what did you find there?"

"Some money in bills, more than you would have expected such a girl
to have, some loose pennies, and a common handkerchief."

"Well, then, it is proved the girl didn't die of poison, there
being none in the house."

He said this in so convinced a tone she was deceived.

"That is just what I have been telling Mr. Raymond," giving me a
triumphant look.

"Must have been heart disease," he went on, "You say she was
well yesterday?"

"Yes, sir; or seemed so."

"Though not cheerful?"

"I did not say that; she was, sir, very."

"What, ma'am, this girl?" giving me a look. "I don't understand
that. I should think her anxiety about those she had left behind her in
the city would have been enough to keep her from being very cheerful."

"So you would," returned Mrs. Belden; "but it wasn't so. On the
contrary, she never seemed to worry about them at all."

"What! not about Miss Eleanore, who, according to the papers,
stands in so cruel a position before the world? But perhaps she didn't
know anything about that--Miss Leavenworth's position, I mean?"

"Yes, she did, for I told her. I was so astonished I could not keep
it to myself. You see, I had always considered Eleanore as one above
reproach, and it so shocked me to see her name mentioned in the
newspaper in such a connection, that I went to Hannah and read the
article aloud, and watched her face to see how she took it."

"And how did she?"

"I can't say. She looked as if she didn't understand; asked me why
I read such things to her, and told me she didn't want to hear any more;
that I had promised not to trouble her about this murder, and that if
I continued to do so she wouldn't listen."

"Humph! and what else?"

"Nothing else. She put her hands over her ears and frowned in such a
sullen way I left the room."

"That was when?"

"About three weeks ago."

"She has, however, mentioned the subject since?"

"No, sir; not once."

"What! not asked what they were going to do with her mistress?"

"No, sir."

"She has shown, however, that something was preying on her mind--
fear, remorse, or anxiety?"

"No, sir; on the contrary, she has oftener appeared like one
secretly elated."

"But," exclaimed Mr. Gryce, with another sidelong look at me,
"that was very strange and unnatural. I cannot account for it."

"Nor I, sir. I used to try to explain it by thinking her
sensibilities had been blunted, or that she was too ignorant to
comprehend the seriousness of what had happened; but as I learned to
know her better, I gradually changed my mind. There was too much method
in her gayety for that. I could not help seeing she had some future
before her for which she was preparing herself. As, for instance, she
asked me one day if I thought she could learn to play on the piano. And
I finally came to the conclusion she had been promised money if she
kept the secret intrusted to her, and was so pleased with the prospect
that she forgot the dreadful past, and all connected with it. At all
events, that was the only explanation I could find for her general
industry and desire to improve herself, or for the complacent smiles I
detected now and then stealing over her face when she didn't know I was

Not such a smile as crept over the countenance of Mr. Gryce at that
moment, I warrant.

"It was all this," continued Mrs. Belden, "which made her death
such a shock to me. I couldn't believe that so cheerful and healthy a
creature could die like that, all in one night, without anybody knowing
anything about it. But----"

"Wait one moment," Mr. Gryce here broke in. "You speak of her
endeavors to improve herself. What do you mean by that?"

"Her desire to learn things she didn't know; as, for instance, to
write and read writing. She could only clumsily print when she came

I thought Mr. Gryce would take a piece out of my arm, he griped it

"When she came here! Do you mean to say that since she has been
with you she has learned to write?"

"Yes, sir; I used to set her copies and----"

"Where are these copies?" broke in Mr. Gryce, subduing his voice to
its most professional tone. "And where are her attempts at writing?
I'd like to see some of them. Can't you get them for us?"

"I don't know, sir. I always made it a point to destroy them as
soon as they had answered their purpose. I didn't like to have such
things lying around. But I will go see."

"Do," said he; "and I will go with you. I want to take a look at
things upstairs, any way." And, heedless of his rheumatic feet, he
rose and prepared to accompany her.

"This is getting very intense," I whispered, as he passed me.

The smile he gave me in reply would have made the fortune of a
Thespian Mephistopheles.

Of the ten minutes of suspense which I endured in their absence, I
say nothing. At the end of that time they returned with their hands
full of paper boxes, which they flung down on the table.

"The writing-paper of the household," observed Mr. Gryce; "every
scrap and half-sheet which could be found. But, before you examine it,
look at this." And he held out a sheet of bluish foolscap, on which
were written some dozen imitations of that time-worn copy, "BE GOOD
AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY"; with an occasional "_Beauty soon fades,"_
and "_Evil communications corrupt good manners."_

"What do you think of that?"

"Very neat and very legible."

"That is Hannah's latest. The only specimens of her writing to be
found. Not much like some scrawls we have seen, eh?"


"Mrs. Belden says this girl has known how to write as good as this
for more than a week. Took great pride in it, and was continually
talking about how smart she was." Leaning over, he whispered in my ear,
"This thing you have in your hand must have been scrawled some time
ago, if she did it." Then aloud: "But let us look at the paper she
used to write on."

Dashing open the covers of the boxes on the table, he took out the
loose sheets lying inside, and scattered them out before me. One glance
showed they were all of an utterly different quality from that used in
the confession. "This is all the paper in the house," said he.

"Are you sure of that?" I asked, looking at Mrs. Belden, who
stood in a sort of maze before us. "Wasn't there one stray sheet
lying around somewhere, foolscap or something like that, which she
might have got hold of and used without your knowing it?"

"No, sir; I don't think so. I had only these kinds; besides, Hannah
had a whole pile of paper like this in her room, and wouldn't have been
apt to go hunting round after any stray sheets."

"But you don't know what a girl like that might do. Look at this
one," said I, showing her the blank side of the confession. "Couldn't
a sheet like this have come from somewhere about the house? Examine it
well; the matter is important."

"I have, and I say, no, I never had a sheet of paper like that in
my house."

Mr. Gryce advanced and took the confession from my hand. As he did
so, he whispered: "What do you think now? Many chances that Hannah
got up this precious document?"

I shook my head, convinced at last; but in another moment turned to
him and whispered back: "But, if Hannah didn't write it, who did? And
how came it to be found where it was?"

"That," said he, "is just what is left for us to learn." And,
beginning again, he put question after question concerning the girl's
life in the house, receiving answers which only tended to show that she
could not have brought the confession with her, much less received it
from a secret messenger. Unless we doubted Mrs. Belden's word, the
mystery seemed impenetrable, and I was beginning to despair of success,
when Mr. Gryce, with an askance look at me, leaned towards Mrs. Belden
and said:

"You received a letter from Miss Mary Leavenworth yesterday, I

"Yes, sir."

"_This_ letter?" he continued, showing it to her.

"Yes, sir."

"Now I want to ask you a question. Was the letter, as you see it,
the only contents of the envelope in which it came? Wasn't there one
for Hannah enclosed with it?"

"No, sir. There was nothing in my letter for her; but she had a
letter herself yesterday. It came in the same mail with mine."

"Hannah had a letter!" we both exclaimed; "and in the mail?"

"Yes; but it was not directed to her. It was"--casting me a look
full of despair, "directed to me. It was only by a certain mark in the
corner of the envelope that I knew----"

"Good heaven!" I interrupted; "where is this letter? Why didn't
you speak of it before? What do you mean by allowing us to flounder
about here in the dark, when a glimpse at this letter might have set us
right at once?"

"I didn't think anything about it till this minute. I didn't know
it was of importance. I----"

But I couldn't restrain myself. "Mrs. Belden, where is this letter?"
I demanded. "Have you got it?"

"No," said she; "I gave it to the girl yesterday; I haven't seen
it since."

"It must be upstairs, then. let us take another look," and I
hastened towards the door.

"You won't find it," said Mr. Gryce at my elbow. "I have looked.
There is nothing but a pile of burned paper in the corner. By the way,
what could that have been?" he asked of Mrs. Belden.

"I don't know, sir. She hadn't anything to burn unless it was the

"We will see about that," I muttered, hurrying upstairs and
bringing down the wash-bowl with its contents. "If the letter was the
one I saw in your hand at the post-office, it was in a yellow envelope."

"Yes, sir."

"Yellow envelopes burn differently from white paper. I ought to be
able to tell the tinder made by a yellow envelope when I see it. Ah,
the letter has been destroyed; here is a piece of the envelope," and I
drew out of the heap of charred scraps a small bit less burnt than the
rest, and held it up.

"Then there is no use looking here for what the letter contained,"
said Mr. Gryce, putting the wash-bowl aside. "We will have to ask you,
Mrs. Belden."

"But I don't know. It was directed to me, to be sure; but Hannah
told me, when she first requested me to teach her how to write, that
she expected such a letter, so I didn't open it when it came, but gave
it to her just as it was."

"You, however, stayed by to see her read it?"

"No, sir; I was in too much of a flurry. Mr. Raymond had just come
and I had no time to think of her. My own letter, too, was troubling

"But you surely asked her some questions about it before the day
was out?"

"Yes, sir, when I went up with her tea things; but she had nothing
to say. Hannah could be as reticent as any one I ever knew, when she
pleased. She didn't even admit it was from her mistress."

"Ah! then you thought it was from Miss Leavenworth?"

"Why, yes, sir; what else was I to think, seeing that mark in the
corner? Though, to be sure, it might have been put there by Mr.
Clavering," she thoughtfully added.

"You say she was cheerful yesterday; was she so after receiving
this letter?"

"Yes, sir; as far as I could see. I wasn't with her long; the
necessity I felt of doing something with the box in my charge--but
perhaps Mr. Raymond has told you?"

Mr. Gryce nodded.

"It was an exhausting evening, and quite put Hannah out of my head,

"Wait!" cried Mr. Gryce, and beckoning me into a corner, he
whispered, "Now comes in that experience of Q's. While you are gone
from the house, and before Mrs. Belden sees Hannah again, he has a
glimpse of the girl bending over something in the corner of her room
which may very fairly be the wash-bowl we found there. After which, he
sees her swallow, in the most lively way, a dose of something from a
bit of paper. Was there anything more?"

"No," said I.

"Very well, then," he cried, going back to Mrs. Belden. "But----"

"But when I went upstairs to bed, I thought of the girl, and going
to her door opened it. The light was extinguished, and she seemed
asleep, so I closed it again and came out."

"Without speaking?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did you notice how she was lying?"

"Not particularly. I think on her back."

"In something of the same position in which she was found this

"Yes, sir."

"And that is all you can tell us, either of her letter or her
mysterious death?"

"All, sir."

Mr. Gryce straightened himself up.

"Mrs. Belden," said he, "you know Mr. Clavering's handwriting when
_you_ see it?"

"I do."

"And Miss Leavenworth's?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now, which of the two was upon the envelope of the letter you gave

"I couldn't say. It was a disguised handwriting and might have been
that of either; but I think----"


"That it was more like hers than his, though it wasn't like hers

With a smile, Mr. Gryce enclosed the confession in his hand in the
envelope in which it had been found. "You remember how large the
letter was which you gave her?"

"Oh, it was large, very large; one of the largest sort."

"And thick?"

"Oh yes; thick enough for two letters."

"Large enough and thick enough to contain this?" laying the
confession, folded and enveloped as it was, before her."

"Yes, sir," giving it a look of startled amazement, "large enough
and thick enough to contain that."

Mr. Gryce's eyes, bright as diamonds, flashed around the room, and
finally settled upon a fly traversing my coat-sleeve. "Do you need
to ask now," he whispered, in a low voice, "where, and from whom,
this so-called confession comes?"

He allowed himself one moment of silent triumph, then rising, began
folding the papers on the table and putting them in his pocket.

"What are you going to do?" I asked, hurriedly approaching.

He took me by the arm and led me across the hall into toe
sitting-room. "I am going back to New York, I am going to pursue this
matter. I am going to find out from whom came the poison which killed
this girl, and by whose hand this vile forgery of a confession was

"But," said I, rather thrown off my balance by all this, "Q
and the coroner will be here presently, won't you wait to see them?"

"No; clues such as are given here must be followed while the trail
is hot; I can't afford to wait."

"If I am not mistaken, they have already come," I remarked, as a
tramping of feet without announced that some one stood at the door.

"That is so," he assented, hastening to let them in.

Judging from common experience, we had every reason to fear that an
immediate stop would be put to all proceedings on our part, as soon as
the coroner was introduced upon the scene. But happily for us and the
interest at stake, Dr. Fink, of R ---- , proved to be a very sensible
man. He had only to hear a true story of the affair to recognize at
once its importance and the necessity of the most cautious action in
the matter. Further, by a sort of sympathy with Mr. Gryce, all the more
remarkable that he had never seen him before, he expressed himself as
willing to enter into our plans, offering not only to allow us the
temporary use of such papers as we desired, but even undertaking to
conduct the necessary formalities of calling a jury and instituting an
inquest in such a way as to give us time for the investigations we
proposed to make.

The delay was therefore short. Mr. Gryce was enabled to take the
6:30 train for New York, and I to follow on the 10 p.m.,--the calling
of a jury, ordering of an autopsy, and final adjournment of the inquiry
till the following Tuesday, having all taken place in the interim.


    "No hinge nor loop
     To hang a doubt on!"
    "But yet the pity of it, Iago!
     Oh, Iago, the pity of it, Iago."

One sentence dropped by Mr. Gryce before leaving R---- prepared me
for his next move.

"The clue to this murder is supplied by the paper on which the
confession is written. Find from whose desk or portfolio this especial
sheet was taken, and you find the double murderer," he had said.

Consequently, I was not surprised when, upon visiting his house,
early the next morning, I beheld him seated before a table on which lay
a lady's writing-desk and a pile of paper, till told the desk was
Eleanore's. Then I did show astonishment. "What," said I, "are you
not satisfied yet of her innocence?"

"Oh yes; but one must be thorough. No conclusion is valuable which
is not preceded by a full and complete investigation. Why," he cried,
casting his eyes complacently towards the fire-tongs, "I have even
been rummaging through Mr. Clavering's effects, though the confession
bears the proof upon its face that it could not have been written by
him. It is not enough to look for evidence where you expect to find it.
You must sometimes search for it where you don't. Now," said he,
drawing the desk before him, "I don't anticipate finding anything here
of a criminating character; but it is among the possibilities that I
may; and that is enough for a detective."

"Did you see Miss Leavenworth this morning?" I asked, as he
proceeded to fulfil his intention by emptying the contents of the desk
upon the table.

"Yes; I was unable to procure what I desired without it. And she
behaved very handsomely, gave me the desk with her own hands, and never
raised an objection. To be sure, she had little idea what I was looking
for; thought, perhaps, I wanted to make sure it did not contain the
letter about which so much has been said. But it would have made but
little difference if she had known the truth. This desk contains
nothing _we_ want."

"Was she well; and had she heard of Hannah's sudden death?"
I asked, in my irrepressible anxiety.

"Yes, and feels it, as you might expect her to. But let us see what
we have here," said he, pushing aside the desk, and drawing towards him
the stack of paper I have already referred to. "I found this pile, just
as you see it, in a drawer of the library table at Miss Mary
Leavenworth's house in Fifth Avenue. If I am not mistaken, it will
supply us with the clue we want."


"But this paper is square, while that of the confession is of the
size and shape of commercial note? I know; but you remember the sheet
used in the confession was trimmed down. Let us compare the quality."

Taking the confession from his pocket and the sheet from the pile
before him, he carefully compared them, then held them out for my
inspection. A glance showed them to be alike in color.

"Hold them up to the light," said he.

I did so; the appearance presented by both was precisely alike.

"Now let us compare the ruling." And, laying them both down on the
table, he placed the edges of the two sheets together. The lines on the
one accommodated themselves to the lines on the other; and that
question was decided.

His triumph was assured. "I was convinced of it," said he. "From
the moment I pulled open that drawer and saw this mass of paper, I knew
the end was come."

"But," I objected, in my old spirit of combativeness, "isn't there
any room for doubt? This paper is of the commonest kind. Every family
on the block might easily have specimens of it in their library."

"That isn't so," he said. "It is letter size, and that has gone
out. Mr. Leavenworth used it for his manuscript, or I doubt if it would
have been found in his library. But, if you are still incredulous, let
us see what can be done," and jumping up, he carried the confession to
the window, looked at it this way and that, and, finally discovering
what he wanted, came back and, laying it before me, pointed out one of
the lines of ruling which was markedly heavier than the rest, and
another which was so faint as to be almost undistinguishable. "Defects
like these often run through a number of consecutive sheets," said he.
"If we could find the identical half-quire from which this was taken,
I might show you proof that would dispel every doubt," and taking up
the one that lay on top, he rapidly counted the sheets. There were but
eight. "It might have been taken from this one," said he; but, upon
looking closely at the ruling, he found it to be uniformly distinct.
"Humph! that won't do!" came from his lips.

The remainder of the paper, some dozen or so half-quires, looked
undisturbed. Mr. Gryce tapped his fingers on the table and a frown
crossed his face. "Such a pretty thing, if it could have been done!"
he longingly exclaimed. Suddenly he took up the next half-quire.
"Count the sheets," said he, thrusting it towards me, and himself
lifting another.

I did as I was bid. "Twelve."

He counted his and laid it down. "Go on with the rest," he cried.

I counted the sheets in the next; twelve. He counted those in the
one following, and paused. "Eleven!"

"Count again," I suggested.

He counted again, and quietly put them aside. "I made a mistake,"
said he.

But he was not to be discouraged. Taking another half-quire, he went
through with the same operation;--in vain. With a sigh of impatience
he flung it down on the table and looked up. "Halloo!" he cried,
"what is the matter?"

"There are but eleven sheets in this package," I said, placing it in
his hand.

The excitement he immediately evinced was contagious. Oppressed as I
was, I could not resist his eagerness. "Oh, beautiful!" he
exclaimed. "Oh, beautiful! See! the light on the inside, the heavy
one on the outside, and both in positions precisely corresponding to
those on this sheet of Hannah's. What do you think now? Is any further
proof necessary?"

"The veriest doubter must succumb before this," returned I.

With something like a considerate regard for my emotion, he turned
away. "I am obliged to congratulate myself, notwithstanding the
gravity of the discovery that has been made," said he. "It is so neat,
so very neat, and so conclusive. I declare I am myself astonished at
the perfection of the thing. But what a woman that is!" he suddenly
cried, in a tone of the greatest admiration. "What an intellect she
has! what shrewdness! what skill! I declare it is almost a pity to
entrap a woman who has done as well as this--taken a sheet from the
very bottom of the pile, trimmed it into another shape, and then,
remembering the girl couldn't write, put what she had to say into
coarse, awkward printing, Hannah-like. _Splendid_! or would have
been, if any other man than myself had had this thing in charge." And,
all animated and glowing with his enthusiasm, he eyed the chandelier
above him as if it were the embodiment of his own sagacity.

Sunk in despair, I let him go on.

"Could she have done any better?" he now asked. "Watched,
circumscribed as she was, could she have done any better? I hardly
think so; the fact of Hannah's having learned to write after she left
here was fatal. No, she could not have provided against that

"Mr. Gryce," I here interposed, unable to endure this any longer;
"did you have an interview with Miss Mary Leavenworth this morning?"

"No," said he; "it was not in the line of my present purpose to
do so. I doubt, indeed, if she knew I was in her house. A servant maid
who has a grievance is a very valuable assistant to a detective. With
Molly at my side, I didn't need to pay my respects to the mistress."

"Mr. Gryce," I asked, after another moment of silent
self-congratulation on his part, and of desperate self-control on mine,
"what do you propose to do now? You have followed your clue to the
end and are satisfied. Such knowledge as this is the precursor of

"Humph! we will see," he returned, going to his private desk and
bringing out the box of papers which we had no opportunity of looking
at while in R----. "First let us examine these documents, and see if
they do not contain some hint which may be of service to us." And
taking out the dozen or so loose sheets which had been torn from
Eleanore's Diary, he began turning them over.

While he was doing this, I took occasion to examine the contents of
the box. I found them to be precisely what Mrs. Belden had led me to
expect,--a certificate of marriage between Mary and Mr. Clavering and a
half-dozen or more letters. While glancing over the former, a short
exclamation from Mr. Gryce startled me into looking up.

"What is it?" I cried.

He thrust into my hand the leaves of Eleanore's Diary. "Read," said
he. "Most of it is a repetition of what you have already heard from
Mrs. Belden, though given from a different standpoint; but there is one
passage in it which, if I am not mistaken, opens up the way to an
explanation of this murder such as we have not had yet. Begin at the
beginning; you won't find it dull."

Dull! Eleanore's feelings and thoughts during that anxious time,

Mustering up my self-possession, I spread out the leaves in their
order and commenced:

"R----, July 6,-"

"Two days after they got there, you perceive," Mr. Gryce explained.

"--A gentleman was introduced to us to-day upon the _piazza_
whom I cannot forbear mentioning; first, because he is the most
perfect specimen of manly beauty I ever beheld, and secondly, because
Mary, who is usually so voluble where gentlemen are concerned, had
nothing to say when, in the privacy of our own apartment, I questioned
her as to the effect his appearance and conversation had made upon her.
The fact that he is an Englishman may have something to do with this;
Uncle's antipathy to every one of that nation being as well known to
her as to me. But somehow I cannot feel satisfied of this. Her
experience with Charlie Somerville has made me suspicious. What if the
story of last summer were to be repeated here, with an Englishman for
the hero! But I will not allow myself to contemplate such a
possibility. Uncle will return in a few days, and then all
communication with one who, however prepossessing, is of a family and
race with whom it is impossible for us to unite ourselves, must of
necessity cease. I doubt if I should have thought twice of all this if
Mr. Clavering had not betrayed, upon his introduction to Mary, such
intense and unrestrained admiration.

"July 8. The old story is to be repeated. Mary not only submits to
the attentions of Mr. Clavering, but encourages them. To-day she sat
two hours at the piano singing over to him her favorite songs, and
to-night--But I will not put down every trivial circumstance that
comes under my observation; it is unworthy of me. And yet, how can I
shut my eyes when the happiness of so many I love is at stake!

"July 11. If Mr. Clavering is not absolutely in love with Mary, he
is on the verge of it. He is a very fine-looking man, and too honorable
to be trifled with in this reckless fashion.

"July 13. Mary's beauty blossoms like the rose. She was absolutely
wonderful to-night in scarlet and silver. I think her smile the
sweetest I ever beheld, and in this I am sure Mr. Clavering
passionately agrees with me; he never looked away from her to-night.
But it is not so easy to read _her_ heart. To be sure, she appears
anything but indifferent to his fine appearance, strong sense, and
devoted affection. But did she not deceive us into believing she loved
Charlie Somerville? In her case, blush and smile go for little, I
fear. Would it not be wiser under the circumstances to say, I hope?

"July 17. Oh, my heart! Mary came into my room this evening, and
absolutely startled me by falling at my side and burying her face in my
lap. 'Oh, Eleanore, Eleanore!' she murmured, quivering with what
seemed to me very happy sobs. But when I strove to lift her head to my
breast, she slid from my arms, and drawing herself up into her old
attitude of reserved pride, raised her hand as if to impose silence,
and haughtily left the room. There is but one interpretation to put
upon this. Mr. Clavering has expressed his sentiments, and she is
filled with that reckless delight which in its first flush makes one
insensible to the existence of barriers which have hitherto been deemed
impassable. When will Uncle come?

"July 18. Little did I think when I wrote the above that Uncle was
already in the house. He arrived unexpectedly on the last train, and
came into my room just as I was putting away my diary. Looking a little
care-worn, he took me in his arms and then asked for Mary. I dropped my
head, and could not help stammering as I replied that she was in her
own room. Instantly his love took alarm, and leaving me, he hastened to
her apartment, where I afterwards learned he came upon her sitting
abstractedly before her dressing-table with Mr. Clavering's family ring
on her finger. I do not know what followed. An unhappy scene, I fear,
for Mary is ill this morning, and Uncle exceedingly melancholy and

"Afternoon. We are an unhappy family! Uncle not only refuses to
consider for a moment the question of Mary's alliance with Mr.
Clavering, but even goes so far as to demand his instant and
unconditional dismissal. The knowledge of this came to me in the most
distressing way. Recognizing the state of affairs, but secretly
rebelling against a prejudice which seemed destined to separate two
persons otherwise fitted for each other, I sought Uncle's presence this
morning after breakfast, and attempted to plead their cause. But he
almost instantly stopped me with the remark, 'You are the last one,
Eleanore, who should seek to promote this marriage.' Trembling with
apprehension, I asked him why. 'For the reason that by so doing you
work entirely for your own interest.' More and more troubled, I begged
him to explain himself. 'I mean,' said he, 'that if Mary disobeys me
by marrying this Englishman, I shall disinherit her, and substitute
your name for hers in my will as well as in my affection.'

For a moment everything swam before my eyes. 'You will never make
me so wretched!' I entreated. 'I will make you my heiress, if Mary
persists in her present determination,' he declared, and without
further word sternly left the room. What could I do but fall on my
knees and pray! Of all in this miserable house, I am the most
wretched. To supplant her! But I shall not be called upon to do it;
Mary will give up Mr. Clavering."

"There!" exclaimed Mr. Gryce. "What do you think of that? Isn't
it becoming plain enough what was Mary's motive for this murder? But
go on; let us hear what followed."

With sinking heart, I continued. The next entry is dated July 19,
and runs thus:

"I was right. After a long struggle with Uncle's invincible will,
Mary has consented to dismiss Mr. Clavering. I was in the room when she
made known her decision, and I shall never forget our Uncle's look of
gratified pride as he clasped her in his arms and called her his own
True Heart. He has evidently been very much exercised over this matter,
and I cannot but feel greatly relieved that affairs have terminated so
satisfactorily. But Mary? What is there in her manner that vaguely
disappoints me? I cannot say. I only know that I felt a powerful
shrinking overwhelm me when she turned her face to me and asked if I
were satisfied now. But I conquered my feelings and held out my hand.
She did not take it.

"July 26. How long the days are! The shadow of our late trial is
upon me yet; I cannot shake it off. I seem to see Mr. Clavering's
despairing face wherever I go. How is it that Mary preserves her
cheerfulness? If she does not love him, I should think the respect
which she must feel for his disappointment would keep her from levity
at least.

"Uncle has gone away again. Nothing I could say sufficed to keep

"July 28. It has all come out. Mary has only nominally separated
from Mr. Clavering; she still cherishes the idea of one day uniting
herself to him in marriage. The fact was revealed to me in a strange
way not necessary to mention here; and has since been confirmed by Mary
herself. 'I admire the man,' she declares, 'and have no intention of
giving him up.' 'Then why not tell Uncle so?' I asked. Her only
answer was a bitter smile and a short,--'I leave that for you to do.'

"July 30. Midnight. Worn completely out, but before my blood cools
let me write. Mary is a wife. I have just returned from seeing her give
her hand to Henry Clavering. Strange that I can write it without
quivering when my whole soul is one flush of indignation and revolt.
But let me state the facts. Having left my room for a few minutes this
morning, I returned to find on my dressing-table a note from Mary in
which she informed me that she was going to take Mrs. Belden for a
drive and would not be back for some hours. Convinced, as I had every
reason to be, that she was on her way to meet Mr. Clavering, I only
stopped to put on my hat--"

There the Diary ceased.

"She was probably interrupted by Mary at this point," explained
Mr. Gryce. "But we have come upon the one thing we wanted to know. Mr.
Leavenworth threatened to supplant Mary with Eleanore if she persisted
in marrying contrary to his wishes. She did so marry, and to avoid the
consequences of her act she----"

"Say no more," I returned, convinced at last. "It is only too

Mr. Gryce rose.

"But the writer of these words is saved," I went on, trying to
grasp the one comfort left me. "No one who reads this Diary will ever
dare to insinuate she is capable of committing a crime."

"Assuredly not; the Diary settles that matter effectually."

I tried to be man enough to think of that and nothing else. To
rejoice in her deliverance, and let every other consideration go; but
in this I did not succeed. "But Mary, her cousin, almost her sister,
is lost," I muttered.

Mr. Gryce thrust his hands into his pockets and, for the first time,
showed some evidence of secret disturbance. "Yes, I am afraid she is;
I really am afraid she is." Then after a pause, during which I felt a
certain thrill of vague hope: "Such an entrancing creature too! It is
a pity, it positively is a pity! I declare, now that the thing is
worked up, I begin to feel almost sorry we have succeeded so well.
Strange, but true. If there was the least loophole out of it," he
muttered. But there isn't. The thing is clear as A, B, C." Suddenly he
rose, and began pacing the floor very thoughtfully, casting his glances
here, there, and everywhere, except at me, though I believe now, as
then, my face was all he saw.

"Would it be a very great grief to you, Mr. Raymond, if Miss Mary
Leavenworth should be arrested on this charge of murder?" he asked,
pausing before a sort of tank in which two or three
disconsolate-looking fishes were slowly swimming about.

"Yes," said I, "it would; a very great grief." 

"Yet it must be done," said he, though with a strange lack of his
 usual decision. "As an honest official, trusted to bring the 
murderer of Mr. Leavenworth to the notice of the proper 
authorities, I have got to do it."

Again that strange thrill of hope at my heart induced by his
peculiar manner.

"Then my reputation as a detective! I ought surely to consider
that. I am not so rich or so famous that I can afford to forget all
that a success like this may bring me. No, lovely as she is, I have got
to push it through." But even as he said this, he became still more
thoughtful, gazing down into the murky depths of the wretched tank
before him with such an intentness I half expected the fascinated
fishes to rise from the water and return his gaze. What was in his mind?

After a little while he turned, his indecision utterly gone. "Mr.
Raymond, come here again at three. I shall then have my report ready
for the Superintendent. I should like to show it to you first, so don't
fail me."

There was something so repressed in his expression, I could not
prevent myself from venturing one question. "Is your mind made up?"
I asked.

"Yes," he returned, but in a peculiar tone, and with a peculiar

"And you are going to make the arrest you speak of?"

"Come at three!"


    "This is the short and the long of it."
        --Merry Wives of Windsor.

PROMPTLY at the hour named, I made my appearance at Mr. Gryce's
door. I found him awaiting me on the threshold.

"I have met you," said he gravely, "for the purpose of requesting
you not to speak during the coming interview. I am to do the talking;
you the listening. Neither are you to be surprised at anything I may do
or say. I am in a facetious mood"--he did not look so--"and may take
it into my head to address you by another name than your own. If I do,
don't mind it. Above all, don't talk: remember that." And without
waiting to meet my look of doubtful astonishment, he led me softly

The room in which I had been accustomed to meet him was at the top
of the first flight, but he took me past that into what appeared to be
the garret story, where, after many cautionary signs, he ushered me
into a room of singularly strange and unpromising appearance. In the
first place, it was darkly gloomy, being lighted simply by a very dim
and dirty skylight. Next, it was hideously empty; a pine table and two
hard-backed chairs, set face to face at each end of it, being the only
articles in the room. Lastly, it was surrounded by several closed doors
with blurred and ghostly ventilators over their tops which, being
round, looked like the blank eyes of a row of staring mummies.
Altogether it was a lugubrious spot, and in the present state of my
mind made me feel as if something unearthly and threatening lay
crouched in the very atmosphere. Nor, sitting there cold and desolate,
could I imagine that the sunshine glowed without, or that life, beauty,
and pleasure paraded the streets below.

Mr. Gryce's expression, as he took a seat and beckoned me to do the
same, may have had something to do with this strange sensation, it was
so mysteriously and sombrely expectant.

"You'll not mind the room," said he, in so muffled a tone I
scarcely heard him. "It's an awful lonesome spot, I know; but folks
with such matters before them mustn't be too particular as to the
places in which they hold their consultations, if they don't want all
the world to know as much as they do. Smith," and he gave me an
admonitory shake of his finger, while his voice took a more distinct
tone, "I have done the business; the reward is mine; the assassin of
Mr. Leavenworth is found, and in two hours will be in custody. Do you
want to know who it is?" leaning forward with every appearance of
eagerness in tone and expression.

I stared at him in great amazement. Had anything new come to light?
any great change taken place in his conclusions? All this preparation
could not be for the purpose of acquainting me with what I already
knew, yet--

He cut short my conjectures with a low, expressive chuckle. "It was
a long chase, I tell you," raising his voice still more; "a tight go;
a woman in the business too; but all the women in the world can't pull
the wool over the eyes of Ebenezer Gryce when he is on a trail; and the
assassin of Mr. Leavenworth and"--here his voice became actually
shrill in his excitement--"and of Hannah Chester is found.

"Hush!" he went on, though I had neither spoken nor made any
move; "you didn't know Hannah Chester was murdered. Well, she wasn't in
one sense of the word, but in another she was, and by the same hand
that killed the old gentleman. How do I know this? look here! This
scrap of paper was found on the floor of her room; it had a few
particles of white powder sticking to it; those particles were tested
last night and found to be poison. But you say the girl took it
herself, that she was a suicide. You are right, she did take it
herself, and it was a suicide; but who terrified her into this act of
self-destruction? Why, the one who had the most reason to fear her
testimony, of course. But the proof, you say. Well, sir, this girl left
a confession behind her, throwing the onus of the whole crime on a
certain party believed to be innocent; this confession was a forged
one, known from three facts; first, that the paper upon which it was
written was unobtainable by the girl in the place where she was;
secondly, that the words used therein were printed in coarse, awkward
characters, whereas Hannah, thanks to the teaching of the woman under
whose care she has been since the murder, had learned to write very
well; thirdly, that the story told in the confession does not agree
with the one related by the girl herself. Now the fact of a forged
confession throwing the guilt upon an innocent party having been found
in the keeping of this ignorant girl, killed by a dose of poison, taken
with the fact here stated, that on the morning of the day on which she
killed herself the girl received from some one manifestly acquainted
with the customs of the Leavenworth family a letter large enough and
thick enough to contain the confession folded, as it was when found,
makes it almost certain to my mind that the murderer of Mr. Leavenworth
sent this powder and this so-called confession to the girl, meaning her
to use them precisely as she did: for the purpose of throwing off
suspicion from the right track and of destroying herself at the same
time; for, as you know, dead men tell no tales."

He paused and looked at the dingy skylight above us. Why did the air
seem to grow heavier and heavier? Why did I shudder in vague
apprehension? I knew all this before; why did it strike me, then, as
something new?

"But who was this? you ask. Ah, that is the secret; that is the bit
of knowledge which is to bring me fame and fortune. But, secret or not,
I don't mind telling you"; lowering his voice and rapidly raising it
again. "The fact is, _I_ can't keep it to myself; it burns like a
new dollar in my pocket. Smith, my boy, the murderer of Mr.
Leavenworth--but stay, who does the world say it is? Whom do the
papers point at and shake their heads over? A woman! a young,
beautiful, bewitching woman! Ha, ha, ha! The papers are right; it is a
woman; young, beautiful, and bewitching too. But what one? Ah, that's
the question. There is more than one woman in this affair. Since
Hannah's death I have heard it openly advanced that she was the guilty
party in the crime: bah! Others cry it is the niece who was so
unequally dealt with by her uncle in his will: bah! again. But folks
are not without some justification for this latter assertion. Eleanore
Leavenworth did know more of this matter than appeared. Worse than
that, Eleanore Leavenworth stands in a position of positive peril
to-day. If you don't think so, let me show you what the detectives have
against her.

"First, there is the fact that a handkerchief, with her name on it,
was found stained with pistol grease upon the scene of murder; a place
which she explicitly denies having entered for twenty-four hours
previous to the discovery of the dead body.

"Secondly, the fact that she not only evinced terror when
confronted with this bit of circumstantial evidence, but manifested a
decided disposition, both at this time and others, to mislead inquiry,
shirking a direct answer to some questions and refusing all answer to

"Thirdly, that an attempt was made by her to destroy a certain
letter evidently relating to this crime.

"Fourthly, that the key to the library door was seen in her

"All this, taken with the fact that the fragments of the letter
which this same lady attempted to destroy within an hour after the
inquest were afterwards put together, and were found to contain a
bitter denunciation of one of Mr. Leavenworth's nieces, by a gentleman
we will call _X_ in other words, an unknown quantity--makes out
a dark case against _you,_ especially as after investigations
revealed the fact that a secret underlay the history of the Leavenworth
family. That, unknown to the world at large, and Mr. Leavenworth in
particular, a marriage ceremony had been performed a year before in a
little town called F---- between a Miss Leavenworth and this same _X._
That, in other words, the unknown gentleman who, in the letter partly
destroyed by Miss Eleanore Leavenworth, complained to Mr. Leavenworth
of the treatment received by him from one of his nieces, was in fact
the secret husband of that niece. And that, moreover, this same gentleman,
 under an assumed name, called on the night of the murder at the
house of Mr. Leavenworth and asked for Miss Eleanore's.

"Now you see, with all this against her, Eleanore Leavenworth is
lost if it cannot be proved, first that the articles testifying against
her, viz.: the handkerchief, letter, and key, passed after the murder
through other hands, before reaching hers; and secondly, that some one
else had even a stronger reason than she for desiring Mr. Leavenworth's
death at this time.

"Smith, my boy, both of these hypotheses have been established by
me. By dint of moling into old secrets, and following unpromising
clues, I have finally come to the conclusion that not Eleanore
Leavenworth, dark as are the appearances against her, but another
woman, beautiful as she, and fully as interesting, is the true
criminal. In short, that her cousin, the exquisite Mary, is the
murderer of Mr. Leavenworth, and by inference of Hannah Chester also."

He brought this out with such force, and with such a look of triumph
and appearance of having led up to it, that I was for the moment
dumbfounded, and started as if I had not known what he was going to
say. The stir I made seemed to awake an echo. Something like a
suppressed cry was in the air about me. All the room appeared to
breathe horror and dismay. Yet when, in the excitement of this fancy, I
half turned round to look, I found nothing but the blank eyes of those
dull ventilators staring upon me.

"You are taken aback!" Mr. Gryce went on. "I don't wonder. Every
one else is engaged in watching the movements of Eleanore Leavenworth;
I only know where to put my hand upon the real culprit. You shake your
head!" (Another fiction.) "You don't believe me! Think I am
deceived. Ha, ha! Ebenezer Gryce deceived after a month of hard work!
You are as bad as Miss Leavenworth herself, who has so little faith in
my sagacity that she offered me, of all men, an enormous reward if I
would find for her the assassin of her uncle! But that is neither here
nor there; you have your doubts, and you are waiting for me to solve
them. Well, nothing is easier. Know first that on the morning of the
inquest I made one or two discoveries not to be found in the records,
viz.: that the handkerchief picked up, as I have said, in Mr. leaven
worth's library, had notwithstanding its stains of pistol grease, a
decided perfume lingering about it. Going to the dressing-table of the
two ladies, I sought for that perfume, and found it in Mary's room, not
Eleanore's. This led me to examine the pockets of the dresses
respectively worn by them the evening before. In that of Eleanore I
found a handkerchief, presumably the one she had carried at that time.
But in Mary's there was none, nor did I see any lying about her room as
if tossed down on her retiring. The conclusion I drew from this was,
that she, and not Eleanore, had carried the handkerchief into her
uncle's room, a conclusion emphasized by the fact privately
communicated to me by one of the servants, that Mary was in Eleanore's
room when the basket of clean clothes was brought up with this
handkerchief lying on top.

"But knowing the liability we are to mistake in such matters as
these, I made another search in the library, and came across a very
curious thing. Lying on the table was a penknife, and scattered on the
floor beneath, in close proximity to the chair, were two or three
minute portions of wood freshly chipped off from the leg of the table;
all of which looked as if some one of a nervous disposition had been
sitting there, whose hand in a moment of self-forgetfulness had caught
up the knife and unconsciously whittled the table, A little thing, you
say; but when the question is, which of two ladies, one of a calm and
self-possessed nature, the other restless in her ways and excitable in
her disposition, was in a certain spot at a certain time, it is these
little things that become almost deadly in their significance. No one
who has been with these two women an hour can hesitate as to whose
delicate hand made that cut in Mr. Leavenworth's library table.

"But we are not done. I distinctly overheard Eleanore accuse her
cousin of this deed. Now such a woman as Eleanore Leavenworth has
proved herself to be never would accuse a relative of crime without the
strongest and most substantial reasons. First, she must have been sure
her cousin stood in a position of such emergency that nothing but the
death of her uncle could release her from it; secondly, that her
cousin's character was of such a nature she would not hesitate to
relieve herself from a desperate emergency by the most desperate of
means; and lastly, been in possession of some circumstantial evidence
against her cousin, seriously corroborative of her suspicions. Smith,
all this was true of Eleanore Leavenworth. As to the character of her
cousin, she has had ample proof of her ambition, love of money, caprice
and deceit, it having been Mary Leavenworth, and not Eleanore, as was
first supposed, who had contracted the secret marriage already spoken
of. Of the critical position in which she stood, let the threat once
made by Mr. Leavenworth to substitute her cousin's name for hers in
his will in case she had married this _x_ be remembered, as well
as the tenacity with which Mary clung to her hopes of future fortune;
while for the corroborative testimony of her guilt which Eleanore is
supposed to have had, remember that previous to the key having been
found in Eleanore's possession, she had spent some time in her cousin's
room; and that it was at Mary's fireplace the half-burned fragments of
that letter were found,--and you have the outline of a report which in
an hour's time from this will lead to the arrest of Mary Leavenworth
as the assassin of her uncle and benefactor."

A silence ensued which, like the darkness of Egypt, could be felt;
then a great and terrible cry rang through the room, and a man's form,
rushing from I knew not where, shot by me and fell at Mr. Gryce's feet
shrieking out:

"It is a lie! a lie! Mary Leavenworth is innocent as a babe
unborn. I am the murderer of Mr. Leavenworth. I! I! I!"

It was Trueman Harwell.


    "Saint seducing gold."
        --Romeo and Juliet.

    "When our actions do not, Our fears do make us traitors."

I NEVER saw such a look of mortal triumph on the face of a man as
that which crossed the countenance of the detective.

"Well," said he, "this is unexpected, but not wholly unwelcome. I
am truly glad to learn that Miss Leavenworth is innocent; but I must
hear some few more particulars before I shall be satisfied. Get up, Mr.
Harwell, and explain yourself. If you are the murderer of Mr.
Leavenworth, how comes it that things look so black against everybody
but yourself?"

But in the hot, feverish eyes which sought him from the writhing
form at his feet, there was mad anxiety and pain, but little
explanation. Seeing him making unavailing efforts to speak, I drew near.

"Lean on me," said I, lifting him to his feet.

His face, relieved forever from its mask of repression, turned
towards me with the look of a despairing spirit. "Save! save!" he
gasped. "Save her--Mary--they are sending a report--stop it!"

"Yes," broke in another voice. "If there is a man here who
believes in God and prizes woman's honor, let him stop the issue of
that report." And Henry Clavering, dignified as ever, but in a state of
extreme agitation, stepped into our midst through an open door at our

But at the sight of his face, the man in our arms quivered,
shrieked, and gave one bound that would have overturned Mr. Clavering,
herculean of frame as he was, had not Mr. Gryce interposed.

"Wait!" he cried; and holding back the secretary with one hand--
where was his rheumatism now!--he put the other in his pocket and drew
thence a document which he held up before Mr. Clavering. "It has not
gone yet," said he; "be easy. And you," he went on, turning towards
Trueman Harwell, "be quiet, or----"

His sentence was cut short by the man springing from his grasp.
"Let me go!" he shrieked. "Let me have my revenge on him who, in face
of all I have done for Mary Leavenworth, dares to call her his wife!
Let me--" But at this point he paused, his quivering frame stiffening
into stone, and his clutching hands, outstretched for his rival's
throat, falling heavily back. "Hark!" said he, glaring over Mr.
Clavering's shoulder: "it is she! I hear her! I feel her! She is
on the stairs! she is at the door! she--" a low, shuddering sigh of
longing and despair finished the sentence: the door opened, and Mary
Leavenworth stood before us!

It was a moment to make young hairs turn gray. To see her face, so
pale, so haggard, so wild in its fixed horror, turned towards Henry
Clavering, to the utter ignoring of the real actor in this most
horrible scene! Trueman Harwell could not stand it.

"Ah, ah!" he cried; "look at her! cold, cold; not one glance for
me, though I have just drawn the halter from her neck and fastened it
about my own!"

And, breaking from the clasp of the man who in his jealous rage
would now have withheld him, he fell on his knees before Mary,
clutching her dress with frenzied hands. "You _shall_ look at
me," he cried; "you _shall_ listen to me! I will not lose body
and soul for nothing. Mary, they said you were in peril! I could not
endure that thought, so I uttered the truth,--yes, though I knew what
the consequence would be,--and all I want now is for you to say you
believe me, when I swear that I only meant to secure to you the fortune
you so much desired; that I never dreamed it would come to this; that
it was because I loved you, and hoped to win your love in return that

But she did not seem to see him, did not seem to hear him. Her eyes
were fixed upon Henry Clavering with an awful inquiry in their depths,
and none but he could move her.

"You do not hear me!" shrieked the poor wretch. "Ice that you
are, you would not turn your head if I should call to you from the
depths of hell!"

But even this cry fell unheeded. Pushing her hands down upon his
shoulders as though she would sweep some impediment from her path, she
endeavored to advance. "Why is that man here?" she cried, indicating
her husband with one quivering hand. "What has he done that he should
be brought here to confront me at this awful time?"

'"I told her to come here to meet her uncle's murderer," whispered
Mr. Gryce into my ear.

But before I could reply to her, before Mr. Clavering himself could
murmur a word, the guilty wretch before her had started to his feet.

"Don't you know? then I will tell you. It is because these
gentlemen, chivalrous and honorable as they consider themselves, think
that you, the beauty and the Sybarite, committed with your own white
hand the deed of blood which has brought you freedom and fortune. Yes,
yes, this man"--turning and pointing at me--"friend as he has made
himself out to be, kindly and honorable as you have doubtless believed
him, but who in every look he has bestowed upon you, every word he has
uttered in your hearing during all these four horrible weeks, has been
weaving a cord for your neck--thinks you the assassin of your uncle,
unknowing that a man stood at your side ready to sweep half the world
from your path if that same white hand rose in bidding. That I----"

"You?" Ah! now she could see him: now she could hear him!

"Yes," clutching her robe again as she hastily recoiled; "didn't
you know it? When in that dreadful hour of your rejection by your
uncle, you cried aloud for some one to help you, didn't you know----"

"Don't!" she shrieked, bursting from him with a look of unspeakable
horror. "Don't say that! Oh!" she gasped, "is the mad cry of a stricken
woman for aid and sympathy the call for a murderer?" And turning away in
horror, she moaned: "Who that ever looks at me now will forget that a
man--such a man!--dared to think that, because I was in mortal
perplexity, I would accept the murder of my best friend as a relief from
it!" Her horror was unbounded. "Oh, what a chastisement for folly!" she
murmured. "What a punishment for the love of money which has always been
my curse!"

Henry Clavering could no longer restrain himself, leaping to her
side, he bent over her. "Was it nothing but folly, Mary? Are you
guiltless of any deeper wrong? Is there no link of complicity between
you two? Have you nothing on your soul but an inordinate desire to
preserve your place in your uncle's will, even at the risk of breaking
my heart and wronging your noble cousin? Are you innocent in this
matter? Tell me!" placing his hand on her head, he pressed it slowly
back and gazed into her eyes; then, without a word, took her to his
breast and looked calmly around him.

"She is innocent!" said he.

It was the uplifting of a stifling pall. No one in the room, unless
it was the wretched criminal shivering before us, but felt a sudden
influx of hope. Even Mary's own countenance caught a glow. "Oh!" she
whispered, withdrawing from his arms to look better into his face,
"and is this the man I have trifled with, injured, and tortured, till
the very name of Mary Leavenworth might well make him shudder? Is this
he whom I married in a fit of caprice, only to forsake and deny?
Henry, do you declare me innocent in face of all you have seen and
heard; in face of that moaning, chattering wretch before us, and my
own quaking flesh and evident terror; with the remembrance on your
heart and in your mind of the letter I wrote you the morning after the
murder, in which I prayed you to keep away from me, as I was in such
deadly danger the least hint given to the world that I had a secret to
conceal would destroy me? Do you, can you, will you, declare me
innocent before God and the world?"

"I do," said he.

A light such as had never visited her face before passed slowly over
it. "Then God forgive me the wrong I have done this noble heart, for I
can never forgive myself! Wait!" said she, as he opened his lips.
"Before I accept any further tokens of your generous confidence, let me
show you what I am. You shall know the worst of the woman you have
taken to your heart. Mr. Raymond," she cried, turning towards me for
the first time, "in those days when, with such an earnest desire for
my welfare (you see I do not believe this man's insinuations), you
sought to induce me to speak out and tell all I knew concerning this
dreadful deed, I did not do it because of my selfish fears. I knew the
case looked dark against me. Eleanore had told me so. Eleanore
herself--and it was the keenest pang I had to endure--believed me
guilty. She had her reasons. She knew first, from the directed envelope
she had found lying underneath my uncle's dead body on the library
table, that he had been engaged at the moment of death in summoning his
lawyer to make that change in his will which would transfer my claims
to her; secondly, that notwithstanding my denial of the same, I had
been down to his room the night before, for she had heard my door open
and my dress rustle as I passed out. But that was not all; the key that
every one felt to be a positive proof of guilt wherever found, had been
picked up by her from the floor of my room; the letter written by Mr.
Clavering to my uncle was found in my fire; and the handkerchief which
she had seen me take from the basket of clean clothes, was produced at
the inquest stained with pistol grease. I could not account for these
things. A web seemed tangled about my feet. I could not stir without
encountering some new toil. I knew I was innocent; but if I failed to
satisfy my cousin of this, how could I hope to convince the general
public, if once called upon to do so. Worse still, if Eleanore, with
every apparent motive for desiring long life to our uncle, was held in
such suspicion because of a few circumstantial evidences against her,
what would I not have to fear if these evidences were turned against
me, the heiress! The tone and manner of the juryman at the inquest
that asked who would be most benefited by my uncle's will showed but
too plainly. When, therefore, Eleanore, true to her heart's generous
instincts, closed her lips and refused to speak when speech would have
been my ruin, I let her do it, justifying myself with the thought that
she had deemed me capable of crime, and so must bear the consequences.
Nor, when I saw how dreadful these were likely to prove, did I relent.
Fear of the ignominy, suspense, and danger which confession would
entail sealed my lips. Only once did I hesitate. That was when, in the
last conversation we had, I saw that, notwithstanding appearances, you
believed in Eleanore's innocence, and the thought crossed me you might
be induced to believe in mine if I threw myself upon your mercy. But
just then Mr. Clavering came; and as in a flash I seemed to realize
what my future life would be, stained by suspicion, and, instead of
yielding to my impulse, went so far in the other direction as to
threaten Mr. Clavering with a denial of our marriage if he approached
me again till all danger was over.

"Yes, he will tell you that was my welcome to him when, with heart
and brain racked by long suspense, he came to my door for one word of
assurance that the peril I was in was not of my own making. That was
the greeting I gave him after a year of silence every moment of which
was torture to him. But he forgives me; I see it in his eyes; I hear
it in his accents; and you--oh, if in the long years to come you can
forget what I have made Eleanore suffer by my selfish fears; if with
the shadow of her wrong before you, you can by the grace of some sweet
hope think a little less hardly of me, do. As for this man--torture
could not be worse to me than this standing with him in the same
room--let him come forward and declare if I by look or word have given
him reason to believe I understood his passion, much less returned it."

"Why ask!" he gasped. "Don't you see it was your indifference
which drove me mad? To stand before you, to agonize after you, to
follow you with thoughts in every move you made; to know my soul was
welded to yours with bands of steel no fire could melt, no force
destroy, no strain dissever; to sleep under the same roof, sit at the
same table, and yet meet not so much as one look to show me you
understood! It was that which made my life a hell. I was determined
you should understand. If I had to leap into a pit of flame, you should
know what I was, and what my passion for you was. And you do. You
comprehend it all now. Shrink as you will from my presence, cower as
you may to the weak man you call husband, you can never forget the love
of Trueman Harwell; never forget that love, love, love, was the force
which led me down into your uncle's room that night, and lent me will
to pull the trigger which poured all the wealth you hold this day into
your lap. Yes," he went on, towering in his preternatural despair till
even the noble form of Henry Clavering looked dwarfed beside him,
"every dollar that chinks from your purse shall talk of me. Every
gew-gaw which flashes on that haughty head, too haughty to bend to me,
shall shriek my name into your ears. Fashion, pomp, luxury,--you will
have them all; but till gold loses its glitter and ease its attraction
you will never forget the hand that gave them to you!"

With a look whose evil triumph I cannot describe, he put his hand
into the arm of the waiting detective, and in another moment would have
been led from the room; when Mary, crushing down the swell of emotions
that was seething in her breast, lifted her head and said:

"No, Trueman Harwell; I cannot give you even that thought for your
comfort. Wealth so laden would bring nothing but torture. I cannot
accept the torture, so must release the wealth. From this day, Mary
Clavering owns nothing but what comes to her from the husband she has
so long and so basely wronged." And raising her hands to her ears, she
tore out the diamonds which hung there, and flung them at the feet of
the unfortunate man.

It was the final wrench of the rack. With a yell such as I never
thought to listen to from the lips of a man, he flung up his arms,
while all the lurid light of madness glared on his face. "And I have
given my soul to hell for a shadow!" he moaned, "for a shadow!"

"Well, that is the best day's work I ever did! Your
congratulations, Mr. Raymond, upon the success of the most daring game
ever played in a detective's office."

I looked at the triumphant countenance of Mr. Gryce in amazement.
"What do you mean?" I cried; "did you plan all this?"

"Did I plan it?" he repeated. "Could I stand here, seeing how things
have turned out, if I had not? Mr. Raymond, let us be comfortable. You
are a gentleman, but we can well shake hands over this. I have never
known such a satisfactory conclusion to a bad piece of business in all
my professional career."

We did shake hands, long and fervently, and then I asked him to
explain himself.

"Well," said he, "there has always been one thing that plagued me,
even in the very moment of my strongest suspicion against this woman,
and that was, the pistol-cleaning business. I could not reconcile it
with what I knew of womankind. I could not make it seem the act of a
woman. Did you ever know a woman who cleaned a pistol? No. They can
fire them, and do; but after firing them, they do not clean them. Now
it is a principle which every detective recognizes, that if of a
hundred leading circumstances connected with a crime, ninety-nine of
these are acts pointing to the suspected party with unerring certainty,
but the hundredth equally important act one which that person could not
have performed, the whole fabric of suspicion is destroyed. Recognizing
this principle, then, as I have said, I hesitated when it came to the
point of arrest. The chain was complete; the links were fastened; but
one link was of a different size and material from the rest; and in
this argued a break in the chain. I resolved to give her a final
chance. Summoning Mr. Clavering, and Mr. Harwell, two persons whom I
had no reason to suspect, but who were the only persons beside herself
who could have committed this crime, being the only persons of
intellect who were in the house or believed to be, at the time of the
murder, I notified them separately that the assassin of Mr. Leavenworth
was not only found, but was about to be arrested in my house, and that
if they wished to hear the confession which would be sure to follow,
they might have the opportunity of doing so by coming here at such an
hour. They were both too much interested, though for very different
reasons, to refuse; and I succeeded in inducing them to conceal
themselves in the two rooms from which you saw them issue, knowing that
if either of them had committed this deed, he had done it for the love
of Mary Leavenworth, and consequently could not hear her charged with
crime, and threatened with arrest, without betraying himself. I did not
hope much from the experiment; least of all did I anticipate that Mr.
Harwell would prove to be the guilty man--but live and learn, Mr.
Raymond, live and learn."


    "Between the acting of a dreadful thing,
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma or a hideous dream;
    The genius and the mortal instruments
    Are then in council; and the state of a man,
    Like to a little Kingdom, suffers then
    The nature of an insurrection."
        --Julius Caesar.

I AM not a bad man; I am only an intense one. Ambition, love,
jealousy, hatred, revenge--transitory emotions with some, are
terrific passions with me. To be sure, they are quiet and concealed
ones, coiled serpents that make no stir till aroused; but then, deadly
in their spring and relentless in their action. Those who have known me
best have not known this. My own mother was ignorant of it. Often and
often have I heard her say: "If Trueman only had more sensibility!
If Trueman were not so indifferent to everything! In short, if Trueman
had more power in him!"

It was the same at school. No one understood me. They thought me
meek; called me Dough-face. For three years they called me this, then
I turned upon them. Choosing out their ringleader, I felled him to the
ground, laid him on his back, and stamped upon him. He was handsome
before my foot came down; afterwards--Well, it is enough he never
called me Dough-face again. In the store I entered soon after, I met
with even less appreciation. Regular at my work and exact in my
performance of it, they thought me a good machine and nothing more.
What heart, soul, and feeling could a man have who never sported, never
smoked, and never laughed? I could reckon up figures correctly, but
one scarcely needed heart or soul for that. I could even write day by
day and month by month without showing a flaw in my copy; but that
only argued I was no more than they intimated, a regular automaton. I
let them think so, with the certainty before me that they would one day
change their minds as others had done. The fact was, I loved nobody
well enough, not even myself, to care for any man's opinion. Life was
well-nigh a blank to me; a dead level plain that had to be traversed
whether I would or not. And such it might have continued to this day if
I had never met Mary Leavenworth. But when, some nine months since, I
left my desk in the counting-house for a seat in Mr. Leavenworth's
library, a blazing torch fell into my soul whose flame has never gone
out, and never will, till the doom before me is accomplished.

She was so beautiful! When, on that first evening, I followed my new
employer into the parlor, and saw this woman standing up before me in
her half-alluring, half-appalling charm, I knew, as by a lightning
flash, what my future would be if I remained in that house. She was in
one of her haughty moods, and bestowed upon me little more than a
passing glance. But her indifference made slight impression upon me
then. It was enough that I was allowed to stand in her presence and
look unrebuked upon her loveliness. To be sure, it was like gazing into
the flower-wreathed crater of an awakening volcano. Fear and
fascination were in each moment I lingered there; but fear and
fascination made the moment what it was, and I could not have withdrawn
if I would.

And so it was always. Unspeakable pain as well as pleasure was in
the emotion with which I regarded her. Yet for all that I did not
cease to study her hour by hour and day by day; her smiles, her
movement, her way of turning her head or lifting her eyelids. I had a
purpose in this. I wished to knit her beauty so firmly into the warp
and woof of my being that nothing could ever serve to tear it away. For
I saw then as plainly as now that, coquette though she was, she would
never stoop to me. No; I might lie down at her feet and let her
trample over me; she would not even turn to see what it was she had
stepped upon. I might spend days, months, years, learning the alphabet
of her wishes; she would not thank me for my pains or even raise the
lashes from her cheek to look at me as I passed. I was nothing to her,
could not be anything unless--and this thought came slowly--I could
in some way become her master.

Meantime I wrote at Mr. Leavenworth's dictation and pleased him. My
methodical ways were just to his taste. As for the other member of the
family, Miss Eleanore Leavenworth--she treated me just as one of her
proud but sympathetic nature might be expected to do. Not familiarly,
but kindly; not as a friend, but as a member of the household whom she
met every day at table, and who, as she or any one else could see, was
none too happy or hopeful.

Six months went by. I had learned two things; first, that Mary
Leavenworth loved her position as prospective heiress to a large
fortune above every other earthly consideration; and secondly, that
she was in the possession of a secret which endangered that position.
What this was, I had for some time no means of knowing. But when later
I became convinced it was one of love, I grew hopeful, strange as it
may seem. For by this time I had learned Mr. Leavenworth's disposition
almost as perfectly as that of his niece, and knew that in a matter of
this kind he would be uncompromising; and that in the clashing of
these two wills something might occur which would give me a hold upon
her. The only thing that troubled me was the fact that I did not know
the name of the man in whom she was interested. But chance soon favored
me here. One day--a month ago now--I sat down to open Mr.
Leavenworth's mail as usual. One letter--shall I ever forget it? ran


"March 1, 1876."


"DEAR SIR,--You have a niece whom you love and trust, one, too, who
seems worthy of all the love and trust that you or any other man can
give her; so beautiful, so charming, so tender is she in face, form,
manner, and conversation. But, dear sir, every rose has its thorn, and
your rose is no exception to this rule. Lovely as she is, charming as
she is, tender as she is, she is not only capable of trampling on the
rights of one who trusted her, but of bruising the heart and breaking
the spirit of him to whom she owes all duty, honor, and observance.

"If you don't believe this, ask her to her cruel, bewitching face,
who and what is her humble servant, and yours.

"Henry Ritchie Clavering."

If a bombshell had exploded at my feet, or the evil one himself
appeared at my call, I would not have been more astounded. Not only was
the name signed to these remarkable words unknown to me, but the
epistle itself was that of one who felt himself to be her master: a
position which, as you know, I was myself aspiring to occupy. For a few
minutes, then, I stood a prey to feelings of the bitterest wrath and
despair; then I grew calm, realizing that with this letter in my
possession I was virtually the arbitrator of her destiny. Some men
would have sought her there and then and, by threatening to place it in
her uncle's hand, won from her a look of entreaty, if no more; but I
--well, my plans went deeper than that. I knew she would have to be in
extremity before I could hope to win her. She must feel herself
slipping over the edge of the precipice before she would clutch at the
first thing offering succor. I decided to allow the letter to pass into
my employer's hands. But it had been opened! How could I manage to give
it to him in this condition without exciting his suspicion? I knew of
but one way; to let him see me open it for what he would consider the
first time. So, waiting till he came into the room, I approached him
with the letter, tearing off the end of the envelope as I came. Opening
it, I gave a cursory glance at its contents and tossed it down on the
table before him.

"That appears to be of a private character," said I, "though there
is no sign to that effect on the envelope."

He took it up while I stood there. At the first word he started,
looked at me, seemed satisfied from my expression that I had not read
far enough to realize its nature, and, whirling slowly around in his
chair, devoured the remainder in silence. I waited a moment, then
withdrew to my own desk. One minute, two minutes passed in silence; he
was evidently rereading the letter; then he hurriedly rose and left
the room. As he passed me I caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror.
The expression I saw there did not tend to lessen the hope that was
rising in my breast.

By following him almost immediately upstairs I ascertained that he
went directly to Mary's room, and when in a few hours later the family
collected around the dinner table, I perceived, almost without looking
up, that a great and insurmountable barrier had been raised between
him and his favorite niece.

Two days passed; days that were for me one long and unrelieved
suspense. Had Mr. Leavenworth answered that letter? Would it all end
as it had begun, without the appearance of the mysterious Clavering on
the scene? I could not tell.

Meanwhile my monotonous work went on, grinding my heart beneath its
relentless wheel. I wrote and wrote and wrote, till it seemed as if my
life blood went from me with every drop of ink I used. Always alert and
listening, I dared not lift my head or turn my eyes at any unusual
sound, lest I should seem to be watching. The third night I had a dream;
I have already told Mr. Raymond what it was, and hence will not
repeat it here. One correction, however, I wish to make in regard to
it. In my statement to him I declared that the face of the man whom I
saw lift his hand against my employer was that of Mr. Clavering. I lied
when I said this. The face seen by me in my dream was my own. It was
that fact which made it so horrible to me. In the crouching figure
stealing warily downstairs, I saw as in a glass the vision of my own
form. Otherwise my account of the matter was true.

This vision had a tremendous effect upon me. Was it a premonition?
a forewarning of the way in which I was to win this coveted creature
for my own? Was the death of her uncle the bridge by which the
impassable gulf between us might be spanned? I began to think it might
be; to consider the possibilities which could make this the only path
to my elysium; even went so far as to picture her lovely face bending
gratefully towards me through the glare of a sudden release from some
emergency in which she stood. One thing was sure; if that was the way
I must go, I had at least been taught how to tread it; and all through
the dizzy, blurred day that followed, I saw, as I sat at my work,
repeated visions of that stealthy, purposeful figure stealing down the
stairs and entering with uplifted pistol into the unconscious presence
of my employer. I even found myself a dozen times that day turning my
eyes upon the door through which it was to come, wondering how long it
would be before my actual form would pause there. That the moment was
at hand I did not imagine. Even when I left him that night after
drinking with him the glass of sherry mentioned at the inquest, I had
no idea the hour of action was so near. But when, not three minutes
after going upstairs, I caught the sound of a lady's dress rustling
through the hall, and listening, heard Mary Leavenworth pass my door
on her way to the library, I realized that the fatal hour was come;
that something was going to be said or done in that room which would
make this deed necessary. What? I determined to ascertain. Casting
about in my mind for the means of doing so, I remembered that the
ventilator running up through the house opened first into the
passage-way connecting Mr. Leavenworth's bedroom and library, and,
secondly, into the closet of the large spare room adjoining mine.
Hastily unlocking the door of the communication between the rooms, I
took my position in the closet. Instantly the sound of voices reached
my ears; all was open below, and standing there, I was as much an
auditor of what went on between Mary and her uncle as if I were in the
library itself. And what did I hear? Enough to assure me my suspicions
were correct; that it was a moment of vital interest to her; that Mr.
Leavenworth, in pursuance of a threat evidently made some time since,
was in the act of taking steps to change his will, and that she had
come to make an appeal to be forgiven her fault and restored to his
favor. What that fault was, I did not learn. No mention was made of Mr.
Clavering as her husband. I only heard her declare that her action had
been the result of impulse, rather than love; that she regretted it,
and desired nothing more than to be free from all obligations to one
she would fain forget, and be again to her uncle what she was before
she ever saw this man. I thought, fool that I was, it was a mere
engagement she was alluding to, and took the insanest hope from these
words; and when, in a moment later I heard her uncle reply, in his
sternest tone, that she had irreparably forfeited her claims to his
regard and favor, I did not need her short and bitter cry of shame and
disappointment, or that low moan for some one to help her, for me to
sound his death-knell in my heart. Creeping back to my own room, I
waited till I heard her reascend, then I stole forth. Calm as I had
ever been in my life, I went down the stairs just as I had seen myself
do in my dream, and knocking lightly at the library door, went in. Mr.
Leavenworth was sitting in his usual place writing.

"Excuse me," said I as he looked up, "I have lost my
memorandum-book, and think it possible I may have dropped it in the
passage-way when I went for the wine." He bowed, and I hurried past him
into the closet. Once there, I proceeded rapidly into the room beyond,
procured the pistol, returned, and almost before I realized what I was
doing, had taken up my position behind him, aimed, and fired. The
result was what you know. Without a groan his head fell forward on his
hands, and Mary Leavenworth was the virtual possessor of the thousands
she coveted.

My first thought was to procure the letter he was writing.
Approaching the table, I tore it out from under his hands, looked at
it, saw that it was, as I expected, a summons to his lawyer, and thrust
it into my pocket, together with the letter from Mr. Clavering, which I
perceived lying spattered with blood on the table before me. Not till
this was done did I think of myself, or remember the echo which that
low, sharp report must have made in the house. Dropping the pistol at
the side of the murdered man, I stood ready to shriek to any one who
entered that Mr. Leavenworth had killed himself. But I was saved from
committing such a folly. The report had not been heard, or if so, had
evidently failed to create an alarm. No one came, and I was left to
contemplate my work undisturbed and decide upon the best course to be
taken to avoid detection. A moment's study of the wound made in his
head by the bullet convinced me of the impossibility of passing the
affair off as a suicide, or even the work of a burglar. To any one
versed in such matters it was manifestly a murder, and a most
deliberate one. My one hope, then, lay in making it as mysterious as it
was deliberate, by destroying all clue to the motive and manner of the
deed. Picking up the pistol, I carried it into the other room with the
intention of cleaning it, but finding nothing there to do it with, came
back for the handkerchief I had seen lying on the floor at Mr.
Leavenworth's feet. It was Miss Eleanore's, but I did not know it till
I had used it to clean the barrel; then the sight of her initials in
one corner so shocked me I forgot to clean the cylinder, and only
thought of how I could do away with this evidence of her handkerchief
having been employed for a purpose so suspicious. Not daring to carry
it from the room, I sought for means to destroy it; but finding none,
compromised the matter by thrusting it deep down behind the cushion of
one of the chairs, in the hope of being able to recover and burn it the
next day. This done, I reloaded the pistol, locked it up, and prepared
to leave the room. But here the horror which usually follows such deeds
struck me like a thunderbolt and made me for the first time uncertain
in my action. I locked the door on going out, something I should never
have done. Not till I reached the top of the stairs did I realize my
folly; and then it was too late, for there before me, candle in hand,
and surprise written on every feature of her face, stood Hannah, one of
the servants, looking at me.

"Lor', sir, where have you been?" she cried, but strange to say,
in a low tone. "You look as if you had seen a ghost." And her eyes
turned suspiciously to the key which I held in my hand.

I felt as if some one had clutched me round the throat. Thrusting
the key into my pocket, I took a step towards her. "I will tell you
what I have seen if you will come downstairs," I whispered; "the
ladies will be disturbed if we talk here," and smoothing my brow as
best I could, I put out my hand and drew her towards me. What my motive
was I hardly knew; the action was probably instinctive; but when I
saw the look which came into her face as I touched her, and the
alacrity with which she prepared to follow me, I took courage,
remembering the one or two previous tokens I had had of this girl's
unreasonable susceptibility to my influence; a susceptibility which I
now felt could be utilized and made to serve my purpose.

Taking her down to the parlor floor, I drew her into the depths of
the great drawing-room, and there told her in the least alarming way
possible what had happened to Mr. Leavenworth. She was of course
intensely agitated, but she did not scream;--the novelty of her
position evidently bewildering her--and, greatly relieved, I went on
to say that I did not know who committed the deed, but that folks would
declare it was I if they knew I had been seen by her on the stairs with
the library key in my hand. "But I won't tell," she whispered,
trembling violently in her fright and eagerness. "I will keep it to
myself. I will say I didn't see anybody." But I soon convinced her that
she could never keep her secret if the police once began to question
her, and, following up my argument with a little cajolery, succeeded
after a long while in winning her consent to leave the house till the
storm should be blown over. But that given, it was some little time
before I could make her comprehend that she must depart at once and
without going back after her things. Not till I brightened up her wits
by a promise to marry her some day if she only obeyed me now, did she
begin to look the thing in the face and show any evidence of the real
mother wit she evidently possessed. "Mrs. Belden would take me in,"
said she, "if I could only get to R----. She takes everybody in who
asks, her; and she would keep me, too, if I told her Miss Mary sent
me. But I can't get there to-night."

I immediately set to work to convince her that she could. The
midnight train did not leave the city for a half-hour yet, and the
distance to the depot could be easily walked by her in fifteen minutes.
But she had no money! I easily supplied that. And she was afraid she
couldn't find her way! I entered into minutest directions. She still
hesitated, but at length consented to go, and with some further
understanding of the method I was to employ in communicating with her,
we went downstairs. There we found a hat and shawl of the cook's which
I put on her, and in another moment we were in the carriage yard.
"Remember, you are to say nothing of what has occurred, no matter what
happens," I whispered in parting injunction as she turned to leave me.
"Remember, you are to come and marry me some day," she murmured in
reply, throwing her arms about my neck. The movement was sudden, and it
was probably at this time she dropped the candle she had unconsciously
held clenched in her hand till now. I promised her, and she glided out
of the gate.

Of the dreadful agitation that followed the disappearance of this
girl I can give no better idea than by saying I not only committed the
additional error of locking up the house on my re-entrance, but omitted
to dispose of the key then in my pocket by flinging it into the street
or dropping it in the hall as I went up. The fact is, I was so absorbed
by the thought of the danger I stood in from this girl, I forgot
everything else. Hannah's pale face, Hannah's look of terror, as she
turned from my side and flitted down the street, were continually
before me. I could not escape them; the form of the dead man lying
below was less vivid. It was as though I were tied in fancy to this
woman of the white face fluttering down the midnight streets. That she
would fail in something--come back or be brought back--that I should
find her standing white and horror-stricken on the front steps when I
went down in the morning, was like a nightmare to me. I began to think
no other result possible; that she never would or could win her way
unchallenged to that little cottage in a distant village; that I had
but sent a trailing flag of danger out into the world with this
wretched girl;--danger that would come back to me with the first burst
of morning light!

But even those thoughts faded after a while before the realization
of the peril I was in as long as the key and papers remained in my
possession. How to get rid of them! I dared not leave my room again,
or open my window. Some one might see me and remember it. Indeed I was
afraid to move about in my room. Mr. Leavenworth might hear me. Yes, my
morbid terror had reached that point--I was fearful of one whose ears I
myself had forever closed, imagined him in his bed beneath and wakeful
to the least sound.

But the necessity of doing something with these evidences of guilt
finally overcame this morbid anxiety, and drawing the two letters from
my pocket--I had not yet undressed--I chose out the most dangerous of
the two, that written by Mr. Leavenworth himself, and, chewing it till
it was mere pulp, threw it into a corner; but the other had blood on
it, and nothing, not even the hope of safety, could induce me to put it
to my lips. I was forced to lie with it clenched in my hand, and the
flitting image of Hannah before my eyes, till the slow morning broke. I
have heard it said that a year in heaven seems like a day; I can
easily believe it. I know that an hour in hell seems an eternity!

But with daylight came hope. Whether it was that the sunshine
glancing on the wall made me think of Mary and all I was ready to do
for her sake, or whether it was the mere return of my natural stoicism
in the presence of actual necessity, I cannot say. I only know that I
arose calm and master of myself. The problem of the letter and key had
solved itself also. Hide them? I would not try to! Instead of that I
would put them in plain sight, trusting to that very fact for their
being overlooked. Making the letter up into lighters, I carried them
into the spare room and placed them in a vase. Then, taking the key in
my hand, went downstairs, intending to insert it in the lock of the
library door as I went by. But Miss Eleanore descending almost
immediately behind me made this impossible. I succeeded, however, in
thrusting it, without her knowledge, among the filagree work of the
gas-fixture in the second hall, and thus relieved, went down into the
breakfast room as self-possessed a man as ever crossed its threshold.
Mary was there, looking exceedingly pale and disheartened, and as I met
her eye, which for a wonder turned upon me as I entered, I could almost
have laughed, thinking of the deliverance that had come to her, and of
the time when I should proclaim myself to be the man who had
accomplished it.

Of the alarm that speedily followed, and my action at that time and
afterwards, I need not speak in detail. I behaved just as I would have
done if I had had no hand in the murder. I even forbore to touch the
key or go to the spare room, or make any movement which I was not
willing all the world should see. For as things stood, there was not a
shadow of evidence against me in the house; neither was I, a
hard-working, uncomplaining secretary, whose passion for one of his
employer's nieces was not even mistrusted by the lady herself, a person
to be suspected of the crime which threw him out of a fair situation.
So I performed all the duties of my position, summoning the police, and
going for Mr. Veeley, just as I would have done if those hours between
me leaving Mr. Leavenworth for the first time and going down to
breakfast in the morning had been blotted from my consciousness.

And this was the principle upon which I based my action at the
inquest. Leaving that half-hour and its occurrences out of the
question, I resolved to answer such questions as might be put me as
truthfully as I could; the great fault with men situated as I was
usually being that they lied too much, thus committing themselves on
unessential matters. But alas, in thus planning for my own safety, I
forgot one thing, and that was the dangerous position in which I should
thus place Mary Leavenworth as the one benefited by the crime. Not
till the inference was drawn by a juror, from the amount of wine found
in Mr. Leavenworth's glass in the morning, that he had come to his
death shortly after my leaving him, did I realize what an opening I had
made for suspicion in her direction by admitting that I had heard a
rustle on the stair a few minutes after going up. That all present
believed it to have been made by Eleanore, did not reassure me. She was
so completely disconnected with the crime I could not imagine suspicion
holding to her for an instant. But Mary--If a curtain had been let
down before me, pictured with the future as it has since developed, I
could not have seen more plainly what her position would be, if
attention were once directed towards her. So, in the vain endeavor to
cover up my blunder, I began to lie. Forced to admit that a shadow of
disagreement had been lately visible between Mr. Leavenworth and one of
his nieces, I threw the burden of it upon Eleanore, as the one best
able to bear it. The consequences were more serious than I anticipated.
Direction had been given to suspicion which every additional evidence
that now came up seemed by some strange fatality to strengthen. Not
only was it proved that Mr. Leavenworth's own pistol had been used in
the assassination, and that too by a person then in the house, but I
myself was brought to acknowledge that Eleanore had learned from me,
only a little while before, how to load, aim, and fire this very
pistol--a coincidence mischievous enough to have been of the devil's
own making.

Seeing all this, my fear of what the ladies would admit when
questioned became very great. Let them in their innocence acknowledge
that, upon my ascent, Mary had gone to her uncle's room for the purpose
of persuading him not to carry into effect the action he contemplated,
and what consequences might not ensue! I was in a torment of
apprehension. But events of which I had at that time no knowledge had
occurred to influence them. Eleanore, with some show of reason, as it
seems, not only suspected her cousin of the crime, but had informed her
of the fact, and Mary, overcome with terror at finding there was more
or less circumstantial evidence supporting the suspicion, decided to
deny whatever told against herself, trusting to Eleanore's generosity
not to be contradicted. Nor was her confidence misplaced. Though, by
the course she took, Eleanore was forced to deepen the prejudice
already rife against herself, she not only forbore to contradict her
cousin, but when a true answer would have injured her, actually refused
to return any, a lie being something she could not utter, even to save
one especially endeared to her.

This conduct of hers had one effect upon me. It aroused my
admiration and made me feel that here was a woman worth helping if
assistance could be given without danger to myself. Yet I doubt if my
sympathy would have led me into doing anything, if I had not perceived,
by the stress laid upon certain well-known matters, that actual danger
hovered about us all while the letter and key remained in the house.
Even before the handkerchief was produced, I had made up my mind to
attempt their destruction; but when that was brought up and shown, I
became so alarmed I immediately rose and, making my way under some
pretence or other to the floors above, snatched the key from the
gas-fixture, the lighters from the vase, and hastening with them down
the hall to Mary Leavenworth's room, went in under the expectation of
finding a fire there in which to destroy them. But, to my heavy
disappointment, there were only a few smoldering ashes in the grate,
and, thwarted in my design, I stood hesitating what to do, when I heard
some one coming upstairs. Alive to the consequences of being found in
that room at that time, I cast the lighters into the grate and started
for the door. But in the quick move I made, the key flew from my hand
and slid under a chair. Aghast at the mischance, I paused, but the
sound of approaching steps increasing, I lost all control over myself
and fled from the room. And indeed I had no time to lose. I had barely
reached my own door when Eleanore Leavenworth, followed by two
servants, appeared at the top of the staircase and proceeded towards
the room I had just left. The sight reassured me; she would see the
key, and take some means of disposing of it; and indeed I always
supposed her to have done so, for no further word of key or letter ever
came to my ears. This may explain why the questionable position in
which Eleanore soon found herself awakened in me no greater anxiety. I
thought the suspicions of the police rested upon nothing more tangible
than the peculiarity of her manner at the inquest and the discovery of
her handkerchief on the scene of the tragedy. I did not know they
possessed what might be called absolute proof of her connection with
the crime. But if I had, I doubt if my course would have been any
different. Mary's peril was the one thing capable of influencing me,
and she did not appear to be in peril. On the contrary, every one, by
common consent, seemed to ignore all appearance of guilt on her part.
If Mr. Gryce, whom I soon learned to fear, had given one sign of
suspicion, or Mr. Raymond, whom I speedily recognized as my most
persistent though unconscious foe, had betrayed the least distrust of
her, I should have taken warning. But they did not, and, lulled into a
false security by their manner, I let the days go by without suffering
any fears on her account. But not without many anxieties for myself.
Hannah's existence precluded all sense of personal security. Knowing
the determination of the police to find her, I trod the verge of an
awful suspense continually.

Meantime the wretched certainty was forcing itself upon me that I
had lost, instead of gained, a hold on Mary Leavenworth. Not only did
she evince the utmost horror of the deed which had made her mistress of
her uncle's wealth, but, owing, as I believed, to the influence of Mr.
Raymond, soon gave evidence that she was losing, to a certain extent,
the characteristics of mind and heart which had made me hopeful of
winning her by this deed of blood. This revelation drove me almost
insane. Under the terrible restraint forced upon me, I walked my weary
round in a state of mind bordering on frenzy. Many and many a time have
I stopped in my work, wiped my pen and laid it down with the idea that
I could not repress myself another moment, but I have always taken it
up again and gone on with my task. Mr. Raymond has sometimes shown his
wonder at my sitting in my dead employer's chair. Great heaven! it was
my only safeguard. By keeping the murder constantly before my mind, I
was enabled to restrain myself from any inconsiderate action.

At last there came a time when my agony could be no longer
suppressed. Going down the stairs one evening with Mr. Raymond, I saw a
strange gentleman standing in the reception room, looking at Mary
Leavenworth in a way that would have made my blood boil, even if I had
not heard him whisper these words: "But you are my wife, and know it,
whatever you may say or do!"

It was the lightning-stroke of my life. After what I had done to
make her mine, to hear another claim her as already his own, was
stunning, maddening! It forced a demonstration from me. I had either
to yell in my fury or deal the man beneath some tremendous blow in my
hatred. I did not dare to shriek, so I struck the blow. Demanding his
name from Mr. Raymond, and hearing that it was, as I expected,
Clavering, I flung caution, reason, common sense, all to the winds, and
in a moment of fury denounced him as the murderer of Mr. Leavenworth.

The next instant I would have given worlds to recall my words. What
had I done but drawn attention to myself in thus accusing a man against
whom nothing could of course be proved! But recall now was impossible.
So, after a night of thought, I did the next best thing: gave a
superstitious reason for my action, and so restored myself to my former
position without eradicating from the mind of Mr. Raymond that vague
doubt of the man which my own safety demanded. But I had no intention
of going any further, nor should I have done so if I had not observed
that for some reason Mr. Raymond was willing to suspect Mr. Clavering.
But that once seen, revenge took possession of me, and I asked myself
if the burden of this crime could be thrown on this man. Still I do not
believe that any active results would have followed this
self-questioning if I had not overheard a whispered conversation
between two of the servants, in which I learned that Mr. Clavering had
been seen to enter the house on the night of the murder, but was not
seen to leave it. That determined me. With such a fact for a
starting-point, what might I not hope to accomplish? Hannah alone
stood in my way. While she remained alive I saw nothing but ruin before
me. I made up my mind to destroy her and satisfy my hatred of Mr.
Clavering at one blow. But how? By what means could I reach her
without deserting my post, or make away with her without exciting fresh
suspicion? The problem seemed insolvable; but Trueman Harwell had not
played the part of a machine so long without result. Before I had
studied the question a day, light broke upon it, and I saw that the
only way to accomplish my plans was to inveigle her into destroying

No sooner had this thought matured than I hastened to act upon it.
Knowing the tremendous risk I ran, I took every precaution. Locking
myself up in my room, I wrote her a letter in printed characters--she
having distinctly told me she could not read writing--in which I played
upon her ignorance, foolish fondness, and Irish superstition, by
telling her I dreamed of her every night and wondered if she did of me;
was afraid she didn't, so enclosed her _a_ little charm, which,
if she would use according to directions, would give her the most
beautiful visions. These directions were for her first to destroy my
letter by burning it, next to take in her hand the packet I was careful
to enclose, swallow the powder accompanying it, and go to bed. The
powder was a deadly dose of poison and the packet was, as you know, a
forged confession falsely criminating Henry Clavering. Enclosing all
these in an envelope in the corner of which I had marked a cross, I
directed it, according to agreement, to Mrs. Belden, and sent it.

Then followed the greatest period of suspense I had yet endured.
Though I had purposely refrained from putting my name to the letter, I
felt that the chances of detection were very great. Let her depart in
the least particular from the course I had marked out for her, and
fatal results must ensue. If she opened the enclosed packet, mistrusted
the powder, took Mrs. Belden into her confidence, or even failed to
burn my letter, all would be lost. I could not be sure of her or know
the result of my scheme except through the newspapers. Do you think I
kept watch of the countenances about me? devoured the telegraphic
news, or started when the bell rang? And when, a few days since, I
read that short paragraph in the paper which assured me that my efforts
had at least produced the death of the woman I feared, do you think I
experienced any sense of relief?

But of that why speak? In six hours had come the summons from Mr.
Gryce, and--let these prison walls, this confession itself, tell the
rest. I am no longer capable of speech or action.


    "Leave her to Heaven
    And to those thorns that
    In her bosom lodge
    To prick and sting her."

    "For she is wise, if I can judge of her;
    And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true;
    And true she is, as she has proved herself;
    And therefore like herself, wise, fair, and true,
    Shall she be placed in my constant soul."
        --Merchant of Venice.

"OH, ELEANORE!" I cried, as I made my way into her presence, "are
you prepared for very good news? News that will brighten these pale
cheeks and give the light back to these eyes, and make life hopeful and
sweet to you once more? Tell me," I urged, stooping over her where she
sat, for she looked ready to faint.

"I don't know," she faltered; "I fear your idea of good news and
mine may differ. No news can be good but----"

"What?" I asked, taking her hands in mine with a smile that ought
to have reassured her, it was one of such profound happiness. "Tell
me; do not be afraid."

But she was. Her dreadful burden had lain upon her so long it had
become a part of her being. How could she realize it was founded on a
mistake; that she had no cause to fear the past, present, or future?

But when the truth was made known to her; when, with all the fervor
and gentle tact of which I was capable, I showed her that her
suspicions had been groundless, and that Trueman Harwell, and not Mary,
was accountable for the evidences of crime which had led her into
attributing to her cousin the guilt of her uncle's death, her first
words were a prayer to be taken to the one she had so wronged. "Take
me to her! Oh, take me to her! I cannot breathe or think till I have
begged pardon of her on my knees. Oh, my unjust accusation! My unjust

Seeing the state she was in, I deemed it wise to humor her. So,
procuring a carriage, I drove with her to her cousin's home.

"Mary will spurn me; she will not even look at me; and she will be
right!" she cried, as we rolled away up the avenue. "An outrage
like this can never be forgiven. But God knows I thought myself
justified in my suspicions. If you knew--"

"I do know," I interposed. "Mary acknowledges that the
circumstantial evidence against her was so overwhelming, she was almost
staggered herself, asking if she could be guiltless with such proofs
against her. But----"

"Wait, oh, wait; did Mary say that?"




"Mary must be changed."

I did not answer; I wanted her to see for herself the extent of
that change. But when, in a few minutes later, the carriage stopped and
I hurried with her into the house which had been the scene of so much
misery, I was hardly prepared for the difference in her own countenance
which the hall light revealed. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks were
brilliant, her brow lifted and free from shadow; so quickly does the
ice of despair melt in the sunshine of hope.

Thomas, who had opened the door, was sombrely glad to see his
mistress again. "Miss Leavenworth is in the drawing-room," said he.

I nodded, then seeing that Eleanore could scarcely move for
agitation, asked her whether she would go in at once, or wait till she
was more composed.

"I will go in at once; I cannot wait." And slipping from my
grasp, she crossed the hall and laid her hand upon the drawing-room
curtain, when it was suddenly lifted from within and Mary stepped out.



The ring of those voices told everything. I did not need to glance
their way to know that Eleanore had fallen at her cousin's feet, and
that her cousin had affrightedly lifted her. I did not need to hear:
"My sin against you is too great; you cannot forgive me!" followed by
the low: "My shame is great enough to lead me to forgive anything!"
to know that the lifelong shadow between these two had dissolved like a
cloud, and that, for the future, bright days of mutual confidence and
sympathy were in store.

Yet when, a half-hour or so later, I heard the door of the reception
room, into which I had retired, softly open, and looking up, saw Mary
standing on the threshold, with the light of true humility on her face,
I own that I was surprised at the softening which had taken place in
her haughty beauty. "Blessed is the shame that purifies," I inwardly
murmured, and advancing, held out my hand with a respect and sympathy I
never thought to feel for her again.

The action seemed to touch her. Blushing deeply, she came and stood
by my side. "I thank you," said she. "I have much to be grateful for;
how much I never realized till to-night; but I cannot speak of it
now. What I wish is for you to come in and help me persuade Eleanore to
accept this fortune from my hands. It is hers, you know; was willed to
her, or would have been if--"

"Wait," said I, in the trepidation which this appeal to me on such
a subject somehow awakened. "Have you weighed this matter well? Is it
your determined purpose to transfer your fortune into your cousin's

Her look was enough without the low, "Ah, how can you ask me?"
that followed it.

Mr. Clavering was sitting by the side of Eleanore when we entered
the drawing room. He immediately rose, and drawing me to one side,
earnestly said:

"Before the courtesies of the hour pass between us, Mr. Raymond,
allow me to tender you my apology. You have in your possession a
document which ought never to have been forced upon you. Founded upon a
mistake, the act was an insult which I bitterly regret. If, in
consideration of my mental misery at that time, you can pardon it, I
shall feel forever indebted to you; if not----"

"Mr. Clavering, say no more. The occurrences of that day belong to
a past which I, for one, have made up my mind to forget as soon as
possible. The future promises too richly for us to dwell on bygone

And with a look of mutual understanding and friendship we hastened
to rejoin the ladies.

Of the conversation that followed, it is only necessary to state the
result. Eleanore, remaining firm in her refusal to accept property so
stained by guilt, it was finally agreed upon that it should be devoted
to the erection and sustainment of some charitable institution of
magnitude sufficient to be a recognized benefit to the city and its
unfortunate poor. This settled, our thoughts returned to our friends,
especially to Mr. Veeley.

"He ought to know," said Mary. "He has grieved like a father over us."
And, in her spirit of penitence, she would have undertaken the
unhappy task of telling him the truth.

But Eleanore, with her accustomed generosity, would not hear of
this. "No, Mary," said she; "you have suffered enough. Mr. Raymond
and I will go."

And leaving them there, with the light of growing hope and
confidence on their faces, we went out again into the night, and so
into a dream from which I have never waked, though the shine of her
dear eyes has been now the load-star of my life for many happy, happy


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