Part 4 out of 7
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 whom, in this opinion of
mine, I have declared to be a wedded wife according to the laws of my
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.
XX. "TRUEMAN! TRUEMAN! TRUEMAN!"
"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, True-man,' 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 childlike 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."
XXI. A PREJUDICE
"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
"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?"
"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
"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. Leaven
worth's business letters, and this, being from one unaccustomed to
write to him, lacked the mark which usually distinguished those of a
"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
"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
"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 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 ocated 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 nore or less
IV. That they had both been absent from town, at Lorne 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 ratering-place.
I next asked myself how I was to establish these acts. Mr.
Clavering's life was as yet too little known o 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----, l 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 down-hill. 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
"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
"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
"On the afternoon of the inquest?"
"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?"
"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
"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.
"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?"
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 Ritdsie 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. Toward 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----, k. 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--"
"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 toe 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
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
"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----
"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
"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."
"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 P., in case
I should need assistance in my investigations, I left Mr. Gryce, and
proceeded immediately to the house of Mr. Veeley.
XXIII. THE STORY OF A CHARMING WOMAN
"Fe, fi, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman."
"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
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
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 nanias. To-day it is Clavering; a short time
ago it was----"
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?"
"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
"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.
XXIV. A REPORT FOLLOWED BY SMOKE
"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 Leaven
worth 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
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
"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
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 nicker 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?"
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
Mr. Gryce slowly waved the paper aside. "And from these facts you
draw the inference that Eleanore Leavenworth is the wife of Mr.
"And that, being his wife----"
"It would be natural for her to conceal anything she knew likely to
"Always supposing Clavering himself had done anything criminal!"
"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
"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."
XXV. TIMOTHY COOK
"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,
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."