Part 7 out of 7
"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
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,"
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
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
"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
"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
"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 intent-ness 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
There was something so repressed in his expression, I could not
prevent myself from venturing one question. "Is your mind made up?"
"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!"
XXXVI. GATHERED THREADS
"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
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
"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
"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 gentle
man, 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
"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 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
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 yon 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
"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."
XXXVIII. A FULL CONFESSION
"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."
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 I, 1876."
MR. HORATIO LEAVENWORTH:
"DEAR SIR,--You have a niece whom yon 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 up-stairs 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 down-stairs, 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
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 due 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 down-stairs," 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 down-stairs. 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 down-stairs, 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
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
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 up-stairs. 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.
XXXIX. THE OUTCOME OF A GREAT CRIME
"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,
"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 have been now the load-star of my life for many happy, happy