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The Filigree Ball

6. Gossip
Next morning the city was in a blaze of excitement. All the burning questions of the hour
- the rapid mobilization of the army and the prospect of a speedy advance on Cuba - were
forgotten in the one engrossing topic of young Mrs. Jeffrey's death and the awful
circumstances surrounding it. Nothing else was in any one's mouth and but little else in
any one's heart. Her youth, her prominence, her union with a man of such marked
attractions as Mr. Jeffrey, the tragedy connected with her marriage, thrown now into
shadow by the still more poignant tragedy which had so suddenly terminated her own
life, gave to the affair an interest which for those first twenty-four hours did not call for
any further heightening by a premature suggestion of murder.
Though I was the hero of the hour and, as such, subjected to an infinite number of
questions, I followed the lead of my superiors in this regard and carefully refrained from
advancing any theories beyond the obvious one of suicide. The moment for self-
exploitation was not ripe; I did not stand high enough in the confidence of the major, or, I
may say, of the lieutenant of my own precinct, to risk the triumph I anticipated ultimately
by a premature expression of opinion.
I had an enemy at headquarters; or, rather, one of the men there had always appeared
peculiarly interested in showing me up in the worst light. The name of this man was
Durbin, and it was he who had uttered something like a slighting remark when on that
first night I endeavored to call the captain's attention to some of the small matters which
had offered themselves to me in the light of clues. Perhaps it was the prospect of
surprising him some day which made me so wary now as well as so alert to fill my mind
with all known facts concerning the Jeffreys. One of my first acts was to turn over the
files of the Star and reread the following account of the great wedding. As it is a
sensational description of a sensational event, I shall make no apology for the headlines
which startled all Washington the night they appeared.
"STARTLING TERMINATION OF THE JEFFREY-MOORE WEDDING.
THE TRADITIONAL DOOM FOLLOWS THE OPENING OF THE OLD HOUSE ON
WAVERLEY AVENUE.
ONE OF THE GUESTS FOUND LYING DEAD ON THE LIBRARY
HEARTHSTONE.
LETTERS IN HIS POCKET SHOW HIM TO HAVE BEEN ONE W. PFEIFFER OF
DENVER.
NO INTERRUPTION TO THE CEREMONY FOLLOWS THIS GHASTLY
DISCOVERY, BUT THE GUESTS FLY IN ALL DIRECTIONS AS SOON AS THE
NUPTIAL KNOT IS TIED.
 
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