The Filigree Ball
10. Francis Jeffrey
Jinny had not been gone an hour from the coroner's office when an opportunity was
afforded for me to approach that gentleman myself.
With few apologies and no preamble, I immediately entered upon my story which I made
as concise and as much to the point as possible. I did not expect praise from him, but I
did look for some slight show of astonishment at the nature of my news. I was therefore
greatly disappointed, when, after a moment's quiet consideration, he carelessly remarked:
"Very good! very good! The one point you make is excellent and may prove of use to us.
We had reached the same conclusion, but by another road. You ask, 'Who blew out the
candle?' We, 'Who tied the pistol to Mrs. Jeffrey's arm?' It could not have been tied by
herself. Who was her accessory then? Ah, you didn't think of that."
I flushed as if a pail of hot water had been dashed suddenly over me. He was right. The
conclusion he spoke of had failed to strike me. Why? It was a perfectly obvious one, as
obvious as that the candle had been blown out by another breath than hers; yet, absorbed
in my own train of thought, I had completely overlooked it. The coroner observing my
embarrassment, smiled, and my humiliation was complete or would have been had
Durbin been there, but fortunately he was not.
"I am a fool," I cried. "I thought I had discovered something. I might have known that
there were keener minds than mine in this office -"
"Easy! easy!" was the good-natured interruption. "You have done well. If I did not think
so, I would not keep you here a minute. As it is, I am disposed to let you see that in a case
like this, one man must not expect to monopolize all the honors. This matter of the bow
of ribbon would strike any old and experienced official. I only wonder that we have not
seen it openly discussed in the papers."
Taking a box from his desk, he opened it and held it out toward me. A coil of white
ribbon surmounted by a crisp and dainty bow met my eyes.
"You recognize it?" he asked.
Indeed I did.
"It was cut from her wrist by my deputy. Miss Tuttle wished him to untie it, but he
preferred to leave the bow intact. Now lift it out. Careful, man, don't soil it; you will see
why in a minute."
As I held the ribbon up, he pointed to some spots on its fresh white surface. "Do you see
those?" he asked. "Those are dust-marks, and they were made as truly by some one's