The Leavenworth Case
20. Trueman! Trueman! Trueman!
"Often do the spirits
Of great events stride on before the events,
And in to-day already walks to-morrow."
INSTANTLY a great dread seized me. What revelations might not this man be going to
make! But I subdued the feeling; and, greeting him with what cordiality I could, settled
myself to listen to his explanations.
But Trueman Harwell had no explanations to give, or so it seemed; on the contrary, he
had come to apologize for the very violent words he had used the evening before; words
which, whatever their effect upon me, he now felt bound to declare had been used
without sufficient basis in fact to make their utterance of the least importance.
"But you must have thought you had grounds for so tremendous an accusation, or your
act was that of a madman."
His brow wrinkled heavily, and his eyes assumed a very gloomy expression. "It does not
follow," he returned. "Under the pressure of surprise, I have known men utter convictions
no better founded than mine without running the risk of being called mad."
"Surprise? Mr. Clavering's face or form must; then, have been known to you. The mere
fact of seeing a strange gentleman in the hall would have been insufficient to cause you
astonishment, Mr. Harwell."
He uneasily fingered the back of the chair before which he stood, but made no reply.
"Sit down," I again urged, this time with a touch of command in my voice. "This is a
serious matter, and I intend to deal with it as it deserves. You once said that if you knew
anything which might serve to exonerate Eleanore Leavenworth from the suspicion under
which she stands, you would be ready to impart it."
"Pardon me. I said that if I had ever known anything calculated to release her from her
unhappy position, I would have spoken," he coldly corrected.
"Do not quibble. You know, and I know, that you are keeping something back; and I ask
you, in her behalf, and in the cause of justice, to tell me what it is."
"You are mistaken," was his dogged reply. "I have reasons, perhaps, for certain
conclusions I may have drawn; but my conscience will not allow me in cold blood to give
utterance to suspicions which may not only damage the reputation of an honest man, but
place me in the unpleasant position of an accuser without substantial foundation for my