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The Leavenworth Case

9. A Discovery
"His rolling Eies did never rest in place,
But walkte each where for feare of hid mischance,
Holding a lattis still before his Pace,
Through which he still did peep as forward he did pace."
Faerie Queene.
MISS LEAVENWORTH, who appeared to have lingered from a vague terror of
everything and everybody in the house not under her immediate observation, shrank from
my side the moment she found herself left comparatively alone, and, retiring to a distant
corner, gave herself up to grief. Turning my attention, therefore, in the direction of Mr.
Gryce, I found that person busily engaged in counting his own fingers with a troubled
expression upon his countenance, which may or may not have been the result of that
arduous employment. But, at my approach, satisfied perhaps that he possessed no more
than the requisite number, he dropped his hands and greeted me with a faint smile which
was, considering all things, too suggestive to be pleasant.
"Well," said I, taking my stand before him, "I cannot blame you. You had a right to do as
you thought best; but how had you the heart? Was she not sufficiently compromised
without your bringing out that wretched handkerchief, which she may or may not have
dropped in that room, but whose presence there, soiled though it was with pistol grease, is
certainly no proof that she herself was connected with this murder?"
"Mr. Raymond," he returned, "I have been detailed as police officer and detective to look
after this case, and I propose to do it."
"Of course," I hastened to reply. "I am the last man to wish you to shirk your duly; but
you cannot have the temerity to declare that this young and tender creature can by any
possibility be considered as at all likely to be implicated in a crime so monstrous and
unnatural. The mere assertion of another woman's suspicions on the subject ought not----"
But here Mr. Gryce interrupted me. "You talk when your attention should be directed to
more important matters. That other woman, as you are pleased to designate the fairest
ornament of New York society, sits over there in tears; go and comfort her."
Looking at him in amazement, I hesitated to comply; but, seeing he was in earnest,
crossed to Mary Leavenworth and sat down by her side. She was weeping, but in a slow,
unconscious way, as if grief had been mastered by fear. The fear was too undisguised and
the grief too natural for me to doubt the genuineness of either.
"Miss Leavenworth," said I, "any attempt at consolation on the part of a stranger must
seem at a time like this the most bitter of mockeries; but do try and consider that
circumstantial evidence is not always absolute proof."