The Filigree Ball HTML version

26. Rudge
I never saw any good reason for my changing the opinion just expressed. Indeed, as time
went on and a further investigation was made into the life and character of these two
brothers, I came to think that not only had the unhappy Veronica mistaken the person of
Wallace Pfeiffer for that of her husband William, but also the nature of the message he
sent her and the motives which actuated it; that the interview he so peremptorily
demanded before she descended to her nuptials would, had she but understood it
properly, have yielded her an immeasurable satisfaction instead of rousing in her alarmed
breast the criminal instincts of her race; that it was meant to do this; that he, knowing
William's secret - a secret which the latter naturally would confide to him at a moment so
critical as that which witnessed their parting in the desolate Klondike pass - had come,
not to reproach her with her new nuptials, but to relieve her mind in case she cherished
the least doubt of her full right to marry again, by assurances of her husband's death and
of her own complete freedom. To this he may have intended to add some final messages
of love and confidence from the man she had been so ready to forget; but nothing worse.
Wallace Pfeiffer was incapable of anything worse, and if she had only resigned herself to
her seeming fate and consented to see this man -
But to return to fact and leave speculation to the now doubly wretched Jeffrey.
On the evening of the day which saw our first recognition of this crime as the work of
Veronica Moore, the following notice appeared in the Star and all the other local
"Any person who positively remembers passing through Waverley Avenue between N
and M Streets on the evening of May the eleventh at or near the hour of a quarter past
seven will confer a favor on the detective force of the District by communicating the
same to F. at the police headquarters in C street."
I was "F.," and I was soon deep in business. But I was readily able to identify those who
came from curiosity, and as the persons who had really fulfilled the conditions expressed
in my advertisement were few, an evening and morning's work sufficed to sift the whole
matter down to the one man who could tell me just what I wanted to know. With this man
I went to the major, and as a result we all met later in the day at Mr. Moore's door.
This gentleman looked startled enough when he saw the number and character of his
visitors; but his grand air did not forsake him and his welcome was both dignified and
cordial. But I did not like the way his eye rested on me.
But the slight venom visible in it at that moment was nothing to what he afterwards
displayed when at a slight growl from Rudge, who stood in an attitude of offense in the
doorway beyond, I drew the attention of all to the dog by saying sharply: