The Filigree Ball HTML version
The days of my obscurity were over. Henceforth, I was regarded as a decided factor in
this case - a case which from this time on, assumed another aspect both at headquarters
and in the minds of people at large. The reporters, whom we had hitherto managed to
hold in check, now overflowed both the coroner's office and police headquarters, and
articles appeared in all the daily papers with just enough suggestion in them to fire the
public mind and make me, for one, anticipate an immediate word from Mr. Jeffrey
calculated to establish the alibi he had failed to make out on the day we talked with him.
But no such word came. His memory still played him false, and no alternative was left
but to pursue the official inquiry in the line suggested by the interview just recounted.
No proceeding in which I had ever been engaged interested me as did this inquest. In the
first place, the spectators were of a very different character from the ordinary. As I
wormed myself along to the seat accorded to such witnesses as myself, I brushed by men
of the very highest station and a few of the lowest; and bent my head more than once in
response to the inquiring gaze of some fashionable lady who never before, I warrant, had
found herself in such a scene. By the time I reached my place all the others were seated
and the coroner rapped for order.
I was first to take the stand. What I said has already been fully amplified in the foregoing
pages. Of course, my evidence was confined to facts, but some of these facts were new to
most of the persons there. It was evident that a considerable effect was produced by them,
not only on the spectators, but upon the witnesses themselves. For instance, it was the
first time that the marks on the mantel-shelf had been heard of outside the major's office,
or the story so told as to make it evident that Mrs. Jeffrey could not have been alone in
the house at the time of her death.
A photograph had been taken of those marks, and my identification of this photograph
closed my testimony.
As I returned to my seat I stole a look toward a certain corner where, with face bent down
upon his hand, Francis Jeffrey sat between Uncle David and the heavily-veiled figure of
Miss Tuttle. Had there dawned upon him as my testimony was given any suspicion of the
trick by which he had been proved responsible for those marks? It was impossible to tell.
From the way Miss Tuttle's head was turned toward him, one might judge him to be
laboring under an emotion of no ordinary character, though he sat like a statue and hardly
seemed to realize how many eyes were at that moment riveted upon his face.
I was followed by other detectives who had been present at the time and who
corroborated my statement as to the appearance of this unhappy woman and the way the
pistol had been tied to her arm. Then the doctor who had acted under the coroner was
called. After a long and no doubt learned description of the bullet wound which had
ended the life of this unhappy lady, - a wound which he insisted, with a marked display