The Filigree Ball HTML version

14. Tallman! Let Us Have Tallman!
I do not know why the coroner had so long delayed to call this witness. In the ordinary
course of events his testimony should have preceded mine, but the ordinary course of
events had not been followed, and it was only at the request of Mr. Moore himself that he
was now allowed the privilege of appearing before this coroner and jury.
I speak of it as a privilege because he himself evidently regarded it as such. Indeed, his
whole attitude and bearing as he addressed himself to the coroner showed that he was
there to be looked at and that he secretly thought he was very well worth this attention.
Possibly some remembrance of the old days, in which he had gone in and out before
these people in a garb suggestive of penury, made the moment when he could appear
before them in a guise more befitting his station one of incalculable importance to him.
At all events, he confronted us all with an aspect which openly challenged admiration.
When, in answer to the coroner's inquiries, it became his duty to speak, he did so with a
condescension which would have called up smiles if the occasion had been one of less
seriousness, and his connection with it as unimportant as he would have it appear.
What he said was in the way of confirming the last witness' testimony as to his having
been at the Moore house on Tuesday evening. Mr. Moore, who was very particular as to
dates and days, admitted that the light which he had seen in a certain window of his
ancestral home on the evening when he summoned the police was but the repetition of
one he had detected there the evening before. It was this repetition which alarmed him
and caused him to break through all his usual habits and leave his home at night to notify
the police.
"The old sneak!" thought I. "Why didn't he tell us this before?" And I allowed myself
afresh doubt of his candor which had always seemed to me somewhat open to question. It
is possible that the coroner shared my opinion, or that he felt it incumbent upon him to
get what evidence he could from the sole person living within view of the house in which
such ghastly events had taken place. For, without betraying the least suspicion, and yet
with the quiet persistence for which men in his responsible position are noted, he
subjected this suave old man to such a rigid examination as to what he had seen, or had
not seen, from his windows, that no possibility seemed to remain of his concealing a
single fact which could help to the elucidation of this or any other mystery connected
with the old mansion.
He asked him if he had seen Mr. Jeffrey go in on the night in question; if he had ever
seen any one go in there since the wedding; or even if he had seen any one loitering about
the steps, or sneaking into the rear yard. But the answer was always no; these same noes
growing more and more emphatic, and the gentleman more and more impenetrable and
dignified as the examination went on. In fact, he was as unassailable a witness as I have
ever heard testify before any jury. Beyond the fact already mentioned of his having
observed a light in the opposite house on the two evenings in question, he admitted