The Leavenworth Case HTML version

17. The Beginning Of Great Surprises
"Vous regardez une etoile pour deux motifs, parce qu'elle est
lumineuse et parce qu'elle est impenetrable. Vous avez aupres
de vous un plus doux rayonnement et un pas grand mystere, la femme."
Les Miserables.
AND now followed days in which I seemed to make little or no progress. Mr. Clavering,
disturbed perhaps by my presence, forsook his usual haunts, thus depriving me of all
opportunity of making his acquaintance in any natural manner, while the evenings spent
at Miss Leavenworth's were productive of little else than constant suspense and
The manuscript required less revision than I supposed. But, in the course of making such
few changes as were necessary, I had ample opportunity of studying the character of Mr.
Harwell. I found him to be neither more nor less than an excellent amanuensis. Stiff,
unbending, and sombre, but true to his duty and reliable in its performance, I learned to
respect him, and even to like him; and this, too, though I saw the liking was not
reciprocated, whatever the respect may have been. He never spoke of Eleanore
Leavenworth or, indeed, mentioned the family or its trouble in any way; till I began to
feel that all this reticence had a cause deeper than the nature of the man, and that if he did
speak, it would be to some purpose. This suspicion, of course, kept me restlessly eager in
his presence. I could not forbear giving him sly glances now and then, to see how he
acted when he believed himself unobserved; but he was ever the same, a passive, diligent,
unexcitable worker.
This continual beating against a stone wall, for thus I regarded it, became at last almost
unendurable. Clavering shy, and the secretary unapproachable--how was I to gain
anything? The short interviews I had with Mary did not help matters. Haughty,
constrained, feverish, pettish, grateful, appealing, everything at once, and never twice the
same, I learned to dread, even while I coveted, an interview. She appeared to be passing
through some crisis which occasioned her the keenest suffering. I have seen her, when
she thought herself alone, throw up her hands with the gesture which we use to ward off a
coming evil or shut out some hideous vision. I have likewise beheld her standing with her
proud head abased, her nervous hands drooping, her whole form sinking and inert, as if
the pressure of a weight she could neither upbear nor cast aside had robbed her even of
the show of resistance. But this was only once. Ordinarily she was at least stately in her
trouble. Even when the softest appeal came into her eyes she stood erect, and retained her
expression of conscious power. Even the night she met me in the hall, with feverish
cheeks and lips trembling with eagerness, only to turn and fly again without giving
utterance to what she had to say, she comported herself with a fiery dignity that was well
nigh imposing.
That all this meant something, I was sure; and so I kept my patience alive with the hope
that some day she would make a revelation. Those quivering lips would not always