The Leavenworth Case HTML version

18. On The Stairs
"You cannot say I did it."
EXCITED, tremulous, filled with wonder at this unlooked-for event, I paused for a
moment to collect my scattered senses, when the sound of a low, monotonous voice
breaking upon my ear from the direction of the library, I approached and found Mr.
Harwell reading aloud from his late employer's manuscript. It would be difficult for me to
describe the effect which this simple discovery made upon me at this time. There, in that
room of late death, withdrawn from the turmoil of the world, a hermit in his skeleton-
lined cell, this man employed himself in reading and rereading, with passive interest, the
words of the dead, while above and below, human beings agonized in doubt and shame.
Listening, I heard these words:
"By these means their native rulers will not only lose their jealous terror of our
institutions, but acquire an actual curiosity in regard to them."
Opening the door I went in.
"Ah! you are late, sir," was the greeting with which he rose and brought forward a chair.
My reply was probably inaudible, for he added, as he passed to his own seat:
"I am afraid you are not well."
I roused myself.
"I am not ill." And, pulling the papers towards me, I began looking them over. But the
words danced before my eyes, and I was obliged to give up all attempt at work for that
"I fear I am unable to assist you this evening, Mr. Harwell. The fact is, I find it difficult to
give proper attention to this business while the man who by a dastardly assassination has
made it necessary goes unpunished."
The secretary in his turn pushed the papers aside, as if moved by a sudden distaste of
them, but gave me no answer.
"You told me, when you first came to me with news of this fearful tragedy, that it was a
mystery; but it is one which must be solved, Mr. Harwell; it is wearing out the lives of
too many whom we love and respect."
The secretary gave me a look. "Miss Eleanore?" he murmured.