The Leavenworth Case HTML version

26. Mr. Gryce Explains Himself
"Sits the wind in that corner?"
--Much Ado about Nothing.
I DO not propose to enter into a description of the mingled feelings aroused in me by this
announcement. As a drowning man is said to live over in one terrible instant the events of
a lifetime, so each word uttered in my hearing by Mary, from her first introduction to me
in her own room, on the morning of the inquest, to our final conversation on the night of
Mr. Clavering's call, swept in one wild phantasmagoria through my brain, leaving me
aghast at the signification which her whole conduct seemed to acquire from the lurid light
which now fell upon it.
"I perceive that I have pulled down an avalanche of doubts about your ears," exclaimed
my companion from the height of his calm superiority. "You never thought of this
possibility, then, yourself?"
"Do not ask me what I have thought. I only know I will never believe your suspicions
true. That, however much Mary may have been benefited by her uncle's death, she never
had a hand in it; actual hand, I mean."
"And what makes you so sure of this?"
"And what makes you so sure of the contrary? It is for you to prove, not for me to prove
her innocence."
"Ah," said Mr. Gryce, in his slow, sarcastic way, "you recollect that principle of law, do
you? If I remember rightly, you have not always been so punctilious in regarding it, or
wishing to have it regarded, when the question was whether Mr. Clavering was the
assassin or not."
"But he is a man. It does not seem so dreadful to accuse a man of a crime. But a woman!
and such a woman! I cannot listen to it; it is horrible. Nothing short of absolute
confession on her part will ever make me believe Mary Leavenworth, or any other
woman, committed this deed. It was too cruel, too deliberate, too----"
"Read the criminal records," broke in Mr. Gryce.
But I was obstinate. "I do not care for the criminal records. All the criminal records in the
world would never make me believe Eleanore perpetrated this crime, nor will I be less
generous towards her cousin Mary Leavenworth is a faulty woman, but not a guilty one."
"You are more lenient in your judgment of her than her cousin was, it appears."