The Leavenworth Case HTML version
11. The Summons
"The pink of courtesy."
Romeo and Juliet.
THE morning papers contained a more detailed account of the murder than those of the
evening before; but, to my great relief, in none of them was Eleanore's name mentioned
in the connection I most dreaded.
The final paragraph in the Times ran thus: "The detectives are upon the track of the
missing girl, Hannah." And in the Herald I read the following notice:
"A Liberal Reward will be given by the relatives of Horatio Leavenworth, Esq., deceased,
for any news of the whereabouts of one Hannah Chester, disappeared from the house -----
--- Fifth Avenue since the evening of March 4. Said girl was of Irish extraction; in age
about twenty-five, and may be known by the following characteristics. Form tall and
slender; hair dark brown with a tinge of red; complexion fresh; features delicate and well
made; hands small, but with the fingers much pricked by the use of the needle; feet large,
and of a coarser type than the hands. She had on when last seen a checked gingham dress,
brown and white, and was supposed to have wrapped herself in a red and green blanket
shawl, very old. Beside the above distinctive marks, she had upon her right hand wrist the
scar of a large burn; also a pit or two of smallpox upon the left temple."
This paragraph turned my thoughts in a new direction. Oddly enough, I had expended
very little thought upon this girl; and yet how apparent it was that she was the one person
upon whose testimony, if given, the whole case in reality hinged, I could not agree with
those who considered her as personally implicated in the murder. An accomplice,
conscious of what was before her, would have hid in her pockets whatever money she
possessed. But the roll of bills found in Hannah's trunk proved her to have left too
hurriedly for this precaution. On the other hand, if this girl had come unexpectedly upon
the assassin at his work, how could she have been hustled from the house without
creating a disturbance loud enough to have been heard by the ladies, one of whom had
her door open? An innocent girl's first impulse upon such an occasion would have been to
scream; and yet no scream was heard; she simply disappeared. What were we to think
then? That the person seen by her was one both known and trusted? I would not consider
such a possibility; so laying down the paper, I endeavored to put away all further
consideration of the affair till I had acquired more facts upon which to base the theory.
But who can control his thoughts when over-excited upon any one theme? All the
morning I found myself turning the case over in my mind, arriving ever at one of two
conclusions. Hannah Chester must be found, or Eleanore Leavenworth must explain
when and by what means the key of the library door came into her possession.