The Leavenworth Case HTML version
14. Mr. Gryce At Home
"Nay, but hear me."
Measure for Measure.
THAT the guilty person for whom Eleanore Leavenworth stood ready to sacrifice herself
was one for whom she had formerly cherished affection, I could no longer doubt; love, or
the strong sense of duty growing out of love, being alone sufficient to account for such
determined action. Obnoxious as it was to all my prejudices, one name alone, that of the
commonplace secretary, with his sudden heats and changeful manners, his odd ways and
studied self-possession, would recur to my mind whenever I asked myself who this
person could be.
Not that, without the light which had been thrown upon the affair by Eleanore's strange
behavior, I should have selected this man as one in any way open to suspicion; the
peculiarity of his manner at the inquest not being marked enough to counteract the
improbability of one in his relations to the deceased finding sufficient motive for a crime
so manifestly without favorable results to himself. But if love had entered as a factor into
the affair, what might not be expected? James Harwell, simple amanuensis to a retired
tea-merchant, was one man; James Harwell, swayed by passion for a woman beautiful as
Eleanore Leavenworth, was another; and in placing him upon the list of those parties
open to suspicion I felt I was only doing what was warranted by a proper consideration of
But, between casual suspicion and actual proof, what a gulf! To believe James Harwell
capable of guilt, and to find evidence enough to accuse him of it, were two very different
things. I felt myself instinctively shrink from the task, before I had fully made up my
mind to attempt it; some relenting thought of his unhappy position, if innocent, forcing
itself upon me, and making my very distrust of him seem personally ungenerous if not
absolutely unjust. If I had liked the man better, I should not have been so ready to look
upon him with doubt.
But Eleanore must be saved at all hazards. Once delivered up to the blight of suspicion,
who could tell what the result might be? the arrest of her person perhaps,--a thing which,
once accomplished, would cast a shadow over her young life that it would take more than
time to dispel. The accusation of an impecunious secretary would be less horrible than
this. I determined to make an early call upon Mr. Gryce.
Meanwhile the contrasted pictures of Eleanore standing with her hand upon the breast of
the dead, her face upraised and mirroring a glory, I could not recall without emotion; and
Mary, fleeing a short half-hour later indignantly from her presence, haunted me and kept
me awake long after midnight. It was like a double vision of light and darkness that,
while contrasting, neither assimilated nor harmonized. I could not flee from it. Do what I
would, the two pictures followed me, filling my soul with alternate hope and distrust, till
I knew not whether to place my hand with Eleanore on the breast of the dead, and swear