Newspaper Page Text
The Richmond Palladium, Thursday, December 6, 1906.
PageSeven. cTTTTTTtTVTTTT 13 Fling ree Bal. By ANNA KATHARINE GREEN, , u '- Astsor of "The Mystery of Agatha Webb." -Lit Man's Lane," Etc. Copyright, 1903, by the Bobbi-Mcrrlll Company facTTHuT'SliaH generally Known to possess one of the largest back ac counts In tbe District made any mark ed show of disrespect toward her a matter of poor judgment, if not of quesuonaoie taste. The box in the coroner's band pre pared us for wat was before us. As he opened it and disclosed again the dainty white bow which, as I hare be fore said, was of rather a fantastic CHAPTER XT. R. JEFFREY'S examination and its triumphant conclu sion created a great furore in town. What might be ex pected next? Something equally bold Ind reprehensible, of course, but kbat? It was a question which at the text sitting completely filled, the in- luestroom. " To my great surprise Mr. Jeffrey was ecalled to the stand. ' Miss Tuttle sat in a less conspicuous bosition than oil the previous day, and Ir. Moore, her uncle, was not there at 1L - - The testimony called for revived an tl point which seemingly had not feen settled to tbe coroner's satisfac tion. Had Mr. Jeffrey placed the small tand holding the candelabrum on the pot where it had been found? No. lad be carried Into the house at the Ime of his acknowledged visit the can- les which had been afterward discov red there? No. He had had time p think since his hesitating and un satisfactory replies of the day before, nd he was now in a position to say hat, while be distinctly remembered uylng candles on his way to the Moore ouse, he had not found them In his rocket on getting there and had been bilged to make use of the matches he Iways carried on his person In order p find his way tov the upstairs room rhere he felt positive he would find a findle. t This gave the coroner an opportunity ' ask: ' "And why did you expect to find a indie there V The answer astonished me and, I ave no doubt, many others: It was the room in which my wife !ad dressed for the ceremony. It had ot been disturbed since that time, ly wife had little ways of her own. ne was to complete her toilet by sing a curling iron on a little lock she 'ore over her temple. When at home, le heated this curling iron In the gas ft; but, there being no gas In the Moore ouse, naturally concluded that she jad made use of a candle, as the curl !ad been noticeable under her Veil." He had accounted for one candle in he house. Could he account for the he found in tbe tumbler or for the one ing crushed and battered on the loset floor? He could not. And now we all observed a change I direction in the inquiry. Witnesses here summoned to corroborate Mr. Jeffrey's statements statements which seemed to be the coroner's present Ish to establish. First came the gro- Ir who had sold Mr. Jeffrey the can es. He acknowledged, much to J to r's discomfort, that an hour after Mr. tffrcy had left tbe store he had found i tbe counter the package which that ntleman had forgotten to take. Poor anny had not stayed long enough to ear nis story out. j.ne grocer nnisnea s testimony by saying that immedi ately upon his discovery he had sent ;je candles to Mr. Jeffrey's house. This the coroner caused to be em- hasized to such an extent that we ere all convinced of its importance, ut as yet his purpose was not evident ave to those who were more in his pnfldence than myself. The other witnesses were men from auchcr's, who had acted as waiters r the tlmn nf the moirl a or a Onft nf hem testified that Immediately on Iss Moore's arrival he had been sent r a candle and a box of matches. ihe other, that he had carried un to Vr room a large candelabrum from the rawing room mantel. A pair of curl ig tongs taken from the dressing table f this room was next produced, to Bther with other articles of toilet use hich had been allowed to remain lere uncared for, though they were of plld silver and of beautiful design. I The next witness was a member of r. Jeffrey's own household. Chloe as her name, and her good black face orked dolefully as she admitted that i package of candles which the gro- r boy had left on the kitchen table Tk f rcr rith the rest' of the 'groceries on the oniing of that dreadful day when missus" killed herself was not to be und when she came to put the things way. she had looked and looked for L but it was not there. Further inquiry brought out tbe fact at but one other member of the busehold was in the kitchen when eee groceries wrre aeuverea ana tuai Vis person gave a great start when le boy shouted out, "The candles there ere bought by Mr. Jeffrey'.'' and hur led over to the table and handled the acksges, although Chloe did not see pr carry any of them away. And who was this person?" "Miss Tuttle." S When the murmur which had hailed bis startllnar turn in the incmirr had nbslded the coroner drew a deep heath and. with an uneasy glance at Jury, who, to a man, seemed to lah themselves well out of this job. t dismissed the cook, and summoned fresh witness. Her name made the people stare. "Miss Nlxen." ' Miss Nixon! That was a name well bown In Washington; almost as well oovn as that of Uncle David or even Mr. Tallman. What could this paint and characteristic little body Vve to do with this case of doubtful Vldde? A word will explain. She a thm Mnon wtwt n ths 1 a v Hofnr d made that loud exclamation when e box containing the ribbon and the sjol had been disclosed to the Jury. As her fussy little figure came for- rd some nudged and some laughed. saibly because her bonnet was not this year's style, possibly because r manner was peculiar and as full oddities as her attire. But they did t laugh long, for the little lady's look ifpfrft If got dlrtregsed. The make, the whole roomful of eager spec tators craned forward and were star tled enough when he asked "Did you ever see a bow like this be fore ?" Her answer came In the faintest of tones. "Yes; I have one like It, very like it. so like It that yesterday I could not suppress an exclamation on seeing this one." ". . ' "Where did you get the one you have? Who fashioned it, I mean, or tied It for you, If that Is what I ought to say?" "It was tied for me by Miss Tuttle. She is a friend of mine, or was, and a very good one, and one day while watching me struggling with a piece of ribbon which I wanted made Into a bow she took it from my hand and tied a knot for which I was very much obliged to her. It was very pretty." "And like this?" "Almost exactly, sir." "Have you that knot with you?" She had. "Will you show it to the Jury?" Heaving a sigh which she had much better have suppressed, she opened a little bag she carried at her side and took out a pink satin bow. It had been tied by a deft hand, and more than one pair of eyes fell significantly at sight of it. Amid a silence which was intense two or three other witnesses were called to prove that Miss Tuttle's skill in bow tying was exceptional and was often made use of not only by mem bers of her household, but, as in Miss Nixon's .case, by outsiders, the special style shown in the one under consider ation being the favorite. During nil this I kept my eyes on Mr. Jeffrey. When finaily several persons of both sexes were brought forward to prove that his attentions to Miss Tut tle had once been sufficiently marked for an announcement of their engage ment to be dally looked for, he let his head fall forward on his breast as If the creeping horror which had seized him was too much for his brain if not for his heart. The final blow was struck when the man whom I had my self, seen in Alexandria testified to the contretemps which had occurred in At lantic City, an additional point being given to it by the repetition of some old conversation, raked up for the pur pose, by which an effort was made to prove that Ms Tuttle found It hard to forgive injuries even from those nearest and dearest to her. This sub ject might have been prolonged, but some of the Jury objected, and the time being now ripe for the great event of the day the name of the lady Jaerself was called. After so significant a preamble the mere utterance of Miss Tuttle's name had almost the force of an accusation, but the dignity with which she rose calmed all minds and subdued every expression of feeling. She faltered only when by chance, she glanced at the shrinking figure of Francis Jeffrey. Her name, which she uttered with out emphasis and yet In a way to arouse attention, sank Into all hearts i;WIia can"you teli ua about the iu ierview you had with your sister prior to her going out on the night of her ieathr "Very little except that it differed en tirely from what is generally supposed. She dil not come to nay room for con rcrsntlon, but simply to tell ine that ?!: b"C an engagement. Jhe "was in in c .v4:cd mood. t but paid nothing to ilarm me. l"ae even laugLed when she .eft me. perhaps to put nie off my rjiard. perhaps because she was no onger responsible." "Did she know that Mr. Jeffrey had visited you earlier, in the day? Did she cake any allusion to it. I mean?" "None at ail. She shrugged her sboul lers when I asked if she was well and anticipated all further questions by running from the room. She was al ways capricious in her ways and never more so than at that moment. Would to God that it had been different! Would to fiod that she had shown her eelf to be a suffering woman! Then I might hare reached her heart and this tragedy would hare been averted." The coroner favored t-se witness with a look of respect, perhaps because his nest question must necessarily be cruel. "Is that all you hare to Ray concern ing this important visit, the last you held with your sister before her death?" "No, sir; there is something else something which I should like to relate to this jury. When she came into my room she held in her hand a white rib bonthat is, she held the two ends of a long satin ribbon which seemed to come from her pocket. Handing those two ends to me, she asked me to tie them about her wrist. A knot under and a bow on top, she said, 'so that it cannot slip off. As this was some thing I had often been called on to do for her, I showed no hesitation in com plying with her request. Indeed I felt none. I thought it was her fan or her bouquet she held concealed in the folds of her dress, but it proved to be gentlemen, you know what. I pray that you will not oblige me to mention it." It was such a stroke as no lawyer would have advised her to make. I heard afterward that she had refuseO the offices of a dozen lawj-ers who had proffered her their services. But, ut tered as it was with a noble air and a certain dignified serenity, It had a great effect upon those about her and turned in a moment the wavering tide of favor In her direction. The coroner, who doubtless was per fectly acquainted with the explanation with which she had provided herself, but who perhaps did not look for it to Chloe again soniewhere liear'tlie end? he was in a hurry or she would return and do it herself. As she and Mr. Jeffrey had parted in anger, I hailed with joy this evidence of her desire for a reconciliation, and it was in obedience to her request, the singular ity of wh!cu did not strike me as forcibly then as now, that I went to the shelves In her room and took down the book." "And did you find the note where she said?" "Yes. and put it in toward, the end of the story." - - "Nothing more? Did you read the note?" "It was folded," was Miss Tuttle's quiet answer. "You did not remain before these bookshelves long?" observed the cor oner. "Yon have a witness who knows more about that than I do," she sug gested, and, doubtless aware of the temerity of this reply, waited with un moved countenance, but with a visibly bounding breast, for what would doubtless prove a fresh attack. It was a violent one and of a char acter she was least fitted to meet. Tak ing up the box I have so often men tioned, the coroner drew away the ribbon lying on top and disclosed the pistol. In a moment her hands were over her ears. "Why do you do that?" he asked. "Did you " think I was going to dis charge It?" She smiled pitifully as she let her hands fall again. "I have a dread of firearms," she ex plained. "I always have had. Now they are simply terrilia to me, and this one' "I understand," said the coroner, with a slight glance in the direction of Durbin. They had evidently planned this test together on the strength of an idea suggested to Durbin by her for mer action when the memory of this shot was recalled to her. "Your horror seems to He in the di rection of the noise they make," con tinued her Inexorable interlocutor. "One would say you had heard this pistol discharged." Instantly a complete breaking up of her hitherto well maintained compo sure altered her whole aspect, and she vehemently cried: "I did, I did! I was on Waverley avenue that night, and I heard tbe shot which in all probability ended my sis ter's le. I walked. farther than I in tended. I strolled Into the street which had such bitter memories for us, and I heard no, I was not In search of my sister. I had not associated my sister's going out with any Intention of visiting-this house. I wo merely troubled in mind and anxious and and" "And so under a similar Impulse you, as well as Mr. Jeffrey, chose this un canny place to ramble in. To all ap pearance that od hearth acted much more like a loadstone upon members of your family than you were willing at one time to acknowledge." "You say 'ramble through.' Do you for a moment think that I entered that old house?" "Miss Tuttle," was the grave, almost sad, reply, 'did you not know that in some earth, dropped from a flowerpot overturned at the time when a hundred guests flew In terror from this house, there Is to be seen the mark of a foot step a footstep which you are at lib erty to measure with your own?" "Ah!" she murmured, her hands go ins up to her face. But In another moment she had dropped them and looked directly at the coroner. Niii Tuttle h iol I ran m dly from the house." "Where?" "Homa." "But It was half past 10 when you got home." "Was it?" "It was half past 10 when the man came to tell you of your sister's death." "It may have been." 'Your sister is supposed to have died in a few minutes. Where were you in the Interim?" "God knows. I do not" A wild look vpas creeping into her face, and her figure was swaying, but she soon steadied it. I have never seen a more admirable presence main tained In the face of a dreadful humil iation. "Perhaps I can help you," rejoined the coroner not unkindly. "Were you not in the Congressional library look ing up at the lunettes and gorgeously painted walls?" "I?" Her eyes opened wide In won dering doubt "If I was I did not know it I have no remembrance of it." "Your condition of mind and that of Mr. Jeffrey seem to have been strange ly alike," remarked the coroner. "No, no!" she protested. "Arguing a like source." "No, no," she cried again, this time with positive agony. Then, with an effort which awakened respect for her powers of mind. If for nothing else, she desperately added: "I cannot say what was in his heart that night but I know what was In mine dread of that old house, To which I had been drawn in spite1 of myself, possibly by the force of the tragedy going on in side It. culminating In a delirium of terror which sent me flying in an op posite direction from my home and into places I had been accustomed to visit when my heart was light and un troubled." "Another question. Miss Tuttle. When you heard a pistol shot soundt ing from the depths of that dark li- j , f ft (5)1 T7 Gctfuin oiher W. JTa 4inifredyT Km e Raymond Citv Coal. splints, we sell it at the Anthracite, Jackson, Coke We especially recommend our While it . costs more than same price. Also handle etc. RICIHIMO Office and Yard West Third and Chestnut St. PHONES: Horn 941; Bell 10 R. CO AIL Co. pan, fcirjts to' the close ofthese re markable proceedings a dramatic cli max which set all hearts beating and. I am bound 'to say, all tongues wag ging till the room cleared. M antedate his attack, bowed in quiet ac knowledgment of her request and then Immediately proceeded to ignore it. 'I should be glad to spare you." he said, "but I do not find It possible. You knew that Mr. Jeffrey had a pis tol r "I did." "That It was kept in their apart ment?" "Yes." "In tbe upper drawer ot a certain bureau?" "Yes."' "Now, Miss Tuttle, will you tell us why you went to that drawer If you did go to that drawer Immediately after Mrs. Jeffrey left the house?" She had probably felt this question coming, not only since the coronerl o grfat a dread of it. with more or less disturbance. "Alice Cora Tuttle!" How In days gone by, and not so long gone by ei ther, those three words bad aroused Che enthusiasm of many' a gallant man and inspired the toast at many a gal lant, feast!- They had their charm yet if ne heightened color observable on many a cheek' there was a true index to the quickening heart below. "How are you connected with tbe deceased Mrs. Jeffrey T' "I ara the child of her mother by a former husband. We "were half sis ters." No bitterness in this statement, only in Infinite sadness. , The coroner con tinued to question her. ne asked for n account of her childhood and forced ber to lay bare the nature of her rela tions with her sister. But little was gained by this, for their relations seem ed to have been, of a sympathetic char acter up to the time of Veronica's re turn from school, when they changed somewhat but how or why Miss Tut tle was naturally averse to saying. Indeed she almost refused to do so, and the coroner, feeling his point gain ed more by this refusal than I - any admission she might have made, did not press this subject, but passed on to what interested us more the vari ous unexplained actions on her part which pointed toward crime. HI first Inquiry was in reference to the conversation held between her and Mr. Jeffrey at tile time he visited her room. ' We had listened to his account of It, and now we wished to hear hers. But the cue which had been given her by this very account had been invalua ble to her, and her testimony naturally coincided with his.- We found our selves not an inch advanced. They had talked of her sister's follies, and the had advised patience, and that was all she could say. on the subject all the would say, as w presently saw. began to speak, but ever since the evi dence elicited from Loretta proved that her visit to this drawer had been se cretly observed. Yet she had no an swer ready. "I did not gofor the pistol," she finally declared. But she did not say what she had gone for and the coroner did not press her. "You had another errand In that room ?" She let her head droop Just a trifle. "Alas!" she murmured. "You went to the bookshelves and took out a book with a peculiar cover, a cover which Mr. Jeffrey has already recognized as that of the book in which he found a certain note." "You have said It" she faltered. "Did you take such a book out?" "I did' "For what purpose, Miss Tuttle?" She had meant to answer quickly, but some consideration made her hesi tate and the .words were long in com ing. When she did speak It was to say: "My sister asked another favor of me after I had tied the ribbon. Pausing in her passage to the door, she inform- Mias Nixon ed me in a tone quite in keeping with her whole manner, that sn had left a note for her husband in the book they were reading together. Her reason for doing this, she said, was the very natural one of wishing him to come upon it by chance, but as she had placed it in the front of the book. In stead of in the back where they were reading, she was afraid that he would fail to flai it . Would I be so good as !V&&&-!XiJpa ier.Jier.-aad. i&sextut "I walked there I never said that"! did not walk there when I went later to see my sister and In sight of a num ber of detectives passed- straight through tbe halls and Into the library. "And that this footstep," inexorably proceeded the coroner, "Is not in a line with the main thoroughfare extending from the front to the back of the house, but turned Inward toward tbe wall, as if she who made it had stopped to lean her head against the partition?" Miss Tuttle's head drooped. "If I went into the house," she said, "It was not to enter that room. I had fat a dread of it. If I rested my head against the wall it was in terror of that shot. It came so suddenly and was so frightful, so much more fright ful than anything you can conceive." "Then you did enter the house?" "I did." " "And it was while you were Inside, Instead of outside, that you heard the shot?" "I must admit that too. I was at the library door." "You acknowledge that?" "I do." "But you did not enter the library?" "No, not then; not till I was taken back by the officer who told me of my sister's death." "We are glad to hear this precise statement from you. It encourages me to ask again the nature of the freak which took you into this house. You say that it was not from any dread on your sister's account What, then, was It? No evasive answer will satis fy us, Miss Tuttle." "I cannot answer," she said. "We will not oblige you to," said the coroner. "However," he now went on with suddenly assumed severity, "you may answer this: Was tbe house dark or light when you entered it? And how did you get in?" "The house was dark, and I got In through the front door, which I found ajar." "You are more courageous than most women! I fear there are few of your sex who could be induced to enter It in broad daylight and under, every suit able protection." She raised her figure proudly. "Miss Tuttle, you have heard Chloe say that you were In the kitchen of Mr. Jeffrey's house when the grocer boy delivered the candles which had been left by your brother-in-law on the counter of the store where he bought them. Is this true?" ' "Yes, sir, it is true." "Did you see those candles? "No, sir." "You did not see them?" "No, sir." "Yet you went over to the table?" "Yes, sir, but I did not meddle with the packages. I had really no business with them." The coroner, surveying her sadly, went quickly on. as if anxious to termi nate this painful examination. Too have not told us what yon did "riZTLhrd bt pistol shot." , "TT i brary, what did you think it meant?" "Something dreadful; something su perstitious. It Was night, you remem ber, and at night one has such horri ble thoughts." "Yet an hour or two later you de- .clared that the hearth was no load stone. You forg" its horrors and your superstition upon returning to your own house." "It might be," she murmured, "but, if so. they soon returned. I had reason for my horror, if not for my supersti tion, as the event showed." The coroner did not attempt to con trovert this. He was about to launch a final inquiry. "Miss Tuttle, upon the return ot yourself and Mr. Jeffrey to your home after your final visit to the Moore house, did you have any interview that was without witnesses?" "No." ;j "Did you exchange any words?" "I think we did exchange some words; it would be only natural." "Are you willing to state what words?" She looked dazed and appeared to search her memory. "I don't think I can," she objected. "But something was said by you and some answer was made by him?" "I believe so." "Cannot you say definitely V- t "We ma speaic ' y "In English?" "No, in French. "Cannot you translate that French for us?" "Pardon me, sir; it was so long ago my memory fails me." "Is it any better for the second and longer interview between you the next day?" "No sir." "You cannot give us any phrase or word that was uttered there?" "No."v "Is this your final reply on this sub ject?" "It Is." Simultaneously with her withdrawal the gleam of sensibility left the faces of the Jury, and the dark and brooding loolf. which had marked their counte nances from tbe beginning returned, and returned to stay. The celerity with which that Jury ar rived at its verdict was a shock to us all. It had been a quiet body, offering but little assistance to the coroner in his ouestionine. but when it fell to these men to act, the precision with whiebthey did so was astonishing. In a half hour they returned from the room into which they had adjourned, and the foreman gave warning that he was prepared to render a verdict Mr. Jeffrey and Mies Tuttle both clinched their hands; then Miss Tuttle pulled down her veil. "We find," said the solemn foreman, that Veronica Moore Jeffrey, who on tbe night of May 11 was discovered lying dead on the floor of ber own un occupied house in Waverley avenue, came to her death by means of a bullet, shot from a pistol connected to her wrist by a length of white satin rib bon. "That the first conclusion of suicide is not fully sustained by tbe facts. "And that attempt should be made to identify the hand that fired this pistol." It was as near an accusation of Miss Tuttle as was possible without men tioning her name. A groan passed through the assemblage, and Mr. Jef frey, bounding to his feet, showed an inclination to shout aloud in his vio lent Indignation, but Miss Tuttle, turn ing toward him, lifted her hand with a commanding gesture and held It so till be sat down again. It was tyrth a majestic and an utter- ly iaeajapreaenalbje movemfcl on her ; CHAPTER XVI. EANWHILE, and before any of us had left this room, one fact had become apparent Mr. Jeffrey was not going to volunteer any fresh statement in face of the distinct disapproval of his sister-in-law. As his eye fell upon the dis trict attorney, who bad lingered near, possibly in the hone of crettinc some thing more from this depressed and I almost insensible man, he made one re- mark, but It was an automatic one. calculated to produce but little effect on the discriminating ears of this ex perienced official. "I do not believe that my wife was murdered." This was what he said. "It was a wicked verdict. My wife killed herself. Wasn't tbe pistol found tied to her?" Meanwhile a fact which all had not ed and commented on had recurred to my mind and caused me to ask a brother officer who was walking out beside me what he thought of Mr. Moore's absence from an inquiry pre sumably of such importance to all members of his family. The fellow laughed and 6aidr "Old Dave has lost none of his pecul iarities in walking into his fortune. This is his day at tbe cemetery. Didn't you know that? Re will let nothing on earth get in the way of his pilgrimage to that spot on the 23d of May, much less so trivial an occurrence as an in quest over the remains of his nearest relative." I felt my gorge rise; then a thought struck me and I asked how long the old gentleman kept up his watch. "From sunrise to sundown, the boys say. I never saw him there myself. My beat lies in an opposite direction." I left him and started for Rock Creek cemetery. There were two good hours yet before sundown and I resolved to come upon Uncle David at his post. It took Just one hour and a quarter to get there by the .most direct route I could take, five minutes more to pen etrate the grounds to where a superb vehicle stood, drawn by two of the finest horses I had seen in Washington for many a long day. As I was mak ing my way around this equipage I came upon a plot In a condition of up heaval preparatory to new sodding and the planting of several choice shrubs. In the midst of the sand thus exposed a single headstone rose. On his knees leside this simple monument I saw the tfCTiro of Uncle David, dressed In his finest clothes und showing, iu his Unci Dti4 n kia fcnaca t Ike gra oddly contorted face the satisfaction of great prosperity battling with the dissatisfaction of knowing that one he had so loved had not lived to share his elevation. He was rubbing away the mold from tbe name which, by bis own confession, was the only one to which his memory clung In sympathy or en dearment At his feet lay an open basket, in which I detected the remains of what must have been a rather sumptuous cold repast To all appear ance he had foregone none of his an-" cient customs; only those customs had taken on elegance with his rise in for tune. Tbe carriage and the horses and, most of all, the Imperturbable driver seemed to awaken some awe in the boys. They were still In evidence, but they hung back sheepishly and eyed the basket of neglected food as if they hoped he would forget to take it away. Meanwhile tbe clattering of chains against the harness, the pawing of the horses and the low exclamations of the driver caused me the queerest feelings. Advancing quite unceremoniously upon the watcher by the grave, I remarked aloud: "The setting sun will soon release you, Mr. Moore. Are you going lmiu dlately into town?" . 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