WHITE BOW AND PINK
Mr. Jeffrey's examination and its triumphant conclusion created a great furor in town. Topics which had hitherto absorbed all minds were forgotten in the discussion of the daring attempt which had been made by the police to fix crime upon one of Washington's most esteemed citizens, and the check which they had rightly suffered for this outrage. What might be expected next? Something equally bold and reprehensible, of course, but what? It was a question which at the next sitting completely filled the inquest room.
To my great surprise, Mr. Jeffrey was recalled to the stand. He had changed since the night before. He looked older, and while still handsome, for nothing could rob him of his regularity of feature and extreme elegance of proportion, showed little of the spirit which, in spite of the previous day's depression, had upheld him through its most trying ordeal and kept his eye bright, if only from excitement. This was fact number one, and one which I stored away in my already well-furnished memory.
Miss Tuttle sat in a less conspicuous position than on the previous day, and Mr. Moore, her uncle, was not thereat all.
The testimony called for revived an old point which, seemingly, had not been settled to the coroner's satisfaction.
Had Mr. Jeffrey placed the small stand holding the candelabrum on the spot where it had been found? No. Had he carried into the house, at the time of his acknowledged visit, the candles which had been afterward discovered there? No. He had had time to think since his hesitating and unsatisfactory replies of the day before, and he was now in a position to say that while he distinctly remembered buying candles on his way to the Moore house, he had not found them in his pocket on getting there and had been obliged to make use of the matches he always carried on his person in order to find his way to the upstairs room where he felt positive he would find a candle.
This gave the coroner an opportunity to ask:
"And why did you expect to find a candle there?"
The answer astonished me and, I have no doubt, many others.
"It was the room in which my wife had dressed for the ceremony. It had not been disturbed since that time. My wife had little ways of her own; one was to complete her toilet by using a curling iron on a little lock she wore over her temple. When at home she heated this curling iron in the gas jet, but there being no gas in the Moore house, I naturally concluded that she had made use of a candle, as the curl had been noticeable under her veil."
Oh, the weariness in his tone! I could scarcely interpret it. Was he talking by rote, or was he utterly done with life and all its interests? No one besides myself seemed to note this strange passivity. To the masses he was no longer a suffering man, but an individual from whom information was to be got. The next question was a vital one.
He had accounted for one candle in the house; could he account for the one found in the tumbler or for the one lying crushed and battered on the closet floor?
He could not.
And now we all observed a change of direction in the inquiry. Witnesses were summoned to corroborate Mr. Jeffrey's statements, statements which it seemed to be the coroner's present wish to establish. First came the grocer who had sold Mr. Jeffrey the candles. He acknowledged, much to Jinny's discomfort, that an hour after Mr. Jeffrey had left the store, he had found on the counter the package which that gentleman had forgotten to take. Poor Jinny had not stayed long enough to hear his story out. The grocer finished his testimony by saying that immediately upon his discovery he had sent the candles to Mr. Jeffrey's house.
This the coroner caused to be emphasized to such an extent that we were all convinced of its importance. But as yet his purpose was not evident save to those who were more in his confidence than myself.
The other witnesses were men from Rauchers, who had acted as waiters at the time of the marriage. One of them testified that immediately on Miss Moore's arrival he had been sent for a candle and a box of matches. The other, that he had carried up to her room a large candelabrum from the drawing-room mantel. A pair of curling tongs taken from the dressing table of this room was next produced, together with other articles of toilet use which had been allowed to remain there uncared for, though they were of solid silver and of beautiful design.
The next witness was a member of Mr. Jeffrey's own household. Chloe was her name, and her good black face worked dolefully as she admitted that the package of candles which the grocer boy had left on the kitchen table, with the rest of the groceries on the morning of that dreadful day when "Missus" killed herself, was not to be found when she came to put the things away. She had looked and looked for it, but it was not there.
Further inquiry brought out the fact that but one other member of the household was in the kitchen when these groceries were delivered; and that this person gave a great start when the boy shouted out, "The candles there were bought by Mr. Jeffrey," and hurried over to the table and handled the packages, although Chloe did not see her carry any of them away.
"And who was this person?"
With the utterance of this name the veil fell from the coroner's intentions and the purpose of this petty but prolonged inquiry stood revealed. It was to all a fearful and impressive moment. To me it was as painful as it was triumphant. I had not anticipated such an outcome when I put my wits to work to prove that murder, and not suicide, was answerable for young Mrs. Jeffrey's death.
When the murmur which had hailed this startling turn in the inquiry had subsided, the coroner drew a deep breath, and, with an uneasy glance at the jury, who, to a man, seemed to wish themselves well out of this job, he dismissed the cook and summoned a fresh witness.
Her name made the people stare.
Miss Nixon! That was a name well known in Washington; almost as well known as that of Uncle David, or even of Mr. Tallman. What could this quaint and characteristic little body have to do with this case of doubtful suicide? A word will explain. She was the person who, on the day before, had made that loud exclamation when the box containing the ribbon and the pistol had been disclosed to the jury.
As her fussy little figure came forward, some nudged and some laughed, possibly because her bonnet was not of this year's style, possibly because her manner was peculiar and as full of oddities as her attire. But they did not laugh long, for the little lady's look was appealing, if not distressed. The fact that she was generally known to possess one of the largest bank accounts in the District, made any marked show of disrespect toward her a matter of poor judgment, if not of questionable taste.
The box in the coroner's hand prepared us for what was before us. As he opened it and disclosed again the dainty white bow which, as I have before said, was of rather a fantastic make, the whole roomful of eager spectators craned forward and were startled enough when he asked:
"Did you ever see a bow like this before?"
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?"
"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 members of her household, but, as in Miss Nixon's case, by outsiders; the special style shown in the one under consideration being the favorite.
During all this, I kept my eyes on Mr. Jeffrey. It had now become so evident which way the coroner's inquiries tended that I wished to be the first to note their effect on him. It was less marked than I had anticipated. The man seemed benumbed by accumulated torment and stared at the witnesses filing before him as if they were part of some wild phantasmagoria which confused, without enlightening him. When finally several persons of both sexes were brought forward to prove that his attentions to Miss Tuttle had once been sufficiently marked for an announcement of their engagement to be daily 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 myself seen in Alexandria testified to the contretemps which had occurred in Atlantic City; an additional point being given to it by the repetition of some old conversation raked up for the purpose, by which an effort was made to prove that Miss Tuttle found it hard to forgive injuries even from those nearest and dearest to her. This subject 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 herself 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. I could but marvel at her self-poise and noble equanimity, and asked myself if, in the few days which had passed since first the murmur of something more serious than suicide had gone about, she had so schooled herself for all emergencies that nothing could shake her self-possession, not even the suggestion that a woman of her beauty and distinction could be concerned in a crime. 0r had she within herself some great source of strength, which sustained her in this most dreadful ordeal? All were on watch to see. When the veil dropped from before her features and she stepped into the full sight of the expectant crowd, it was not the beauty of her face, notable and conspicuous as that was, which roused the hum of surprise that swept from one end of the room to the other, but the calmness, almost the elevation of her manner, a calmness and elevation so unlooked for in the light of the strange contradictions offered by the evidence to which we had been listening for a day and a half, that all were affected; many inclined even to believe her innocent of any undue connection with her sister's death before she had stretched forth her hand to take the oath.
I was no exception to the rest. Though I had exerted myself from the first to bring matters to a climax--but not to this one--I experienced such a shock under the steady gaze of her sad but gentle eyes, that I found myself recoiling before my own presumption with something like secret shame till I was relieved by the thought that a perfectly innocent woman would show more feeling at so false and cruel a position. I felt that only one with something to conceal would turn so calm a front upon men ready, as she knew, to fix upon her a great crime. This conviction steadied me and made me less susceptible to her grace and to the tone of her quiet voice and the far-away sadness of her look. She faltered only when by chance she glanced at the shrinking figure of Francis Jeffrey.
Her name which she uttered without emphasis and yet in a way to arouse attention sank into all hearts with more or less disturbance. "Alice Cora Tuttle!" How in days gone by, and not so long gone by, either, those three words had aroused the enthusiasm of many a gallant man and inspired the toast at many a gallant feast! They had their charm yet, if the heightened color observable on many a cheek there was a true index to the quickening heart below.
"How are you connected with the deceased Mrs. Jeffrey?"
"I am the child of her mother by a former husband. We were half-sisters."
No bitterness in this statement, only an infinite sadness. The coroner continued to question her. He asked for an account of her childhood, and forced her to lay bare the nature of her relations with her sister. But little was gained by this, for their relations seemed to have been of a sympathetic character up to the time of Veronica's return from school, when they changed somewhat; but how or why, Miss Tuttle was naturally averse to saying. Indeed she almost refused to do so, and the coroner, feeling his point gained more by this refusal than by any admission she might have made, did not press this subject but passed on to what interested us more: the various unexplained actions on her part which pointed toward crime.
His first inquiry was in reference to the conversation held between her and Mr. Jeffrey at the 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 invaluable to her, and her testimony naturally coincided with his. We found ourselves not an inch advanced. They had talked of her sister's follies and she had advised patience, and that was all she could say on the subject--all she would say, as we presently saw.
The coroner introduced a fresh topic.
"What can you tell us about the interview you had with you sister prior to her going out on the night of her death?"
"Very little, except that it differed entirely from what is generally supposed. She did not come to my room for conversation but simply to tell me that she had an engagement. She was in an excited mood but said nothing to alarm me. She even laughed when she left me; perhaps to put me off my guard, perhaps because she was no longer responsible."
"Did she know that Mr. Jeffrey had visited you earlier in the day? Did she make any allusion to it, I mean?"
"None at all. She shrugged her shoulders when I asked if she was well, and anticipated all further questions by running from the room. She was always capricious in her ways and never more so than at that moment. Would to God that it had been different! Would to God that she had shown herself to be a suffering woman! Then I might have reached her heart and this tragedy would have been averted."
The coroner favored the witness with a look of respect, perhaps because his next question must necessarily be cruel.
"Is that all you have to say concerning 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 ribbon; that 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 can not slip off.' As this was something I had often been called on to do for her, I showed no hesitation in complying 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 refused the offices of a dozen lawyers who had proffered her their services. But uttered 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 perfectly acquainted with the explanation with which she had provided herself, but who perhaps did not look for it to antedate his attack, bowed in quiet acknowledgment of her request and then immediately proceeded to ignore it.
"I should be glad to spare you," said he, "but I do not find it possible. You knew that Mr. Jeffrey had a pistol?"
"That it was kept in their apartment?"
"In the upper drawer of a certain bureau?"
"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 coroner began to speak but ever since the evidence elicited from Loretta proved that her visit to this drawer had been secretly observed. Yet she had no answer ready.
"I did not go for the pistol," she finally declared. But she did not say what she had gone for, and the coroner did not press her.
Again the tide swung back.
She seemed to feel the change but did not show it in the way naturally looked for. Instead of growing perturbed or openly depressed she bloomed into greater beauty and confronted with steadier eye, not us, but the men she instinctively faced as the tide of her fortunes began to lower. Did the coroner perceive this and recognize at last both the measure of her attractions and the power they were likely to carry with them? Perhaps, for his voice took an acrid note as he declared:
"You had another errand in that room?"
She let her head droop just a trifle.
"Alas!" she murmured.
"You went to the book-shelves 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?"
"For what purpose, Miss Tuttle?"
She had meant to answer quickly. But some consideration made her hesitate and the words were long in coming; 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 informed me in a tone quite in keeping with her whole manner, that she 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 instead of in the back where they were reading, she was afraid that he would fail to find it. Would I be so good as to take it out for her and insert it again somewhere near the end? She 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 singularity of which 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. Certainly this woman was a thoroughbred or else she was an adept in deception such as few of us had ever encountered. The gentleness of her manner, the easy tone, the quiet eyes, eyes in whose dark depths great passions were visible, but passions that were under the control of an equally forcible will, made her a puzzle to all men's minds; but it was a fascinating puzzle that awoke a species of awe in those who attempted to understand her. To all appearances she was the unlikeliest woman possible to cherish criminal intents, yet her answers were rather clever than convincing, unless you allowed yourself to be swayed by the look of her beautiful face or the music of her rich, sad voice.
"You did not remain before these book-shelves long?" observed the coroner.
"You have a witness who knows more about that than I do," she suggested; and doubtless aware of the temerity of this reply, waited with unmoved countenance, but with a visibly bounding breast, for what would doubtless prove a fresh attack.
It was a violent one and of a character she was least fitted to meet. Taking up the box I have so often mentioned, 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 discharge it?"
She smiled pitifully as she let her hands fall again.
"I have a dread of firearms," she explained. "I always have had. Now they are simply terrible 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 former action when the memory of this shot was recalled to her.
"Your horror seems to lie in the direction of the noise they make," continued her inexorable interlocutor. "One would say you had heard this pistol discharged."
Instantly a complete breaking-up of her hitherto well maintained composure altered her whole aspect and she vehemently cried:
"I did, I did. I was on Waverley Avenue that night, and I heard the shot which in all probability ended my sister's life. I walked farther than I intended; 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 was merely troubled in mind and anxious and--and -"
She had overrated her strength or her cleverness. She found herself unable to finish the sentence, and so did not try. She had been led by the impulse of the moment farther than she had intended, and, aghast at her own imprudence, paused with her first perceptible loss of courage before the yawning gulf opening before her.
I felt myself seized by a very uncomfortable dread lest her concealments and unfinished sentences hid a guiltier knowledge of this crime than I was yet ready to admit.
The coroner, who is an older man than myself, betrayed a certain satisfaction but no dread. Never did the unction which underlies his sharpest speeches show more plainly than when he quietly remarked:
"And so under a similar impulse you, as well as Mr. Jeffrey, chose this uncanny place to ramble in. To all appearance that old hearth acted much more like a lodestone upon members of your family than you were willing at one time to acknowledge"
This reference to words she had herself been heard to use seemed to overwhelm her. Her calmness fled and she cast a fleeting look of anguish at Mr. Jeffrey. But his face was turned from sight, and, meeting with no help there, or anywhere, indeed, save in her own powerful nature, she recovered as best she could the ground she had lost and, with a trembling question of her own, attempted to put the coroner in fault and reestablish herself.
"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 flower-pot overturned at the time when a hundred guests flew in terror from this house, there is to be seen the mark of a footstep,--a footstep which you are at liberty to measure with your own?"
"Ah!" she murmured, her hands going up to her face.
But in another moment she had dropped them and looked directly at the coroner.
"I walked there--I never said that I did not walk there--when I went later to see my sister and in sight of a number of detectives passed straight through the 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 inwards toward the wall as if she who made it had stopped to lean her head against the partition?"
Miss Tuttle's head drooped. Probably she realized at this moment, if not before, that the coroner and jury had ample excuse for mistrusting one who had been so unmistakably caught in a prevarication; possibly her regret carried her far enough to wish she had not disdained all legal advice from those who had so earnestly offered it. But though she showed alike her shame and her disheartenment, she did not give up the struggle.
"If I went into the house," she said, "it was not to enter that room. I had too great 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 frightful than anything you can conceive."
"Then you did enter the house?"
"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?"
"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 satisfy us, Miss Tuttle."
She realized this as no one else could.
Mr. Jeffrey's reason for his visit there could not be her reason, yet what other had she to give? Apparently none.
"I can not answer," she said.
And the deep sigh which swept through the room was but an echo of the despair with which she saw herself brought to this point.
"We will not oblige you to," said the coroner with apparent consideration. But to those who knew the law against forcing a witness to incriminate himself, this was far from an encouraging concession.
"However," he now went on, with suddenly assumed severity, "you may answer this. Was the 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 suitable 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?"
"You did not see them?"
"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 terminate this painful examination.
"You have not told us what you did when you heard that pistol-shot."
"I ran away as soon as I could move; I ran madly from the house."
"But it was half-past ten when you got home."
"It was half-past ten 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 was creeping into her face, and her figure was swaying. But she soon steadied it. I have never seen a more admirable presence maintained in the face of a dreadful humiliation.
"Perhaps I can help you," rejoined the coroner, not unkindly. "Were you not in the Congressional Library looking up at the lunettes and gorgeously painted walls?"
"I?" Her eyes opened wide in wondering doubt. "If I was, I did not know it. I have no remembrance of it."
She seemed to lose sight of her present position, the cloud under which she rested, and even the construction which might be put upon such a forgetfulness at a time confessedly prior to her knowledge of the purpose and effect of the shot from which she had so incontinently fled.
"Your condition of mind and that of Mr. Jeffrey seem to have been strangely 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 can not 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 spite of myself, possibly by the force of the tragedy going on inside it, culminating in a delirium of terror, which sent me flying in an opposite direction from my home and into places I had been accustomed to visit when my heart was light and untroubled."
The coroner glanced at the jury, who unconsciously shook their heads. He shook his, too, as he returned to the charge.
"Another question, Miss Tuttle. When you heard a pistol-shot sounding from the depths of that dark library, what did you think it meant?"
She put her hands over her ears--it seemed as if she could not prevent this instinctive expression of recoil at the mention of the death-dealing weapon -and in very low tones replied:
"Something dreadful; something superstitious. It was night, you remember, and at night one has such horrible thoughts."
"Yet an hour or two later you declared that the hearth was no lodestone. You forgot 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 superstition, as the event showed."
The coroner did not attempt to controvert this. He was about to launch a final inquiry.
"Miss Tuttle; upon the return of yourself and Mr. Jeffrey to your home after your final visit to the Moore house, did you have any interview that was without witnesses?"
"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."
"Can not you say definitely?"
"We did speak."
"No, in French."
"Can not 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?"
"You can not give us any phrase or word that was uttered there?"
"Is this your final reply on this subject?"
She never had been subjected to an interrogation like this before. It made her proud soul quiver in revolt, notwithstanding the patience with which she had fortified herself. With red cheeks and glistening eyes she surveyed the man who had made her suffer so, and instantly every other man there suffered with her; excepting possibly Durbin, whose heart was never his strong point. But our hearts were moved, our reasons were not convinced, as was presently shown, when, with a bow of dismissal, the coroner released her, and she passed back to her seat.
Simultaneously with her withdrawal the gleam of sensibility left the faces of the jury, and the dark and brooding look which had marked their countenances from the beginning returned, and returned to stay.
What would their verdict be? There were present two persons who affected to believe that it would be one of suicide occasioned by dementia. These were Miss Tuttle and Mr. Jeffrey, who, now that the critical period had come, straightened themselves boldly in their seats and met the glances concentrated upon them with dignity, if not with the assurance of complete innocence. But from the carefulness with which they avoided each other's eyes and the almost identical expression mirrored upon both faces, it was visible to all that they regarded their cause as a common one, and that the link which they denied, as having existed between them prior to Mrs. Jeffrey's death, had in some way been supplied by that very tragedy; so that they now unwittingly looked with the same eyes, breathed with the same breath, and showed themselves responsive to the same fluctuations of hope and fear.
The celerity with which that jury arrived at its verdict was a shock to us all. It had been a quiet body, offering but little assistance to the coroner in his questioning; but when it fell to these men to act, the precision with which they 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 Miss Tuttle both clenched their hands; then Miss Tuttle pulled down her veil.
"We find," said the solemn foreman, "that Veronica Moore Jeffrey, who on the night of May eleventh was discovered lying dead on the floor of her own unoccupied 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 ribbon.
"That the first conclusion of suicide is not fully sustained by the 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 mentioning her name. A groan passed through the assemblage, and Mr. Jeffrey, bounding to his feet, showed an inclination to shout aloud in his violent indignation. But Miss Tuttle, turning toward him, lifted her hand with a commanding gesture and held it so till he sat down again.
It was both a majestic and an utterly incomprehensible movement on her part, giving to the close of these remarkable proceedings a dramatic climax which set all hearts beating and, I am bound to say, all tongues wagging till the room cleared.
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