The Circular Study, by Anna Katherine Green

Chapter 12

Thomas Explains.

Mr. Gryce was not above employing a little finesse. He had expressed his intention of following Mr. Adams, and he did follow him, but so immediately that he not only took the same train, but sat in the same car. He wished to note at his leisure the bearing of this young man, who interested him in quite a different way from what he had anticipated, a way that vaguely touched his own conscience and made him feel his years as he had no right to feel them when he had just brought to an end an intricate and difficult pursuit.

Seated at a distance, he watched with increasing interest the changes which passed over his prisoner’s handsome countenance. He noted the calmness which now marked the features he had so lately seen writhing in deepest agony, and wondered from what source the strength came which enabled this young man to sit so stoically under the eyes of people from whose regard, an hour before, he had shrunk with such apparent suffering. Was it that courage comes with despair? Or was he too absorbed in his own misery to note the shadow it cast about him? His brooding brow and vacant eye spoke of a mind withdrawn from present surroundings. Into what depths of remorse, who could say? Certainly not this old detective, seasoned though he was by lifelong contact with criminals, some of them of the same social standing and cultured aspect as this young man.

At the station in Brooklyn he rejoined his prisoner, who scarcely looked up as he approached. In another hour they were at Police Headquarters and the serious questioning of Mr. Adams had begun.

He did not attempt to shirk it. Indeed, he seemed anxious to talk. He had a burden on his mind, and longed to throw it off. But the burden was not of the exact nature anticipated by the police. He did not acknowledge having killed his brother, but confessed to having been the incidental cause of that brother’s death. The story he told was this:

“My name is Cadwalader, not Adams. My father, a Scotchman by birth, was a naturalized citizen of Pennsylvania, having settled in a place called Montgomery when a young married man. He had two children then, one of whom died in early life; the other was my brother Felix, whose violent death under the name of Adams you have called me here to explain. I am the fruit of a later marriage, entered into by my father some years after leaving Montgomery. When I was born he was living in Harrisburg, but, as he left there shortly after I had reached my third year, I have no remembrances connected with that city. Indeed, my recollections are all of very different scenes than this country affords. My mother having died while I was still an infant, I was sent very early in life to the Old World, from which my father had originally come. When I returned, which was not till this very year, I found my father dying, and my brother a grown man with money — a great deal of money — which I had been led to think he was ready to share with me. But after my father was laid away, Felix” (with what effort he uttered that name!) “Felix came to New York, and I was left to wander about without settled hopes or any definite promise of means upon which to base a future or start a career. While wandering, I came upon the town where my father had lived in early youth, and, hunting up his old friends, I met in the house of one who had come over from Scotland with my father a young lady” (how his voice shook, and with what a poignant accent he uttered that beloved name) “in whom I speedily became interested to the point of wishing to marry her. But I had no money, no business, no home to give her, and, as I was fain to acknowledge, no prospects. Still I could not give up the hope of making her my wife. So I wrote to my brother, Felix Cadwalader, or, rather, Felix Adams, as he preferred to be called in later years for family reasons entirely disconnected with the matter of his sudden demise, and, telling him I had become interested in a young girl of good family and some wealth, asked him to settle upon me a certain sum which would enable me to marry her with some feeling of self-respect. My only answer was a repetition of the vague promise he had thrown out before. But youth is hopeful, even to daring, and I decided to make her mine without further parley, in the hope that her beauty and endearing qualities would win from him, at first view, the definite concession he had so persistently denied me.

“This I did, and the fault with which I have most to reproach myself is that I entered into this alliance without taking her or her father into my confidence. They thought me well off, possibly rich, and while Mr. Poindexter is a man of means, I am sure, if he had known I had nothing but the clothes I wore and the merest trifle in the way of pocket money, he would have cried halt to the marriage, for he is a very ambitious man and considers his daughter well worth a millionaire’s devotion — as she is.

“Felix (you must pardon me if I show no affection for my brother — he was a very strange man) was notified of my marriage, but did not choose to witness it, neither did he choose to prohibit it; so it was conducted quietly, with strangers for witnesses, in a hotel parlor. Then, with vague hopes, as well as certain vague fears, I prepared to take my young bride into the presence of my brother, who, hardened as he was by years of bachelorhood, could not be so entirely impervious to feminine charms as not to recognize my wife as a woman deserving of every consideration.

“But I had counted without my host. When, two days after the ceremony which had made us one, I took her to the house which has since become so unhappily notorious, I found that my brother had but shown me one facet, and that the least obdurate, of his many-sided nature.

“Brilliant as steel, he was as hard, and not only professed himself unmoved by my wife’s many charms, but also as totally out of sympathy with such follies as love and marriage, which were, he said, the fruit of unoccupied minds and a pastime wholly unworthy of men boasting of such talents and attainments as ourselves. Then he turned his back upon us, and I, moved by an anger little short of frenzy, began an abuse for which he was so little prepared that he crouched like a man under blows, and, losing minute by minute his self-control, finally caught up a dagger lying close at hand, and crying, ‘You want my money? Well, then, take it!’ stabbed himself to the heart with one desperate blow.

“I fear I shall not be believed, but that is the story of this crime, gentlemen.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55