A few minutes later Mr. Gryce was to be seen in the outer room, gazing curiously at the various persons there collected. He was seeking an answer to a question that was still disturbing his mind, and hoped to find it there. He was not disappointed. For in a quiet corner he encountered the amiable form of Miss Butterworth, calmly awaiting the result of an interference which she in all probability had been an active agent in bringing about.
He approached and smilingly accused her of this. But she disclaimed the fact with some heat.
“I was simply there,” she explained. “When the crisis came, when this young creature learned that her husband had left suddenly for New York in the company of two men, then — why then, it became apparent to every one that a woman should be at her side who understood her case and the extremity in which she found herself. And I was that woman.”
“You are always that woman,” he gallantly replied, “if by the phrase you mean being in the right place at the right time. So you are already acquainted with Mrs. Adams’s story?”
“Yes; the ravings of a moment told me she was the one who had handled the dagger that slew Mr. Adams. Afterward, she was able to explain the cause of what has seemed to us such a horrible crime. When I heard her story, Mr. Gryce, I no longer hesitated either as to her duty or mine. Do you think she will be called upon to answer for this blow? Will she be tried, convicted?”
“Madam, there are not twelve men in the city so devoid of intelligence as to apply the name of crime to an act which was so evidently one of self-defence. No true bill will be found against young Mrs. Adams. Rest easy.”
The look of gloom disappeared from Miss Butterworth’s eyes.
“Then I may return home in peace,” she cried. “It has been a desperate five hours for me, and I feel well shaken up. Will you escort me to my carriage?”
Miss Butterworth did not look shaken up. Indeed, in Mr. Gryce’s judgment, she had never appeared more serene or more comfortable. But she was certainly the best judge of her own condition; and after satisfying herself that the object of her care was reviving under the solicitous ministrations of her husband, she took the arm which Mr. Gryce held out to her and proceeded to her carriage.
As he assisted her in, he asked a few questions about Mr. Poindexter.
“Why is not Mrs. Adams’s father here? Did he allow his daughter to leave him on such an errand as this without offering to accompany her?”
The answer was curtness itself:
“Mr. Poindexter is a man without heart. He came with us to New York, but refused to follow us to Police Headquarters. Sir, you will find that the united passions of three burning souls, and a revenge the most deeply cherished of any I ever knew or heard of, have been thrown away on a man who is positively unable to suffer. Do not mention old John Poindexter to me. And now, if you will be so good, tell the coachman to drive me to my home in Gramercy Park. I have put my finger in the police pie for the last time, Mr. Gryce — positively for the last time.” And she sank back on the carriage cushions with an inexorable look, which, nevertheless, did not quite conceal a quiet complacency which argued that she was not altogether dissatisfied with herself or the result of her interference in matters usually considered at variance with a refined woman’s natural instincts.
Mr. Gryce, in repressing a smile, bowed lower even than his wont, and, under the shadow of this bow, the carriage drove off. As he walked slowly back, he sighed. Was he wondering if a case of similar interest would ever bring them together again in consultation?
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Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55