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The Case of Jennie Brice eBook

Mary Roberts Rinehart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 107 pages of information about The Case of Jennie Brice.

If I let the two children in the dining-room have fifteen big moments, instead of five, who can blame me?

CHAPTER XIV

The next day was the sensational one of the trial.  We went through every phase of conviction:  Jennie Brice was living.  Jennie Brice was dead.  The body found at Sewickley could not be Jennie Brice’s.  The body found at Sewickley was Jennie Brice’s.  And so it went on.

The defense did an unexpected thing in putting Mr. Ladley on the stand.  That day, for the first time, he showed the wear and tear of the ordeal.  He had no flower in his button-hole, and the rims of his eyes were red.  But he was quite cool.  His stage training had taught him not only to endure the eyes of the crowd, but to find in its gaze a sort of stimulant.  He made a good witness, I must admit.

He replied to the usual questions easily.  After five minutes or so Mr. Llewellyn got down to work.

“Mr. Ladley, you have said that your wife was ill the night of March fourth?”

“Yes.”

“What was the nature of her illness?”

“She had a functional heart trouble, not serious.”

“Will you tell us fully the events of that night?”

“I had been asleep when my wife wakened me.  She asked for a medicine she used in these attacks.  I got up and found the bottle, but it was empty.  As she was nervous and frightened, I agreed to try to get some at a drug store.  I went down-stairs, took Mrs. Pitman’s boat, and went to several stores before I could awaken a pharmacist.”

“You cut the boat loose?”

“Yes.  It was tied in a woman’s knot, or series of knots.  I could not untie it, and I was in a hurry.”

“How did you cut it?”

“With my pocket-knife.”

“You did not use Mrs. Pitman’s bread-knife?”

“I did not.”

“And in cutting it, you cut your wrist, did you?”

“Yes.  The knife slipped.  I have the scar still.”

“What did you do then?”

“I went back to the room, and stanched the blood with a towel.”

“From whom did you get the medicine?”

“From Alexander’s Pharmacy.”

“At what time?”

“I am not certain.  About three o’clock, probably.”

“You went directly back home?”

Mr. Ladley hesitated.  “No,” he said finally.  “My wife had had these attacks, but they were not serious.  I was curious to see how the river-front looked and rowed out too far.  I was caught in the current and nearly carried away.”

“You came home after that?”

“Yes, at once.  Mrs. Ladley was better and had dropped asleep.  She wakened as I came in.  She was disagreeable about the length of time I had been gone, and would not let me explain.  We—­quarreled, and she said she was going to leave me.  I said that as she had threatened this before and had never done it, I would see that she really started.  At daylight I rowed her to Federal Street.”

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