From this day Jeannette steadily improved, and within two weeks she and Gwen had come to a very good understanding. It was plainly evident that Alice, too, came in for a very good share of the little French girl’s love. They did not exchange confidences to any great degree, for, as Maitland used to say, Alice was one of those rare, sweet women who say but little, but seem to act upon all around them by a sort of catalysis, sweetening the atmosphere by their very presence.
Belief, though it be as ample as the ocean, does not always similarly swell in crystallising. It has, however, its point of maximum density, but this, not infrequently, is also ifs point of minimum knowledge.
During all these days Gwen was gaining rapidly. Maitland came to visit us almost every night, and he told Gwen that he did not feel altogether certain that, in arresting M. Latour, the law had secured her father’s real assassin. It would be necessary to account for, he told her, some very singular errors in his early calculations if M. Latour was the man.
“When first I took up my abode under the same roof with him,” he said, “I had no doubt that we had at last run down our man. Now, although another detective has come to the same conclusion, I myself have many misgivings, and you may be assured, Miss Darrow, that I shall lose no time in getting these doubts answered one way or the other. At present you may say to your friend Jeannette that I am straining every nerve in her father’s behalf.”
Why all this should so please Gwen I was at a loss to comprehend, but I could not fail to see that it did please her greatly. She had been the most anxious of us all to see her father’s murderer brought to justice, and now, when through the efforts of M. Godin, a man stood all but convicted of the crime, she was pleased to hear Maitland, whose efforts to track Latour she had applauded in no equivocal way, say that he should spare no pains to give the suspect every possible chance to prove his innocence. There was certainly a reason, whatever it might have been, for Gwen’s attitude in this matter, for that young woman was exceptionally rational in all things. Nothing of especial moment occurred between this time and the beginning of the trial. Maitland, for the most part, kept his own counsel and gave us little information other than a hint that he still thought there was a chance of clearing M. Latour.
With this end in view he had become an associate attorney with Jenkins in order the better to conduct M. Latour’s case along the lines which seemed to him the most promising. I asked him on one occasion what led him to entertain a hope that Latour could be cleared and he replied: “A good many things.” “Well, then,” I rejoined, “what are some of them?” He hesitated a moment and then replied laughingly: “You see I hate