“Of course! If somebody else had accused you, the story might have been worth looking into. As it is, a child could have invented it. It doesn’t do much credit to your ingenuity.”
Granice turned sullenly toward the door. What was the use of arguing? But on the threshold a sudden impulse drew him back. “Look here, Denver—I daresay you’re right. But will you do just one thing to prove it? Put my statement in the Investigator, just as I’ve made it. Ridicule it as much as you like. Only give the other fellows a chance at it—men who don’t know anything about me. Set them talking and looking about. I don’t care a damn whether you believe me—what I want is to convince the Grand Jury! I oughtn’t to have come to a man who knows me—your cursed incredulity is infectious. I don’t put my case well, because I know in advance it’s discredited, and I almost end by not believing it myself. That’s why I can’t convince you. It’s a vicious circle.” He laid a hand on Denver’s arm. “Send a stenographer, and put my statement in the paper.”
But Denver did not warm to the idea. “My dear fellow, you seem to forget that all the evidence was pretty thoroughly sifted at the time, every possible clue followed up. The public would have been ready enough then to believe that you murdered old Lenman—you or anybody else. All they wanted was a murderer—the most improbable would have served. But your alibi was too confoundedly complete. And nothing you’ve told me has shaken it.” Denver laid his cool hand over the other’s burning fingers. “Look here, old fellow, go home and work up a better case—then come in and submit it to the Investigator.”
THE perspiration was rolling off Granice’s forehead. Every few minutes he had to draw out his handkerchief and wipe the moisture from his haggard face.
For an hour and a half he had been talking steadily, putting his case to the District Attorney. Luckily he had a speaking acquaintance with Allonby, and had obtained, without much difficulty, a private audience on the very day after his talk with Robert Denver. In the interval between he had hurried home, got out of his evening clothes, and gone forth again at once into the dreary dawn. His fear of Ascham and the alienist made it impossible for him to remain in his rooms. And it seemed to him that the only way of averting that hideous peril was by establishing, in some sane impartial mind, the proof of his guilt. Even if he had not been so incurably sick of life, the electric chair seemed now the only alternative to the strait-jacket.
As he paused to wipe his forehead he saw the District Attorney glance at his watch. The gesture was significant, and Granice lifted an appealing hand. “I don’t expect you to believe me now—but can’t you put me under arrest, and have the thing looked into?”
Allonby smiled faintly under his heavy grayish moustache. He had a ruddy face, full and jovial, in which his keen professional eyes seemed to keep watch over impulses not strictly professional.