The Paradise Mystery eBook

J. S. Fletcher
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 314 pages of information about The Paradise Mystery.

Mary picked up some needlework and began to be much occupied with it.

“Is Dr. Ransford’s character affected?” she asked.  “I wasn’t aware of it, Mrs. Folliot.”

“Oh, my dear, you can’t be quite so very—­so very, shall we say ingenuous?—­as all that!” exclaimed Mrs. Folliot.  “These rumours!—­of course, they are very wicked and cruel ones, but you know they have spread.  Dear me!—­why, they have been common talk!”

“I don’t think my guardian cares twopence for common talk, Mrs. Folliot,” answered Mary.  “And I am quite sure I don’t.”

“None of us—­especially people in our position—­can afford to ignore rumours and common talk,” said Mrs. Folliot in her loftiest manner.  “If we are, unfortunately, talked about, then it is our solemn, bounden duty to put ourselves right in the eyes of our friends—­and of society.  If I for instance, my dear, heard anything affecting my—­let me say, moral-character, I should take steps, the most stringent, drastic, and forceful steps, to put matters to the test.  I would not remain under a stigma—­no, not for one minute!”

“I hope you will never have occasion to rehabilitate your moral character, Mrs. Folliot,” remarked Mary, bending closely over her work.  “Such a necessity would indeed be dreadful.”

“And yet you do not insist—­yes, insist!—­on Dr. Ransford’s taking strong steps to clear himself!” exclaimed Mrs. Folliot.  “Now that, indeed, is a dreadful necessity!”

“Dr. Ransford,” answered Mary, “is quite able to defend and to take care of himself.  It is not for me to tell him what to do, or even to advise him what to do.  And—­since you will talk of this matter, I tell you frankly, Mrs. Folliot, that I don’t believe any decent person in Wrychester has the least suspicion or doubt of Dr. Ransford.  His denial of any share or complicity in those sad affairs—­the mere idea of it as ridiculous as it’s wicked—­was quite sufficient.  You know very well that at that second inquest he said—­on oath, too —­that he knew nothing of these affairs.  I repeat, there isn’t a decent soul in the city doubts that!”

“Oh, but you’re quite wrong!” said Mrs. Folliot, hurriedly.  “Quite wrong, I assure you, my dear.  Of course, everybody knows what Dr. Ransford said—­very excitedly, poor man, I’m given to understand on the occasion you refer to, but then, what else could he have said in his own interest?  What people want is the proof of his innocence.  I could—­but I won’t —­tell you of many of the very best people who are—­well, very much exercised over the matter—­I could indeed!”

“Do you count yourself among them?” asked Mary in a cold fashion which would have been a warning to any one but her visitor.  “Am I to understand that, Mrs. Folliot?”

“Certainly not, my dear,” answered Mrs. Folliot promptly.  “Otherwise I should not have done what I have done towards establishing the foolish man’s innocence!”

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The Paradise Mystery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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