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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXXII Tell Me, Tell It All

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And Doris told him:

"She was on the mezzanine floor of the hotel where she lives. She was seemingly happy and had been writing a letter - a letter to me which they never forwarded. There was no one else by but some strangers - good people whom one must believe. She was crossing the floor when suddenly she threw up her hands and fell. A thin, narrow paper-cutter was in her grasp; and it flew into the lobby. Some say she struck herself with that cutter; for when they picked her up they found a wound in her breast which that cutter might have made."

"Edith? never!"

The words were chokingly said; he was swaying, almost falling, but he steadied himself.

"Who says that?" he asked.

"It was the coroner's verdict."

"And she died that way - died?"


"After writing to you?"


"What was in that letter?"

"Nothing of threat, they say. Only just cheer and expressions of hope. Just like the others, Mr. Brotherson."

"And they accuse her of taking her own life? Their verdict is a lie. They did not know her."

Then, after some moments of wild and confused feeling, he declared, with a desperate effort at self-control: "You said that some believe this. Then there must be others who do not. What do they say?"

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"Nothing. They simply feel as you do. They see no reason for the act and no evidence of her having meditated it. Her father and her friend insist besides, that she was incapable of such a horror. The mystery of it is killing us all; me above others, for I've had to show you a cheerful face, with my brain reeling and my heart like lead in my bosom."

She held out her hands. She tried to draw his attention to herself; not from any sentiment of egotism, but to break, if she could, the strain of these insupportable horrors where so short a time before Hope sang and Life revelled in re-awakened joys.

Perhaps some faint realisation of this reached him, for presently he caught her by the hands and bowed his head upon her shoulder and finally let her seat him again, before he said:

"Do they know of - of my interest in this?"

"Yes; they know about the two 0. B.s."

"The two -" He was on his feet again, but only for a moment; his weakness was greater than his will power.

"Orlando and Oswald Brotherson," she explained, in answer to his broken appeal. "Your brother wrote letters to her as well as you, and signed them just as you did, with his initials only. These letters were found in her desk, and he was supposed, for a time, to have been the author of all that were so signed. But they found out the difference after awhile. Yours were easily recognised after they learned there was another O. B. who loved her."

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