I had been a junior partner in the firm of Veeley, Carr & Raymond,
attorneys and counsellors at law, for about a year, when one morning,
in the temporary absence of both Mr. Veeley and Mr. Carr, there came
into our office a young man whose whole appearance was so indicative of
haste and agitation that I involuntarily rose at his approach and
"What is the matter? You have no bad news to tell, I hope."
"I have come to see Mr. Veeley; is he in?"
"No," I replied; "he was unexpectedly called away this morning to
Washington; cannot be home before to-morrow; but if you will make
your business known to me----"
"To you, sir?" he repeated, turning a very cold but steady eye on
mine; then, seeming to be satisfied with his scrutiny, continued,
"There is no reason why I shouldn't; my business is no secret. I came to
inform him that Mr. Leavenworth is dead."
"Mr. Leavenworth!" I exclaimed, falling back a step. Mr.
Leavenworth was an old client of our firm, to say nothing of his being
the particular friend of Mr. Veeley.
"Yes, murdered; shot through the head by some unknown person while
sitting at his library table."
"Shot! murdered!" I could scarcely believe my ears.
"How? when?" I gasped.
"Last night. At least, so we suppose. He was not found till this
morning. I am Mr. Leavenworth's private secretary," he explained,
"and live in the family. It was a dreadful shock," he went on,
"especially to the ladies."
"Dreadful!" I repeated. "Mr. Veeley will be overwhelmed by it."
"They are all alone," he continued in a low businesslike way I
afterwards found to be inseparable from the man; "the Misses
Leavenworth, I mean--Mr. Leavenworth's nieces; and as an inquest is to
be held there to-day it is deemed proper for them to have some one
present capable of advising them. As Mr. Veeley was their uncle's best
friend, they naturally sent me for him; but he being absent I am at a
loss what to do or where to go."
"I am a stranger to the ladies," was my hesitating reply, "but if
I can be of any assistance to them, my respect for their uncle is
The expression of the secretary's eye stopped me. Without seeming to
wander from my face, its pupil had suddenly dilated till it appeared to
embrace my whole person with its scope.
"I don't know," he finally remarked, a slight frown, testifying to
the fact that he was not altogether pleased with the turn affairs were
taking. "Perhaps it would be best. The ladies must not be left
"Say no more; I will go." And, sitting down, I despatched a
hurried message to Mr. Veeley, after which, and the few other
preparations necessary, I accompanied the secretary to the street.