Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/194

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The Devil's Tools

unembarrassed by them. She sat primly in her chair with the radiance of the beloved disciple.

It is one of the excellences of vanity that it cannot be overthrown by a chance blow. However desperately rammed, it always topples back upon its pedestal. Another would have gone hopelessly to wreckage under that, but not Randolph. He continued in his finest manner.

"Bearing this in mind," he said, "let us analyze the indicatory circumstances. It is possible, of course, that a criminal agent may plan his crime with skill, execute it without accident, and maintain the secret with equanimity, and that all interrogation following upon his act, will be wholly futile; but this is not usually true, as was conspicuously evidenced in Sir Ashby Cooper's case."

He paused and put the tips of his extended fingers together.

"What have we here to indicate the criminal agent? No human eye has seen the robber at his work, and there are no witnesses to speak; but we are not to abandon our investigation for that. The writers on the law tell us that circumstantial evidence in the case of crimes committed in secret is the most satisfactory from which to draw conclusions of guilt, for men may be seduced to perjury from base motives, but facts, as Mr. Baron Legg so aptly puts it, 'cannot lie.'"

He made a large indicatory gesture toward his bookshelf.