At the word, murder, Miss Adell released a long breath. She closed her eyes and sat back against the chair. “You’ve guessed correctly, Mr. Cross. I was the one that placed the piece of the poisonous plant in the pocket of my darling, Corbet.” Miss Adell’s frame was suddenly weak and small. “I had never wanted anything to happen to him. Never.”
“Please, Miss Adell,” Cross softened his voice once more. “Tell us everything that happened, and pray be exact in your details.”
“I can tell you all I know, but, I’m not sure what you hope to make of it. I myself have no idea nor any inkling as to what all happened.” Miss Adell took two deep, slow breaths before continuing.
“As you already know, I had broken my engagement with Corbet. And, as you’ve already surmised, I broke the engagement at the insistence of my father. Though he had no problems with Corbet as an individual—he was a wonderful gentleman, after all—he had every reason to believe that my marrying Corbet might end in a tumultuous and unstable life. It is a well known fact that the life of an aspiring stage actor does not often end with any measure of success.” Miss Adell paused to take another long, slow breath.
“It was this lack of stability that most concerned my father. And after many long conversations and his insistent urging, I finally conceded to my father’s wishes and broke my engagement to Corbet.”
Miss Adell shifted in the chair, leaning into the chair arm, her face suddenly draining of color. “I broke all ties with Corbet, but, he had no intention of breaking ties with me. We had been children together, he knew my heart better than I knew my own. He knew the words of my disengagement were not my words. Slowly, he whittled away my defenses.” Her voice grew quiet.
“And, where, does Mr. Manuel Dison fit into to all this?” Cross took the opportunity to change subjects, perhaps to free her from thinking of Corbet.
“He was an acquaintance of my father. They were introduced by a mutual friend and would spend hours together, working in the gardens and the greenhouse.”
Cross’s back stiffened. I couldn’t see his face, but I imagined a searching look with a sly grin. “His was a friend of your father, yet, you were very quick to accept his proposal of marriage.”
“As you say, Mr. Cross, he was a friend of my father.” Her tone suddenly flat, Miss Adell looked away from Cross.
“Tell me, Miss Adell, do you know what it was that happened your second fiancé?” Cross held his breath once again. “Do you know what it was that killed Manuel Dison and how his death might be related to the death of Corbet Adams?”
Miss Adell snapped his head back toward Cross. “What are you trying to imply, Mr. Cross?”
“Do you know what affected you yesterday? What nearly cost you your life?” Cross turned to look back at me. “And the life of my friend here?”