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|I As Seen By Two Strangers||Anna Katharine Green|
IV Sweet Little Miss Clarke
|Page 6 of 8||
"How long after was this? Is there any one who has ventured to make an estimate of the number of minutes which elapsed from the time she fell, to the moment when the doctor first raised the cry of murder?"
"Yes. Mr. Slater, the assistant manager, who was in the lobby at the time, says that ten minutes at least must have elapsed."
"Ten minutes and no blood! The weapon must still have been there. Some weapon with a short and inconspicuous handle. I think they said there were flowers over and around the place where it struck?"
"Yes, great big scarlet ones. Nobody noticed - nobody looked. A panic like that seems to paralyse people."
"Ten minutes! I must see every one who approached her during those ten minutes. Every one, Sweetwater, and I must myself talk with Miss Clarke."
"You will like her. You will believe every word she says."
"No doubt. All the more reason why I must see her. Sweetwater, someone drew that weapon out. Effects still, have their causes, notwithstanding the new cult. The question is who? We must leave no stone unturned to find that out."
"The stones have all been turned over once."
"Not altogether by me."
"Then they will bear being turned over again. I want to be witness of the operation."
"Where will you see Miss Clarke?
"Wherever she pleases - only I can't walk far."
"I think I know the place. You shall have the use of this elevator. It has not been running since last night or it would be full of curious people all the time, hustling to get a glimpse of this place. But they'll put a man on for you."
"Very good; manage it as you will. I'll wait here till you're ready. Explain yourself to the lady. Tell her I'm an old and rheumatic invalid who has been used to asking his own questions. I'll not trouble her much. But there is one point she must make clear to me."
Sweetwater did not presume to ask what point, but he hoped to be fully enlightened when the time came.
And he was. Mr. Gryce had undertaken to educate him for this work, and never missed the opportunity of giving him a lesson. The three met in a private sitting-room on an upper floor, the detectives entering first and the lady coming in soon after. As her quiet figure appeared in the doorway,
Sweetwater stole a glance at Mr. Gryce. He was not looking her way, of course; he never looked directly at anybody; but he formed his impressions for all that, and Sweetwater was anxious to make sure of these impressions. There was no doubting them in this instance. Miss Clarke was not a woman to rouse an unfavourable opinion in any man's mind. Of slight, almost frail build, she had that peculiar animation which goes with a speaking eye and a widely sympathetic nature. Without any substantial claims to beauty, her expression was so womanly and so sweet that she was invariably called lovely.
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Anna Katharine Green
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