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|I As Seen By Two Strangers||Anna Katharine Green|
|Page 1 of 4||
Mr. Gryce's fears were only too well founded. Though Mr. McElroy was kind enough to point out the exact spot where he saw Miss Watkins stoop, no trace of blood was found upon the rug which had lain there, nor had anything of the kind been washed up by the very careful man who scrubbed the lobby floor in the early morning. This was disappointing, as its presence would have settled the whole question. When, these efforts all exhausted, the two detectives faced each other again in the small room given up to their use, Mr. Gryce showed his discouragement. To be certain of a fact you cannot prove has not the same alluring quality for the old that it has for the young. Sweetwater watched him in some concern, then with the persistence which was one of his strong points, ventured finally to remark:
"I have but one idea left on the subject."
"And what is that?" Old as he was, Mr. Gryce was alert in a moment.
"The girl wore a red cloak. If I mistake not, the lining was also red. A spot on it might not show to the casual observer. Yet it would mean much to us."
A faint blush rose to the old man's cheek.
"Shall I request the privilege of looking that garment over?
The young fellow ducked and left the room. When he returned, it was with a downcast air.
"Nothing doing," said he.
And then there was silence.
"We only need to find out now that this cutter was not even Miss Challoner's property," remarked Mr. Gryce, at last, with a gesture towards the object named, lying openly on the table before him.
"That should be easy. Shall I take it to their rooms and show it to her maid?"
"If you can do so without disturbing the old gentleman."
But here they were themselves disturbed. A knock at the door was followed by the immediate entrance of the very person just mentioned. Mr. Challoner had come in search of the inspector, and showed some surprise to find his place occupied by an unknown old man.
But Mr. Gryce, who discerned tidings in the bereaved father's face, was all alacrity in an instant. Greeting his visitor with a smile which few could see without trusting the man, he explained the inspector's absence and introduced himself in his own capacity.
Mr. Challoner had heard of him. Nevertheless, he did not seem inclined to speak.
Mr. Gryce motioned Sweetwater from the room. With a woeful look the young detective withdrew, his last glance cast at the cutter still lying in full view on the table.
Mr. Gryce, not unmindful himself of this object, took it up, then laid it down again, with an air of seeming abstraction.
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Anna Katharine Green
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