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|The Woman in the Alcove||Anna Katharine Green|
XVIII The Closed Door
|Page 3 of 3||
Mr. Grey sat far back in his buggy, watching every movement.
There were no shades at the window, as I have before said, and, once Sweetwater's eye had reached the level of the sill, he could see the interior without the least difficulty. There was nobody there. The lamp burned on a great table littered with papers, but the rude cane-chair before it was empty, and so was the room. He could see into every corner of it and there was not even a hiding-place where anybody could remain concealed. Sweetwater was still looking, when the lamp, which had been burning with considerable smoke, flared up and went out. Sweetwater uttered an ejaculation, and, finding himself face to face with utter darkness, slid from his perch to the ground.
Approaching Mr. Grey for the second time, he said:
"I can not understand it. The fellow is either lying low, or he's gone out, leaving his lamp to go out, too. But whose is the horse--just excuse me while I tie him up again. It looks like the one he was driving to-day. It is the one. Well, he won't leave him here all night. Shall we lie low and wait for him to come and unhitch this animal? Or do you prefer to return to the hotel?"
Mr. Grey was slow in answering. Finally he said:
"The man may suspect our intention. You can never tell anything about such fellows as he. He may have caught some unexpected glimpse of me or simply heard that I was in town. If he's the man I think him, he has reasons for avoiding me which I can very well understand. Let us go back,--not to the hotel, I must see this adventure through tonight,--but far enough for him to think we have given up all idea of routing him out to-night. Perhaps that is all he is waiting for. You can steal back--"
"Excuse me," said Sweetwater, "but I know a better dodge than that. We'll circumvent him. We passed a boat-house on our way down here. I'll just drive you up, procure a boat, and bring you back here by water. I don't believe that he will expect that, and if he is in the house we shall see him or his light."
"Meanwhile he can escape by the road."
"Escape? Do you think he is planning to escape?"
The detective spoke with becoming surprise and Mr. Grey answered without apparent suspicion.
"It is possible if he suspects my presence in the neighborhood."
"Do you want to stop him?"
"I want to see him."
"Oh, I remember. Well, sir, we will drive on,--that is, after a moment."
"What are you going to do?"
"Oh, nothing. You said you wanted to see the man before he escaped."
"And that he might escape by the road."
"Well, I was just making that a little bit impracticable. A small pebble in the keyhole and--why, see now, his horse is walking off! Gee! I must have fastened him badly. I shouldn't wonder if he trotted all the way to town. But it can't be helped. I can not be supposed to race after him. Are you ready now, sir? I'll give another shout, then I'll get in." And once more the lonely region about echoed with the cry: "Wellgood! I say, Wellgood!"
There was no answer, and the young detective, masking for the nonce as Mr. Grey's confidential servant, jumped into the buggy, and turned the horse's head toward C--.
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|The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green
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