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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXVIII I Hope Never To See That Man

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"No, not at all," he assured her." Expect me at eight. Will that be too early?"

"No, no. Oh, how those people stared! Let us hasten back or they may connect your name with what we want kept secret."

He smiled at her fears, but gave in to her humour; he would see her soon again and possibly learn something which would amply repay him, both for his trouble and his patience.

But when evening came and she turned to face him in that little sitting-room where he had quietly followed her, he was conscious of a change in her manner which forbade these high hopes. The gleam was gone from her eyes; the tremulous eagerness from her mobile and sensitive mouth. She had been thinking in the hours which had passed, and had lost the confidence of that one impetuous moment. Her greeting betrayed embarrassment and she hesitated painfully before she spoke.

"I don't know what you will think of me," she ventured at last, motioning to a chair but not sitting herself. "You have had time to think over what I said and probably expect something real, - some - thing you could tell people. But it isn't like that. It's a feeling - a belief. I'm so sure -"

"Sure of what, Miss Scott?"

She gave a glance at the door before stepping up nearer. He had not taken the chair she preferred.

"Sure that I have seen the face of the man who murdered her. It was in a dream," she whisperingly completed, her great eyes misty with awe.

"A dream, Miss Scott?" He tried to hide his disappointment.

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"Yes; I knew that it would sound foolish to you; it sounds foolish to me. But listen, sir. Listen to what I have to tell and then you can judge. I was very much agitated yesterday. I had to write a letter at Mr. Brotherson's dictation - a letter to her. You can understand my horror and the effort I made to hide my emotion. I was quite unnerved. I could not sleep till morning, and then - and then - I saw - I hope I can describe it."

Grasping at a near-by chair, she leaned on it for support, closing her eyes to all but that inner vision. A breathless moment followed, then she murmured in strained tnonotonous tones:

"I see it again - just as I saw it in the early morning - but even more plainly, if that is possible. A hall - (I should call it a hall, though I don't remember seeing any place like it before), with a little staircase at the side, up which there comes a man, who stops just at the top and looks intently my way. There is fierceness in his face - a look which means no good to anybody - and as his hand goes to his overcoat pocket, drawing out something which I cannot describe, but which he handles as if it were a pistol, I feel a horrible fear, and - and -" The child was staggering, and the hand which was free had sought her heart where it lay clenched, the knuckles showing white in the dim light.

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