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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXX Chaos

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There was a wood-fire burning in the sitting-room that night, and around it was grouped a number of men with their papers and pipes. Mr. Brotherson, entering, naturally looked that way for the man he was in search of, and was disappointed not to find him there; but on casting his glances elsewhere, he was relieved to see him standing in one of the windows overlooking the street. His back was to the room and he seemed to be lost in a fit of abstraction.

As Orlando crossed to him, he had time to observe how much whiter was this man's head than in the last interview he had held with him in the coroner's office in New York. But this evidence of grief in one with whom he had little, if anything, in common, neither touched his feelings nor deterred his step. The awakening of his heart to new and profound emotions had not softened him towards the sufferings of others if those others stood without the pale he had previously raised as the legitimate boundary of a just man's sympathies.

He was, as I have said, an extraordinary specimen of manly vigour in body and in mind, and his presence in any company always attracted attention and roused, if it never satisfied, curiosity. Conversation accordingly ceased as he strode up to Mr. Challoner's side, so that his words were quite audible as he addressed that gentleman with a somewhat curt:

"You see me again, Mr. Challoner. May I beg of you a few minutes' further conversation? I will not detain you long."

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The grey head turned, and the many eyes watching showed surprise at the expression of dislike and repulsion with which this New York gentleman met the request thus emphatically urged. But his answer was courteous enough. If Mr. Brotherson knew a place where they would be left undisturbed, he would listen to him if he would be very brief.

For reply, the other pointed to a small room quite unoccupied which opened out of the one in which they then stood. Mr. Challoner bowed and in an other moment the door dosed upon them, to the infinite disappointment of the men about the hearth.

"What do you wish to ask?" was Mr. Challoner's immediate inquiry.

"This; I make no apologies and expect in answer nothing more than an unequivocal yes or no. You tell me that you have never met my brother. Can that be said of the other members of your family - of your deceased daughter, in fact?"


"She was acquainted with Oswald Brotherson?"

"She was."

"Without your knowledge?"

"Entirely so."

"Corresponded with him?"

"Not exactly."

"How, not exactly?"

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