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II As Seen By Detective Sweetwater Anna Katharine Green

XIV A Concession

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"A reason connected with your anarchistic tendencies?"

"Possibly." But the word was uttered in a way to carry little conviction. "I am not much of an anarchist," he now took the trouble to declare, with a careless lift of his shoulders. " I like fair play, but I shall never give you much trouble by my manner of insuring it. I have too much at stake. My invention is dearer to me than the overthrow of present institutions. Nothing must stand in the way of its success, not even the satisfaction of inspiring terror in minds shut to every other species of argument. I have uttered my last speech; you can rely on me for that.

"We are glad to hear it, Mr. Dunn. Physical overthrow carries more than the immediate sufferer with it."

If this were meant as an irritant, it did not act successfully. The social agitator, the political demagogue, the orator whose honeyed tones had rung with biting invective in the ears of the United Brotherhood of the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel, simply bowed and calmly waited for the next attack.

Perhaps it was of a nature to surprise even him.

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"We have no wish," continued the Inspector, "to probe too closely into concerns seemingly quite removed from the main issue. You say that you are ready, nay more, are even eager to answer all questions. You will probably be anxious then to explain away a discrepancy between your word and your conduct, which has come to our attention. You were known to have expressed the intention of spending the afternoon of Mrs. Spotts' death in New York and were supposed to have done so, yet you were certainly seen in the crowd which invaded that rear building at the first alarm. Are you conscious of possessing a double, or did you fail to cross the river as you expected to?"

"I am glad this has come up." The tone was one of self-congratulation which would have shaken Sweetwater sorely had he been admitted to this unofficial examination. "I have never confided to any one the story of my doings on that unhappy afternoon, because I knew of no one who would take any interest in them. But this is what occurred. I did mean to go to New York and I even started on my walk to the Bridge at the hour mentioned. But I got into a small crowd on the corner of Fulton Street, in which a poor devil who had robbed a vendor's cart of a few oranges, was being hustled about. There was no policeman within sight, and so I busied myself there for a minute paying for the oranges and dragging the poor wretch away into an alley, where I could have the pleasure of seeing him eat them. When I came out of the alley the small crowd had vanished, but a big one was collecting up the street very near my home. I always think of my books when I see anything suggesting fire, and naturally I returned, and equally naturally, when I heard what had happened, followed the crowd into the court and so up to the poor woman's doorway. But my curiosity satisfied, I returned at once to the street and went to New York as I had planned."

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