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II As Seen By Detective Sweetwater Anna Katharine Green

XVI Opposed

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Was it to escape any lack of concentration which these same memories might bring, that he rose and stepped to the window? Or was it under one of those involuntary impulses which move us in spite of ourselves to do the very thing our judgment disapproves?

No sooner had he approached the sill than Mr. Brotherson's shade flew way up and he, too, looked out. Their glances met, and for an instant the hardy detective experienced that involuntary stagnation of the blood which follows an inner shock. He felt that he had been recognised. The moonlight lay full upon his face, and the other had seen and known him. Else, why the constrained attitude and sudden rigidity observable in this confronting figure, with its partially lifted hand? A man like Brotherson makes no pause in any action however trivial, without a reason. Either he had been transfixed by this glimpse of his enemy on watch, or daring thought! had seen enough of sepulchral suggestion in the wan face looking forth from this fatal window to shake him from his composure and let loose the grinning devil of remorse from its iron prison-house? If so, the movement was a memorable one, and the hazard quite worth while. He had gained - no! he had gained nothing. He had been the fool of his own wishes. No one, let alone Brotherson, could have mistaken his face for that of a woman. He had forgotten his newly-grown beard. Some other cause must be found for the other's attitude. It savoured of shock, if not fear. If it were fear, then had he roused an emotion which might rebound upon himself in sharp reprisal. Death had been known to strike people standing where he stood; mysterious death of a species quite unrecognisable. What warranty had he that it would not strike him, and now? None.

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Yet it was Brotherson who moved first. With a shrug of the shoulder plainly visible to the man opposite, he turned away from the window and without lowering the shade began gathering up his papers for the night, and later banking up his stove with ashes.

Sweetwater, with a breath of decided relief, stepped back and threw himself on the bed. It had really been a trial for him to stand there under the other's eye, though his mind refused to formulate his fear, or to give him any satisfaction when he asked himself what there was in the situation suggestive of death to the woman or harm to himself.

Nor did morning light bring counsel, as is usual in similar cases. He felt the mystery more in the hubbub and restless turmoil of the day than in the night's silence and inactivity. He was glad when the stroke of six gave him an excuse to leave the room, and gladder yet when in doing so, he ran upon an old woman from a neighbouring room, who no sooner saw him than she leered at him and eagerly remarked:

"Not much sleep, eh? We didn't think you'd like it. Did you see anything?"

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