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II As Seen By Detective Sweetwater Anna Katharine Green

X A Difference Of Opinion

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"Thank you. I am glad to speak in his presence," came in undisturbed self-possession from this not easily surprised witness. " I shall relate the facts exactly as they occurred, adding nothing and concealing nothing. If I mistook my position, or Miss Challoner's position, it is not for me to apologise. I never hid my business from her, nor the moderate extent of my fortune. If she knew me at all, she knew me for what I am; a man of the people who glories in work and who has risen by it to a position somewhat unique in this city. I feel no lack of equality even with such a woman as Miss Challoner."

A most unnecessary preamble, no doubt, and of doubtful efficacy in smoothing his way to a correct understanding with the deeply bereaved father. But he looked so handsome as he thus asserted himself and made so much of his inches and the noble poise of his head - though cold of eye and always cold of manner - that those who saw, as well as heard him, forgave this display of egotism in consideration of its honesty and the dignity it imparted to his person.

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"I first met Miss Challoner in the Berkshires," he began, after a moment of quiet listening for any possible sound from the other room. "I had been on the tramp, and had stopped at one of the great hotels for a seven days' rest. I will acknowledge that I chose this spot at the instigation of a relative who knew my tastes and how perfectly they might be gratified there. That I should mingle with the guests may not have been in his thought, any more than it was in mine at the beginning of my stay. The panorama of beauty spread out before me on every side was sufficient in itself for my enjoyment, and might have continued so to the end if my attention had not been very forcibly drawn on one memorable morning to a young lady - Miss Challoner - by the very earnest look she gave me as I was crossing the office from one verandah to another. I must insist on this look, even if it shock the delicacy of my listeners, for without the interest it awakened in me, I might not have noticed the blush with which she turned aside to join her friends on the verandah. It was an overwhelming blush which could not have sprung from any slight embarrassment, and, though I hate the pretensions of those egotists who see in a woman's smile more than it by right conveys, I could not help being moved by this display of feeling in one so gifted with every grace and attribute of the perfect woman. With less caution than I usually display, I approached the desk where she had been standing and, meeting the eyes of the clerk, asked the young lady's name. He gave it, and waited for me to express the surprise he expected it to evoke. But I felt none and showed none. Other feelings had seized me. I had heard of this gracious woman from many sources, in my life among the suffering masses of New York, and now that I had seen her and found her to be not only my ideal of personal loveliness but seemingly approachable and not uninterested in myself, I allowed my fancy to soar and my heart to become touched. A fact which the clerk now confided to me naturally deepened the impression. Miss Challoner had seen my name in the guest-book and asked to have me pointed out to her. Perhaps she had heard my name spoken in the same quarter where I had heard hers. We have never exchanged confidences on the subject, and I cannot say. I can only give you my reason for the interest I felt in Miss Challoner and why I forgot, in the glamour of this episode, the aims and purposes of a not unambitious life and the distance which the world and the so-called aristocratic class put between a woman of her wealth and standing and a simple worker like myself.

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