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II As Seen By Detective Sweetwater Anna Katharine Green

X A Difference Of Opinion

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It was - such - a spot.''

"Then I think I can locate it for you, or do you prefer to locate it yourself?"

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"I will locate it myself. I had hoped not to be called upon to mention what I cannot but consider a most unfortunate coincidence. As a gentleman you will understand my reticence and also why it is a matter of regret to me that with an acumen worthy of your position, you should have discovered a fact which, while it cannot explain Miss Challoner's death, will drag our little affair before the public, and possibly give it a prominence in some minds which I am sure does not belong to it. I met Miss Challoner's eye for one instant from the top of the little staircase running up to the mezzanine. I had yielded thus far to an impulse I had frequently combated, to seek by another interview to retrieve the bad effect which must have been made upon her by my angry note. I knew that she frequently wrote letters in the mezzanine at this hour, and got as far as the top of the staircase in my effort to join her. But got no further. When I saw her on her feet, with her face turned my way, I remembered the scorn with which she had received my former heart-felt proposals and, without taking another step forward, I turned away from her and fled down the steps and so out of the building by the main entrance. She saw me, for her hand flew up with a startled gesture, but I cannot think that my presence on the same floor with her could have caused her to strike the blow which terminated her life. Why should I? No woman sacrifices her life out of mere regret for the disdain she has shown a man she has taken no pains to understand."

His tone and his attitude seemed to invite the concurrence of Dr. Heath in this statement. But the richness of the one and the grace of the other showed the handsome speaker off to such advantage that the coroner was rather inclined to consider how a woman, even of Miss Challoner's fine taste and careful breeding, might see in such a situation much for regret, if not for active despair and the suicidal act. He gave no evidence of his thought, however, but followed up the one admission made by Mr. Brotherson which he and others must naturally view as of the first importance.

"You saw Miss Challoner lift her hand, you say. Which hand, and what was in it? Anything?"

"She lifted her right hand, but it would be impossible for me to tell you whether there was anything in it or not. I simply saw the movement before I turned away. It looked like one of alarm to me. I felt that she had some reason for this. She could not know that it was in repentance I came rather than in fulfilment of my threat."

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