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|I As Seen By Two Strangers||Anna Katharine Green|
IV Sweet Little Miss Clarke
|Page 1 of 8||
When we took our seats at the breakfast-table, it was with the feeling of being no longer looked upon as connected in any way with this case. Yet our interest in it was, if anything, increased, and when I saw George casting furtive glances at a certain table behind me, I leaned over and asked him the reason, being sure that the people whose faces I saw reflected in the mirror directly before us had something to do with the great matter then engrossing us. His answer conveyed the somewhat exciting information that the four persons seated in my rear were the same four who had been reading at the round table in the mezzanine at the time of Miss Challoner's death.
Instantly they absorbed all my attention, though I dared not give them a direct look, and continued to observe them only in the glass.
"Is it one family?" I asked.
"Yes, and a very respectable one. Transients, of course, but very well known in Denver. The lady is not the mother of the boys, but their aunt. The boys belong to the gentleman, who is a widower."
"Their word ought to be good."
"The boys look wide-awake enough if the father does not. As for the aunt, she is sweetness itself. Do they still insist that Miss Challoner was the only person in the room with them at this time?"
"They did last night. I don't know how they will meet this statement of the doctor's."
He leaned nearer.
"Have you ever thought that she might have been a suicide? That she stabbed herself?
"No, for in that case a weapon would have been found."
"And are you sure that none was?"
"Positive. Such a fact could not have been kept quiet. If a weapon had been picked up there would be no mystery, and no necessity for further police investigation."
"And the detectives are still here?
"I just saw one."
Again his head came nearer.
"Have they searched the lobby? I believe she had a weapon."
"I know it sounds foolish, but the alternative is so improbable. A family like that cannot be leagued together in a conspiracy to hide the truth concerning a matter so serious. To be sure, they may all be short-sighted, or so little given to observation that they didn't see what passed before their eyes. The boys look wide-awake enough, but who can tell? I would sooner believe that -"
I stopped short so suddenly that George looked startled. My attention had been caught by something new I saw in the mirror upon which my attention was fixed. A man was looking in from the corridor behind, at the four persons we were just discussing. He was watching them intently, and I thought I knew his face.
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