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|I As Seen By Two Strangers||Anna Katharine Green|
|Page 2 of 5||
"He came out of the Clermont," I suggested.
"I know. If the excitement isn't there, what we've just seen is simply a coincidence." Then, as we retraced our steps to the corner "Whatever we hear or see, don't say anything about this man. It's after eight, remember, and we promised Adela that we would be at the house before nine."
"I'll be quiet."
It was the last word he had time to speak before we found ourselves in the midst of a crowd of men and women, jostling one another in curiosity or in the consternation following a quick alarm. All were looking one way, and, as this was towards the entrance of the Clermont, it was evident enough to us that the alarm had indeed had its origin in the very place we had anticipated. I felt my husband's arm press me closer to his side as we worked our way towards the entrance, and presently caught a warning sound from his lips as the oaths and confused cries everywhere surrounding us were broken here and there by articulate words and we heard:
"Is it murder?"
"The beautiful Miss Challoner!"
"A millionairess in her own right!"
"Killed, they say."
"No, no! suddenly dead; that's all."
"George, what shall we do?" I managed to cry into my husband's ear.
"Get out of this. There is no chance of our reaching that door, and I can't have you standing round any longer in this icy slush."
"But - but is it right?" I urged, in an importunate whisper. "Should we go home while he -"
"Hush! My first duty is to you. We will go make our visit; but to-morrow -"
"I can't wait till to-morrow," I pleaded, wild to satisfy my curiosity in regard to an event in which I naturally felt a keen personal interest.
He drew me as near to the edge of the crowd as he could. There were new murmurs all about us.
"If it's a case of heart-failure, why send for the police?" asked one.
"It is better to have an officer or two here," grumbled another.
"Here comes a cop."
"Well, I'm going to vamoose."
"I'll tell you what I'll do," whispered George, who, for all his bluster was as curious as myself. "We will try the rear door where there are fewer persons. Possibly we can make our way in there, and if we can, Slater will tell us all we want to know."
Slater was the assistant manager of the Clermont, and one of George's oldest friends.
"Then hurry," said I. "I am being crushed here."
George did hurry, and in a few minutes we were before the rear entrance of the great hotel. There was a mob gathered here also, but it was neither so large nor so rough as the one on Broadway. Yet I doubt if we should have been able to work our way through it if Slater had not, at that very instant, shown himself in the doorway, in company with an officer to whom he was giving some final instructions. George caught his eye as soon as he was through with the man, and ventured on what I thought a rather uncalled for plea.
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Anna Katharine Green
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