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I As Seen By Two Strangers Anna Katharine Green

VIII Strange Doings For George

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"But we! What are we going to do if we cannot get in front or rear?

"We're going to wait right here in the hopes of catching a glimpse of our man as he comes out," returned the detective, drawing George towards a low window overlooking the yard he had described as sentinelled. "He will have to pass directly under this window on his way to the alley," Sweetwater went on to explain, "and if I can only raise it - but the noise would give us away. I can't do that."

"Perhaps it swings on hinges," suggested George. "It looks like that sort of a window."

"If it should - well! it does. We're in great luck, sir. But before I pull it open, remember that from the moment I unlatch it, everything said or done here can be heard in the adjoining yard. So no whispers and no unnecessary movements. When you hear him coming, as sooner or later you certainly will, fall carefully to your knees and lean out just far enough to catch a glimpse of him before he steps down from the porch. If he stops to light his cigar or to pass a few words with some of the men he will leave behind, you may get a plain enough view of his face or figure to identify him. The light is burning low in that rear hall, but it will do. If it does not, - if you can't see him or if you do, don't hang out of the window more than a second. Duck after your first look. I don't want to be caught at this job with no better opportunity for escape than we have here. Can you remember all that?"

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George pinched his arm encouragingly, and Sweetwater, with an amused grunt, softly unlatched the window and pulled it wide open.

A fine sleet flew in, imperceptible save for the sensation of damp it gave, and the slight haze it diffused through the air. Enlarged by this haze, the building they were set to watch rose in magnified proportions at their left. The yard between, piled high in the centre with snow-heaps or other heaps covered with snow, could not have been more than forty feet square. The window from which they peered, was half-way down this yard, so that a comparatively short distance separated them from the porch where George had been told to look for the man he was expected to identify. All was dark there at present, but he could hear from time to time some sounds of restless movement, as the guard posted inside shifted in his narrow quarters, or struck his benumbed feet softly together.

But what came to them from above was more interesting than anything to be heard or seen below. A man's voice, raised to a wonderful pitch by the passion of oratory, had burst the barriers of the closed hall in that towering third storey and was carrying its tale to other ears than those within. Had it been summer and the windows open, both George and Sweetwater might have heard every word; for the tones were exceptionally rich and penetrating, and the speaker intent only on the impression he was endeavouring to make upon his audience. That he had not mistaken his power in this direction was evinced by the applause which rose from time to time from innumerable hands and feet. But this uproar would be speedily silenced, and the mellow voice ring out again, clear and commanding. What could the subject be to rouse such enthusiasm in the Associated Brotherhood of the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel? There was a moment when our listening friends expected to be enlightened. A shutter was thrown back in one of those upper windows, and the window hurriedly, raised, during which words took the place of sounds and they heard enough to whet their appetite for more. But only that. The shutter was speedily restored to place, and the window again closed. A wise precaution, or so thought George if they wished to keep their doubtful proceedings secret.

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