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I As Seen By Two Strangers Anna Katharine Green

V The Red Cloak

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"Mrs. Watkins has just telephoned down that she is going to - to leave, sir."

"To leave?"

The old man struggled to his feet. "No. 712, do you say? Seven stories," he sighed. But as he turned with a hobble, he stopped. "There are difficulties in the way of this interview," he remarked. "A blush is not much to go upon. I'm afraid we shall have to resort to the shadow business and that is your work, not mine.

But here the door opened and a boy brought in a line which had been left at the desk. It related to the very matter then engaging them, and ran thus:

    "I see that information is desired as to whether any person was
    seen to stoop to the lobby floor last night at or shortly after
    the critical moment of Miss Challoner's fall in the half story
    above. I can give such information. I was in the lobby at the
    time, and in the height of the confusion following this alarming
    incident, I remember seeing a lady,- one of the new arrivals
    (there were several coming in at the time)- stoop quickly down
    and pick up something from the floor. I thought nothing of it at
    the time, and so paid little attention to her appearance. I can
    only recall the suddenness with which she stooped and the colour
    of the cloak she wore. It was red, and the whole garment was
    voluminous. If you wish further particulars, though in truth, I
    have no more to give, you can find me in 356.


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"Humph! This should simplify our task," was Mr. Gryce's comment, as he handed the note over to Sweetwater. "You can easily find out if the lady, now on the point of departure, can be identified with the one described by Mr. McElroy. If she can, I am ready to meet her anywhere."

"Here goes then! " cried Sweetwater, and quickly left the room.

When he returned, it was not with his most hopeful air.

"The cloak doesn't help," he declared. "No one remembers the cloak. But the time of Mrs. Watkins' arrival was all right. She came in directly on the heels of this catastrophe."

"She did! Sweetwater, I will see her. Manage it for me at once."

"The clerk says that it had better be upstairs. She is a very sensitive woman. There might be a scene, if she were intercepted on her way out."

"Very well." But the look which the old detective threw at his bandaged legs was not without its pathos.

And so it happened that just as Mrs. Watkins was watching the wheeling out of her trunks, there appeared in the doorway before her, an elderly gentleman, whose expression, always benevolent, save at moments when benevolence would be quite out of keeping with the situation, had for some reason, so marked an effect upon her, that she coloured under his eye, and, indeed, showed such embarrassment, that all doubt of the propriety of his intrusion vanished from the old man's mind, and with the ease of one only too well accustomed to such scenes, he kindly remarked:

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