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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

II Anson Durand

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"It might be well if Miss Van Arsdale herself would answer you," was the inspector's quiet retort. "What you have said may constitute all that we have against you, but it is not all we have against her."

I gasped, not so much at this seeming accusation, the motive of which I believed myself to understand, but at the burning blush with which it was received by Mr. Durand.

"What do you mean?" he demanded, with certain odd breaks in his voice. "What can you have against her?"

"A triviality," returned the inspector, with a look in my direction that was, I felt, not to be mistaken.

"I do not call it a triviality," I burst out. "It seems that Mrs. Fairbrother, for all her elaborate toilet, was found without gloves on her arms. As she certainly wore them on entering the alcove, the police have naturally been looking for them. And where do you think they have found them? Not in the alcove with her, not in the possession of the man who undoubtedly carried them away with him, but--"

"I know, I know," Mr. Durand hoarsely put in. "You need not say any more. Oh, my poor Rita! what have I brought upon you by my weakness?"


He started; I started; my voice was totally unrecognizable.

"I should give it another name," I added coldly.

For a moment he seemed to lose heart, then he lifted his head again, and looked as handsome as when he pleaded for my hand in the little conservatory.

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"You have that right," said he; "besides, weakness at such a time, and under such an exigency, is little short of wrong. It was unmanly in me to endeavor to secrete these gloves; more than unmanly for me to choose for their hiding-place the recesses of an article belonging exclusively to yourself. I acknowledge it, Rita, and shall meet only my just punishment if you deny me in the future both your sympathy and regard. But you must let me assure you and these gentlemen also, one of whom can make it very unpleasant for me, that consideration for you, much more than any miserable anxiety about myself, lay at the bottom of what must strike you all as an act of unpardonable cowardice. From the moment I learned of this woman's murder in the alcove, where I had visited her, I realized that every one who had been seen to approach her within a half-hour of her death would be subjected to a more or less rigid investigation, and I feared, if her gloves were found in my possession, some special attention might be directed my way which would cause you unmerited distress. So, yielding to an impulse which I now recognize as a most unwise, as well as unworthy one, I took advantage of the bustle about us, and of the insensibility into which you had fallen, to tuck these miserable gloves into the bag I saw lying on the floor at your side. I do not ask your pardon. My whole future life shall be devoted to winning that; I simply wish to state a fact."

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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