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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

II Anson Durand

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What did it mean? In the excitement of the horrible occurrence which had engrossed us all, I had forgotten this curious experience; but on feeling anew the vague sensation of shock and expectation which seemed its natural accompaniment, I became conscious of a sudden conviction that the picture which had opened before me in the supper-room was the result of a reflection in a glass or mirror of something then going on in a place not otherwise within the reach of my vision; a reflection, the importance of which I suddenly realized when I recalled at what a critical moment it had occurred. A man in a state of dread looking at his breast, within five minutes of the stir and rush of the dreadful event which had marked this evening!

A hope, great as the despair in which I had just been sunk, gave me courage to drop my hands and advance impetuously toward the inspector.

"Don't speak, I pray; don't judge any of us further till you have heard what I have to say."

In great astonishment and with an aspect of some severity, he asked me what I had to say now which I had not had the opportunity of saying before. I replied with all the passion of a forlorn hope that it was only at this present moment I remembered a fact which might have a very decided bearing on this case; and, detecting evidences, as I thought, of relenting on his part, I backed up this statement by an entreaty for a few words with him apart, as the matter I had to tell was private and possibly too fanciful for any ear but his own.

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He looked as if he apprehended some loss of valuable time, but, touched by the involuntary gesture of appeal with which I supplemented my request, he led me into a corner, where, with just an encouraging glance toward Mr. Durand, who seemed struck dumb by my action, I told the inspector of that momentary picture which I had seen reflected in what I was now sure was some window-pane or mirror.

"It was at a time coincident, or very nearly coincident, with the perpetration of the crime you are now investigating," I concluded. "Within five minutes afterward came the shout which roused us all to what had happened in the alcove. I do not know what passage I saw or what door or even what figure; but the latter, I am sure, was that of the guilty man. Something in the outline (and it was the outline only I could catch) expressed an emotion incomprehensible to me at the moment, but which, in my remembrance, impresses me as that of fear and dread. It was not the entrance to the alcove I beheld--that would have struck me at once--but some other opening which I might recognize if I saw it. Can not that opening be found, and may it not give a clue to the man I saw skulking through it with terror and remorse in his heart?"

"Was this figure, when you saw it, turned toward you or away?" the inspector inquired with unexpected interest.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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