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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

II The Gloves

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How eager he was and with what a look he turned when the word came filtering through the crowd that, though footsteps had been found in the snow pointing directly toward the balcony, there was none on the balcony itself, proving, as any one could see, that the attack had not come from without, since no one could enter the alcove by the window without stepping on the balcony.

"Mr. Durand has suspicions of his own," I explained determinedly to myself. "He met some one going in as he stepped out. Shall I ask him to name this person?" No, I did not have the courage; not while his face wore so stern a look and was so resolutely turned away.

The next excitement was a request from Mr. Ramsdell for us all to go into the drawing-room. This led to various cries from hysterical lips, such as, "We are going to be searched!" " He believes the thief and murderer to be still in the house!" "Do you see the diamond on me?" "Why don't they confine their suspicions to the favored few who were admitted to the alcove?"

"They will," remarked some one close to my ear.

But quickly as I turned I could not guess from whom the comment came. Possibly from a much beflowered, bejeweled, elderly dame, whose eyes were fixed on Mr. Durand's averted face. If so, she received a defiant look from mine, which I do not believe she forgot in a hurry.

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Alas! it was not the only curious, I might say searching glance I surprised directed against him as we made our way to where I could see my uncle struggling to reach us from a short side hall. The whisper seemed to have gone about that Mr. Durand had been the last one to converse with Mrs. Fairbrother prior to the tragedy.

In time I had the satisfaction of joining my uncle. He betrayed great relief at the sight of me, and, encouraged by his kindly smile, I introduced Mr. Durand. My conscious air must have produced its impression, for he turned a startled and inquiring look upon my companion, then took me resolutely on his own arm, saying:

"There is likely to be some unpleasantness ahead for all of us. I do not think the police will allow any one to go till that diamond has been looked for. This is a very serious matter, dear. So many think the murderer was one of the guests."

"I think so, too," said I. But why I thought so or why I should say so with such vehemence, I do not know even now.

My uncle looked surprised.

"You had better not advance any opinions," he advised. "A lady like yourself should have none on a subject so gruesome. I shall never cease regretting bringing you here tonight. I shall seize on the first opportunity to take you home. At present we are supposed to await the action of our host."

"He can not keep all these people here long," I ventured.

"No; most of us will he relieved soon. Had you not better get your wraps so as to be ready to go as soon as he gives the word?"

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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