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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

II The Gloves

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"I should prefer to have a peep at the people in the drawing-room first.," was my perverse reply. "I don't know why I want to see them, but I do; and, uncle, I might as well tell you now that I engaged myself to Mr. Durand this evening--the gentleman with me when you first came up."

"You have engaged yourself to--to this man--to marry him, do you mean?"

I nodded, with a sly look behind to see if Mr. Durand were near enough to hear. He was not, and I allowed my enthusiasm to escape in a few quick words.

"He has chosen me," I said, "the plainest, most uninteresting puss in the whole city." My uncle smiled. "And I believe he loves me; at all events, I know that I love him."

My uncle sighed, while giving me the most affectionate of glances.

"It's a pity you should have come to this understanding to-night," said he. "He's an acquaintance of the murdered woman, and it is only right for you to know that you will have to leave him behind when you start for home. All who have been seen entering that alcove this evening will necessarily be detained here till the coroner arrives.

My uncle and I strolled toward the drawing-room and as we did so we passed the library. It held but one occupant, the Englishman. He was seated before a table, and his appearance was such as precluded any attempt at intrusion, even if one had been so disposed. There was a fixity in his gaze and a frown on his powerful forehead which bespoke a mind greatly agitated. It was not for me to read that mind, much as it interested me, and I passed on, chatting, as if I had not the least desire to stop.

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I can not say how much time elapsed before my uncle touched me on the arm with the remark:

"The police are here in full force. I saw a detective in plain clothes look in here a minute ago. He seemed to have his eye on you. There he is again! What can he want? No, don't turn; he's gone away now."

Frightened as I had never been in all my life, I managed to keep my head up and maintain an indifferent aspect. What, as my uncle said, could a detective want of me? I had nothing to do with the crime; not in the remotest way could I be said to be connected with it; why, then, had I caught the attention of the police? Looking about, I sought Mr. Durand. He had left me on my uncle's coming up, but had remained, as I supposed, within sight. But at this moment he was nowhere to be seen. Was I afraid on his account? Impossible; yet--

Happily just then the word was passed about that the police had given orders that, with the exception of such as had been requested to remain to answer questions, the guests generally should feel themselves at liberty to depart.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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