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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

II The Gloves

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"I have been told so."

"He was seen to go in, but I have not yet found any one who saw
him come out; consequently we have been unable to fix the exact
minute when he did so. What is the matter, Miss Van Arsdale? You
want to say something?"

"No, no," I protested, reconsidering my first impulse. Then, as I met his look, "He can probably tell you that himself. I am sure he would not hesitate."

"We shall ask him later," was the inspector's response. "Meanwhile, are you ready to assure me that since that time he has not intrusted you with a little article to keep--No, no, I do not mean the diamond," he broke in, in very evident dismay, as I fell back from him in irrepressible indignation and alarm. "The diamond--well, we shall look for that later; it is another article we are in search of now, one which Mr. Durand might very well have taken in his hand without realizing just what he was doing. As it is important for us to find this article, and as it is one he might very naturally have passed over to you when he found himself in the hall with it in his hand, I have ventured to ask you if this surmise is correct."

"It is not," I retorted fiercely, glad that I could speak from my very heart. "He has given me nothing to keep for him. He would not--"

Why that peculiar look in the inspector's eye? Why did he reach out for a chair and seat me in it before he took up my interrupted sentence and finished it?

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"--would not give you anything to hold which had belonged to another woman? Miss Van Arsdale, you do not know men. They do many things which a young, trusting girl like yourself would hardly expect from them."

"Not Mr. Durand," I maintained stoutly.

"Perhaps not; let us hope not." Then, with a quick change of manner, he bent toward me, with a sidelong look at uncle, and, pointing to my gloves, remarked: "You wear gloves. Did you feel the need of two pairs, that you carry another in that pretty bag hanging from your arm?"

I started, looked down, and then slowly drew up into my hand the bag he had mentioned. The white finger of a glove was protruding from the top. Any one could see it; many probably had. What did it mean? I had brought no extra pair with me.

"This is not mine," I began, faltering into silence as I perceived my uncle turn and walk a step or two away.

"The article we are looking for," pursued the inspector, "is a pair of long, white gloves, supposed to have been worn by Mrs. Fairbrother when she entered the alcove. Do you mind showing me those, a finger of which I see?"

I dropped the bag into his hand. The room and everything in it was whirling around me. But when I noted what trouble it was to his clumsy fingers to open it, my senses returned and, reaching for the bag, I pulled it open and snatched out the gloves. They had been hastily rolled up and some of the fingers were showing.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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