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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

I The Woman With The Diamond

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The seclusion it offered extended, or so we were happy to think, to the solitary divan at its base on which Mr. Durand and I were seated. With possibly an undue confidence in the advantage of our position, we were discussing a subject interesting only to ourselves, when Mr. Durand interrupted himself to declare: "You are the woman I want, you and you only. And I want you soon. When do you think you can marry me? Within a week--if--"

Did my look stop him? I was startled. I had heard no incoherent phrase from him before.

"A week!" I remonstrated. "We take more time than that to fit ourselves for a journey or some transient pleasure. I hardly realize my engagement yet."

"You have not been thinking of it for these last two months as I have."

"No," I replied demurely, forgetting everything else in my delight at this admission.

"Nor are you a nomad among clubs and restaurants."

"No, I have a home."

"Nor do you love me as deeply as I do you."

This I thought open to argument.

"The home you speak of is a luxurious one," he continued. "I can not offer you its equal Do you expect me to?"

I was indignant.

"You know that I do not. Shall I, who deliberately chose a nurse's life when an indulgent uncle's heart and home were open to me, shrink from braving poverty with the man I love? We will begin as simply as you please--"

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"No," he peremptorily put in, yet with a certain hesitancy which seemed to speak of doubts he hardly acknowledged to himself, "I will not marry you if I must expose you to privation or to the genteel poverty I hate. I love you more than you realize, and wish to make your life a happy one. I can not give you all you have been accustomed to in your rich uncle's house, but if matters prosper with me, if the chance I have built on succeeds-- and it will fail or succeed tonight--you will have those comforts which love will heighten into luxuries and--and--"

He was becoming incoherent again, and this time with his eyes fixed elsewhere than on my face. Following his gaze, I discovered what had distracted his attention. The lady with the diamond was approaching us on her way to the alcove. She was accompanied by two gentlemen, both strangers to me, and her head, sparkling with brilliants, was turning from one to the other with an indolent grace. I was not surprised that the man at my side quivered and made a start as if to rise. She was a gorgeous image. In comparison with her imposing figure in its trailing robe of rich pink velvet, my diminutive frame in its sea-green gown must have looked as faded and colorless as a half-obliterated pastel.

"A striking woman," I remarked as I saw he was not likely to resume the conversation which her presence had interrupted. "And what a diamond!"

The glance he cast me was peculiar.

"Did you notice it particularly?" he asked.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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