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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

VIII Arrest

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The success of this interview provoked other attempts on the part of the reporters who now flocked into the Southwest. Ere long particulars began to pour in of Mr. Fairbrother's painful journey south, after his illness set in. The clerk of the hotel in El Moro, where the great mine-owner's name was found registered at the time of the murder, told a story which made very good reading for those who were more interested in the sufferings and experiences of the millionaire husband of the murdered lady than in those of the unhappy but comparatively insignificant man upon whom public opinion had cast the odium of her death.

It seems that when the first news came of the great crime which had taken place in New York, Mr. Fairbrother was absent from the hotel on a prospecting tour through the adjacent mountains. Couriers had been sent after him, and it was one of these who finally brought him into town. He had been found wandering alone on horseback among the defiles of an untraveled region, sick and almost incoherent from fever. Indeed, his condition was such that neither the courier nor such others as saw him had the heart to tell him the dreadful news from New York, or even to show him the papers. To their great relief, he betrayed no curiosity in them. All he wanted was a berth in the first train going south, and this was an easy way for them out of a great responsibility. They listened to his wishes and saw him safely aboard, with such alacrity and with so many precautions against his being disturbed that they have never doubted that he left El Moro in total ignorance, not only of the circumstances of his great bereavement, but of the bereavement itself.

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This ignorance, which he appeared to have carried with him to the Placide, was regarded by those who knew him best as proving the truth of the affirmation elicited from him in the pauses of his delirium of the genuineness of the stone which had passed from his hands to those of his wife at the time of their separation; and, further despatches coming in, some private and some official, but all insisting upon the fact that it would be weeks before he would be in a condition to submit to any sort of examination on a subject so painful, the authorities in New York decided to wait no longer for his testimony, but to proceed at once with the inquest.

Great as is the temptation to give a detailed account of proceedings which were of such moment to myself, and to every word of which I listened with the eagerness of a novice and the anguish of a woman who sees her lover's reputation at the mercy of a verdict which may stigmatize him as a possible criminal, I see no reason for encumbering my narrative with what, for the most part, would be a mere repetition of facts already known to you.

Mr. Durand's intimate and suggestive connection with this crime, the explanations he had to give of this connection, frequently bizarre and, I must acknowledge, not always convincing,--nothing could alter these nor change the fact of the undoubted cowardice he displayed in hiding Mrs. Fairbrother's gloves in my unfortunate little bag.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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