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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

VII Night And A Voice

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Truly I could understand why those three men, probably newspaper correspondents like myself, had turned back to Santa Fe, after a glance from my present outlook. But though I understood I did not mean to duplicate their retreat.

The sight of those tents, the thought of what one of them contained, inspired me with new courage, and, releasing my grip upon the rein, I allowed my patient horse to proceed. Shortly after this I passed the divide--that is where the water sheds both ways--then the descent began. It was zigzag, just as the climb had been, but I preferred the climb. I did not have the unfathomable spaces so constantly before me, nor was my imagination so active. It was fixed on heights to be attained rather than on valleys to roll into. However, I did not roll.

The Mexican saddle held me securely at whatever angle I was poised, and once the bottom was reached I found that I could face, with considerable equanimity, the corresponding ascent. Only, as I saw how steep the climb bade fair to be, I did not see how I was ever to come down again. Going up was possible, but the descent--

However, as what goes up must in the course of nature come down, I put this question aside and gave my horse his head, after encouraging him with a few blades of grass, which he seemed to find edible enough, though they had the look and something of the feel of spun glass.

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How we got there you must ask this good animal, who took all the responsibility and did all the work. I merely clung and balanced, and at times, when he rounded the end of a zigzag, for instance, I even shut my eyes, though the prospect was magnificent. At last even his patience seemed to give out, and he stopped and trembled. But before I could open my eyes on the abyss beneath he made another effort. I felt the brush of tree branches across my face, and, looking up, saw before me the ledge or platform dotted with tents, at which I had looked with such longing from the opposite hillsides.

Simultaneously I heard voices, and saw approaching a bronzed and bearded man with strongly-marked Scotch features and a determined air.

"The doctor!" I involuntarily exclaimed, with a glance at the small and curious tent before which he stood guard.

"Yes, the doctor," he answered in unexpectedly good English. "And who are you? Have you brought the mail and those medicines I sent for?"

"No," I replied with as propitiatory a smile as I could muster up in face of his brusk forbidding expression. "I came on my own errand. I am a representative of the New York--,and I hope you will not deny me a word with Mr. Fairbrother."

With a gesture I hardly knew how to interpret he took my horse by the rein and led us on a few steps toward another large tent, where he motioned me to descend. Then he laid his hand on my shoulder and, forcing me to meet his eye, said:

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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