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  The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

VI Suspense

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To relate the full experiences of the next few days would be to encumber my narrative with unnecessary detail.

I did not see Mr. Durand again. My uncle, so amenable in most matters, proved Inexorable on this point. Till Mr. Durand's good name should be restored by the coroner's verdict, or such evidence brought to light as should effectually place him beyond all suspicion, I was to hold no communication with him of any sort whatever. I remember the very words with which my uncle ended the one exhaustive conversation we had on the subject. They were these:

"You have fully expressed to Mr. Durand your entire confidence In his Innocence. That must suffice him for the present. If he Is the honest gentleman you think him, It will."

As uncle seldom asserted himself, and as he is very much in earnest when he does, I made no attempt to combat this resolution, especially as it met the approval of my better judgment. But though my power to convey sympathy fell thus under a yoke, my thoughts and feelings remained free, and these were all consecrated to the man struggling under an imputation, the disgrace and humiliation of which he was but poorly prepared, by his former easy life of social and business prosperity, to meet.

For Mr. Durand, in spite of the few facts which came up from time to time in confirmation of his story, continued to be almost universally regarded as a suspect.

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This seemed to me very unjust. What if no other clue offered no other clue, I mean, recognized as such by police or public! Was he not to have the benefit of whatever threw a doubt on his own culpability? For instance, that splash of blood on his shirt-front, which I had seen, and the shape of which I knew! Why did not the fact that it was a splash and not a spatter (and spatter it would have been had it spurted there, instead of falling from above, as he stated), count for more in the minds of those whose business it was to probe into the very heart of this crime ? To me, it told such a tale of innocence that I wondered how a man like the inspector could pass over it. But later I understood. A single word enlightened me. The stain, it was true, was In the form of a splash and not a spurt, but a splash would have been the result of a drop falling from the reeking end of the stiletto, whether it dislodged itself early or late. And what was there to prove that this drop had not fallen at the instant the stiletto was being thrust Into the lantern, instead of after the escape of the criminal, and the entrance of another man?

But the mystery of the broken coffee-cups! For that no explanation seemed to be forthcoming.

And the still unsolved one of the written warning found in the murdered woman's hand a warning which had been deciphered to read: "Be warned! He means to be at the ball! Expect trouble if-- Was that to be looked upon as directed against a man who, from the nature of his projected attempt, would take no one into his confidence?

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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