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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XIII The Missing Recommendation

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At last, as we turned into Bleecker Street, I let my astonishment and perplexity appear.

"Where are we bound?" I asked. "It can not be that you are taking me to see Mr. Durand?"

"No," said he, and said no more.

"Ah, Police Headquarters!" I faltered as the carriage made another turn and drew up before a building I had reason to remember. "Uncle, what am I to do here?"

"See a friend," he answered, as he helped me to alight. Then as I followed him in some bewilderment, he whispered in my ear: "Inspector Dalzell. He wants a few minutes conversation with you."

Oh, the weight which fell from my shoulders at these words! I was to hear, then, what had intervened between me and my purpose. The wearing night I had anticipated was to be lightened with some small spark of knowledge. I had confidence enough in the kind-hearted inspector to be sure of that. I caught at my uncle's arm and squeezed it delightedly, quite oblivious of the curious glances I must have received from the various officials we passed on our way to the inspector's office.

We found him waiting for us, and I experienced such pleasure at sight of his kind and earnest face that I hardly noticed uncle's sly retreat till the door closed behind him.

"Oh, Inspector, what has happened?" I impetuously exclaimed in answer to his greeting. "Something that will help Mr. Durand without disturbing Mr. Grey--have you as good news for me as that?"

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"Hardly," he answered, moving up a chair and seating me in it with a fatherly air which, under the circumstances, was more discouraging than consolatory. "We have simply heard of a new witness, or rather a fact has come to light which has turned our inquiries into a new direction."

"And--and--you can not tell me what this fact is?" I faltered as he showed no intention of adding anything to this very unsatisfactory explanation.

"I should not, but you were willing to do so much for us I must set aside my principles a little and do something for you. After all, it is only forestalling the reporters by a day. Miss Van Arsdale, this is the story: Yesterday morning a man was shown into this room, and said that he had information to give which might possibly prove to have some bearing on the Fairbrother case. I had seen the man before and recognized him at the first glance as one of the witnesses who made the inquest unnecessarily tedious. Do you remember Jones, the caterer, who had only two or three facts to give and yet who used up the whole afternoon in trying to state those facts?"

"I do, indeed," I answered.

"Well, he was the man, and I own that I was none too delighted to see him. But he was more at his ease with me than I expected, and I soon learned what he had to tell. It was this: One of his men had suddenly left him, one of his very best men, one of those who had been with him in the capacity of waiter at the Ramsdell ball. It was not uncommon for his men to leave him, but they usually gave notice. This man gave no notice; he simply did not show up at the usual hour. This was a week or two ago. Jones, having a liking for the man, who was an excellent waiter, sent a messenger to his lodging-house to see if he were ill. But he had left his lodgings with as little ceremony as he had left the caterer.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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