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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XIX The Face

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"I hear nothing," whispered Mr. Grey from the other end. "The boat is still there, but not a man has dipped an oar."

"They will soon," returned Sweetwater as a smothered sound of clanking iron reached his ears from the hollow spaces before him. "Duck your head, sir; I'm going to row in under this portion of the house."

Mr. Grey would have protested and with very good reason. There was scarcely a space of three feet between them and the boards overhead. But Sweetwater had so immediately suited action to word that he had no choice.

They were now in utter darkness, and Mr. Grey's thoughts must have been peculiar as he crouched over the stern, hardly knowing what to expect or whether this sudden launch into darkness was for the purpose of flight or pursuit. But enlightenment came soon. The sound of a man's tread in the building above was every moment becoming more perceptible, and while wondering, possibly, at his position, Mr. Grey naturally turned his head as nearly as he could in the direction of these sounds, and was staring with blank eyes into the darkness, when Sweetwater, leaning toward him, whispered:

"Look up! There's a trap. In a minute he'll open it. Mark him, but don't breathe a word, and I'll get you out of this all right."

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Mr. Grey attempted some answer, but it was lost in the prolonged creak of slowly-moving hinges somewhere over their heads. Spaces, which had looked dark, suddenly looked darker; hearing was satisfied, but not the eye. A man's breath panting with exertion testified to a near-by presence; but that man was working without a light in a room with shuttered windows, and Mr. Grey probably felt that he knew very little more than before, when suddenly, most unexpectedly, to him at least, a face started out of that overhead darkness; a face so white, with every feature made so startlingly distinct by the strong light Sweetwater had thrown upon it, that it seemed the only thing in the world to the two men beneath. In another moment it had vanished, or rather the light which had revealed it.

"What's that? Are you there?" came down from above in hoarse and none too encouraging tones.

There was none to answer; Sweetwater, with a quick pull on the oars, had already shot the boat out of its dangerous harbor.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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