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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XVII Sweetwater In A New Role

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"A dangerous customer," thought he. "I wonder if my instinct will go so far as to make me recognize his presence. I shouldn't wonder. It has served me almost as well as that many times before."

It appeared to serve him now, for when the man finally showed himself on the cross-walk separating the two buildings he experienced a sudden indecision not unlike that of dread, and there being nothing in the man's appearance to warrant apprehension, he took it for the instinctive recognition it undoubtedly was.

He therefore watched him narrowly and succeeded in getting one glance from his eye. It was enough. The man was commonplace,-- commonplace in feature, dress and manner, but his eye gave him away. There was nothing commonplace in that. It was an eye to beware of.

He had taken in Sweetwater as he passed, but Sweetwater was of a commonplace type, too, and woke no corresponding dread in the other's mind; for he went whistling into the store, from which he presently reissued with a bundle of mail in his hand. The detective's first instinct was to take him into custody as a suspect much wanted by the New York police; but reason assured him that he not only had no warrant for this, but that he would better serve the ends of justice by following out his present task of bringing this man and the Englishman together and watching the result. But how, with the conditions laid on him by Mr. Grey, was this to be done? He knew nothing of the man's circumstances or of his position in the town. How, then, go to work to secure his cooperation in a scheme possibly as mysterious to him as it was to himself? He could stop this stranger in mid-street, with some plausible excuse, but it did not follow that he would succeed in luring him to the hotel where Mr. Grey could see him. Wellgood, or, as he believed, Sears, knew too much of life to be beguiled by any open clap-trap, and Sweetwater was obliged to see him drive off without having made the least advance in the purpose engrossing him.

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But that was nothing. He had all the evening before him, and reentering the store, he took up his stand near the sugar barrel. He had perceived that in the pauses of weighing and tasting, Dick talked; if he were guided with suitable discretion, why should he not talk of Wellgood?

He was guided, and he did talk and to some effect. That is, he gave information of the man which surprised Sweetwater. If in the past and in New York he had been known as a waiter, or should I say steward, he was known here as a manufacturer of patent medicine designed to rejuvenate the human race. He had not been long in town and was somewhat of a stranger yet, but he wouldn't be so long. He was going to make things hum, he was. Money for this, money for that, a horse where another man would walk, and mail--well, that alone would make this post-office worth while. Then the drugs ordered by wholesale. Those boxes over there were his, ready to be carted out to his manufactory. Count them, some one, and think of the bottles and bottles of stuff they stand for. If it sells as he says it will--then he will soon be rich: and so on, till Sweetwater brought the garrulous Dick to a standstill by asking whether Wellgood had been away for any purpose since he first came to town. He received the reply that he had just come home from New York, where he had been for some articles needed in his manufactory. Sweetwater felt all his convictions confirmed, and ended the colloquy with the final question:

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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