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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XV Sears Or Wellgood

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He seemed to realize he had said a word too much, for he instantly changed the subject by asking if I had succeeded in getting a sample of Miss Grey's writing. I was forced to say no; that everything had been very carefully put away. "But I do not know what moment I may come upon it," I added. "I do not forget its importance in this investigation."

"Very good. Those lines handed up to Mrs. Fairbrother from the walk outside are the second most valuable clue we possess."

I did not ask him what the first was. I knew. It was the stiletto.

"Strange that no one has testified to that handwriting," I remarked.

He looked at me in surprise.

"Fifty persons have sent in samples of writing which they think like it," he observed. "Often of persons who never heard of the Fairbrothers. We have been bothered greatly with the business. You know little of the difficulties the police labor under."

"I know too much," I sighed.

He smiled and patted me on the hand.

"Go back to your patient," he said. "Forget every other duty but that of your calling until you get some definite word from me. I shall not keep you in suspense one minute longer than is absolutely necessary."

He had risen. I rose too. But I was not satisfied. I could not leave the room with my ideas (I might say with my convictions) in such a turmoil.

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"Inspector," said I, "you will think me very obstinate, but all you have told me about Sears, all I have heard about him, in fact,"--this I emphasized,--"does not convince me of the entire folly of my own suspicions. Indeed, I am afraid that, if anything, they are strengthened. This steward, who is a doubtful character, I acknowledge, may have had his reasons for wishing Mrs. Fairbrother's death, may even have had a hand in the matter; but what evidence have you to show that he, himself, entered the alcove, struck the blow or stole the diamond? I have listened eagerly for some such evidence, but I have listened in vain."

"I know," he murmured, "I know. But it will come; at least I think so."

This should have reassured me, no doubt, and sent me away quiet and happy. But something--the tenacity of a deep conviction, possibly--kept me lingering before the inspector and finally gave me the courage to say:

"I know I ought not to speak another word; that I am putting myself at a disadvantage in doing so; but I can not help it, Inspector; I can not help it when I see you laying such stress upon the few indirect clues connecting the suspicious Sears with this crime, and ignoring the direct clues we have against one whom we need not name."

Had I gone too far? Had my presumption transgressed all bounds and would he show a very natural anger? No, he smiled instead, an enigmatical smile, no doubt, which I found it difficult to understand, but yet a smile.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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