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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XV Sears Or Wellgood

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"You mean," he suggested, "that Sears' possible connection with the crime can not eliminate Mr. Grey's very positive one; nor can the fact that Wellgood's hand came in contact with Mr. Grey's, at or near the time of the exchange of the false stone with the real, make it any less evident who was the guilty author of this exchange?"

The inspector's hand was on the door-knob, but he dropped it at this, and surveying me very quietly said:

"I thought that a few days spent at the bedside of Miss Grey in the society of so renowned and cultured a gentleman as her father would disabuse you of these damaging suspicions."

"I don't wonder that you thought so," I burst out. "You would think so all the more, if you knew how kind he can be and what solicitude he shows for all about him. But I can not get over the facts. They all point, it seems to me, straight in one direction."

"All? You heard what was said in this room--I saw it in your eye--how the man, who surprised the steward in his own room last night, heard him talking of love and death in connection with Mrs. Fairbrother. 'To kiss what I hate! It is almost as bad as to kill what I love'--he said something like that."

"Yes, I heard that. But did he mean that he had been her actual slayer? Could you convict him on those words?"

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"Well, we shall find out. Then, as to Wellgood's part in the little business, you choose to consider that it took place at the time the stone fell from Mr. Grey's hand. What proof have you that the substitution you believe in was not made by him? He could easily have done it while crossing the room to Mr. Grey's side."

"Inspector!" Then hotly, as the absurdity of the suggestion struck me with full force: "He do this! A waiter, or as you think, Mr. Fairbrother's steward, to be provided with so hard-to-come-by an article as this counterpart of a great stone? Isn't that almost as incredible a supposition as any I have myself presumed to advance?"

"Possibly, but the affair is full of incredibilities, the greatest of which, to my mind, is the persistence with which you, a kind-hearted enough little woman, persevere in ascribing the deepest guilt to one you profess to admire and certainly would be glad to find innocent of any complicity with a great crime."

I felt that I must justify myself.

"Mr. Durand has had no such consideration shown him," said I.

"I know, my child, I know; but the cases differ. Wouldn't it be well for you to see this and be satisfied with the turn which things have taken, without continuing to insist upon involving Mr. Grey in your suspicions?"

A smile took off the edge of this rebuke, yet I felt it keenly; and only the confidence I had in his fairness as a man and public official enabled me to say:

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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