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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XV Sears Or Wellgood

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"But I am talking quite confidentially. And you have been so good to me, so willing to listen to all I had to say, that I can not help but speak my whole mind. It is my only safety valve. Remember how I have to sit in the presence of this man with my thoughts all choked up. It is killing me. But I think I should go back content if you will listen to one more suggestion I have to make. It is my last."

"Say it I am nothing if not indulgent."

He had spoken the word. Indulgent, that was it. He let me speak, probably had let me speak from the first, from pure kindness. He did not believe one little bit in my good sense or logic. But I was not to be deterred. I would empty my mind of the ugly thing that lay there. I would leave there no miserable dregs of doubt to ferment and work their evil way with me in the dead watches of the night, which I had yet to face. So I took him at his word.

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"I only want to ask this. In case Sears is innocent of the crime, who wrote the warning and where did the assassin get the stiletto with the Grey arms chased into its handle? And the diamond? Still the diamond! You hint that he stole that, too. That with some idea of its proving useful to him on this gala occasion, he had provided himself with an imitation stone, setting and all,--he who has never shown, so far as we have heard, any interest in Mrs. Fairbrother's diamond, only in Mrs. Fairbrother herself. If Wellgood is Sears and Sears the medium by which the false stone was exchanged for the real, then he made this exchange in Mr. Grey's interests and not his own. But I don't believe he had anything to do with it. I think everything goes to show that the exchange was made by Mr. Grey himself."

"A second Daniel," muttered the inspector lightly. "Go on, little lawyer!" But for all this attempt at banter on his part, I imagined that I saw the beginning of a very natural anxiety to close the conversation. I therefore hastened with what I had yet to say, cutting my words short and almost stammering in my eagerness.

"Remember the perfection of that imitation stone, a copy so exact that it extends to the setting. That shows plan-- forgive me if I repeat myself--preparation, a knowledge of stones, a particular knowledge of this one. Mr. Fairbrother's steward may have had the knowledge, but he would have been a fool to have used his knowledge to secure for himself a valuable he could never have found a purchaser for in any market. But a fancier--one who has his pleasure in the mere possession of a unique and invaluable gem--ah! that is different! He might risk a crime--history tells us of several."

Here I paused to take breath, which gave the inspector chance to say:

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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