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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XXIII The Great Mogul

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This was no idle threat, though she chose to regard it as such, laughing in the old servant's face and declaring that she would run the risk if the notion seized her. But the notion did not seem to seize her at once, and her husband was beginning to take heart, when he heard of the great ball about to be given by the Ramsdells and realized that if she were going to be tempted to wear the diamond at all, it would be at this brilliant function given in honor of the one man he had most cause to fear in the whole world.

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Sears, seeing the emotion he was under, watched him closely. They had both been on the point of starting for New Mexico to visit a mine in which Mr. Fairbrother was interested, and he waited with inconceivable anxiety to see if his master would change his plans. It was while he was in this condition of mind that he was seen to shake his fist at Mrs. Fairbrother's passing figure; a menace naturally interpreted as directed against her, but which, if we know the man, was rather the expression of his anger against the husband who could rebuke and threaten so beautiful a creature. Meanwhile, Mr. Fairbrother's preparations went on and, three weeks before the ball, they started. Mr. Fairbrother had business in Chicago and business in Denver. It was two weeks and more before he reached La Junta. Sears counted the days. At La Junta they had a long conversation; or rather Mr. Fairbrother talked and Sears listened. The sum of what he said was this: He had made up his mind to have back his diamond. He was going to New York to get it. He was going alone, and as he wished no one to know that he had gone or that his plans had been in any way interrupted, the other was to continue on to El Moro, and, passing himself off as Fairbrother, hire a room at the hotel and shut himself up in it for ten days on any plea his ingenuity might suggest. If at the end of that time Fairbrother should rejoin him, well and good. They would go on together to Santa Fe. But if for any reason the former should delay his return, then Sears was to exercise his own judgment as to the length of time he should retain his borrowed personality; also as to the advisability of pushing on to the mine and entering on the work there, as had been planned between them.

Sears knew what all this meant. He understood what was in his master's mind, as well as if he had been taken into his full confidence, and openly accepted his part of the business with seeming alacrity, even to the point of supplying Fairbrother with suitable references as to the ability of one James Wellgood to fill a waiter's place at fashionable functions. It was not the first he had given him. Seventeen years before he had written the same, minus the last phrase. That was when he was the master and Fairbrother the man. But he did not mean to play the part laid out for him, for all his apparent acquiescence. He began by following the other's instructions. He exchanged clothes with him and other necessaries, and took the train for La Junta at or near the time that Fairbrother started east. But once at El Moro--once registered there as Abner Fairbrother from New York--he took a different course from the one laid out for him,--a course which finally brought him into his master's wake and landed him at the same hour in New York.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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