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0100_005E The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XXII Guilt

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He stopped, bit his lip and looked around him with an air of sudden bravado.

"Since you dropped the cups at your wife's feet in Mr. Ramsdell's alcove," finished Mr. Grey with admirable self-possession.

"I see that explanations from myself are not in order," was the grim retort, launched with the bitterest sarcasm. Then as the full weight of his position crushed in on him, his face assumed an aspect startling to my unaccustomed eyes, and, thrusting his hand into his pocket he drew forth a small box which he placed in Mr. Grey's hands.

"The Great Mogul," he declared simply.

It was the first time I had heard this diamond so named.

Without a word that gentleman opened the box, took one look at the contents, assumed a satisfied air, and carefully deposited the recovered gem in his own pocket. As his eyes returned to the man before him, all the passion of the latter burst forth.

"It was not for that I killed her!" cried he. "It was because she defied me and flaunted her disobedience in my very face. I would do it again, yet--"

Here his voice broke and it was in a different tone and with a total change of manner he added: "You stand appalled at my depravity. You have not lived my life." Then quickly and with a touch of sullenness: "You suspected me because of the stiletto. It was a mistake, using that stiletto. Otherwise, the plan was good. I doubt if you know now how I found my way into the alcove, possibly under your very eyes; certainly, under the eyes of many who knew me."

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"I do not. It is enough that you entered it; that you confess your guilt."

Here Mr. Grey stretched his hand toward the electric button.

"No, it is not enough." The tone was fierce, authoritative. "Do not ring the bell, not yet. I have a fancy to tell you how I managed that little affair."

Glancing about, he caught up from a near-by table a small brass tray. Emptying it of its contents, he turned on us with drawn-down features and an obsequious air so opposed to his natural manner that it was as if another man stood before us.

"Pardon my black tie," he muttered, holding out the tray toward Mr. Grey.


The room turned with me. It was he, then, the great financier, the multimillionaire, the husband of the magnificent Grizel, who had entered Mr. Ramsdell's house as a waiter!

Mr. Grey did not show surprise, but he made a gesture, when instantly the tray was thrown aside and the man resumed his ordinary aspect.

"I see you understand me," he cried. "I who have played host at many a ball, passed myself off that night as one of the waiters. I came and went and no one noticed me. It is such a natural sight to see a waiter passing ices that my going in and out of the alcove did not attract the least attention. I never look at waiters when I attend balls. I never look higher than their trays. No one looked at me higher than my tray. I held the stiletto under the tray and when I struck her she threw up her hands and they hit the tray and the cups fell. I have never been able to bear the sound of breaking china since. I loved her--"

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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