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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XXI Grizel! Grizel!

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I knew that it had not; knew that such an exertion was likely to be more beneficial than hurtful to her, or I should have found some excuse for deterring her. I endeavored to make my face more natural. As she seemed to want me to take the postal in my hand I drew near and took it.

"The address looks very shaky," she laughed. "I think you will have to put it in an envelope."

I looked at it,--I could not help it,--her eye was on me, and I could not even prepare my mind for the shock of seeing it like or totally unlike the writing of the warning. It was totally unlike; so distinctly unlike that it was no longer possible to attribute those lines to her which, according to Mr. Durand's story, had caused Mrs. Fairbrother to take off her diamond.

"Why, why!" she cried. "You actually look pale. Are you afraid the doctor will scold us? It hasn't hurt me nearly so much as lying here and knowing what he would give for one word from me."

"You are right, and I am foolish," I answered with all the spirit left in me. "I should be glad--I am glad that you have written these words. I will copy the address on an envelope and send it out in the first mail."

"Thank you," she murmured, giving me back my pencil with a sly smile. "Now I can sleep. I must have roses in my cheeks when papa comes home."

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And she bade fair to have ruddier roses than myself, for conscience was working havoc in my breast. The theory I had built up with such care, the theory I had persisted in urging upon the inspector in spite of his rebuke, was slowly crumbling to pieces in my mind with the falling of one of its main pillars. With the warning unaccounted for in the manner I have stated, there was a weakness in my argument which nothing could make good. How could I tell the inspector, if ever I should be so happy or so miserable as to meet his eye again? Humiliated to the dust, I could see no worth now in any of the arguments I had advanced. I flew from one extreme to the other, and was imputing perfect probity to Mr. Grey and an honorable if mysterious reason for all his acts, when the door opened and he came in. Instantly my last doubt vanished. I had not expected him to return so soon.

He was glad to be back; that I could see, but there was no other gladness in him. I had looked for some change in his manner and appearance,--that is, if he returned at all,--but the one I saw was not a cheerful one, even after he had approached his daughter's bedside and found her greatly improved. She noticed this and scrutinized him strangely. He dropped his eyes and turned to leave the room, but was stopped by her loving cry; he came back and leaned over her.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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