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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XXI Grizel! Grizel!

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"What is it, father? You are fatigued, worried--"

"No, no, quite well," he hastily assured her. "But you! are you as well as you seem?"

"Indeed, yes. I am gaining every day. See! see! I shall soon be able to sit up. Yesterday I read a few words."

He started, with a side glance at me which took in a table near by on which a little book was lying.

"Oh, a book?"

"Yes, and--and Arthur's letters."

The father flushed, lifted himself, patted her arm tenderly and hastened into another room.

Miss Grey's eyes followed him longingly, and I heard her give utterance to a soft sigh. A few hours before, this would have conveyed to my suspicious mind deep and mysterious meanings; but I was seeing everything now in a different light, and I found myself no longer inclined either to exaggerate or to misinterpret these little marks of filial solicitude. Trying to rejoice over the present condition of my mind, I was searching in the hidden depths of my nature for the patience of which I stood in such need, when every thought and feeling were again thrown into confusion by the receipt of another communication from the inspector, in which he stated that something had occurred to bring the authorities round to my way of thinking and that the test with the stiletto was to be made at once.

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Could the irony of fate go further! I dropped the letter half read, querying if it were my duty to let the inspector know of the flaw I had discovered in my own theory, before I proceeded with the attempt I had suggested when I believed in its complete soundness. I had not settled the question when I took the letter up again. Re-reading its opening sentence, I was caught by the word "something." It was a very indefinite one, yet was capable of covering a large field. It must cover a large field, or it could not have produced such a change in the minds of these men, conservative from principle and in this instance from discretion. I would be satisfied with that word something and quit further thinking. I was weary of it. The inspector was now taking the initiative, and I was satisfied to be his simple instrument and no more. Arrived at this conclusion, however, I read the rest of the letter. The test was to go on, but under different conditions. It was no longer to be made at my own discretion and in the up-stairs room; it was to be made at luncheon hour and in Mr. Grey's private dining-room, where, if by any chance Mr. Grey found himself outraged by the placing of this notorious weapon beside his plate, the blame could be laid on the waiter, who, mistaking his directions, had placed it on Mr. Grey's table when it was meant for Inspector Dalzell's, who was lunching in the adjoining room. It was I, however, who was to do the placing. With what precautions and under what circumstances will presently appear.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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