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0100_005E The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

XX Moonlight--And A Clue

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The discovery, though an unexpected one, did not lessen his sense of the extreme helplessness of his own position. He could witness, but he could not act; follow Mr. Grey's orders, but indulge in none of his own. The detective must continue to be lost in the valet, though it came hard and woke a sense of shame in his ambitious breast.

Meanwhile Wellgood had seen them and ordered his men to cease rowing.

"Give way, there," he shouted. "We're for the launch and in a hurry."

"There's some one here who wants to speak to you, Mr. Wellgood," Sweetwater called out, as respectfully as he could. "Shall I mention your name?" he asked of Mr. Grey.

"No, I will do that myself." And raising his voice, he accosted the other with these words: "I am the man, Percival Grey, of Darlington Manor, England. I should like to say a word to you before you embark."

A change, quick as lightning and almost as dangerous, passed over the face Sweetwater was watching with such painful anxiety; but as the other added nothing to his words and seemed to be merely waiting, he shrugged his shoulders and muttered an order to his rowers to proceed.

In another moment the sterns of the two small craft swung together, but in such a way that, by dint of a little skilful manipulation on the part of Wellgood's men, the latter's back was toward the moon.

Mr. Grey leaned toward Wellgood, and his face fell into shadow also.

"Bah!" thought the detective, "I should have managed that myself. But if I can not see I shall at least hear."

But he deceived himself in this. The two men spoke in such low whispers that only their intensity was manifest. Not a word came to Sweetwater's ears.

"Bah!" he thought again, "this is bad."

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But he had to swallow his disappointment, and more. For presently the two men, so different in culture, station and appearance, came, as it seemed, to an understanding, and Wellgood, taking his hand from his breast, fumbled in one of his pockets and drew out something which he handed to Mr. Grey.

This made Sweetwater start and peer with still greater anxiety at every movement, when to his surprise both bent forward, each over his own knee, doing something so mysterious he could get no clue to its nature till they again stretched forth their hands to each other and he caught the gleam of paper and realized that they were exchanging memoranda or notes.

These must have been important, for each made an immediate endeavor to read his slip by turning it toward the moon's rays. That both were satisfied was shown by their after movements. Wellgood put his slip into his pocket, and without further word to Mr. Grey motioned his men to row away. They did so with a will, leaving a line of silver in their wake. Mr. Grey, on the contrary, gave no orders. He still held his slip and seemed to be dreaming. But his eye was on the shore, and he did not even turn when sounds from the launch denoted that she was under way.

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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