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The Woman in the Alcove Anna Katharine Green

X I Astonish The Inspector

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"The nurse saw all this? Has she that book?"

"No, it went out next morning, with the scraps. It was some pamphlet, I believe."

The inspector turned the morsel of paper over and over in his hand.

"What is this nurse's name?"

"Henrietta Pierson."

"Does she share your doubts?"

"I can not say."

"You have seen her often?"

"No, only the one time."

"Is she discreet?"

"Very. On this subject she will be like the grave unless forced by you to speak."

"And Miss Grey?"

"She is still ill, too ill to be disturbed by questions, especially on so delicate a topic. But she is getting well fast. Her father's fears as we heard them expressed on one memorable occasion were ill founded, sir."

Slowly the inspector inserted this scrap of paper between the folds of his pocketbook. He did not give me another look, though I stood trembling before him. Was he in any way convinced or was he simply seeking for the most considerate way in which to dismiss me and my abominable theory? I could not gather his intentions from his expression, and was feeling very faint and heart-sick when he suddenly turned upon me with the remark:

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"A girl as ill as you say Miss Grey was must have had some very pressing matter on her mind to attempt to write and send a message under such difficulties. According to your idea, she had some notion of her father's designs and wished to warn Mrs. Fairbrother against them. But don't you see that such conduct as this would be preposterous, nay, unparalleled in persons of their distinction? You must find some other explanation for Miss Grey's seemingly mysterious action, and I an agent of crime other than one of England's most reputable statesmen."

"So that Mr. Durand is shown the same consideration, I am content," said I. "It is the truth and the truth only I desire. I am willing to trust my cause with you."

He looked none too grateful for this confidence. Indeed, now that I look back on this scene, I do not wonder that he shrank from the responsibility thus foisted upon him.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

"Prove something. Prove that I am altogether wrong or altogether right. Or if proof is not possible, pray allow me the privilege of doing what I can myself to clear up the matter."


There was apprehension, disapprobation, almost menace in his tone. I bore it with as steady and modest a glance as possible, saying, when I thought he was about to speak again:

"I will do nothing without your sanction. I realize the dangers of this inquiry and the disgrace that would follow if our attempt was suspected before proof reached a point sufficient to justify it. It is not an open attack I meditate, but one--"

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The Woman in the Alcove
Anna Katharine Green

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