The Woman in the Alcove
The moon was well up when the small boat in which our young detective was seated with
Mr. Grey appeared in the bay approaching the so-called manufactory of Wellgood. The
looked-for light on the waterside was not there. All was dark except where the windows
reflected the light of the moon.
This was a decided disappointment to Sweetwater, if not to Mr. Grey. He had expected to
detect signs of life in this quarter, and this additional proof of Wellgood's absence from
home made it look as if they had come out on a fool's errand and might much better have
stuck to the road.
"No promise there," came in a mutter from his lips. "Shall I row in, sir, and try to make a
"You may row nearer. I should like a closer view. I don't think we shall attract any
attention. There are more boats than ours on the water."
Sweetwater was startled. Looking round, he saw a launch, or some such small steamer,
riding at anchor not far from the mouth of the bay. But that was not all. Between it and
them was a rowboat like their own, resting quietly in the wake of the moon.
"I don't like so much company," he muttered. "Something's brewing; something in which
we may not want to take a part."
"Very likely," answered Mr. Grey grimly. "But we must not be deterred--not till I have
seen--" the rest Sweetwater did not hear. Mr. Grey seemed to remember himself. "Row
nearer," he now bade. "Get under the shadow of the rocks if you can. If the boat is for
him, he will show himself. Yet I hardly see how he can board from that bank."
It did not look feasible. Nevertheless, they waited and watched with much patience for
several long minutes. The boat behind them did not advance, nor was any movement
discernible in the direction of the manufactory. Another short period, then suddenly a
light flashed from a window high up in the central gable, sparkled for an instant and was
gone. Sweetwater took it for a signal and, with a slight motion of the wrist, began to work
his way in toward shore till they lay almost at the edge of the piles.
It was Sweetwater who spoke.
Both listened, Mr. Grey with his head turned toward the launch and Sweetwater with his
eye on the cavernous space, sharply outlined by the piles, which the falling tide now
disclosed under each contiguous building. Goods had been directly shipped from these
stores in the old days. This he had learned in the village. How shipped he had not been
able to understand from his previous survey of the building. But he thought he could see
now. At low tide, or better, at half-tide, access could be got to the floor of the extension
and, if this floor held a trap, the mystery would be explainable. So would be the hovering
boat--the signal-light and--yes! this sound overheard of steps on a rattling planking.