The Woman in the Alcove
My love for Anson Durand died at sight o£ that crimson splash or I thought it did. In this
spot of blood on the breast of him to whom I had given my heart I could read but one
word--guilt-- heinous guilt, guilt denied and now brought to light in language that could
be seen and read by all men. Why should I stay in such a presence? Had not the inspector
himself advised me to go?
Yes, but another voice bade me remain. Just as I reached the door, Anson Durand found
his voice and I heard, in the full, sweet tones I loved so well:
"Wait I am not to be judged like this. I will explain!"
But here the inspector interposed.
"Do you think it wise to make any such attempt without the advice of counsel, Mr.
The indignation with which Mr. Durand wheeled toward him raised in me a faint hope.
"Good God, yes!" he cried. "Would you have me leave Miss Van Arsdale one minute
longer than is necessary to such dreadful doubts? Rita--Miss Van Arsdale--weakness, and
weakness only, has brought me into my present position. I did not kill Mrs. Fairbrother,
nor did I knowingly take her diamond, though appearances look that way, as I am very
ready to acknowledge. I did go to her in the alcove, not once, but twice, and these are my
reasons for doing so: About three months ago a certain well-known man of enormous
wealth came to me with the request that I should procure for him a diamond of superior
beauty. He wished to give it to his wife, and he wished it to outshine any which could
now be found in New York. This meant sending abroad-- an expense he was quite willing
to incur on the sole condition that the stone should not disappoint him when he saw it,
and that it was to be in his hands on the eighteenth of March, his wife's birthday. Never
before had I had such an opportunity for a large stroke of business. Naturally elated, I
entered at once into correspondence with the best known dealers on the other side, and
last week a diamond was delivered to me which seemed to fill all the necessary
requirements. I had never seen a finer stone, and was consequently rejoicing in my
success, when some one, I do not remember who now, chanced to speak in my hearing of
the wonderful stone possessed by a certain Mrs. Fairbrother--a stone so large, so brilliant
and so precious altogether that she seldom wore it, though it was known to connoisseurs
and had a great reputation at Tiffany's, where it had once been sent for some alteration in
the setting. Was this stone larger and finer than the one I had procured with so much
trouble? If so, my labor had all been in vain, for my patron must have known of this
diamond and would expect to see it surpassed.
"I was so upset by this possibility that I resolved to see the jewel and make comparisons
for myself. I found a friend who agreed to introduce me to the lady. She received me very
graciously and was amiable enough until the subject of diamonds was broached, when
she immediately stiffened and left me without an opportunity of proffering my request.
However, on every other subject she was affable, and I found it easy enough to pursue the
acquaintance till we were almost on friendly terms. But I never saw the diamond, nor