The Woman in the Alcove
The Mouse Nibbles At The Net
The next day saw me at police headquarters begging an interview from the inspector,
with the intention of confiding to him a theory which must either cost me his sympathy or
open the way to a new inquiry, which I felt sure would lead to Mr. Durand's complete
I chose this gentleman for my confidant, from among all those with whom I had been
brought in contact by my position as witness in a case of this magnitude, first, because he
had been present at the most tragic moment of my life, and secondly, because I was
conscious of a sympathetic bond between us which would insure me a kind hearing.
However ridiculous my idea might appear to him, I was assured that he would treat me
with consideration and not visit whatever folly I might be guilty of on the head of him for
whom I risked my reputation for good sense.
Nor was I disappointed in this. Inspector Dalzell's air was fatherly and his tone altogether
gentle as, in reply to my excuses for troubling him with my opinions, he told me that in a
case of such importance he was glad to receive the impressions even of such a prejudiced
little partizan as myself. The word fired me, and I spoke.
"You consider Mr. Durand guilty, and so do many others, I fear, in spite of his long
record for honesty and uprightness. And why? Because you will not admit the possibility
of another person's guilt,--a person standing so high in private and public estimation that
the very idea seems preposterous and little short of insulting to the country of which he is
an acknowledged ornament."
The inspector had actually risen. His expression and whole attitude showed shock. But I
did not quail; I only subdued my manner and spoke with quieter conviction.
"I am aware," said I, "how words so daring must impress you. But listen, sir; listen to
what I have to say before you utterly condemn me. I acknowledge that it is the frightful
position into which I threw Mr. Durand by my officious attempt to right him which has
driven me to make this second effort to fix the crime on the only other man who had
possible access to Mrs. Fairbrother at the fatal moment. How could I live in inaction?
How could you expect me to weigh for a moment this foreigner's reputation against that
of my own lover? If I have reasons--"
"--reasons which would appeal to all; if instead of this person's having an international
reputation at his back he had been a simple gentleman like Mr. Durand,--would you not
consider me entitled to speak?"
"You have no confidence in my reasons, Inspector; they may not weigh against that
splash of blood on Mr. Durand's shirt-front, but such as they are I must give them. But