The Woman in the Alcove
The Missing Recommendation
My patient slept that night, but I did not. The shock given by this sudden cry of Halt! at
the very moment I was about to make my great move, the uncertainty as to what it meant
and my doubt of its effect upon Mr. Durand's position, put me on the anxious seat and
kept my thoughts fully occupied till morning.
I was very tired and must have shown it, when, with the first rays of a very meager sun,
Miss Grey softly unclosed her eyes and found me looking at her, for her smile had a
sweet compassion in it, and she said as she pressed my hand:
"You must have watched me all night. I never saw any one look so tired,--or so good,"
she softly finished.
I had rather she had not uttered that last phrase. It did not fit me at the moment,--did not
fit me, perhaps, at any time. Good! I! when my thoughts had not been with her, but with
Mr. Durand; when the dominating feeling in my breast was not that of relief, but a vague
regret that I had not been allowed to make my great test and so establish, to my own
satisfaction, at least, the perfect innocence of my lover even at the cost of untold anguish
to this confiding girl upon whose gentle spirit the very thought of crime would cast a
I must have flushed; certainly I showed some embarrassment, for her eyes brightened
with shy laughter as she whispered:
"You do not like to be praised,--another of your virtues. You have too many. I have only
one--I love my friends."
She did. One could see that love was life to her.
For an instant I trembled. How near I had been to wrecking this gentle soul! Was she safe
yet? I was not sure. My own doubts were not satisfied. I awaited the papers with feverish
impatience. They should contain news. News of what? Ah, that was the question!
"You will let me see my mail this morning, will you not?" she asked, as I busied myself
"That is for the doctor to say," I smiled. "You are certainly better this morning."
"It is so hard for me not to be able to read his letters, or to write a word to relieve his
Thus she told me her heart's secret, and unconsciously added another burden to my
already too heavy load.
I was on my way to give some orders about my patient's breakfast, when Mr. Grey came
into the sitting-room and met me face to face. He had a newspaper in his hand and my
heart stood still as I noted his altered looks and disturbed manner. Were these due to
anything he had found in those columns? It was with difficulty that I kept my eyes from