The Woman in the Alcove
I caught my breath sharply. I did not say anything. I felt that I did not understand the
inspector sufficiently yet to speak. He seemed to be pleased with my reticence. At all
events, his manner grew even kinder as he said:
"This Sears is a witness we must have. He is being looked for now, high and low, and we
hope to get some clue to his whereabouts before night. That is, if he is in this city.
Meanwhile, we are all glad--I am sure you are also--to spare so distinguished a gentleman
as Mr. Grey the slightest annoyance."
"And Mr. Durand? What of him in this interim?"
"He will have to await developments. I see no other way, my dear."
It was kindly said, but my head drooped. This waiting was what was killing him and
killing me. The inspector saw and gently patted my hand.
"Come," said he, "you have head enough to see that it is never wise to force matters."
Then, possibly with an intention of rousing me, he remarked: "There is another small fact
which may interest you. It concerns the waiter, Wellgood, recommended, as you will
remember, by this Sears. In my talk with Jones it leaked out as a matter of small moment,
and so it was to him, that this Wellgood was the waiter who ran and picked up the
diamond after it fell from Mr. Grey's hand."
"This may mean nothing--it meant nothing to Jones--but I inform you of it because there
is a question I want to put to you in this connection. You smile."
"Did I?" I meekly answered. "I do not know why."
This was not true. I had been waiting to see why the inspector had so honored me with all
these disclosures, almost with his thoughts. Now I saw. He desired something in return.
"You were on the scene at this very moment," he proceeded, after a brief contemplation
of my face, "and you must have seen this man when he lifted the jewel and handed it
back to Mr. Grey. Did you remark his features?"
"No, sir; I was too far off; besides, my eyes were on Mr. Grey." "That is a pity. I was in
hopes you could satisfy me on a very important point."
"What point is that, Inspector Dalzell?"
"Whether he answered the following description." And, taking up another paper, he was
about to read it aloud to me, when an interruption occurred. A man showed himself at the
door, whom the inspector no sooner recognized than he seemed to forget me in his
eagerness to interrogate him. Perhaps the appearance of the latter had something to do
with it; he looked as if he had been running, or had been the victim of some extraordinary