The Woman in the Alcove HTML version

The Closed Door
The road was once the highway, but the tide having played so many tricks with its
numberless bridges a new one had been built farther up the cliff, carrying with it the life
and business of the small town. Many old landmarks still remained--shops, warehouses
and even a few scattered dwellings. But most of these were deserted, and those that were
still in use showed such neglect that it was very evident the whole region would soon be
given up to the encroaching sea and such interests as are inseparable from it.
The hour was that mysterious one of late twilight, when outlines lose their distinctness
and sea and shore melt into one mass of uniform gray. There was no wind and the waves
came in with a soft plash, but so near to the level of the road that it was evident, even to
these strangers, that the tide was at its height and would presently begin to ebb.
Soon they had passed the last forsaken dwelling, and the town proper lay behind them.
Sand and a few rocks were all that lay between them now and the open stretch of the
ocean, which, at this point, approached the land in a small bay, well-guarded on either
side by embracing rocky heads. This was what made the harbor at C--.
It was very still. They passed one team and only one. Sweetwater looked very sharply at
this team and at its driver, but saw nothing to arouse suspicion. They were now a half-
mile from C--, and, seemingly, in a perfectly desolate region.
"A manufactory here!" exclaimed Mr. Grey. It was the first word he had uttered since
"Not far from here," was Sweetwater's equally laconic reply; and, the road taking a turn
almost at the moment of his speaking, he leaned forward and pointed out a building
standing on the right-hand side of the road, with its feet in the water. "That's it." said he.
"They described it well enough for me to know it when I see it. Looks like a robber's hole
at this time of night," he laughed; "but what can you expect from a manufactory of patent
Mr. Grey was silent. He was looking very earnestly at the building.
"It is larger than I expected," he remarked at last.
Sweetwater himself was surprised, but as they advanced and their point of view changed
they found it to be really an insignificant structure, and Mr. Wellgood's portion of it more
insignificant still.
In reality it was a collection of three stores under one roof: two of them were shut up and
evidently unoccupied, the third showed a lighted window. This was the manufactory. It
occupied the middle place and presented a tolerably decent appearance. It showed,
besides the lighted lamp I have mentioned, such signs of life as a few packing-boxes
tumbled out on the small platform in front, and a whinnying horse attached to an empty
buggy, tied to a post on the opposite side of the road.