The Woman in the Alcove HTML version

The success of this interview provoked other attempts on the part of the reporters who
now flocked into the Southwest. Ere long particulars began to pour in of Mr. Fairbrother's
painful journey south, after his illness set in. The clerk of the hotel in El Moro, where the
great mine-owner's name was found registered at the time of the murder, told a story
which made very good reading for those who were more interested in the sufferings and
experiences of the millionaire husband of the murdered lady than in those of the unhappy
but comparatively insignificant man upon whom public opinion had cast the odium of her
It seems that when the first news came of the great crime which had taken place in New
York, Mr. Fairbrother was absent from the hotel on a prospecting tour through the
adjacent mountains. Couriers had been sent after him, and it was one of these who finally
brought him into town. He had been found wandering alone on horseback among the
defiles of an untraveled region, sick and almost incoherent from fever. Indeed, his
condition was such that neither the courier nor such others as saw him had the heart to
tell him the dreadful news from New York, or even to show him the papers. To their
great relief, he betrayed no curiosity in them. All he wanted was a berth in the first train
going south, and this was an easy way for them out of a great responsibility. They
listened to his wishes and saw him safely aboard, with such alacrity and with so many
precautions against his being disturbed that they have never doubted that he left El Moro
in total ignorance, not only of the circumstances of his great bereavement, but of the
bereavement itself.
This ignorance, which he appeared to have carried with him to the Placide, was regarded
by those who knew him best as proving the truth of the affirmation elicited from him in
the pauses of his delirium of the genuineness of the stone which had passed from his
hands to those of his wife at the time of their separation; and, further despatches coming
in, some private and some official, but all insisting upon the fact that it would be weeks
before he would be in a condition to submit to any sort of examination on a subject so
painful, the authorities in New York decided to wait no longer for his testimony, but to
proceed at once with the inquest.
Great as is the temptation to give a detailed account of proceedings which were of such
moment to myself, and to every word of which I listened with the eagerness of a novice
and the anguish of a woman who sees her lover's reputation at the mercy of a verdict
which may stigmatize him as a possible criminal, I see no reason for encumbering my
narrative with what, for the most part, would be a mere repetition of facts already known
to you.
Mr. Durand's intimate and suggestive connection with this crime, the explanations he had
to give of this connection, frequently bizarre and, I must acknowledge, not always
convincing,--nothing could alter these nor change the fact of the undoubted cowardice he
displayed in hiding Mrs. Fairbrother's gloves in my unfortunate little bag.
As for the mystery of the warning, it remained as much of a mystery as ever. Nor did any
better success follow an attempt to fix the ownership of the stiletto, though a half-day was
exhausted in an endeavor to show that the latter might have come into Mr. Durand's