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been out all day." I stared at her in amazement, and pulling the handkerchief out of my pocket, handed it to her. "You dropped
this in Cumnor Street this
Alroy," I said very calmly.
She looked at
"You went to meet
me in terror, but made no attempt to take the handkerchief. "What were you doing there?" I asked. “What_right have you to question me?” she answered. "The right of a man who loves you," I replied; “I came here to ask you to be my wife." She hid her face in her hands, and burst into floods of tears. "You must tell me," I continued. She stood up, and, looking me straight in the face, said, "Lord Murchison, there is nothing to tell you.' some one," I cried; She grew dreadfully white, and said, "I went to meet no one.”- "Can't you tell the truth?" I exclaimed. "I have told it," she replied. I was mad, frantic; I don't know what I said, but I said terrible things to her. Finally I rushed out of the house. She wrote me a letter the next day; I sent it back unopened, and started for Norway with Alan Colville. After a month I came back, and
"this is your mystery."
the first thing I saw in the Morning Post was the death of Lady Alroy. She had caught a chill at the Opera, and had died in five days of congestion of the lungs. I shut myself up and saw no one. I had loved her so much, I had loved her so madly. Good God! how I had loved that woman!
'You went to the street, to the house in it?' I said.
'Yes,' he answered.
'One day I went to Cumnor Street. could not help it; I was tortured with doubt. I knocked at the door, and a respectablelooking woman opened it to me. I asked her if she had any rooms to let. "Well, sir," she replied, "the drawing-rooms are supposed to be let; but I have not seen the lady for three months, and as rent is owing on them, you can have them."—"Is this the lady?" I said, showing the photograph. "That's her, sure enough," she exclaimed; "and when is she coming back, sir ?"-"The lady is dead," I replied. "Oh, sir, I hope not!" said the woman; "she was my best lodger. She paid me three guineas a week merely to sit in my drawing-rooms now and then."—"She met
some one here?" I said; but the woman assured me that it was not so, that she always came alone, and saw no one. "What on earth did she do here?" I cried. "She simply sat in the drawing-room, sir, reading books, and sometimes had tea," the woman answered. I did not know what to say, so I gave her a sovereign and went away. Now, what do you think it all meant? You don't believe the woman was telling the truth?' 'I do.'
"Then why did Lady Alroy go there?'
'My dear Gerald,' I answered, 'Lady Alroy was simply a woman with a mania for mystery. She took these rooms for the pleasure of going there with her veil down, and imagining she was a heroine. She had a passion for secrecy, but she herself was merely a Sphinx without a secret.'
'Do you really think so?'
'I am sure of it,' I replied.
He took out the morocco case, opened it, and looked at the photograph. 'I wonder?'
he said at last.