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    Agatha Webb

    by

    Anna Katharine Green

    Web-Books.Com

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    Agatha WebbBook I. The Purple Orchi...............................................................................3

    Book II. The !an O" #o $eputation.......................................................113

    Book III. %a Batsy &i'e(..........................................................................157

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    Book I. The Purple OrchidI. A CRY ON THE HILL

    The dance was over. From the great house on the hill the guests had all dearted and onl! themusicians remained. As the! "iled out through the amle doorwa!# on their wa! home# the "irst"aint strea$ o" earl! dawn %ecame visi%le in the east. One o" them# a lan$# lain&"eatured !oungman o" ungainl! asect %ut enetrating e!e# called the attention o" the others to it.

    'Loo$(' said he) 'there is the da!light( This has %een a ga! night "or *utherlandtown.'

    'Too ga!#' muttered another# starting aside as the slight "igure o" a !oung mancoming "rom the house %ehind them rushed hastil! %!. '+h!# who,s that-'

    As the! one and all had recognised the erson thus alluded to# no one answered tillhe had dashed out o" the gate and disaeared in the woods on the other side o" theroad. Then the! all so$e at once.

    'It,s r. Frederic$('

    'He seems in a deserate hurr!.'

    'He trod on m! toes.'

    '/id !ou hear the words he was muttering as he went %!-'

    As onl! the last 0uestion was calculated to rouse an! interest# it alone receivedattention.

    'No) what were the!- I heard him sa! something# %ut I "ailed to catch the words.'

    'He wasn,t tal$ing to !ou# or to me either# "or that matter) %ut I have ears that canhear an e!e win$. He said1 ,Than$ 2od# this night o" horror is over(, Thin$ o" that(

    A"ter such a dance and such a sread# he calls the night horri%le and than$s 2odthat it is over. I thought he was the ver! man to en3o! this $ind o" thing.'

    '*o did I.'

    'And so did I.'

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    The "ive musicians e4changed loo$s# then huddled in a grou at the gate.

    'He has 0uarrelled with his sweetheart#' suggested one.

    'I,m not surrised at that#' declared another. 'I never thought it would %e a match.'

    '*hame i" it were(' muttered the ungainl! !outh who had so$en "irst.

    As the su%3ect o" this comment was the son o" the gentleman whose house the!were 3ust leaving# the! necessaril! so$e low) %ut their tones were ri"e with curiosit!#and it was evident that the toic deel! interested them. One o" the "ive who had notreviousl! so$en now ut in a word1

    'I saw him when he "irst led out iss 5age to dance# and I saw him again when hestood u oosite her in the last 0uadrille# and I tell !ou# %o!s# there was a might!deal o" di""erence in the wa! he conducted himsel" toward her in the %eginning o" theevening and the last. You wouldn,t have thought him the same man. Rec$less !oung"ellows li$e him are not to %e caught %! dimles onl!. The! want cash.'

    'Or "amil!# at least) and she hasn,t either. 6ut what a rett! girl she is( an! a "ellow

    as rich as he and as well connected would %e satis"ied with her good loo$s alone.''2ood loo$s(' High scorn was o%serva%le in this e4clamation# which was made %!the !oung man whom I have %e"ore characterised as ungainl!. 'I re"use toac$nowledge that she has an! good loo$s. On the contrar!# I consider her lain.'

    'Oh( Oh(' %urst in rotest "rom more than one mouth. 'And wh! does she have ever!"ellow in the room dangling a"ter her# then-' as$ed the la!er on the "lageolet.

    '*he hasn,t a regular "eature.'

    '+hat di""erence does that ma$e when it isn,t her "eatures !ou notice# %ut hersel"-'

    'I don,t li$e her.'

    A laugh "ollowed this.

    'That won,t trou%le her# *weetwater. *utherland does# i" !ou don,t# and that,s muchmore to the oint. And he,ll marr! her !et) he can,t hel it. +h!# she,d

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    witch the devil into leading her to the altar i" she too$ a notion to have him "or her%ridegroom.'

    'There would %e consistenc! in that#' muttered the "ellow 3ust addressed. '6ut r.Frederic$&&'

    'Hush( There,s some one on the doorste. +h!# it,s she('The! all glanced %ac$. The grace"ul "igure o" a !oung girl dressed in white was to %eseen leaning toward them "rom the oen doorwa!. 6ehind her shone a %la7e o"light&&the candles not having %een !et e4tinguished in the hall&&and against this%rilliant %ac$ground her slight "orm# with all its %ewitching outlines# stood out in lainrelie".

    '+ho was that-' she %egan in a high# almost strident voice# totall! out o" $eeingwith the sensuous curves o" her strange# sweet "ace. 6ut the 0uestion remainedunanswered# "or at that moment her attention# as well as that o" the men lingering atthe gate# was attracted %! the sound o" hurr!ing "eet and con"used cries coming uthe hill.

    'urder( urder(' was the word anted out %! more than one harsh voice) and inanother instant a do7en men and %o!s came rushing into sight in a state o" suche4citement that the "ive musicians recoiled "rom the gate# and one o" them went so"ar as to start %ac$ toward the house. As he did so he noticed a curious thing. The!oung woman whom the! had all erceived standing in the door a moment %e"orehad vanished# !et she was $nown to ossess the $eenest curiosit! o" an! one intown.

    'urder( urder(' A terri%le and unrecedented cr! in this old# 2od&"earing town.Then came in hoarse e4lanation "rom the 3ostling grou as the! stoed at the gate1'rs. +e%% has %een $illed( *ta%%ed with a $ni"e( Tell r. *utherland('

    rs. +e%%(

    As the musicians heard this name# so honoured and so universall! %eloved# the! to aman uttered a cr!. rs. +e%%( +h!# it was imossi%le. *houting in their turn "or r.*utherland# the! all crowded "orward.

    'Not rs. +e%%(' the! rotested. '+ho could have the daring or the heart to $illHER-'

    '2od $nows#' answered a voice "rom the highwa!. '6ut she,s dead&& we,ve 3ust seenher('

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    'Then it,s the old man,s wor$#' 0uavered a iing voice. 'I,ve alwa!s said he wouldturn on his %est "riend some da!. ,*!lum,s the %est lace "or "ol$s as has lost theirwits. I&&'

    6ut here a hand was ut over his mouth# and the rest o" the words was lost in aninarticulate gurgle. r. *utherland had 3ust aeared on the orch.

    He was a suer%&loo$ing man# with an e4ression o" mingled $indness and dignit!that invaria%l! awa$ened %oth awe and admiration in the sectator. No man in thecountr!&&I was going to sa! no woman was more %eloved# or held in higher esteem.Yet he could not control his onl! son# as ever!one within ten miles o" the hill well$new.

    At this moment his "ace showed %oth ain and shoc$.

    '+hat name are !ou shouting out there-' he %ro$enl! demanded. 'Agatha +e%%- IsAgatha +e%% hurt-'

    'Yes# sir) $illed#' reeated a hal"&do7en voices at once. '+e,ve 3ust come "rom thehouse. All the town is u. *ome sa! her hus%and did it.'

    'No# no(' was r. *utherland,s decisive though hal"&inaudi%le resonse. '5hilemon+e%% might end his own li"e# %ut not Agatha,s. It was the mone!&&'

    Here he caught himsel" u# and# raising his voice# addressed the crowd o" villagersmore directl!.

    '+ait#' said he# 'and I will go %ac$ with !ou. +here is Frederic$-' he demanded o"such mem%ers o" his own household as stood a%out him.

    No one $new.

    'I wish some one would "ind m! son. I want him to go into town with me.'

    'He,s over in the woods there#' volunteered a voice "rom without.

    'In the woods(' reeated the "ather# in a surrised tone.

    'Yes# sir) we all saw him go. *hall we sing out to him-'

    'No# no) I will manage ver! well without him.' And ta$ing u his hat r. *utherlandsteed out again uon the orch.

    *uddenl! he stoed. A hand had %een laid on his arm and an insinuating voice wasmurmuring in his ear1

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    '/o !ou mind i" I go with !ou- I will not ma$e an! trou%le.'

    It was the same !oung lad! we have seen %e"ore.

    The old gentleman "rowned&&he who never "rowned and remar$ed shortl!1

    'A scene o" murder is no lace "or women.'

    The "ace uturned to his remained unmoved.

    'I thin$ I will go#' she 0uietl! ersisted. 'I can easil! mingle with the crowd.'

    He said not another word against it. iss 5age was under a! in his house# %ut "orthe last "ew wee$s no one had underta$en to contradict her. In the interval since her"irst aearance on the orch# she had e4changed the light dress in which she haddanced at the %all# "or a dar$er and more servicea%le one# and erhas this to$en o"her determination ma! have had its in"luence in silencing him. He 3oined the crowd#and together the! moved down& hill. This was too much "or the servants o" thehouse. One %! one the! too le"t the house till it stood a%solutel! emt!. 8err! snu""edout the candles and shut the "ront door# %ut the side entrance stood wide oen# and

    into this entrance# as the last "ootste died out on the hillside# assed a slight andresolute "igure. It was that o" the musician who had 0uestioned iss 5age,sattractions.

    II. ONE NI2HT,* +OR9

    *utherlandtown was a seaort. The village# which was a small one# consisted o" onelong street and numerous cross streets running down "rom the hillside and ending onthe wharves. On one o" the corners thus made# stood the +e%% house# with its "rontdoor on the main street and its side door on one o" the hillside lanes. As the grou o"men and %o!s who had %een in search o" r. *utherland entered this l