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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

A Woman's Love

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"Shall I ever forget the blast of driving rain that struck our faces and enveloped us in a cloud of wet, as the door swung on its hinges and let us forth into the night; or the electric thrill that shot through me as that slender girl grasped my hand and drew me away through the blinding darkness. It was not that I was so much affected by her beauty as influenced by her power and energy. The fury of the gale seemed to bend to her will, the wind lend wings to her feet. I began to realize what intellect was. Arrived at the roadside, she paused and looked back. The two burly forms of the men we had left behind us were standing in the door of the inn; in another moment they had plunged forth and towards us. With a low cry the young girl leaped towards a tree where to my unbounded astonishment I beheld my horse standing ready saddled. Dragging the mare from her fastenings, she hung the lantern, burning as it was, on the pommel of the saddle, struck the panting creature a smart blow upon the flank, and drew back with a leap to my side.

"The startled horse snorted, gave a plunge of dismay and started away from us down the road.

"'We will wait,' said Luttra.

"The words were no sooner out of her mouth than her father and brother rushed by.

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"'They will follow the light,' whispered she; and seizing me again by the hand, she hurried me away in the direction opposite to that which the horse had taken. 'If you will trust me, I will bring you to shelter,' she murmured, bending her slight form to the gusty wind but relaxing not a whit of her speed.

"'You are too kind,' I murmured in return. 'Why should you expose yourself to such an extent for a stranger?'

"Her hand tightened on mine, but she did not reply, and we hastened on as speedily as the wind and rain would allow. After a short but determined breasting of the storm, during which my breath had nearly failed me, she suddenly stopped.

"'Do you know,' she exclaimed in a low impressive tone, 'that we are on the verge of a steep and dreadful precipice? It runs along here for a quarter of a mile and it is not an uncommon thing for a horse and rider to be dashed over it in a night like this.'

"There was something in her manner that awakened a chill in my veins almost as if she had pointed out some dreadful doom which I had unwittingly escaped.

"'This is, then, a dangerous road,' I murmured.

"'Very,' was her hurried and almost incoherent reply.

"How far we travelled through the mud and tangled grasses of that horrible road I do not know. It seemed a long distance; it was probably not more than three quarters of a mile. At last she paused with a short 'Here we are;' and looking up, I saw that we were in front of a small unlighted cottage.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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