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  A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

A Word Overheard

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That evening I had a talk with Fanny over the area gate. She came out when she saw me approach, with her eyes staring and her whole form in a flutter.

"O," she cried, "such things as I have heard this day!"

"Well," said I, "what? let me hear too." She put her hand on her heart. "I never was so frightened," whispered she, "I thought I should have fainted right away. To hear that elegant lady use such a word as crime,--"

"What elegant lady?" interrupted I. "Don't begin in the middle of your story, that's a good girl; I want to hear it all."

"Well," said she, calming down a little, "Mrs. Daniels had a visitor to-day, a lady. She was dressed--"

"O, now," interrupted I for the second time, "you can leave that out. Tell me what her name was and let the fol-de-rols go."

"Her name?" exclaimed the girl with some sharpness, "how should I know her name; she did'nt come to see me."

"How did she look then? You saw her I suppose?"

"And was'nt that what I was telling you, when you stopped me. She looked like a queen, that she did; as grand a lady as ever I see, in her velvet dress sweeping over the floor, and her diamonds as big as--"

"Was she a dark woman?" I asked.

"Her hair was black and so were her eyes, if that is what you mean."

"And was she very tall and proud looking ?"

The girl nodded. "You know her? 'whispered she.

"No," said I, "not exactly; but I think I can tell who she is. And so she called to-day on Mrs. Daniels, did she."

"Yes, but I guess she knew master would be home before she got away."

"Come," said I, "tell me all about it; I'm getting impatient."

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"And ain't I telling you?" said she. "It was about three o'clock this afternoon, the time I go up stairs to dress, so I just hangs about in the hall a bit, near the parlor door, and I hear her gossiping with Mrs. Daniels almost as if she was an old friend, and Mrs. Daniels answering her mighty stiffly and as if she was'nt glad to see her at all. But the lady didn't seem to mind, but went on talking as sweet as honey, and when they came out, you would have thought she loved the old woman like a sister to see her look into her face and say something about knowing how busy she was, but that it would give her so much pleasure if she would come some day to see her and talk over old times. But Mrs. Daniels was'nt pleased a bit and showed plain enough she did'nt like the lady, fine as she was in her ways. She was going to answer her too, but just then the front door opened and Mr. Blake with his satchel in his hand, came into the house. And how he did start, to be sure, when he saw them, though he tried to say something perlite which she did'nt seem to take to at all, for after muttering something about not expecting to see him, she put her hand on the knob and was going right out. But he stopped her and they went into the parlor together while Mrs. Daniels stood staring after them like one mad, her hand held out with his bag and umbrella in it, stiff as a statter in the Central Park. She did'nt stand so long, though, but came running down the hall, as if she was bewitched. I was dreadful flustered, for though I was hid behind the wall that juts out there by the back stairs, I was afraid she would see me and shame me before Mr. Blake. But she passed right by and never looked up. 'There is something dreadful mysterious in this,' thought I, and I just made up my mind to stay where I was till Mr. Blake and the lady should come out again from the parlor. I did'nt have to wait very long. In a few minutes the door opened and they stepped out, he ahead and she coming after. I thought this was queer, he is always so dreadful perlite in his ways, but I thought it was a deal queerer when I saw him go up the front stairs, she hurrying after, looking I cannot tell you how, but awful troubled and anxious, I should say.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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