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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green


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"You must have thought I cared little for the anxiety you would be sure to feel," said that fair young mistress, gazing with earnestness into the glad but tearful eyes of the housekeeper. "But indeed, I have been in no position to communicate with you, nor could I do so without risking that to protect which I so outraged my feelings as to leave the house at all. I mean the life and welfare of its master, Mrs. Daniels."

"Ha, what is that?" quoth Mr. Blake. "It was to save me, you consented to follow them?"

"Yes; what else would have led me to such an action? They might have killed me, I would not have cared, but when they began to utter threats against you--"

"Mrs. Blake," exclaimed Mrs. Daniels, catching hold of her mistress's uplifted hand, and pointing to a scar that slightly disfigured her white arm a little above the wrist, "Mrs. Blake, what's that?"

A pink flush, the first I had seen on her usually pale countenance, rose for an instant to her cheeks, and she seemed to hesitate.

"It was not there when I last saw you, Mrs. Blake."

"No," was the slow reply, "I found myself forced that night to inflict upon myself a little wound. It is nothing, let it go."

"No, Luttra I cannot let it go," said her husband, advancing towards her with something like gentle command. "I must hear not only about this but all the other occurrences of that night. How came they to find you in the refuge you had attained?"

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"I think," said she in a low tone the underlying suffering of which it would be hard to describe, "that it was not to seek me they first invaded your house. They had heard you were a rich man, and the sight of that ladder running up the side of the new extension was too much for them. Indeed I know that it was for purposes of robbery they came, for they had hired this room opposite you some days previous to making the attempt. You see they were almost destitute of money and though they had some buried in the cellar of the old house in Vermont, they dared not leave the city to procure it. My brother was obliged to do so later, however. It was a surprise to them seeing me in your house. They had reached the roof of the extension and were just lifting up the corner of the shade I had dropped across the open window--I always open my window a few minutes before preparing to retire--when I rose from the chair in which I had been brooding, and turned up the gas. I was combing my hair at the time and so of course they recognized me. Instantly they gave a secret signal I, alas, remembered only too well, and crouching back, bade me put out the light that they might enter with safety. I was at first too much startled to realize the consequences of my action, and with some vague idea that they had discovered my retreat and come for purposes of advice or assistance, I did what they bid. Immediately they threw back the shade and came in, their huge figures looming frightfully in the faint light made by a distant gas lamp in the street below. 'What do you want?' were my first words uttered in a voice I scarcely recognized for my own; 'why do you steal on me like this in the night and through an open window fifty feet from the ground? Aren't you afraid you will be discovered and sent back to the prison from which you have escaped?' Their reply sent a chill through my blood and awoke me to a realization of what I had done in thus allowing two escaped convicts to enter a house not my own. 'We want money and we're not afraid of anything now you are here.' And without heeding my exclamation of horror, they coolly told me that they would wait where they were till the household was asleep, when they would expect me to show them the way to the silver closet or what was better, the safe or wherever it was Mr. Blake kept his money. I saw they took me for a servant, as indeed I was, and for some minutes I managed to preserve that position in their eyes. But when in a sudden burst of rage at my refusal to help them, they pushed me aside and hurried to the door with the manifest intention of going below, I forgot prudence in my fears and uttered some wild appeal to them not to do injury to any one in the house for it was my husband's. Of course that disclosure had its natural effect.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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