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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green


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"They stopped, but only to beset me with questions till the whole truth came out. I could not have committed a worse folly than thus taking them into my confidence. Instantly the advantages to be gained by using my secret connection with so wealthy a man for the purpose of cowering me and blackmailing him, seemed to strike both their minds at once, slow as they usually are to receive impressions. The silver-closet and money-safe sank to a comparatively insignificant position in their eyes, and to get me out of the house, and with my happiness at stake, treat with the honorable man who notwithstanding his non-approval of me as a woman, still regarded me as his lawfully wedded wife, became in their eyes a thing of such wonderful promise they were willing to run any and every risk to test its value. But here to their great astonishment I rebelled; astonishment because they could not realize my desiring anything above money and the position to which they declared I was by law entitled. In vain I pleaded my love; in vain I threatened exposure of their plans if not whereabouts. The mine of gold which they fondly believed they had stumbled upon unawares, promised too richly to be easily abandoned. 'You must go with us,' said they, 'if not peaceably then by force,' and they actually advanced upon me, upsetting a chair and tearing down one of the curtains to which I clung. It was then I committed that little act concerning which you questioned me. I wanted to show them I was not to be moved by threats of that character; that I did not even fear the shedding of my blood; and that they would only be wasting their time in trying to sway me by hints of personal violence. And they were a little impressed, sufficiently so at least to turn their threats in another direction, awakening fears at last which I could not conceal, much as I felt it would be policy to do so. Gathering up a few articles I most prized, my wedding ring, Mr. Blake, and a photograph of yourself that Mrs. Daniels had been kind enough to give me, I put on my bonnet and cloak and said I would go with them, since they persisted in requiring it. The fact is I no longer possessed motive or strength to resist. Even your unexpected appearance at the door, Mrs. Daniels, offered no prospect of hope. Arouse the house? what would that do? only reveal my cherished secret and perhaps jeopardize the life of my husband. Besides, they were my own near kin, remember, and so had some little claim upon my consideration, at least to the point of my not personally betraying them unless they menaced immediate and actual harm. The escape by the window which would have been a difficult task for most women to perform, was easy enough for me. I was brought up to wild ways you know, and the descent of a ladder forty feet long was a comparatively trivial thing for me to accomplish. It was the tearing away from a life of silent peace, the reentrance of my soul into an atmosphere of sin and deadly plotting, that was the hard thing, the difficult dreadful thing which hung weights to my feet, and made me well nigh mad. And it was this which at the sight of a policeman in the street led me to make an effort to escape. But it was not successful. Though I was fortunate enough to free myself from the grasp of my father and brother, I reached the gate on ----- street only to encounter the eyes of him whose displeasure I most feared, looking sternly upon me from the other side. The shock was too much for me in my then weak and unnerved condition. Without considering anything but the fact that he never had known and never must, that I had been in the same house with him for so long, I rushed back to the corner and into the arms of the men who awaited me. How you came to be there, Mr. Blake, or why you did not open the gate and follow, I cannot say."

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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