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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

Love And Duty

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"Do you three promise to keep our secret if we keep yours?" muttered the father with an uneasy glance at my pocket.

"We certainly do," was our solemn return.

"Very well; call in the girl and let me just look at her, then, before we go. We won't say nothing," continued he, seeing Mr. Blake shrink, "only she is my daughter and if I cannot bid her good-bye--"

"Let him see his child," cried Mr. Blake turning with a shudder to the window. "I--I wish it," added he.

Straightway with hasty foot I left the room. Going to the little closet where I had ordered his wife to remain concealed, I knocked and entered. She was crouched in an attitude of prayer on the floor, her face buried in her hands, and her whole person breathing that agony of suspense that is a torture to the sensitive soul.

"Mrs. Blake," said I, dismissing the landlady who stood in helpless distress beside her, "the arrest has been satisfactorily made and your father calls for you to say good-bye before going away with us. Will you come?"

"But my--my--Mr. Blake?" exclaimed she leaping to her feet. "I am sure I heard his footstep in the hall?"

"He is with your father and brother. It was at his command I came for you."

A gleam hard to interpret flashed for an instant over her face. With her eye on the door she towered in her womanly dignity, while thoughts innumerable seemed to rush in wild succession through her mind.

"Will you not come?" I urged.

"I--," she paused. "I will go see my father," she murmured, "but--"

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Suddenly she trembled and drew back; a step was in the hall, on the threshold, at her side; Mr. Blake had come to reclaim his bride.

"Mr. Blake!"

The word came from her in a low tone shaken with the concentrated anguish of many a month of longing and despair, but there was no invitation in its sound, and he who had held out his arms, stopped and surveying her with a certain deprecatory glance in his proud eye, said,

"You are right; I have first my acknowledgments to make and your forgiveness to ask before I can hope--"

"No, no," she broke in, "your coming here is enough, I request no more. If you felt unkindly toward me--"

"Unkindly?" A world of love thrilled in that word. "Luttra, I am your husband and rejoice that I am so; it is to lay the devotion of my heart and life at your feet that I seek your presence this hour. The year has taught me--ah, what has not the year taught me of the worth of her I so recklessly threw from me on my wedding day. Luttra,"--he held out his hand--"will you crown all your other acts of devotion with a pardon that will restore me to my manhood and that place in your esteem which I covet above every other earthly good?"

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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