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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green


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"I smiled to myself at his calling the broad shouldered six-footer who had just left us a boy, but merely remarking, 'He is your son is he not!' seated myself before the blaze which shot up a tongue of white flame at my approach, that irresistibly recalled to my fancy the appearance of the girl who had gone out a moment before.

"'O, yes, he is my son, and that girl you saw here was my daughter; I keep this inn and they help me, but it is a slow way to live, I can tell you. Travel on these roads is slim.'

"'I should think likely,' I returned, remembering the half dozen or so hills up which I had clambered since I took to my horse. 'How far are we from Pentonville?'

"'O, two or three miles,' he replied, but in a hurried kind of a way. 'Not far in the daytime but a regular journey in a night like this?'

"'Yes,' said I, as the house shook under a fresh gust; 'it is fortunate I have a place in which to put up.'

"He glanced down at my baggage which consisted of a small hand bag, an over-coat and a fishing pole, with something like a gleam of disappointment.

"'Going fishing?' he asked.

"'Yes,' I returned.

"'Good trout up those streams and plenty of them,' he went on. 'Going alone?'

"I did not half like his importunity, but considering I had nothing better to do, replied as affably as possible. 'No, I expect to meet a friend in Pentonville who will accompany me."

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"His hand went to his beard in a thoughtful attitude and he cast me what, with my increased experience of the world, I should now consider a sinister glance. 'Then you are expected?' said he.

"Not considering this worth reply, I stretched out my feet to the blaze and began to warm them, for I felt chilled through.

"'Been on the road long?' he now asked, glancing at the blue flannel suit I wore.

"'All summer,' I returned,

"I again thought he looked disappointed.

"'From Troy or New York?' he went on with a vague endeavor to appear good naturally off hand.

"'New York.'

"'A big place that,' he continued. 'I was there once, lots of money stored away in them big buildings down in Wall Street, eh?'

"I assented, and he drew a chair up to my side, a proceeding that was interrupted, however, by the reentrance of his son, who without any apology crowded into the other side of the fire-place in a way to sandwich me between them. Not fancying this arrangement which I, however, imputed to ignorance, I drew back and asked if my room was ready. It seemed it was not, and unpleasantly as it promised, I felt forced to reseat myself and join in, if not support, the conversation that followed.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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