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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green


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"A half hour passed away, during which the wind increased till it almost amounted to a gale. Spurts of rain dashed against the windows with a sharp crackling sound that suggested hail, while ever and anon a distant roll as of rousing thunder, rumbled away among the hills in a long and reverberating peal, that made me feel glad to be housed even under the roof of these rude and uncongenial creatures. Suddenly the conversation turned upon the time and time-pieces, when in a low even tone I heard murmured behind me,

"'The gentleman's room is ready;' and turning, I saw standing in the doorway the slight figure of the young girl whose appearance had previously so impressed me.

"I immediately arose. 'Then I will proceed to it at once,' said I, taking up my traps and advancing towards her.

"'Do not be alarmed if you hear creaks and cracklings all over the house,' observed the landlord as I departed. 'The windows are loose and the doors ill-fitting. In such a storm as this they make noise enough to keep an army awake. The house is safe enough though and if you don't mind noise--'

"'O I don't mind noise,' rejoined I, feeling at that moment tired enough to fall into a doze on the staircase. 'I shall sleep, never fear,' and without further ado followed the girl upstairs into a large clumsily furnished room whose enormous bed draped with heavy curtains at once attracted my attention.

"'O I cannot sleep under those things,' remarked I, with a gesture towards the dismal draperies which to me were another name for suffocation.

"With a single arm-sweep she threw them back. 'Is there anything more I can do for you?' asked she, glancing hastily about the room.

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"I thanked her and said 'no,' at which she at once departed with a look of still determination upon her countenance that I found it hard to explain.

Left alone in that large, bare and dimly lighted room, with the wind shrieking in the chimney and the powerful limbs of some huge tree beating against the walls without, with a heavy thud inexpressibly mournful, I found to my surprise and something like dismay, that the sleepiness which had hitherto oppressed me, had in some unaccountable way entirely fled. In vain I contemplated the bed, comfortable enough now in its appearance that the stifling curtains were withdrawn; no temptation to invade it came to arouse me from the chair into which I had thrown myself. It was as if I felt myself under the spell of some invisible influence that like the eye of a basilisk, held me enchained. I remember turning my head towards a certain quarter of the wall as if I half expected to encounter there the bewildering glance of a serpent. Yet far from being apprehensive of any danger, I only wondered over the weakness of mind that made such fancies possible.

"An extra loud swirl of the foliage without, accompanied by a quick vibration of the house, aroused me at last. If I was to lose the sense of this furious storm careering over my head, I must court sleep at once. Rising, I drew off my coat, unloosened my vest and was about to throw it off, when I bethought me of a certain wallet it contained. Going to the door in some unconscious impulse of precaution I suppose, I locked myself in, and then drawing out my wallet, took from it a roll of bills which I put into a small side pocket, returning the wallet to its old place.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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