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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

The Mark Of The Red Cross

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And what success did I meet? The best in the world. And by what means did I attain it? By that of the simplest, prettiest clue I ever came upon. But let me explain.

When after a wearisome day spent in an ineffectual search through the neighborhood, I went home to my room, which as you remember was a front one in a lodging-house on the opposite corner from Mr. Blake, I was so absorbed in mind and perhaps I may say shaken in nerve, by the strain under which I had been laboring for some time now, that I stumbled up an extra flight of stairs, and without any suspicion of the fact, tried the door of the room directly over mine. It is a wonder to me now that I could have made the mistake, for the halls were totally dissimilar, the one above being much more cut up than the one below, besides being flanked by a greater number of doors. But the intoxication of the mind is not far removed from that of the body, and as I say it was not till I had tried the door and found it locked, that I became aware of the mistake I had made.

With the foolish sense of shame that always overcomes us at the committal of any such trivial error, I stumbled hastily back, when my foot trod upon something that broke under my weight. I never let even small things pass without some notice. Stooping, then, for what I had thus inadvertently crushed, I carried it to where a single gas jet turned down very low, made a partial light in the long hall, and examining it, found it to be a piece of red chalk.

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What was there in that simple fact to make me start and hastily recall one or two half-forgotten incidents which, once brought to mind, awoke a train of thought that led to the discovery and capture of those two desperate thieves? I will tell you.

I don't remember now whether in my account of the visit I paid to the Schoenmakers' house in Vermont, I informed you of the red cross I noticed scrawled on the panel of one of the doors. It seemed a trivial thing at the time and made little or no impression upon me, the chances being that I should never have thought of it again, if I had not come upon the article just mentioned at a moment when my mind was full of those very Schoenmakers. But remembered now, together with another half-forgotten fact,--that some days previous I had been told by the woman who kept the house I was in, that the parties over my head (two men and a woman I believe she said) were giving her some trouble, but that they paid well and therefore she did not like to turn them out,--it aroused a vague suspicion in my mind, and led to my walking back to the door I had endeavored to open in my abstraction, and carefully looking at it.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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