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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

The Mark Of The Red Cross

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As I expected I had scarcely given way to three separate fits of coughing, when the door next me opened with a jerk and a rough voice called out,

"Who's that making all that to do about here? If you don't stop that infernal noise in a hurry--"

A soft voice interrupted him and he drew back. "I will go see," said those gentle tones, and Luttra Blake, for I knew it was she before the skirt of her robe had advanced beyond the door, stepped out into the hall.

I was yet bent over my work when she paused before me. The fact is I did not dare look up, the moment was one of such importance to me.

"You have a dreadful cough," said she with that low ring of sympathy in her voice that goes unconsciously to the heart. "Is there no help for it?"

I pushed back my work, drew my hand over my eyes, (I did not need to make it tremble) and glanced up. "No," said I with a shake of my head, "but it is not always so bad. I beg your pardon, miss, if it disturbs you."

She threw back the shawl which she had held drawn tightly over her head, and advanced with an easy gliding step close to my side. "You do not disturb me, but my father is--is, well a trifle cross sometimes, and if he should speak up a little harsh now and then, you must not mind. I am sorry you are so ill."

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What is there in some women's look, some women's touch that more than all beauty goes to the heart and subdues it. As she stood there before me in her dark worsted dress and coarse shawl, with her locks simply braided and her whole person undignified by art and ungraced by ornament, she seemed just by the power of her expression and the witchery of her manner, the loveliest woman I had ever beheld.

"You are veree kind, veree good," I murmured, half ashamed of my disguise, though it was assumed for the purpose of rescuing her. "Your sympathy goes to my heart." Then as a deep growl of impatience rose from the room at my side, I motioned her to go and not irritate the man who seemed to have such control over her.

"In a minute," answered she, "first tell me what you are making."

So I told her and in the course of telling, let drop such other facts about my fancied life as I wished to have known to her and through her to her father. She looked sweetly interested and more than once turned upon me that dark eye, of which I had heard so much, full of tears that were as much for me, scamp that I was, as for her own secret trouble. But the growls becoming more and more impatient she speedily turned to go, repeating, however, as she did so,

"Now remember what I say, you are not to be troubled if they do speak cross to you. They make noise enough themselves sometimes, as you will doubtless be assured of to-night."

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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