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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

The Mark Of The Red Cross

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"Ah, Monsieur, I am afraid your cough is very bad to-day. O I see; you have been getting ready to go out--"

"Come back here," broke in a heavy voice from the room she had left. "What do you mean by running off to palaver with that old rascal every time he opens his ----- battery of a cough?"

A smile that went through me like the cut of a knife, flashed for a moment on her face.

"My father is in one of his impatient moods," said she, "you had better go. I hope you will be successful," she murmured, glancing wistfully at my basket.

"What is that?" again came thundering on our ears. "Successful? What are you two up to?" And we heard the rough clatter of advancing steps.

"Go," said she; "you are weak and old; and when you come back, try and not cough." And she gave me a gentle push towards the door.

"When I come back," I began, but was forced to pause, the elder Schoenmaker having by this time reached the open doorway where he stood frowning in upon us in a way that made my heart stand still for her.

"What are you two talking about?" said he; "and what have you got in your basket there?" he continued with a stride forward that shook the floor.

"Only some little toys that he has been making, and is now going out to sell," was her low answer given with a quick deprecatory gesture such as I doubt if she ever used for herself.

"Nothing more?" asked he in German with a red glare in the eye he turned towards her.

"Nothing more," replied she in the same tongue. "You may believe me."

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He gave a deep growl and turned away. "If there was," said he, "you know what would happen." And unheeding the wild keen shudder that seized her at the word, making her insensible for the moment to all and everything about her, he laid one heavy hand upon her slight shoulder and led her from the room.

I waited no longer than was necessary to carry my feeble and faltering steps appropriately down the stairs, to reach the floor below and gain the landlady's presence.

"Do you go up," said I, "and sit on those stairs till I come back. If you hear the least cry of pain or sound of struggle from that young girl's room, do you call at once for help. I will have a policeman standing on the corner below."

The good woman nodded and proceeded at once to take up her work-basket. "Lucky there's a window up there, so I can see," I heard her mutter. "I've no time to throw away even on deeds of charity."

Notwithstanding which precaution, I was in constant anxiety during my absence; an absence necessarily prolonged as I had to stop and explain matters to the Superintendent, as well as hunt up Mr. Gryce and get his consent to assist me in the matter of the impending arrest.

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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