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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

The Secret Of Mr. Blake's Studio

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"Mr. Blake, such facts as these arouse curiosity, especially when the master of the house being introduced upon the scene, he fails to manifest common human interest, while his housekeeper betrays in every involuntary gesture and expression she makes use of, her horror if not her fear of his presence, and her relief at his departure. Yes," he exclaimed, unheeding the sudden look here cast him by Mr. Blake, "and curiosity begets inquiry, and inquiry elucidated further facts such as these, that the mysterious master of the house was in his garden at the hour of the girl's departure, was even looking through the bars of his gate when she, having evidently escaped from her captors, came back with every apparent desire to reenter her home, but seeing him, betrayed an unreasonable amount of fear and fled back even into the very arms of the men she had endeavored to avoid. Did you speak sir?" asked Mr. Gryce suddenly stopping, with a sly look at his left boot tip.

Mr. Blake shook his head. "No," said he shortly, "go on." But that last remark of Mr. Gryce had evidently made its impression.

"Inquiry revealed, also, two or three other interesting facts. First, that this gentleman qualified though he was to shine in ladies' society, never obtruded himself there, but employed his leisure time instead, in walking the lower streets of the city, where he was seen more than once conversing with certain poor girls at street corners and in blind alleys. The last one he talked with, believed from her characteristics to be the same one that was abducted from his house--"

"Hold there," said Mr. Blake with some authority in his tone, "there you are mistaken; that is impossible."

"Ah, and why?"

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"The girl you allude to had bright golden hair, something which the woman who lived in my house did not possess."

"Indeed. I thought you had never noticed the woman who sewed for you, sir,--did not know how she looked?"

"I should have noticed her if she had had such hair as the girl you speak of."

Mr. Gryce smiled and opened his pocketbook.

"There is a sample of her hair, sir," said he, taking out a thin strand of brilliant hair and showing it to the gentleman before him. "Bright you see, and golden as that of the unfortunate creature you talked with the other night."

Mr. Blake stooped forward and lifted it with a hand that visibly trembled. "Where did you get this?" asked he at last, clenching it to his breast with sudden passion.

"From out of the comb which the girl had been using the night before."

The imperious man flung it hastily from him.

"We waste our time," said he, looking Mr. Gryce intently in the face. "All that you have said does not account for your presence here nor the tone you have used while addressing me. What are you keeping back? I am not a man to be trifled with."

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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