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A Strange Disappearance Anna Katharine Green

The Secret Of Mr. Blake's Studio

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"You dare!" came forth in strange broken tones from Mr. Blake's lips.

I instantly turned towards him. He was gazing with a look that was half indignant, half menacing at the silent detective who with eyes drooped and finger directed towards the picture, seemed to be waiting for him to finish.

"I do not understand an audacity that allows you to--to--" Was this the haughty gentleman we had known, this hesitating troubled man with bloodless lips and trembling hands?

"I declared my desire to justify myself," said my principal with a respectful bow. "This is my justification. Do you note the color of the woman's hair whose portrait hangs with its face turned to the wall in your room? Is it like or unlike that of the strand you held in your hand a few moments ago; a strand taken as I swear, hair by hair from the comb of the poor creature who occupied the room above. But that is not all," he continued as Mr. Blake fell a trifle aback; "just observe the dress in which this woman is painted; blue silk you see, dark and rich; a wide collar cunningly executed, you can almost trace the pattern; a brooch; then the roses in the hand, do you see? Now come with me upstairs."

Too much startled to speak, Mr. Blake, haughty aristocrat as he was, turned like a little child and followed the detective who with an assured step and unembarassed mien led the way into the deserted room above.

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"You accuse me of insulting you, when I express disbelief of your assertion that there was no connection between you and the girl Emily," said Mr. Gryce as he lit the gas and unlocked that famous bureau drawer. "Will you do so any longer in face of these?" And drawing off the towel that lay uppermost, he revealed the neatly folded dress, wide collar, brooch and faded roses that lay beneath. "Mrs. Daniels assures us these articles belonged to the sewing-woman Emily; were brought here by her. Dare you say they are not the ones reproduced in the portrait below?"

Mr. Blake uttering a cry sank on his knees before the drawer. "My God! My God!" was his only reply, "what are these?" Suddenly he rose, his whole form quivering, his eyes burning. "Where is Mrs. Daniels?" he cried, hastily advancing and pulling the bell. "I must see her at once. Send the house-keeper here," he ordered as Fanny smiling demurely made her appearance at the door.

"Mrs. Daniels is out," returned the girl, "went out as soon as ever you got up from dinner, sir."

"Gone out at this hour?"

"Yes sir; she goes out very often nowadays, sir."

Her master frowned. "Send her to me as soon as she returns," he commanded, and dismissed the girl.

"I don't know what to make of this," he now said in a strange tone, approaching again the touching contents of that open bureau drawer with a look in which longing and doubt seemed in some way to be strangely commingled. "I cannot explain the presence of these articles in this room; but if you will come below I will see what I can do to make other matters intelligible to you. Disagreeable as it is for me to take anyone into my confidence, affairs have gone too far for me to hope any longer to preserve secrecy as to my private concerns."

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A Strange Disappearance
Anna Katharine Green

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