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A Strange Disappearance

room. "That those things rich as they are, really belonged to the girl, I have no
doubt. She brought them when she came, and they only confirm what I have
before intimated: that she was no ordinary sewing girl, but a woman who had
seen better days."
With a low "humph!" and another glance at the dark blue dress and delicate
collar, Mr. Gryce carefully replaced the cloth he had taken from them, and softly
closed the drawer without either of us having laid a finger upon a single article.
Five minutes later he disappeared from the room.
I did not see him again till occasion took me below, when I beheld him softly
issue from Mr. Blake's private apartment. Meeting me, he smiled, and I saw that
whether he was conscious of betraying it or not, he had come upon some clue or
at the least fashioned for himself some theory with which he was more or less
satisfied.
"An elegant apartment, that," whispered he, nodding sideways toward the room
he had just left, "pity you haven't time to examine it."
"Are you sure that I haven't?" returned I, drawing a step nearer to escape the
eyes of Mrs. Daniels who had descended after me.
"Quite sure;" and we hastened down together into the yard.
But my curiosity once aroused in this way would not let me rest. Taking an
opportunity when Mr. Gryce was engaged in banter with the girls below, and in
this way learning more in a minute of what he wanted to know than some men
would gather in an hour by that or any other method, I stole lightly back and
entered this room.
I almost started in my surprise. Instead of the luxurious apartment I had prepared
myself to behold, a plain, scantily-furnished room opened before me, of a nature
between a library and a studio. There was not even a carpet on the polished
floor, only a rug, which strange to say was not placed in the centre of the room or
even before the fireplace, but on one side, and directly in front of a picture that
almost at first blush had attracted my attention as being the only article in the
room worth looking at. It was the portrait of a woman, handsome, haughty and
alluring; a modern beauty, with eyes of fire burning beneath high piled locks of
jetty blackness, that were only relieved from being too intense by the scarlet
hood of an opera cloak, that was drawn over them. "A sister," I thought to myself,
"it is too modern for his mother," and I took a step nearer to see if I could trace
any likeness in the chiselled features of this disdainful brunette, to the more
characteristic ones of the careless gentleman who had stood but a few moments
before in my presence. As I did so, I was struck with the distance with which the
picture stood out from the wall, and thought to myself that the awkwardness of
the framing came near marring the beauty of this otherwise lovely work of art. As
for the likeness I was in search of, I found it or thought I did, in the expression of
the eyes which were of the same color as Mr. Blake's but more full and
passionate; and satisfied that I had exhausted all the picture could tell me, I
turned to make what other observations I could, when I was startled by
confronting the agitated countenance of Mrs. Daniels who had entered behind
me.
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