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A Strange Disappearance

dress, dingy cape thrown carelessly over her head, and ragged basket, should
arrest his attention, was a riddle to me. I hastened forward with intent to catch a
glimpse of her countenence if possible; but she seemed to have acquired wings
to her feet since her interview with Mr. Blake. Darting into a crowd of hooting
urchins that were rushing from Centre Street after a broken wagon and runaway
horse, she sped from my sight with such rapidity, I soon saw that my only hope of
overtaking her lay in running. I accordingly quickened my steps when those same
hooting youngsters getting in the way of my feet, I tripped up and--well, I own I
retired from that field baffled. Not entirely so, however. Just as I was going down,
I caught sight of the girl tearing away from a box of garbage on the curb-stone;
and when order having been restored, by which lofty statement I mean to say
when your humble servant had regained his equilibrium, I awoke to the fact that
she had effectually disappeared, I hurried to that box and succeeded in finding
hanging to it a bit of rag easily recognized as a piece of the old calico frock of
nameless color which I had been following a moment before. Regarding it as the
sole spoils of a very unsatisfactory day's work, I put it carefully away in my pocket
book, where it lay till--But with all my zeal for compression, I must not anticipate.
When I came home that afternoon I found myself unexpectedly involved in a
matter that for the remainder of the day at least, prevented me from further
attending to the affair I had in hand. The next morning Mr. Blake did not start out
as usual, and at noon I received intimation from Fanny that he was preparing to
take a journey. Where, she could not inform me, nor when, though she thought it
probable he would take an early train. Mrs. Daniels was feeling dreadfully, she
informed me; and the house was like a grave. Greatly excited at this unexpected
move on Mr. Blake's part, I went home and packed my valise with something of
the spirit of her who once said, under somewhat different circumstances I allow,
"Whither thou goest I will go."
The truth was, I had travelled so far and learned so little, that my professional
pride was piqued. That expression of Mr. Gryce still rankled, and nothing could
soothe my injured spirit now but success. Accordingly when Mr. Blake stepped
up to the ticket office of the Hudson River Railroad next morning, to buy a ticket
for Putney, a small town in the northern part of Vermont, he found beside him a
spruce young drummer, or what certainly appeared such, who by some strange
coincidence, wanted a ticket for the same place. The fact did not seem in the
least to surprise him, nor did he cast me a look beyond the ordinary glance of
one stranger at another. Indeed Mr. Blake had no appearance of being a
suspicious man, nor do I think at this time, he had the remotest idea that he was
either watched or followed; an ignorance of the truth which I took care to
preserve by taking my seat in a different car from him and not showing myself
again during the whole ride from New York to Putney.
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