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A Strange Disappearance

1. A Novel Case
"Talking of sudden disappearances the one you mention of Hannah in that
Leavenworth case of ours, is not the only remarkable one which has come under
my direct notice. Indeed, I know of another that in some respects, at least,
surpasses that in points of interest, and if you will promise not to inquire into the
real names of the parties concerned, as the affair is a secret, I will relate you my
experience regarding it."
The speaker was Q, the rising young detective, universally acknowledged by us
of the force as the most astute man for mysterious and unprecedented cases,
then in the bureau, always and of course excepting Mr. Gryce; and such a
statement from him could not but arouse our deepest curiosity. Drawing up, then,
to the stove around which we were sitting in lazy enjoyment of one of those off-
hours so dear to a detective's heart, we gave with alacrity the required promise;
and settling himself back with the satisfied air of a man who has a good story to
tell that does not entirely lack certain points redounding to his own credit, he
began:
I was one Sunday morning loitering at the ----- Precinct Station, when the door
opened and a respectable-looking middle-aged woman came in, whose agitated
air at once attracted my attention. Going up to her, I asked her what she wanted.
"A detective," she replied, glancing cautiously about on the faces of the various
men scattered through the room. "I don't wish anything said about it, but a girl
disappeared from our house last night, and"--she stopped here, her emotion
seeming to choke her--"and I want some one to look her up," she went on at last
with the most intense emphasis.
"A girl? what kind of a girl; and what house do you mean when you say our
house?"
She looked at me keenly before replying. "You are a young man," said she; "isn't
there some one here more responsible than yourself that I can talk to?"
I shrugged my shoulders and beckoned to Mr. Gryce who was just then passing.
She at once seemed to put confidence in him. Drawing him aside, she whispered
a few low eager words which I could not hear. He listened nonchalantly for a
moment but suddenly made a move which I knew indicated strong and surprised
interest, though from his face--but you know what Gryce's face is. I was about to
walk off, convinced he had got hold of something he would prefer to manage
himself, when the Superintendent came in.
"Where is Gryce?" asked he; "tell him I want him."
Mr. Gryce heard him and hastened forward. As he passed me, he whispered,
"Take a man and go with this woman; look into matters and send me word if you
want me; I will be here for two hours."
I did not need a second permission. Beckoning to Harris, I reapproached the
woman. "Where do you come from," said I, "I am to go back with you and
investigate the affair it seems."
"Did he say so?" she asked, pointing to Mr. Gryce who now stood with his back
to us busily talking with the Superintendent.
 
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