A Strange Disappearance
staring after them like one mad, her hand held out with his bag and umbrella in it,
stiff as a statter in the Central Park. She did'nt stand so long, though, but came
running down the hall, as if she was bewitched. I was dreadful flustered, for
though I was hid behind the wall that juts out there by the back stairs, I was afraid
she would see me and shame me before Mr. Blake. But she passed right by and
never looked up. 'There is something dreadful mysterious in this,' thought I, and I
just made up my mind to stay where I was till Mr. Blake and the lady should
come out again from the parlor. I did'nt have to wait very long. In a few minutes
the door opened and they stepped out, he ahead and she coming after. I thought
this was queer, he is always so dreadful perlite in his ways, but I thought it was a
deal queerer when I saw him go up the front stairs, she hurrying after, looking I
cannot tell you how, but awful troubled and anxious, I should say.
"They went into that room of his he calls his studio and though I knew it might
cost me my place if I was found out, I could'nt help following and listening at the
"And what did you hear?" I asked, for she paused to take breath.
"Well, the first thing I heard was a cry of pleasure from her, and the words, 'You
keep that always before you? You cannot dislike me, then, as much as you
pertend.' I don't know what she meant nor what he did, but he stepped across the
room and I heard her cry out this time as if she was hurt as well as awful
surprised; and he talked and talked, and I could'nt catch a word, he spoke so low;
and by and by she sobbed just a little, and I got scared and would have run away
but she cried out with a kind of shriek, 'O, don't say any more; to think that crime
should come into our family, the proudest in the land. How could you, Holman,
how could you.' Yes," the girl went on, flushing in her excitement till she was as
red as the cherry ribbons in her cap, "those were the very words she used: 'To
think that crime should come into our family! the proudest one in the land!' And
she called him by his first name, and asked him how he could do it."
"And what did Mr. Blake say" returned I, a little taken back myself at this result of
my efforts with Fanny.
"O, I did'nt wait to hear. I did'nt wait for anything. If folks was going to talk about
such things as that, I thought I had better be anywhere than listening at the
keyhole. I went right up stairs I can tell you."
"And whom have you told of what you heard in the half dozen hours that have
"Nobody; how could you think so mean of me when I promised, and--"
It is not necessary to go any further into this portion of the interview.
The Countess De Mirac possessed to its fullest extent the present fine lady's
taste for bric-a-brac. So much I had learned in my inquiries concerning her.
Remembering this, I took the bold resolution of profiting by this weakness of hers
to gain admission to her presence, she being the only one sharing Mr. Blake's
mysterious secret. Borrowing a valuable antique from a friend of mine at that time
in the business, I made my appearance the very next day at her apartments, and
sending in an urgent request to see Madame, by the trim negress who answered
my summons, waited in some doubt for her reply.