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A Strange Disappearance

10. The Secret Of Mr. Blake's Studio
"Mr. Blake is at dinner, sir, with company, but I will call him if you say so."
"No," returned Mr. Gryce; "show us into some room where we can be
comfortable and we will wait till he has finished."
The servant bowed, and stepping forward down the hall, opened the door of a
small and cosy room heavily hung with crimson curtains. "I will let him know that
you are here," said he, and vanished towards the dining-room.
"I doubt if Mr. Blake will enjoy the latter half of his bill of fare as much as the first,"
said I, drawing up one of the luxurious arm-chairs to the side of my principal. "I
wonder if he will break away from his guests and come in here?"
"No; if I am not mistaken we shall find Mr. Blake a man of nerve. Not a muscle of
his face will show that he is disturbed."
"Well," said I, "I dread it."
Mr. Gryce looked about on the gorgeous walls and the rich old fashioned
furniture that surrounded him, and smiled one of his grimmest smiles.
"Well, you may," said he.
The next instant a servant stood in the doorway, bearing to our great
astonishment, a tray well set with decanter and glasses.
"Mr. Blake's compliments, gentlemen," said he, setting it down on the table
before us. "He hopes you will make yourselves at home and he will see you as
soon as possible."
The humph! of Mr. Gryce when the servant had gone would have done your soul
good, also the look he cast at the pretty Dresden Shepherdess on the mantel-
piece, as I reached out my hand towards the decanter. Somehow it made me
draw back.
"I think we had better leave his wine alone," said he.
And for half an hour we sat there, the wine untouched between us, listening
alternately to the sound of speech-making and laughter that came from the
dining-room, and the solemn ticking of the clock as it counted out the seconds on
the mantel-piece. Then the guests came in from the table, filing before us past
the open door on their way to the parlors. They were all gentlemen of course--Mr.
Blake never invited ladies to his house--and gentlemen of well known repute. The
dinner had been given in honor of a certain celebrated statesman, and the
character of his guests was in keeping with that of the one thus complimented.
As they went by us gaily indulging in the jokes and light banter with which such
men season a social dinner, I saw Mr. Gryce's face grow sober by many a shade;
and when in the midst of it all, we heard the voice of Mr. Blake rise in that
courteous and measured tone for which it is distinguished, I saw him reach
forward and grasp his cane with an uneasiness I had never seen displayed by
him before. But when some time later, the guests having departed, the dignified
host advanced with some apology to where we were, I never beheld a firmer look
on Mr. Gryce's face than that with which he rose and confronted him. Mr. Blake's
own had not more character in it.
 
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