A Strange Disappearance
accomplish. It was the tearing away from a life of silent peace, the reentrance of
my soul into an atmosphere of sin and deadly plotting, that was the hard thing,
the difficult dreadful thing which hung weights to my feet, and made me well nigh
mad. And it was this which at the sight of a policeman in the street led me to
make an effort to escape. But it was not successful. Though I was fortunate
enough to free myself from the grasp of my father and brother, I reached the gate
on ----- street only to encounter the eyes of him whose displeasure I most feared,
looking sternly upon me from the other side. The shock was too much for me in
my then weak and unnerved condition. Without considering anything but the fact
that he never had known and never must, that I had been in the same house with
him for so long, I rushed back to the corner and into the arms of the men who
awaited me. How you came to be there, Mr. Blake, or why you did not open the
gate and follow, I cannot say."
"The gate was locked," returned that gentleman. "You remember it closes with a
spring, and can only be opened by means of a key which I did not have."
"My father had it," she murmured; "he spent a whole week in the endeavor to get
hold of it, and finally succeeded on the evening of the very day he used it. It was
left in the lock I believe."
"So much for servants," I whispered to myself.
"The next morning," continued she, "they put the case very plainly before me. I
was at liberty to return at once to my home if I would promise to work in their
interest by making certain demands upon you as your wife. All they wanted, said
they, was a snug little sum and a lift out of the country. If I would secure them
these, they would trouble me no more. But I could not concede to anything of that
nature, of course, and the consequence was these long weeks of imprisonment
and suspense; weeks that I do not now begrudge, seeing they have brought me
the assurance of your esteem and the knowledge, that wherever I go, your
thoughts will follow me with compassion if not with love."
And having told her story and thus answered his demands, she assumed once
more the position of lofty reserve that seemed to shut him back from advance like
a wall of invincible crystal.