8. The Abductors
"Take care of me--please--please!"
A slip of a girl, smartly attired in a fur-trimmed dress and a chic little feather-
tipped hat, hurried up to Constance Dunlap late one afternoon as she turned
the corner below her apartment.
"It isn't faintness or illness exactly--but--it's all so hazy," stammered the girl
breathlessly. "And I've forgotten who I am. I've forgotten where I live--and a
man has been following me--oh, ever so long."
The weariness in the tone of the last words caused Constance to look more
closely at the girl. Plainly she was on the verge of hysterics. Tears were
streaming down her pale cheeks and there were dark rings under her eyes,
suggestive of a haunting fear of something from which she fled.
Constance was astounded for the moment. Was the girl crazy? She had
heard of cases like this, but to meet one so unexpectedly was surely
"Who has been following you!" asked Constance gently, looking hastily over
her shoulder and seeing no one.
"A man," exclaimed the girl, "but I think he has gone now."
"Can't you think of your name!" urged Constance. "Try."
"No," cried the girl, "no, I can't, I can't."
"Or your address?" repeated Constance. "Try--try hard!"
The girl looked vacantly about.
"No," she sobbed, "it's all gone--all."
Puzzled, Constance took her arm and slowly walked her up the street toward
her own apartment in the hope that she might catch sight of some familiar
face or be able to pull herself together.
But it was of no use.
They passed a policeman who eyed them sharply. The mere sight of the blue-
coated officer sent a shudder through the already trembling girl on her arm.
"Don't, don't let them take me to a hospital--don't," pleaded the girl in a hoarse
whisper when they had passed the officer.
"I won't," reassured Constance. "Was that the man who was following you?"
"No--oh, no," sobbed the girl nervously looking back.
"Who was he, then?" asked Constance eagerly.
The girl did not answer, but continued to look back wildly from time to time,
although there was no doubt that, if he existed at all, the man had
Suddenly Constance realized that she had on her hands a case of aphasia,
perhaps real, perhaps induced by a drug.
At any rate, the fear of being sent away to an institution was so strong in the
poor creature that Constance felt intuitively how disastrous to her might be
the result of disregarding the obsession.