A Strange Disappearance HTML version

manifested a distaste for it, but even went so far as to refuse to participate in the
social dinners of his most intimate friends; the only table to which he would sit
down being that of some public caterer, where he was sure of finding none but
his political associates assembled.
To all appearance he wished to avoid the ladies, a theory borne out by the fact
that never, even in church, on the street, or at any place of amusement, was he
observed with one at his side. This fact in a man, young--he was not far from
thirty-five at that time--rich, and marriageable, would, however, have been more
noteworthy than it was if he had not been known to belong to a family eminent for
their eccentricities. Not a man of all his race but had possessed some marked
peculiarity. His father, bibliomaniac though he was, would never treat a man or a
woman with decency, who mentioned Shakspeare to him, nor would he
acknowledge to his dying day any excellence in that divine poet beyond a happy
way of putting words together. Mr. Blake's uncle hated all members of the legal
profession, and as for his grandfather--but you have heard what a mania of
dislike he had against that simple article of diet, fish; now his friends were obliged
to omit it from their bills of fare whenever they expected him to dinner. If then Mr.
Blake chose to have any pet antipathy--as for women for instance--he surely had
precedent enough in his own family to back him. However, it was whispered in
my ear by one gentleman, a former political colleague of his who had been with
him in Washington, that he was known at one time to show considerable
attention to Miss Evelyn Blake, that cousin of his who has since made such a
brilliant thing of it by marrying, and straightway losing by death, a wealthy old
scapegrace of a French noble, the Count De Mirac. But that was not a matter to
be talked about, Madame the Countess being free at present and in New York,
though to all appearance upon anything but pleasant terms with her quondam
Remembering the picture I had seen in Mr. Blake's private apartment, I asked if
this lady was a brunette, and being told she was, and of the most pronounced
type, felt for the moment I had stumbled upon something in the shape of a clue;
but upon resorting to Mr. Gryce with my information, he shook his head with a
short laugh and told me I would have to dive deeper than that if I wanted to fish
up the truth lying at the bottom of this well.