A Strange Disappearance HTML version

either poverty lay hid or deviltry reigned, his proud stern head bending to enter
the lowest doors without a tremble of the haughty lips that remained compressed
as by an iron force; except when some poor forlorn creature with flaunting head-
gear, and tremulous hands, attracted by his bearing would hastily brush against
him, when he would turn and look, perhaps speak, though what he said I always
failed to catch; after which he would hurry on as if possessed by seven devils.
The evenings of those three days were notable also. Two of them he spent in the
manner I have described; the third he went to the Windsor House--where the
Countess De Mirac had taken rooms--going up to the ladies' entrance and
actually ringing the bell, only to start back and walk up and down on the opposite
side of the way, with his hands behind his back, and his head bent, evidently
deliberating as to whether he should or should not carry out his original intention
of entering. The arrival of a carriage with the stately subject of his deliberations,
who from her elaborate costume had seemingly been to some kettledrum or
private reception, speedily put an end to his doubts. As the door opened to admit
her, I saw him cast one look at her heavily draped person, with its snowy opera-
cloak drawn tightly over the sweeping folds of her maize colored silk, and shrink
back with what sounded like a sigh of anger or distrust, and without waiting for
the closing of the door upon her, turn toward home with a step that hesitated no
The fourth day to my infinite chagrin, I was sick and could not go with him. All I
could do was to wrap myself in blankets and sit in my window from which I had
the satisfaction of viewing him start as I supposed upon his usual course. The
rest of the day was employed in a long, dull waiting for his return, only relieved by
casual glimpses of Mrs. Daniels' troubled face as she appeared at one window or
another of the old-fashioned mansion before me. She seemed, too, to be
unusually restless, opening the windows and looking out with forlorn cranings of
her neck as if she too were watching for her master. Indeed I have no doubt from
what I afterwards learned, that she was in a state of constant suspense during
these days. Her frequent appearance at the station house, where she in vain
sought for some news of the girl in whose fate she was so absorbed, confirmed
this. Only the day before I gave myself up to my unreserved espionage of Mr.
Blake, she had had an interview with Mr. Gryce in which she had let fall her
apprehensions that the girl was dead, and asked whether if that were the case,
the police would be likely to come into a knowledge of the fact. Upon being
assured that if she had not been privately made way with, there was every
chance in their favor, she had grown a little calmer, but before going away had so
far forgotten herself as to intimate that if some result was not reached before
another fortnight had elapsed, she should take the matter into her own hands
and--She did not say what she would do, but her looks were of a very menacing
character. It was no wonder, then, that her countenance bore marks of the
keenest anxiety as she trod the halls of that dim old mansion, with its dusky
corners rich with bronzes and the glimmering shine of ancient brocades,
breathing suggestions of loss and wrong; or bent her wrinkled forehead to gaze
from the windows for the coming of one whose footsteps were ever delayed. She
happened to be looking out, when after a longer stroll than usual the master of