A Strange Disappearance HTML version
"You have called at a rather inauspicious time, Mr. Gryce," said the latter,
glancing at the card which he held in his hand. "What may your business be?
Something to do with politics, I suppose."
I surveyed the man in amazement. Was this great politician stooping to act a
part, or had he forgotten our physiognomies as completely as appeared.
"Our business is not politics," replied Mr. Gryce; "but fully as important. May I
request the doors be closed?"
I thought Mr. Blake looked surprised, but he immediately stepped to the door and
shut it. Then coming back, he looked at Mr. Gryce more closely and a change
took place in his manner.
"I think I have seen you before," said he.
Mr. Gryce bowed with just the suspicion of a smile. "I have had the honor of
consulting you before in this very house," observed he.
A look of full recognition passed over the dignified countenance of the man
"I remember," said he, shrugging his shoulders in the old way. "You are
interested in some servant girl or other who ran away from this house a week or
so ago. Have you found her?" This with no apparent concern.
"We think we have," rejoined Mr. Gryce with some solemnity. "The river gives up
its prey now and then, Mr. Blake."
Still only that look of natural surprise.
"Indeed! You do not mean to say she has drowned herself? I am sorry for that, a
girl who had once lived in my house. What trouble could she have had to drive
her to such an act?"
Mr. Gryce advanced a step nearer the gentleman.
"That is what we have come here to learn," said he with a deliberation that yet
was not lacking in the respect due to a man so universally esteemed as Mr.
Blake. "You who have seen her so lately ought to be able to throw some light
upon the subject at least."
"Mr.--" he again glanced at the card, "Mr. Gryce,--excuse me--I believe I told you
when you were here before that I had no remembrance of this girl at all. That if
such a person was in my house I did not know it, and that all questions put to me
on that subject would be so much labor thrown away."
Mr. Gryce bowed. "I remember," said he. "I was not alluding to any connection
you may have had with the girl in this house, but to the interview you were seen
to have with her on the corner of Broome Street some days ago. You had such
an interview, did you not?"
A flush, deep as it was sudden, swept over Mr. Blake's usually unmoved cheek.
"You are transgressing sir," said he and stopped. Though a man of intense
personal pride, he had but little of that quality called temper, or perhaps if he had,
thought it unwise to display it on this occasion. "I saw and spoke to a girl on the
corner of that street some days ago," he went on more mildly, "but that she was
the one who lived here, I neither knew at the time nor feel willing to believe now
without positive proof." Then in a deep ringing tone the stateliness of which it
would be impossible to describe, he inquired, "Have the city authorities presumed