A Strange Disappearance HTML version

17. The Capture
Promptly next morning at the designated hour, came the little note promised me
by Mr. Gryce. It was put in my hand with many sly winks by the landlady herself,
who developed at this crisis quite an adaptation for, if not absolute love of
intrigue and mystery. Glancing over it--it was unsealed--and finding it entirely
unintelligible, I took it for granted it was all right and put it by till chance, or if that
failed, strategy, should give me an opportunity to communicate with Mrs. Blake.
An hour passed; the doors of their rooms remained unclosed. A half hour more
dragged its slow minutes away, and no sound had come from their precincts
save now and then a mumbled word of parley between the father and son, a
short command to the daughter, or a not-to-be-restrained oath of annoyance
from one or both of the heavy-limbed brutes as something was said or done to
disturb them in their indolent repose. At last my impatience was to be no longer
restrained. Rising, I took a bold resolution. If the mountain would not come to
Mahomet, Mahomet would go to the mountain. Taking my letter in the hand, I
deliberately proceeded to the door marked with the ominous red cross and
A surprised snarl from within, followed by a sudden shuffling of feet as the two
men leaped upright from what I presume had been a recumbent position, warned
me to be ready to face defiance if not the fury of despair; and curbing with a
determined effort the slight sinking of heart natural to a man of my make on the
threshold of a very doubtful adventure, I awaited with as much apparent
unconcern as possible, the quick advance of that light foot which seemed to be
ready to perform all the biddings of these hardened wretches, much as it shrunk
from following in the ways of their infamy.
"Ah miss," said I, as the door opened revealing in the gap her white face clouded
with some new and sudden apprehension, "I beg your pardon but I am an old
man, and I got a letter to-day and my eyes are so weak with the work I've been
doing that I cannot read it. It is from some one I love, and would you be so kind
as to read off the words for me and so relieve an old man from his anxiety."
The murmur of suspicion behind her, warned her to throw wide open the door.
"Certainly," said she, "if I can," taking the paper in her hand.
"Just let me get a squint at that first," said a sullen voice behind her; and the
youngest of the two Schoenmakers stepped forward and tore the paper out of
her grasp.
"You are too suspicious," murmured she, looking after him with the first
assumption of that air of power and determination which I had heard so
eloquently described by the man who loved her. "There is nothing in those lines
which concerns us; let me have them back."
"You hold your tongue," was the brutal reply as the rough man opened the folded
paper and read or tried to read what was written within. "Blast it! it's French," was
his slow exclamation after a moment spent in this way. "See," and he thrust it
towards his father who stood frowning heavily a few feet off.