A Strange Disappearance HTML version
"Of course, it's French," cried the girl. "Would you write a note in English to father
there? The man's friends are French like himself, and must write in their own
"Here take it and read it out," commanded her father; "and mind you tell us what
it means. I'll have nothing going on here that I don't understand."
"Read me the French words first, miss," said I. "It is my letter and I want to know
what my friend has to say to me."
Nodding at me with a gentle look, she cast her eyes on the paper and began to
"Calmez vous, mon amie, il vous aime et il vous cherche. Dans quatre heures
vous serez heureuse. Allous du courage, et surtout soyez maitre de vous meme."
"Thanks!" I exclaimed in a calm matter-of-fact way as I perceived the sudden
tremor that seized her as she recognized the handwriting and realized that the
words were for her. "My friend says he will pay my week's rent and bids me be at
home to receive him," said I, turning upon the two ferocious faces peering over
her shoulder, with a look of meek unsuspiciousness in my eye, that in a theatre
would have brought down the house.
"Is that what those words say, you?" asked the father, pointing over her shoulder
to the paper she held.
"I will translate for you word by word what it says," replied she, nerving herself for
the crisis till her face was like marble, though I could see she could not prevent
the gleam of secret rapture that had visited her, from flashing fitfully across it.
"Calmez vous, mon amie. Do not be afraid, my friend. Il vous aime et il vous
cherche. He loves you and is hunting for you. Dans quatre heures vous serez
heureuse. In four hours you will be happy. Allons du courage, et surtout soyez
maitre de vous meme. Then take courage and above all preserve your self-
possession. It is the French way of expressing one's self," observed she. "I am
glad your friend is disposed to help you," she continued, giving me back the letter
with a smile. "I am afraid you needed it."
In a sort of maze I folded up the letter, bowed my very humble thanks to her and
shuffled slowly back. The fact is I had no words; I was utterly dumbfounded. Half
way through that letter, with whose contents you must remember I was
unacquainted, I would have given my whole chance of expected reward to have
stopped her. Read out such words as those before these men! Was she crazy?
But how naturally at the conclusion did she with a word make its language seem
consistent with the meaning I had given it. With a fresh sense of my obligation to
her, I hurried to my room, there to count out the minutes of another long hour in
anxious expectation of her making that endeavor to communicate with me, which
her new hopes and fears must force her to feel almost necessary to her
existence. At length, my confidence in her was rewarded. Coming out into the
hall, she hurried past my door, her finger on her lip. I immediately rose and stood
on the threshold with another paper in my hand, which I had prepared against
this opportunity. As she glided back, I put it in her hand, and warning her with a
look not to speak, resumed my usual occupation. The words I had written were