A Strange Disappearance HTML version

For reply I took from my pocket the ring I had fished out of the ashes of their
kitchen stove on that memorable visit to their house, and holding it up before
their faces, looked them steadily in the eye.
A sudden wild glare followed by a bluish palor that robbed their countenances of
their usual semblance of daring ferocity, answered me beyond my fondest hopes.
"I got that out of the stove where you had burned your prison clothing," said I. "It
is a cheap affair, but it will send you to the gallows if I choose to use it against
you. The pedlar--"
"Hush," exclaimed the father in a low choked tone greatly in contrast to any he
had yet used in all our dealings with him. "Throw that ring out of the window and I
promise to hold my tongue about any matter you don't want spoke of. I'm not a
"Nor I," was my quick reply, as I restored the ring to my pocket. "While that
remains in my possession together with certain facts concerning your habits in
that old house of yours which have lately been made known to me, your life
hangs by a thread I can any minute snip in two. Mr. Blake here, has spent some
portion of a night in your house and knows how near it lies to a certain precipice,
at foot of which--"
"Mein Gott, father, why don't you say something!" leaped in cowed accents from
the son's white lips. "If they want us to keep quiet, let them say so and not go
talking about things that--"
"Now look here," interposed Mr. Gryce stepping before them with a look that
closed their mouths at once. "I will just tell you what we propose to do. You are to
go back to prison and serve your time out, there is no help for that, but as long as
you behave yourselves and continue absolutely silent regarding your relationship
to the wife of this gentleman, you shall have paid into a certain bank that he will
name, a monthly sum that upon your dismissal from jail shall be paid you with
whatever interest it may have accumulated. You are ready to promise that, are
you not?" he inquired turning to Mr. Blake.
That gentleman bowed and named the sum, which was liberal enough, and the
"But," continued the detective, ignoring the sudden flash of eye that passed
between the father and son, "let me or any of us hear of a word having been
uttered by you, which in the remotest way shall suggest that you have in the
world such a connection as Mrs. Blake, and the money not only stops going into
the bank, but old scores shall be raked up against you with a zeal which if it does
not stop your mouth in one way, will in another, and that with a suddenness you
will not altogether relish."
The men with a dogged air from which the bravado had however fled, turned and
looked from one to the other of us in a fearful, inquiring way that duly confessed
to the force of the impression made by these words upon their slow but not
unimaginative minds.
"Do you three promise to keep our secret if we keep yours?" muttered the father
with an uneasy glance at my pocket.
"We certainly do," was our solemn return.