A Strange Disappearance HTML version
laid upon me which I cannot avoid, hard as it is for an old servant to perform.
This paper--but it is no more than just that you, sir, should see and read it first."
And with a hand that quivered with fear or some equally strong emotion, she put
it in his clasp.
The exclamation that rewarded the act made us all start forward. "My father's
handwriting!" were his words.
"Executed under my eye," observed Mrs. Daniels.
His glance ran rapidly down the sheet and rested upon the final signature.
"Why has this been kept from me?" demanded he, turning upon Mrs. Daniels
"Your father so willed it," was her reply. "'For a year' was his command, 'you shall
keep this my last will and testament which I give into your care with my dying
hands, a secret from the world. At the expiration of that time mark if my son's wife
sits at the head of her husband's table; if she does and is happy, suppress this by
deliberately giving it to the flames, but if from any reason other than death, she is
not seen there, carry it at once to my son, and bid him as he honors my memory,
to see that my wishes as there expressed are at once carried out.'"
The paper in Mr. Blake's hand fluttered.
"You are aware what those wishes are?" said he.
"I steadied his hand while he wrote," was her sad and earnest reply.
Mr. Blake turned with a look of inexpressible deference to his wife.
"Madame," said he "when I urged you with such warmth to join your fate to mine
and honor my house by presiding over it, I thought I was inviting you to share the
advantages of wealth as well as the love of a lonely man's heart. This paper
undeceives me. Luttra, the daughter-in-law of Abner Blake, not Holman, his son,
is the one who by the inheritance of his millions has the right to command in this
With a cry she took from him the will whose purport was thus briefly made
known. "O, how could he, how could he?" exclaimed she, running her eye down
the sheet, and then crushing it spasmodically to her breast. "Did he not realize
that he could do me no greater wrong?" Then in one yielding up of her whole
womanhood to the mighty burst of passion that had been flooding the defenses
of her heart for so long, she exclaimed in a voice the mingled rapture and
determination of which rings in my ears even now, "And is it a thing like this with
its suggestions of mercenary interest that shall bridge the gulf that separates you
and me? Shall the giving or the gaining of a fortune make necessary the unital of
lives over which holier influences have beamed and loftier hopes shone? No, no;
by the smile with which your dying father took me to his breast, love alone, with
the hope and confidence it gives, shall be the bond to draw us together and
make of the two separate planes on which we stand, a common ground where
we can meet and be happy."
And with one supreme gesture she tore into pieces the will which she held, and
sank all aglow with woman's divinest joy into the arms held out to receive her.
* * * * * *
I was present at the wedding-reception given them by the Countess De Mirac in
her elegant apartments at the Windsor. I never saw a happier bride, nor a