A Strange Disappearance by Anna Katharine Green
Chapter XV. A Confab
Next morning Mr. Gryce and I met in serious consultation. How, and in what direction should we extend the inquiries necessary to a discovery of these Schoenmakers?
"I advise a thorough overhauling of the German quarter," said my superior. "Schmidt, and Rosenthal will help us and the result ought to be satisfactory."
But I shook my head at this. "I don't believe," said I, "that they will hide among their own people. You must remember they are not alone, but have with them a young woman of a somewhat distinguished appearance, whose presence in a crowded district, like that, would be sure to awaken gossip; something which above all else they must want to avoid."
"That is true; the Germans are a dreadful race for gossip."
"If they dared to ill-dress her or ill-treat her, it would be different. But she is a valuable piece of property to them you see, a choice lot of goods which it is for their interest to preserve in first-class condition till the day comes for its disposal. For I presume you have no doubt that it is for the purpose of extorting money from Mr. Blake that they have carried off his young wife."
"For that reason or one similar. He is a man of resources, they may have hoped he would help them to escape the country."
"If they don't hide in the German quarter they certainly won't in the Italian, French or Irish. What they want is too keep close and rouse no questions. I think they will be found to have gone up the river somewhere, or over to Jersey. Hoboken would'nt be a bad place to send Schmidt to."
"You forget what it is they've got on their minds; besides no conspicuous party such as they could live in a rural district without attracting more attention than in the most crowded tenement house in the city."
"Where do you think, then, they would be liable to go?"
"Well my most matured thought on the subject," returned Mr. Gryce, after a moment's deliberation, "is this,--you say, and I agree, that they have hampered themselves with this woman at this time for the purpose of using her hereafter in a scheme of black-mail upon Mr. Blake. He, then, must be the object about which their thoughts revolve and toward which whatever operations or plans they may be engaged upon must tend. What follows? When a company of men have made up their minds to rob a bank, what is the first thing they do? They hire, if possible, a house next to the especial building they intend to enter, and for months work upon the secret passage through which they hope to reach the safe and its contents; or they make friends with the watchman that guards its treasures, and the janitor who opens and shuts the doors. In short they hang about their prey before they pounce upon it. And so will these Schoenmakers do in the somewhat different robbery which they plan sooner or later to effect. Whatever may keep them close at this moment, Mr. Blake and Mr. Blake's house is the point toward which their eyes are turned, and if we had time--"
"But we have'nt," I broke in impetuously. "It is horrible to think of that grand woman languishing away in the power of such rascals."
"If we had time," Mr. Gryce persisted, "all it would be necessary to do would be to wait, they would come into our hands as easily and naturally as a hawk into the snare of the fowler. But as you say we have not, and therefore, I would recommend a little beating of the bush directly about Mr. Blake's house; for if all my experience is not at fault, those men are already within eye-shot of the prey they intend to run down."
"But," said I, "I have been living myself in that very neighborhood and know by this time the ways of every house in the vicinity. There is not a spot up and down the Avenue for ten blocks where they could hide away for two days much less two weeks. And as for the side streets,--why I could tell you the names of those who live in each house for a considerable distance. Yet if you say so I will go to work--"
"Do, and meanwhile Schmidt and Rosenthal shall rummage the German quarter and even go through Williamsburgh and Hoboken. The end justifies any amount of labor that can be spent upon this matter."
"And you," I asked.
"Will do my part when you have done yours."