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The Abductors
by [?]

“Take care of me–please–please!”

A slip of a girl, smartly attired in a fur-trimmed dress and a chic little feather-tipped hat, hurried up to Constance Dunlap late one afternoon as she turned the corner below her apartment.

“It isn’t faintness or illness exactly–but–it’s all so hazy,” stammered the girl breathlessly. “And I’ve forgotten who I am. I’ve forgotten where I live–and a man has been following me–oh, ever so long.”

The weariness in the tone of the last words caused Constance to look more closely at the girl. Plainly she was on the verge of hysterics. Tears were streaming down her pale cheeks and there were dark rings under her eyes, suggestive of a haunting fear of something from which she fled.

Constance was astounded for the moment. Was the girl crazy? She had heard of cases like this, but to meet one so unexpectedly was surely disconcerting.

“Who has been following you!” asked Constance gently, looking hastily over her shoulder and seeing no one.

“A man,” exclaimed the girl, “but I think he has gone now.”

“Can’t you think of your name!” urged Constance. “Try.”

“No,” cried the girl, “no, I can’t, I can’t.”

“Or your address?” repeated Constance. “Try–try hard!”

The girl looked vacantly about.

“No,” she sobbed, “it’s all gone–all.”

Puzzled, Constance took her arm and slowly walked her up the street toward her own apartment in the hope that she might catch sight of some familiar face or be able to pull herself together.

But it was of no use.

They passed a policeman who eyed them sharply. The mere sight of the blue-coated officer sent a shudder through the already trembling girl on her arm.

“Don’t, don’t let them take me to a hospital–don’t,” pleaded the girl in a hoarse whisper when they had passed the officer.

“I won’t,” reassured Constance. “Was that the man who was following you?”

“No–oh, no,” sobbed the girl nervously looking back.

“Who was he, then?” asked Constance eagerly.

The girl did not answer, but continued to look back wildly from time to time, although there was no doubt that, if he existed at all, the man had disappeared.

Suddenly Constance realized that she had on her hands a case of aphasia, perhaps real, perhaps induced by a drug.

At any rate, the fear of being sent away to an institution was so strong in the poor creature that Constance felt intuitively how disastrous to her might be the result of disregarding the obsession.

She was in a quandary. What should she do with the girl? To leave her on the street was out of the question. She was now more helpless than ever.

They had reached the door of the apartment. Gently she led the trembling girl into her own home.

But now the question of what to do arose with redoubled force. She hesitated to call a physician, at least yet, because his first advice would probably be to send the poor little stranger to the psychopathic ward of some hospital.

Constance’s eye happened to rest on the dictionary in her bookcase. Perhaps she might recall the girl’s name to her, if she were not shamming, by reading over the list of women’s names in the back of the book.

It meant many minutes, perhaps hours. But then Constance reflected on what might have happened to the girl if she had chanced to appeal to some one who had not felt a true interest in her. It was worth trying. She would do it.

Starting with “A,” she read slowly.

“Is your name Abigail?”

Down through Barbara, Camilla, Deborah, Edith, Faith, she read.

“Flora?” she asked.

The girl seemed to apprehend something, appear less blank.

“Florence?” persisted Constance.

“Oh, yes,” she cried, “that’s it–that’s my name.”

But as for the last name and the address she was just as hazy as ever. Still, there was now something different about her.

“Florence–Florence what?” reiterated Constance patiently.

There was no answer. But with the continued repetition it seemed as if some depth in her nature had been stirred. Constance could not help feeling that the girl had really found herself.