Thursday, September 23, 2010
"The Strange Disappearance" from Edcon Publishing
Everyone at the hotel had seemed friendly and helpful. Why have they changed?
A place you will read about: Paris, the capital of France.
Something you will read about: exhibition, an important show, open to the public
One day Esther Henson and her mother signed into a hotel in Paris. Shortly afterward, Mrs. Mary Henson disappeared.
The strange disappearance occurred during the famous Exhibition of 1867. From all over the world, people were crowding into Paris to relax and enjoy the sights. Because it was difficult to get a room, the Hensons had to go to an expensive hotel. When they reached their room, Mary Henson felt ill. She told her daughter, "I'll lie down and rest for a while, and then I'll feel better."
Seeing how ill her mother was, Esther became frightened. She ran downstairs and told the hotel clerk, "My mother is awfully sick. Can you get us a doctor?"
He replied, "Yes, I can send up the hotel doctor. What is your room number?"
"Now I remember. You're Miss Henson. I'll send the doctor right up."
Back in Room 245, Esther found that her mother was worse. The doctor came, but he left almost immediately. Soon he returned with the hotel manager. They whispered together in a corner. Then the doctor turned to Esther. "Would you be good enough to pick up some medicine from my office? It is not far from the entrance to the hotel."
"Certainly ," she agreed. After telling her how to get there, he gave her a note for his nurse. Esther did not think much about the strange atmosphere in Room 245 then, but she remembered it later because she never saw her mother again. The doctor's nurse worked very slowly. It was nearly an hour before Esther returned to the hotel with the medicine in a blue bottle. When she walked from the entrance toward the stairs, the clerk stopped her.
"Excuse me, Miss, are you a guest in this hotel?"
She frowned in surprise. "Don't you remember? I'm Esther Henson. I'm here with my mother."
"What room, Miss?" he asked.
"Room 245," she replied. The clerk shook his head.
"I'm sorry. You must be mistaken. A French gentleman lives in Room 245."
Esther's face showed the strength of her resolution. "No, you are wrong. My mother and I are in Room 245."
She saw the manager in his office behind the desk. "Thank goodness, you're here. Tell him to let me take this medicine to my mother in Room 245."
The manager came out, looking puzzled. The clerk said quickly, "I told her that Mister
Delray lives in Room 245."
Esther set her medicine bottle on the counter. "Let me see the guest list, and that will prove that I'm right. "
The clerk handed her the list. She read slowly, careful to inspect every name. Her name was not there.
Just then the doctor came down the stairs. Esther called to him. "Oh, Doctor, how is my mother?"
He looked surprised. "Your mother?"
"Yes," said Esther. "You sent me to get medicine for her. "
"What medicine?" asked the doctor.
"Why, the medicine on the counter in the blue bottle."
The doctor shook his head, a suggestion of pity in his eyes. "I see no medicine bottle."
Esther turned quickly. The blue bottle was gone.
Now the atmosphere was very strained. No one would admit seeing the bottle. Nor would anyone admit ever seeing Mrs. Henson. Esther went to the police. Because of the Exhibition, the police were busy. They refused to accept her suggestion that the hotel people were lying. Her resolution remained strong. She got a room in another hotel for the night. In the morning, she insisted that a policeman go with her to the hotel.
The policeman questioned the manager, the clerk, and the doctor. He inspected the guest list. Then he had the manager take them to Room 245. When they knocked, a man called out, "Come in."
The manager opened the door. The man sat there in a chair, relaxing with his newspaper.
Esther's resolution melted as she inspected Room 245. "Everything is different," she admitted. "The bed. The chairs. The pictures on the wall. Even the walls are a different color." The policeman threw up his hands. "There is nothing more that I can do. "
Esther felt that there might be one final chance. She visited the office of the Englishman who represented other English people in Paris. He traveled with her to the hotel. He, too, questioned the men and inspected Room 245. Afterward, he told her, "I believe your story and I'll keep looking around here. You may as well return to England."
The Englishman never found Mrs. Henson, but he did write to Esther about two strange stories that he heard. One was that a painter had been called to the hotel and given a week's pay to work all night painting a room.
The second story was that a woman had been secretly taken from a room during the day. The Englishman wrote: "They say that she had a deadly disease. With the Exhibition on, no one wanted to risk people finding out that anyone in Paris had the terrible disease. Bad for business, you see. All the visitors would become afraid and leave. "
Esther Henson never heard anything more. The painter who did the work was never found.
And neither was Mrs. Henson.
1. Esther Henson signed into the hotel in Paris ________ .
a. with her parents
b. with her mother
c. with her husband
d. with her five cats
2. Paris was crowded in 1867 because ________ .
a. the Exhibition was going on
b. the people feared a deadly disease
c. the best doctors were in Paris
d. the hotels were not expensive
3. As soon as the Hensons were in Room 245, __________ .
a. Esther went out to see the sights
b. Esther turned on the television set
c. the manager came to their room
d. Mrs. Henson became very ill
4. The doctor sent Esther _____________ .
a. to bring his nurse
b. to get a bottle of medicine
c. to rest in the other room
d. to find the hotel clerk
5. When Esther returned to the hotel with the medicine, she was told that _________ .
a. her mother had disappeared
b. she had brought the wrong medicine
c. she was not a guest in the hotel
d. the police were looking for her
6. When the manager finally took Esther to Room 245, they found _________ .
a. a Frenchman in the room
b. an Englishman in the room
c. that nothing had been changed
d. that the missing bottle was there.
7. After Esther returned to England, _________ .
a. she saw her mother there
b. she never saw her mother again
c. she forgot all about what had happened
d. she decided that it had all been a bad
8. The people in the hotel __________ .
a. didn't know what was going on.
b. often played tricks on English visitors.
c. usually had their rooms painted at night.
d. knew what had happened to Esther's
9. Another name for this story could be ____________
a. "The Blue Bottle."
b. "The Last Train from Paris."
c. "The Mystery of Mary Henson."
d. "What to Do on Vacation."
10. This story is mainly about ____________
a. a family fight.
b. a missing woman.
c. a pleasant stay in Paris.
d. the Exhibition of 1867.
The Exhibition in 1867 from Wikipedia
Narrative of a Cabinet Maker from England who attended the Exhibition