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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

compassion. "Do they express pity for him in the books?"

"They say that he made no difficulties about being stolen."

"And what do they know about it!" cried Theophrastus indignantly.

"Well, the gipsies taught him cudgel-play, fencing, pistol-shooting, the art of springing from roof to roof, juggling, tumbling—"

"All very useful things," said Theophrastus in a tone of approval.

"They taught him to empty the pockets of tradesmen and gentlemen without their perceiving it. Oh, he was a nice boy! No one could touch him at collaring handkerchiefs, snuff-boxes, watches, sword-knots—"

"That was not at all nice!" cried Theophrastus in scandalised tones.

"Oh! If that were all!" said Adolphe gloomily. "The troop of gipsies was at Rouen, when Louis-Dominique fell ill."

"Poor little boy! He was never meant for such a life," cried Theophrastus compassionately.

"He was sent to the Rouen hospital; and there a brother of his father found him. He recognised him, embraced him with tears of joy, and swore to restore him to his parents."