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Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/14

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HISTORICAL PREFACE

"For goodness sake, don't run away like that!" I said sharply. "I can't receive this box without knowing what it contains."

"I don't know what it contains myself," he said in the same dull, expressionless tone. "This box is locked; the key is lost. You will have to break it open to find out."

"At any rate I should like to know the name of the bearer," I said firmly.

"My friend, M. Theophrastus Longuet, called me 'Adolphe,'" he said in the mournfullest tone.

"If M. Theophrastus Longuet had brought me this box himself, he would certainly have told me what it contains," I said stiffly. "I regret that M. Theophrastus Longuet—"

"So do I," said my visitor. "M. Theophrastus Longuet is dead; and I am his executor."

With that he opened the door, went through it, and shut it behind him. I stared at the sandalwood box; I stared at the door; then I ran after the man. He had vanished.

I had the sandalwood box opened; and in it I found a bundle of manuscripts. In a newspaper office one is used to receiving bundles of manuscripts; and I began to look