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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

strength to bind his wrists and ankles with string. The Signor's head projected a little beyond the table's edge; and under his head was a bowl which M. Longuet had placed there not to make a mess. Theophrastus himself with twitching nostrils (that was what Marceline chiefly noticed in the terrifying face of her husband) had hold of Signor Petito's right ear with the fingers of his left hand, and his right hand gripped a kitchen knife. He ground his teeth and said:

"Strike the flag!"

With these words he sliced neatly off Signor Petito's left ear.

He dropped the ear into a little basin which he had ready, caught hold of the right ear, sliced off that, then carried the little basin to the sink, and turned on the tap.

He returned to the kitchen; and while he waited for Signor Petito's ears to stop bleeding, hummed an old and forgotten French air, with the most cheerful face in the world. When the bleeding ceased, he fastened a dish-cloth round Signor Petito's head, withdrew the handkerchief from his mouth, cut the string which bound him, and bade him get out of his flat at once if he did not wish to be arrested for burglary.