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Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/160

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cence. Then he began to talk about it, and presently warmed to the subject. He took up my story at the point of my enlistment, and informed me that at the end of the war the greater part of the troops were disbanded, and that I found myself in Paris without any resources save those of my natural ingenuity and my special accomplishments. I employed these with such fortune and address that my comrades lost no time in electing me chief; and since we were successful, our band very quickly increased in numbers.

"Now, at that time, the Police of Paris was in such a wretched state that I resolved to make it my business. It was my intention that everyone, gentleman, tradesman, or churchman, should be able to walk at any hour in all tranquillity about the good city of Paris. I divided up my troops very skilfully, appointed a district to each, and a leader who would remain my obedient lieutenant. When anyone went abroad after the Curfew or even before it, he was accosted politely by a squad of my men, and invited to pay up a certain sum, or if he had no money on him, to part with his coat. In return for this he was furnished with the password, and could afterwards walk about Paris, all night long if he