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Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/171

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stood still, or hurried to the spot. He bounded up the great staircase with the swiftness of a young man, and reached the first floor at the very moment when a door opened, and Theophrastus appeared, hat in hand.

He was bowing low to an old lady with chattering teeth, and crowned with curl papers, and said:

"My dear madame, if I had thought for an instant that I should give you such a shock by entering your drawing-room by the window, I should have stayed quietly in the street. I am not, my dear madame, either a thief or a murderer, but an honest manufacturer of rubber stamps."

Adolphe seized his arm and tried to drag him down the stairs.

But Theophrastus went on: "It is entirely Adolphe's fault, my dear madame. He would have me show him how Simon the Auvergnat acted as the base of my column."

Adolphe, behind Theophrastus, made signs to the lady of the curl papers that his friend was off his head. Thereupon the lady fell fainting into the arms of her maid, who came running up. Adolphe dragged Theophrastus down the staircase just as the hall filled with people from the street. The crowd took them