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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

"It needed all the authority, all the science, and also the absolute calmness of M. de la Nox to render me at all at ease in the extremity in which we found ourselves. But M. de la Nox has the most powerful and dominating will the world has known since Jacques Molay, whom he has succeeded in the supreme command of the actual and secret Order of the Templars.

"Also I bore in mind the categorical demonstrations of his last treatise on Psychical Surgery, and the exact precision of his instructions in his monograph on the Astral Scalpel. My trust in M. de la Nox, and the criminal eccentricity of poor Theophrastus, of which the ears of the wretched Signor Petito had been the first victims and filled me with dread of irremediable catastrophes, led me to consider the operation of the death of Cartouche, in spite of its danger, the best course in these painful circumstances.

"We carried the sleeping Theophrastus down into the basement, into the psychical laboratory of the Mage, which is lighted night and day by great hissing flames of a crimson gas of the nature of which I am ignorant.

"We laid Theophrastus down on a camp-bed; and for more than a quarter of an hour