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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

"I said that I was of his opinion. Marceline hesitated a little, and then bade him continue.

"'And now what are they doing, Cartouche?' said M. de la Nox.

"'They keep asking me those useless questions; but I can't answer,' said Theophrastus impatiently. 'And I keep asking myself what that man in the right-hand corner of the cell is doing. He has his back turned to me; and I can hear a sound of clinking iron… The executioner is at the moment taking it easily. He's leaning against the wall and yawning… There's a lamp on the table which lights up two men who keep on writing and writing. What they're writing I can't conceive, for I haven't said anything—I can't. It's the man in the corner that puzzles me. There's a red light on the wall as if he were between me and a brazier. I wonder what those irons are he's messing about with.'

"'It must be the red-hot irons. They used them,' said M. de la Nox; and he shivered.

"We were silent; and presently there came a series of dreadful, ear-splitting yells from Theophrastus. M. de la Nox turned a very pale and troubled face to us, and declared that he had never come across, or even suspected