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Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/254

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importance to killing his calves himself because his veal owed its excellence to his manner of killing it.'

"'As a matter of fact,' I broke off to say, 'he used to cut off their heads at a single blow, with a big cutlass.'

"'Early yesterday morning M. Houdry shut himself up as usual in his slaughter-house, with his calf. His assistant helped him tie up the calf. As a rule, M. Houdry took from twenty-five to thirty minutes preparing his veal for the stall. Thirty-five minutes passed; and the double doors of the slaughter-house did not open. Sometimes M. Houdry called his assistant to help him finish the work. That morning he did not call him. Forty minutes passed. Then Mme. Houdry, the butcher's wife, came to the back door and said to the assistant: "What's your master doing this morning? He's a long time over his work."

"‘"Yes; much longer than usual," said the assistant.

"'Then she called, "Houdry! Houdry!" There was no answer; and she walked across the back-yard, and opened the doors of the slaughter-house. At once the calf ran out and began to dance gracefully round her. (Dear! dear! I begin to dread some great misfor-