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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

lish were carrying away all the stuffing of it in their purses—"

"Oh, cut out the English!" I said with some impatience.

He looked at me with an injured air and went on: "But I must tell you what I was saying to the gentleman with the green umbrella when he interrupted me in such a strange tone that the other gentleman and the lady cried out together, 'What's the matter, Theophrastus? I never heard you speak like that before! I should n't have recognised your voice!'"

"Ah! and what was he saying to you?"

"We had come just to the end of Paris Street—you know the passage we call Paris Street at the Conciergerie?"

"Yes, yes: get on!"

"We were at the top of that dreadful black passage where the grating is behind which they used to cut off the women's hair before guillotining them. It's the original grating, you know."

"Yes, yes: get on!"

"It's a passage into which a ray of sunlight never penetrates. You know that Marie Antoinette went to her death down that passage?"

"Yes, yes: cut out Marie Antoinette!"