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Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/44

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turn round presently; and the scrap of paper won't be there." He turned round; and the scrap of paper was there—in his own handwriting.

He passed his hand over his perspiring brow and heaved the sigh of a grieved child. Then he seemed to come to a definite resolve and carefully put the scrap of paper into his pocket-book. He had just remembered that Signor Petito had a great reputation as an expert in handwriting. His friend Adolphe was also an expert in handwriting, but from the Spiritualistic point of view. He told the character by it. Theophrastus had no intention of calling Adolphe into counsel. There was already too much mystery in the affair to entrust it to the overflowing imagination of a medium who boasted himself a pupil of a Papus.

He went slowly upstairs and was ushered into Signor Petito's study.

He found himself in the presence of a man of middle age, whose chief characteristics were a mass of crinkly black hair, a piercing glance, and enormous ears. After they had exchanged greetings, Theophrastus broached the subject of the scrap of paper. He drew it from his pocket-book and an unsigned letter which he had written a few days previously.