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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

"Signor Petito," he said, "I understand that you are a first-class expert in handwriting. I should be much obliged if you would examine this letter and this document, and inform me of the result of your examination. I assert myself that there is no connection—"

He stopped short, as red as a peony, for he was not in the habit of lying. But Signor Petito had already scanned the letter and the scrap of paper with the eye of an expert; and with a smile which showed all his exceedingly white teeth, he said:

"I won't keep you waiting for my answer, M. Longuet. The document is in a very bad state; but the scraps of handwriting one can read are in every respect the same as the handwriting of the letter. Before the Courts, M. Longuet, before God and before men, these two handwritings were traced by the same hand!" He laid his hand on his heart with a great air.

He entered into particulars: a child, he declared, could not make a mistake about it. He became oracular.

"The handwriting in both is equally angular," he said in a very pompous tone. "By angular, M. Longuet, we describe a handwriting in which the thin strokes which join the strokes of the letters and the letters to one