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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

Theophrastus rose, put the document back into his pocket-book, and went out on stumbling feet, without answering.

I reproduce from the medley of documents of which his memoirs are composed the following passage:

"So now," writes Theophrastus, "I had the proof; I could no longer doubt; I had no longer the right to doubt. This scrap of paper which dated from the beginning of the eighteenth century, from the times of the Regent, this sheet which I had found, or rather had gone to seek in a prison, was truly in my own handwriting. I had written on this sheet, I, Theophrastus Longuet, late manufacturer of rubber stamps, who had only retired the week before, at the age of forty-one years, I had written on this sheet the still incomprehensible words which I read on it, in 1721! Besides, I had not really any need of Signor Petito, or of Ambrose, to assure me of it. All my being cried, 'It's your paper! It's your paper!'"

"So before being Theophrastus Longuet, the son of Jean Longuet, market-gardener at Ferté-sous-Jouarre, I had been in the past someone whom I did not know, but who was re-born in me. Yes: every now and then I