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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

not been troubled all his life long by any unhealthy curiosity about the beginning or end of things; he had wasted no time on the mysteries of philosophy. He had shrugged his shoulders at their futility. But since the revelation of the extraordinary fact that a man sold rubber stamps in 1911 after burying treasures in 1721, he swore to go to the end of the business. He would know. He would know everything.

His "historical instinct" seemed to have left him for the time being, he would hunt for it in books. He would assuredly end by finding out who was the mysterious personage who had been shut up in the Conciergerie in 1721 after having been betrayed on the First of April. Which First of April? That remained to discover.

Little as the selling of rubber stamps fits man for historical research, he betook himself to libraries and hunted for that personage. He studied the lives of the chief men of the period. Since he was at it, nothing was too grand for him: Princes, Peers, Statesmen, and Generals, he studied the lives of all. He paused for a while at the great financier Law, but found him too dissipated; the same objection applied to the Comte du Barry; and he was positively