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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

retired man of business, sound in mind and body, who claimed to have existed two hundred years before. He said that my behaviour at yesterday's dinner and the incomprehensible phrases to which I had given utterance at the Conciergerie were indeed calculated to prepare him for such a confidence, but as a matter of fact he had not been expecting anything of the kind, and was entirely nonplussed. He would like to have actually in his hand the proofs of such a phenomenon.

"I took out my document and handed it to him. He could not deny its authenticity; he recognised the handwriting. Indeed that recognition drew a sharp explanation from him; and I asked him the reason of it. He answered that my handwriting on a document two hundred years old explained a heap of things.

"'What things?' I said.

"He confessed loyally that till that moment he had never understood my handwriting and that it had always been impossible for him to see any connection between it and my character.

"'Is that so?' I said. 'And what is your conception of my character, Adolphe?'

"'Well, you won't be angry, if I'm frank with you?' he said, hesitating.

"'Of course not,' I said.