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CHAPTER XLIV

THE VOICE IN THE DUST


One of the men produced his note book and began taking down in shorthand the rapid utterances of the chief, repeating it so as to check the accuracy as he went on:

"Easy to see the marks; the floor is deep in dust, and the walls are thick with it. On floor, mark of several feet—confused in struggle, may articulate separately later on—one woman's—also trailing of long skirt. On walls marks of hands, fingers outspread, as if trying to grasp. Some of the long marks down the wall others across." The speaker here raised his lamp and held it in the opening as far as his arm would go; then he went on:

"Steps wind downwards to right. Struggle seems to have stopped. Footmarks more clear." . . . Then the chief turned to us:

"I think gentlemen, we may follow in now. The footmarks may be discriminated and identified later. We must chance destroying them, or we cannot pass in this narrow passage." Here I spoke; a thought had been surging up in my brain ever since the detective had pointed out the finger marks on the wall "down and across ":

"Stop a moment please! Let me see the marks on the wall before any one enters; the passage is narrow and they may be rubbed off." A glance was enough, just time enough to formulate which was the symbol of

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