# The Man with the Black Feather/Chapter 21

2538147The Man with the Black Feather — Chapter 21Edgar JepsonGaston Leroux

### CHAPTER XXI

THE EARLESS MAN WITH HIS HEAD OUT OF THE WINDOW

Let us state this geometrical problem in the simplest words: an express train has to cover the ground between two little stations three miles apart. It is announced at the second when it passes the first; and yet they wait for it at the second in vain. They hurry from both stations down the line to find the wreck; but they do not so much as find the train, an express train in which there are perhaps a hundred passengers.

That the station-master of A should have fallen down dead at the shock of this unheard-of, bewildering, stupefying, absurd, diabolical, and yet how simple (as we shall learn later) disappearance of the train, is not greatly to be wondered at. The minds of all of them were shaken by the occurrence. The station-master of B was not in a much better condition than his colleague. Everyone present uttered incoherent cries. They kept calling the train, as if the train could have answered! They did not hear it, and on that flat plain they did not see it! The ticket-clerk of station A knelt down beside the body of his chief, and presently said, "I am quite sure he is dead!" The rest gathered round the body of the dead man; and then, tearing up two of the little trees from the side of the road which runs beside the railway, they laid him on them. Carrying the body on this rude litter, they returned towards station A. We must bear in mind that the express had passed station B, and that no one had seen it reach station A.

But they had not yet reached station A when, on the line, on the line along which they had just come, they perceived a railway-carriage, or rather a railway-carriage and a guard's-van! They greeted the sight in their excitable French way with the howls of madmen. Where did this end of a train come from? And what had become of the beginning of the train, that is to say, of the engine, the tender, the dining-car, and the three corridor carriages?

Look at the plan. C marks the point on the line at which the staffs of stations A and B met, when they were hunting for the train. It is also the point at which the station-master of A fell down dead. The two staffs then, in a body, were bringing back the dead station-master towards A, when at the point D, a point they had passed a few minutes before, and at which they had seen nothing, they find a railway-carriage and a guard's-van.