THE WRITER OF SHORT STORIES 269 �"Ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! < ho ! ho ! ho !" roared our visitor, profoundly amused. "O Dupin, you will be the death of me yet !" �"And what, after all, is the matter on hand?" I asked. �"Why, I will tell you," replied the Prefect, as he gave a long, steady, and contemplative puff, and set- tled himself in his chair. "I will tell you in a few words ; but, before I begin, let me caution you that this is an affair demanding the greatest secrecy, and that I should most probably lose the position I now hold were it known that I confided it to any one." �"Proceed," said I. �"Or not," said Dupin. �"Well, then ; I have received personal information, from a very high quarter, that a certain document of the last importance has been purloined from the royal apartments. The individual who purloined it is known; this beyond a doubt; he was seen to take it. It is known, also, that it still remains in his possession." �"How is this known ?" asked Dupin. �"It is clearly inferred," replied the Prefect, "from the nature of the document, and from the non-appear- ance of certain results which would at once arise from its passing out of the robber's possession ; that is to say, from his employing it as he must design in the end to employ it." �"Be a little more explicit," I said. �"Well, I may venture so far as to say that the paper gives its holder a certain power in a certain quarter where such power is immensely valuable." The Pre- fect was fond of the cant of diplomacy. ��� �
Page:Edgar Allan Poe - how to know him.djvu/289
This page needs to be proofread.