Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/261

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THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

on his left stretches the plain, without an undulation, without the bulge of a hill, without the hollow of a river—stretches grey and gloomy under the grey and gloomy sky.

Now and again along the railway, so painfully straight, trains pass,—slow trains, express trains, freight trains. While they pass the railway snores; then it is silent, and one hears, borne on the wind, the ting-ting-ting-ting of the little electric bell in the little railway station in front. But what little railway station? There is one in front; there is one behind. They are three miles apart; and between them the double line of rails runs as straight as a die. Between the two railway stations there are no viaducts, no tunnel, no bridge, not even a level-crossing. I dwell on these details on account of the strange behaviour of the express train.

That sad shadow of a man is Theophrastus. He has resolved to fly, to fly no matter where, from his wife—poor dear, unfortunate, heroic fellow! After a night passed on the roofs of Paris, not knowing whither to direct his steps, yet not wishing to stay them, he went into a railway station—what railway station? Shall we ever know?—And without a ticket he got on a train, and without a ticket some-