Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/52

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It was indeed a blow. But he took it very well. From the moment that he remembered having been alive at the beginning of the eighteenth century, he began to regret that it was not two thousand years earlier.

That is the nature of the French tradesman; he is full of common sense; but when he does exaggerate, he passes all bounds.

In his uncertainty about his previous existence he had two definite facts to start from: the date 1721, and the Conciergerie prison. These enabled him to affirm that in 1721 he had been confined in the Conciergerie as a Prisoner of State: he could not admit for an instant that even in the wicked times of Louis XV he, Theophrastus Longuet, could possibly have been in prison for an offence against the Common Law.

Again the scrap of paper gave grounds for certain inferences. At some desperate conjuncture, possibly on the eve of his execution, he had written it and hidden it in the wall, to find it on a passing visit, two centuries later. There was nothing supernatural about that; it was merely the logical explanation of the facts of the case.

He betook himself once more to the consideration of the document. Two words in it