Page:Gaston Leroux--The man with the black feather.djvu/53

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33
THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER

seemed to him, naturally, of paramount importance. They were the words "Betrayal" and "Treasures."

He hoped from these two words to reconstitute his earlier personality. In the first place, it was plain that he had been rich and powerful. Only rich men bury treasures; only powerful men are betrayed. It seemed to him that it must have been a memorable, perhaps historic betrayal, of the betrayal of the First of April.

Whatever else was mysterious about the document, it was quite clear that he had been a great personage and had buried treasures.

"By Jove!" he said to himself. "Provided that no one has touched them, those treasures belong to me! If need were, with this document in my own handwriting I could establish my claim to them."

Theophrastus was not a rich man. He had retired from business with a moderate competence: a cottage in the country, with its little garden, its fountain, and its lawn. It was not much, with Marceline's occasional fits of extravagance. Decidedly the treasures would come in very useful.

At the same time we must give him the credit of being far more interested in the mystery