a time it took to complete this transformation I could not at all guess from my experience of it. As far as my recollection of that goes, it might have occupied hours, but I know from external facts such as the shadows of the trees and the clouds that it could have been little more than five minutes at most, and on comparing notes afterwards with Jack I became inclined to believe that although I had certainly observed a succession of changes the whole transformation and disappearance was practically instantaneous.
Jack and I said not a word, we were both quite stupefied for the moment. Partly recovering ourselves we both walked up to the spot where Signor Davelli had stood, and we saw what seemed to be the remains of the sandals, hat, and coat, which he had worn. Jack took them up one after another, looked at them, and handed them to me. The texture of none of them was in any way destroyed. But they were now wholly colourless, and not the least trace of any letter or device was anywhere to be seen on them.
After the lapse of about ten minutes a slight explosion was heard a little way over our heads, and then a slight vapour appeared in the air very widely spread. Then I saw the same changes as before but in reverse order. The vapour thickened into smoke, the smoke