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shoes. And so ludicrous did such testimony of common every-day life, of the habits which Strahan would necessarily have contracted in his desultory, unluxurious bachelor's existence — so ludicrous, I say, did these homely details seem to me, so grotesquely at variance with the wonders of which I had been reading, with the wonders yet more incredible of which I myself had been witness and victim, that, as I turned down the passage, I heard my own unconscious, half-hysterical laugh; and, startled by the sound of that laugh as if it came from some one else, I paused, my hand on the door, and asked myself: "Do I dream? Am I awake? And if awake, what am I to say to the commonplace mortal I am about to rouse? Speak to him of a phantom! Speak to him of some weird spell over this strong frame! Speak to him of a mystic trance in which has been stolen what he confided to me, without my knowledge! What will he say? What should I have said a few days ago to any man who told such a tale to me?" I did not wait to resolve these questions. I entered the room. There wras Strahan sound asleep on his bed. I shook him roughly. He started up, rubbed his eyes — " You, Allen —you? What the deuce ? — what's the matter?"
"Strahan, I have been robbed ! — robbed of the manuscript you lent me. I could not rest till I had told you."
"Robbed, robbed! Are you serious?"
By this time Strahan had thrown off the bed-clothes, and sat upright, staring at me.
And then those questions which my mind had sug
gested while I was standing at his door repeated themselves with double force. Tell this man, this unimaginative, hard-headed, raw-boned, sandy-haired Northcountryman— tell this man a story which the most credulous school-girl would have rejected as a fable! Impossible.
"I fell asleep," said I, coloring and stammering, for the slightest deviation from truth'was painful to me, "and — and — when I woke—-the manuscript was gone. Some one must have entered, and committed the theft"
"Some one entered the house at this hour of the night, and then only stolen a manuscript which could be of no value to him? Absurd! If thieves have come in, it must be for other objects — for plate, for money. I will dress; we will see I"
Strahan hurried on his clothes, muttering to himself, and avoiding my eye. He was embarrassed. He did not like to say to an old friend what was on his mind, but I saw at once that he suspected I had resolved to deprive him of the manuscript, and had invented a wild tale in order to conceal my own dishonesty.
Nevertheless he proceeded to search the house. I followed him in silence, oppressed with my own thoughts, and longing for solitude in my own chamber. We found no one, no trace of any one, nothing to excite suspicion. There were but two female servants sleeping in the house — the old housekeeper, and a country girl who assisted her. It was not possible to suspect, either of these persons, but in the course of our search we opened the door of their rooms. We saw that they were both in bed, both seemingly asleep; it seemed idle to wake and question them. When the formality of our futile investigation was concluded, Strahan stopped at the door of my bedroom, and for the first time fixing his eyes on me steadily, said:
"Allen Eenwick, I would have given half the fortune I have come into rather than.this had happened. The manuscript, as you know, was bequeathed to me as a sacred trust by a benefactor whose slightest wish it is my duty to observe religiously. If it contained aught valuable to a man of your knowledge and profession — why, you were free to use its contents. Let me hope, Allen, that the book will reappear to-morrow."
He said no more, drew himself away from the hand I involuntarily extended, and walked quickly back towards his own room.
Alone once more, I sank on a seat, buried my face in my hands, and strove in vain to collect into some definite shape my own tumultuous and disordered thoughts. Could I attach serious credit to the marvellous narrative I had read? Were there, indeed, such powers given to man? such influences latent in the calm routine of Nature? I could not believe it; I must have some morbid affection of the brain; I must be under an hallucination. Hallucination? The phantom, yes-—the trance, yes. But still, how came the book gone? That, at least, was not hallucination.
I left my room the next morning with a vague hope that I should find the manuscript somewhere in the study; that, in my own trance, I might have secreted it, as sleep-walkers are said to secrete things, without remembrance of their acts in their waking state.
I searched minutely in every conceivable place. Strahan found me still employed in that hopeless task. He had breakfasted in his own room, and it was past eleven o'clock when he joined me. His manner was now hard, cold, and distant, and his suspicion so bluntly shown, that my distress gave way to resentment.
"Is it possible," I cried indignantly, "that you who have known me so well can suspect me of an act so base, and so gratuitously base? Purloin, conceal a book confided to me, with full power to copy from it whatever I might desire, use its contents in any way that might seem to me serviceable to science, or useful to me in my own calling!'7
"I have not accused you," answered Strahan, sullenly. "But what are we to say to Mr. Jeeves, to all others who know that this manuscript existed? Will they believe what you tell me?"
"Mr. Jeeves," I said, "cannot suspect a fellow townsman, whose character is as high as mine, of untruth and theft. And to whom else have you communicated the facts connected with a memoir and a request of so extraordinary a nature?"
"To young Margrave; I told you so!"
"True, true. We need go no further to find the thief. Margrave has been in the house more than once. He knows the position of the rooms. You have named the robber 1"
"Tut! what on earth could a gay young fellow like Margrave want with a work of such dry and recondite nature as I presume my poor kinsman's memoir must be?" .
I was about to answer, when the door was abruptly opened, and the servant girl entered, followed by two men, in whom I recognized the superintendent of the
L police and the same subordinate who had found
me by Sir Philip's corpse.
The superintendent came up to me with a grave face, and whispered in my ear. I did not at first comprehend him. "Come with you," I said, "and to Mr. Yigors, the magistrate? I thought my deposition was closed."
The superintendent shook his head. "I have the authority here, Dr. Fen wick."
"Well, I will come of course. Has anything new transpired?"
The superintendent turned to the servant girl, who was standing with gaping mouth and staring eyes. "Show us Dr. Fehwick's room. You had better put up; sir, whatever things you have brought here.- I will go> upstairs with you," he whispered again. "Come, Dr. Fenwick, I am in the discharge of my duty."
Something in the man's manner was so sinister and
menacing that I felt at once, that some new and strange;
calamity had befallen me. I turned towards Strahan.;