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The Best Mystery and Detective Stories

An Uncomfortable Bed
One autumn I went to stay for the hunting season with some friends in a chateau in
Picardy.
My friends were fond of practical joking, as all my friends are. I do not care to know any
other sort of people.
When I arrived, they gave me a princely reception, which at once aroused distrust in my
breast. We had some capital shooting. They embraced me, they cajoled me, as if they
expected to have great fun at my expense.
I said to myself:
"Look out, old ferret! They have something in preparation for you."
During the dinner, the mirth was excessive, far too great, in fact. I thought: "Here are
people who take a double share of amusement, and apparently without reason. They must
be looking out in their own minds for some good bit of fun. Assuredly I am to be the
victim of the joke. Attention!"
During the entire evening, everyone laughed in an exaggerated fashion. I smelled a
practical joke in the air, as a dog smells game. But what was it? I was watchful, restless. I
did not let a word or a meaning or a gesture escape me. Everyone seemed to me an object
of suspicion, and I even looked distrustfully at the faces of the servants.
The hour rang for going to bed, and the whole household came to escort me to my room.
Why? They called to me: "Good night." I entered the apartment, shut the door, and
remained standing, without moving a single step, holding the wax candle in my hand.
I heard laughter and whispering in the corridor. Without doubt they were spying on me. I
cast a glance around the walls, the furniture, the ceiling, the hangings, the floor. I saw
nothing to justify suspicion. I heard persons moving about outside my door. I had no
doubt they were looking through the keyhole.
An idea came into my head: "My candle may suddenly go out, and leave me in darkness."
Then I went across to the mantelpiece, and lighted all the wax candles that were on it.
After that, I cast another glance around me without discovering anything. I advanced with
short steps, carefully examining the apartment. Nothing. I inspected every article one
after the other. Still nothing. I went over to the window. The shutters, large wooden
shutters, were open. I shut them with great care, and then drew the curtains, enormous
velvet curtains, and I placed a chair in front of them, so as to have nothing to fear from
without.
 
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