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The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Chapter 15
The Trap
(EXTRACT FROM THE NOTE-BOOK OF JOSEPH ROULETABILLE)
"Last night--the night between the 29th and 30th of October--" wrote Joseph Rouletabille,
"I woke up towards one o'clock in the morning. Was it sleeplessness, or noise without?--
The cry of the Bete du Bon Dieu rang out with sinister loudness from the end of the park.
I rose and opened the window. Cold wind and rain; opaque darkness; silence. I reclosed
my window. Again the sound of the cat's weird cry in the distance. I partly dressed in
haste. The weather was too bad for even a cat to be turned out in it. What did it mean,
then--that imitating of the mewing of Mother Angenoux' cat so near the chateau? I seized
a good-sized stick, the only weapon I had, and, without making any noise, opened the
door.
"The gallery into which I went was well lit by a lamp with a reflector. I felt a keen
current of air and, on turning, found the window open, at the extreme end of the gallery,
which I call the 'off-turning' gallery, to distinguish it from the 'right' gallery, on to which
the apartment of Mademoiselle Stangerson opened. These two galleries cross each other
at right angles. Who had left that window open? Or, who had come to open it? I went to
the window and leaned out. Five feet below me there was a sort of terrace over the semi-
circular projection of a room on the ground-floor. One could, if one wanted, jump from
the window on to the terrace, and allow oneself to drop from it into the court of the
chateau. Whoever had entered by this road had, evidently, not had a key to the vestibule
door. But why should I be thinking of my previous night's attempt with the ladder?--
Because of the open window--left open, perhaps, by the negligence of a servant? I
reclosed it, smiling at the ease with which I built a drama on the mere suggestion of an
open window.
"Again the cry of the Bete du Bon Dieu!--and then silence. The rain ceased to beat on the
window. All in the chateau slept. I walked with infinite precaution on the carpet of the
gallery. On reaching the corner of the 'right' gallery, I peered round it cautiously. There
was another lamp there with a reflector which quite lit up the several objects in it,--three
chairs and some pictures hanging on the wall. What was I doing there? Perfect silence
reigned throughout. Everything was sunk in repose. What was the instinct that urged me
towards Mademoiselle Stangerson's chamber? Why did a voice within me cry: 'Go on, to
the chamber of Mademoiselle Stangerson!' I cast my eyes down upon the carpet on which
I was treading and saw that my steps were being directed towards Mademoiselle
Stangerson's chamber by the marks of steps that had already been made there. Yes, on the
carpet were traces of footsteps stained with mud leading to the chamber of Mademoiselle
Stangerson. Horror! Horror!--I recognised in those footprints the impression of the neat
boots of the murderer! He had come, then, from without in this wretched night. If you
could descend from the gallery by way of the window, by means of the terrace, then you
could get into the chateau by the same means.
 
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