Not a member?     Existing members login below:
263 Bestsellers Instantly Yours When You Name Your Price Here

The Mystery of the Yellow Room

Chapter 16
Strange Phenomenon of the Dissociation of Matter
"I am again at the window-sill," continues Rouletabille, "and once more I raise my head
above it. Through an opening in the curtains, the arrangement of which has not been
changed, I am ready to look, anxious to note the position in which I am going to find the
murderer, --whether his back will still be turned towards me!--whether he is still seated at
the desk writing! But perhaps--perhaps--he is no longer there!--Yet how could he have
fled?--Was I not in possession of his ladder? I force myself to be cool. I raise my head yet
higher. I look--he is still there. I see his monstrous back, deformed by the shadow thrown
by the candle. He is no longer writing now, and the candle is on the parquet, over which
he is bending--a position which serves my purpose.
"I hold my breath. I mount the ladder. I am on the uppermost rung of it, and with my left
hand seize hold of the window-sill. In this moment of approaching success, I feel my
heart beating wildly. I put my revolver between my teeth. A quick spring, and I shall be
on the window-ledge. But--the ladder! I had been obliged to press on it heavily, and my
foot had scarcely left it, when I felt it swaying beneath me. It grated on the wall and fell.
But, already, my knees were touching the window-sill, and, by a movement quick as
lightning, I got on to it.
"But the murderer had been even quicker than I had been. He had heard the grating of the
ladder on the wall, and I saw the monstrous back of the man raise itself. I saw his head.
Did I really see it? --The candle on the parquet lit up his legs only. Above the height of
the table the chamber was in darkness. I saw a man with long hair, a full beard, wild-
looking eyes, a pale face, framed in large whiskers,--as well as I could distinguish, and,
as I think--red in colour. I did not know the face. That was, in brief, the chief sensation I
received from that face in the dim half-light in which I saw it. I did not know it--or, at
least, I did not recognise it.
"Now for quick action! It was indeed time for that, for as I was about to place my legs
through the window, the man had seen me, had bounded to his feet, had sprung--as I
foresaw he would--to the door of the ante-chamber, had time to open it, and fled. But I
was already behind him, revolver in hand, shouting 'Help!'
"Like an arrow I crossed the room, but noticed a letter on the table as I rushed. I almost
came up with the man in the ante-room, for he had lost time in opening the door to the
gallery. I flew on wings, and in the gallery was but a few feet behind him. He had taken,
as I supposed he would, the gallery on his right,--that is to say, the road he had prepared
for his flight. 'Help, Jacques!--help, Larsan!' I cried. He could not escape us! I raised a
shout of joy, of savage victory. The man reached the intersection of the two galleries
hardly two seconds before me for the meeting which I had prepared--the fatal shock