The Best Mystery and Detective Stories HTML version
The Invisible Eye
About this time (said Christian), poor as a church mouse, I took refuge in the roof of an
old house in Minnesänger Street, Nuremberg, and made my nest in the corner of the
I was compelled to work over my straw bed to reach the window, but this window was in
the gable end, and the view from it was magnificent, both town and country being spread
out before me.
I could see the cats walking gravely in the gutters; the storks, their beaks filled with frogs,
carrying nourishment to their ravenous brood; the pigeons, springing from their cotes,
their tails spread like fans, hovering over the streets.
In the evening, when the bells called the world to the Angelus, with my elbows upon the
edge of the roof, I listened to their melancholy chimes; I watched the windows as, one by
one, they were lighted up; the good burghers smoking their pipes on the sidewalks; the
young girls in their red skirts, with their pitchers under their arms, laughing and chatting
around the fountain "Saint Sebalt." Insensibly all this faded away, the bats commenced
their rapid course, and I retired to my mattress in sweet peace and tranquillity.
The old curiosity seller, Toubac, knew the way to my little lodging as well as I did, and
was not afraid to climb the ladder. Every week his ugly head, adorned with a reddish cap,
raised the trapdoor, his fingers grasped the ledge, and he cried out in a nasal tone:
"Well, well, Master Christian, have you anything?"
To which I replied:
"Come in. Why in the devil don't you come in? I am just finishing a little landscape, and
you must tell me what you think of it."
Then his great back, seeming to elongate, grew up, even to the roof, and the good man
I must do justice to Toubac: he never haggled with me about prices; he bought all my
paintings at fifteen florins, one with the other, and sold them again for forty each. "This
was an honest Jew!"
I began to grow fond of this mode of existence, and to find new charms in it day by day.
Just at this time the city of Nuremberg was agitated by a strange and mysterious event.
Not far from my dormer window, a little to the left, stood the Inn Boeuf-Gras, an old
auberge much patronized throughout the country. Three or four wagons, filled with sacks
or casks, were always drawn up before the door, where the rustic drivers were in the habit
of stopping, on their way to the market, to take their morning draught of wine.