The Mystery of the Yellow Room HTML version

Chapter 18
Rouletabille Has Drawn a Circle Between the Two Bumps on His Forehead
"We separated on the thresholds of our rooms, with a melancholy shake of the hands. I
was glad to have aroused in him a suspicion of error. His was an original brain, very
intelligent but--without method. I did not go to bed. I awaited the coming of daylight and
then went down to the front of the chateau, and made a detour, examining every trace of
footsteps coming towards it or going from it. These, however, were so mixed and
confusing that I could make nothing of them. Here I may make a remark,--I am not
accustomed to attach an exaggerated importance to exterior signs left in the track of a
"The method which traces the criminal by means of the tracks of his footsteps is
altogether primitive. So many footprints are identical. However, in the disturbed state of
my mind, I did go into the deserted court and did look at all the footprints I could find
there, seeking for some indication, as a basis for reasoning.
"If I could but find a right starting-point! In despair I seated myself on a stone. For over
an hour I busied myself with the common, ordinary work of a policeman. Like the least
intelligent of detectives I went on blindly over the traces of footprints which told me just
no more than they could.
"I came to the conclusion that I was a fool, lower in the scale of intelligence than even the
police of the modern romancer. Novelists build mountains of stupidity out of a footprint
on the sand, or from an impression of a hand on the wall. That's the way innocent men
are brought to prison. It might convince an examining magistrate or the head of a
detective department, but it's not proof. You writers forget that what the senses furnish is
not proof. If I am taking cognisance of what is offered me by my senses I do so but to
bring the results within the circle of my reason. That circle may be the most
circumscribed, but if it is, it has this advantage--it holds nothing but the truth! Yes, I
swear that I have never used the evidence of the senses but as servants to my reason. I
have never permitted them to become my master. They have not made of me that
monstrous thing,--worse than a blind man,--a man who sees falsely. And that is why I can
triumph over your error and your merely animal intelligence, Frederic Larsan.
"Be of good courage, then, friend Rouletabille; it is impossible that the incident of the
inexplicable gallery should be outside the circle of your reason. You know that! Then
have faith and take thought with yourself and forget not that you took hold of the right
end when you drew that circle in your brain within which to unravel this mysterious play
of circumstance.