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16. Chapter XVI (continued)
"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 which must inevitably take place at that spot! We all rushed to the crossing-place - Monsieur Stangerson and I coming from one end of the right gallery, Daddy Jacques coming from the other end of the same gallery, and Frederic Larsan coming from the 'off-turning' gallery.
"The man was not there!
"We looked at each other stupidly and with eyes terrified. The man had vanished like a ghost. 'Where is he - where is he?' we all asked.
'It is impossible he can have escaped!' I cried, my terror mastered by my anger.
"'I touched him!' exclaimed Frederic Larsan.
"'I felt his breath on my face!' cried Daddy Jacques.
"'Where is he?' - where is he?' we all cried.
"We raced like madmen along the two galleries; we visited doors and windows - they were closed, hermetically closed. They had not been opened. Besides, the opening of a door or window by this man whom we were hunting, without our having perceived it, would have been more inexplicable than his disappearance.
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