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CHAPTER 17: The Inexplicable Gallery
"Mademoiselle Stangerson appeared at the door of her ante-room," continues Rouletabille's note-book. "We were near her door in the gallery where this incredible phenomenon had taken place. There are moments when one feels as if one's brain were about to burst. A bullet in the head, a fracture of the skull, the seat of reason shattered with only these can I compare the sensation which exhausted and left me void of sense.
"Happily, Mademoiselle Stangerson appeared on the threshold of her ante-room. I saw her, and that helped to relieve my chaotic state of mind. I breathed her I inhaled the perfume of the lady in black, whom I should never see again. I would have given ten years of my life half my life to see once more the lady in black! Alas! I no more meet her but from time to time, and yet! and yet! how the memory of that perfume felt by me alone carries me back to the days of my childhood.* It was this sharp reminder from my beloved perfume, of the lady in black, which made me go to her dressed wholly in white and so pale so pale and so beautiful! on the threshold of the inexplicable gallery. Her beautiful golden hair, gathered into a knot on the back of her neck, left visible the red star on her temple which had so nearly been the cause of her death. When I first got on the right track of the mystery of this case I had imagined that, on the night of the tragedy in The Yellow Room, Mademoiselle Stangerson had worn her hair in bands. But then, how could I have imagined otherwise when I had not been in The Yellow Room!
*When I wrote these lines, Joseph Rouletabille was eighteen years of age,and he spoke of his "youth." I have kept the text of my friend, but I inform the reader here that the episode of the mystery of The Yellow Room has no connection with that of the perfume of the lady in black. It is not my fault if, in the document which I have cited, Rouletabille thought fit to refer to his childhood.
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