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Unformatted text preview: u? There's the old "Spectator" for you;" and he led Mr. Thomas into a small den where he used to hear his pupils read their essays, and so forth. In a few minutes he came out, looking rather pale, and took an embarrassed farewell of Mr. Thomas. "Look here, Wharton," he said to me, "here is a curious business. That fellow from Blocksby's tells me that the Longepierre Theocritus disappeared yesterday afternoon; that I was the last person in whose hand it was seen, and that not only the man who always attends in the room but Lord Tarras and Mr. Wentworth, saw it in MY hands just before it was missed." "What a nuisance!" I answered. "You were looking at it when Miss Breton and I saw you, and you didn't notice us; Does Thomas know WHEN--I mean about what o'clock--the book was first missed?" "That's the lucky part of the whole worry," said Allen. "I left the rooms at three exactly, and it was missed about ten minutes to four; dozens of people must have handled it in that interval of time. So interesting a book!" "But," I said, and paused--"are you sure your watch was right?" "Quite certain; besides, I looked at a church clock. Why on earth do you ask?" "Because--I am awfully sorry--there is some unlucky muddle; but it was exactly a quarter, or perhaps seventeen minutes, to four when both Miss Breton and I saw you absorbed in the Longepierre." "Oh, it's quite IMPOSSIBLE," Allen answered; "I was far enough away from Blocksby's at a quarter to four." "That's all right," I said. "Of course you can prove that; if it is necessary; though I dare say the book has fallen behind a row of others, and has been found by this time. Where were you at a quarter to four?" "I really don't feel obliged to stand a cross-examination before my time," answered Allen, flushing a little. Then I remembered that I was engaged to lunch at All Souls', which was true enough; convenient too, for I do not quite see how the conversation could have been carried on
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