' It was a magnificent Persian—so wet and draggled, though, as to look what she was—worse than disreputable ! '
' What do you mean, Mr. Raven ? ' I cried, a fresh horror taking me by the throat. '—There was a beautiful blue Persian about the house, but she fled at the very sound of water!—Could she have been after the goldfish ?'
' We shall see !' returned the librarian. ' I know a little about cats of several sorts, and there is that in the room which will unmask this one, or I am mistaken in her.'
He rose, went to the door of the closet, brought from it the mutilated volume, and sat down again beside me. I stared at the book in his hand: it was a whole book, entire and sound!
' Where was the other half of it ? ' I gasped.
' Sticking through into my library,' he answered.
I held my peace. A single question more would have been a plunge into a bottomless sea, and there might be no time !
' Listen,' he said : ' I am going to read a stanza or two. There is one present who, I imagine, will hardly enjoy the reading ! '
He opened the vellum cover, and turned a leaf or two. The parchment was discoloured with age, and one leaf showed a dark stain over two-thirds of it. He slowly turned this also, and seemed looking for a certain passage in what appeared a continuous poem. Somewhere about the middle of the book he began to read.
But what follows represents—not what he read, only the impression it made upon me. The poem seemed in a language I had never before heard, which yet I