Istanbul Hints

A Terribly Strange Bed part 14

Written on 11/04/2019   By   in General

Away
we went through the streets, the Sub-prefect cross-examining and congratulating
me in the same breath as we marched at the head of our formidable posse
comitatus. Sentinels were placed at the back and front of the house the moment
we got to it, a tremendous battery of knocks was directed against the door; a
light appeared at a window; I was told to conceal myself behind the police—then
came more knocks, and a cry of “Open in the name of the law!” At that terrible
summons bolts and locks gave way before an invisible hand, and the moment after
the Sub-prefect was in the passage, confronting a waiter half dressed and
ghastly pale. This was the short dialogue which immediately took place:

“We
want to see the Englishman who is sleeping in this house?”

“He
went away hours ago.”

“He
did no such thing. His friend went away; he remained. Show us to his bedroom!”

“I
swear to you, Monsieur le Sous-prefect, he is not here! He—”

“I
swear to you, Monsieur le Garqon, he is. He slept here—he didn’t find your bed
comfortable—he came to us to complain of it—here he is among my men—and here am
I ready to look for a flea or two in his bedstead. Renaudin!” (calling to one
of the subordinates, and pointing to the waiter), “collar that man, and tie his
hands behind him. Now, then, gentlemen, let us walk upstairs!”

Every
man and woman in the house was secured—the “Old Soldier” the first. Then I
identified the bed in which I had slept, and then we went into the room above.

Sub-prefect look

No
object that was at all extraordinary appeared in any part of it. The
Sub-prefect looked round the place, commanded everybody to be silent, stamped
twice on the floor, called for a candle, looked attentively at the spot he had
stamped on, and ordered the flooring there to be carefully taken up.

This
was done in no time. Lights were produced, and we saw a deep raftered cavity
between the floor of this room and the ceiling of the room beneath. Through
this cavity there ran perpendicularly a sort of case of iron thickly greased;
and inside the case appeared the screw, which communicated with the bed-top
below.

Extra lengths of screw, freshly oiled; levers
covered with felt; all the complete upper works of a heavy press—constructed
with infernal ingenuity so as to join the fixtures below, and when taken to
pieces again to go into the smallest possible compass—were next discovered and
pulled out on the floor. After some little difficulty the Sub-prefect succeeded
in putting the machinery together, and, leaving his men to work it, descended
with me to the bedroom.

 

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