In chapter 17 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace, the author is describing a captured man who had been led to a building:

The sight he saw was a remarkable one. He was in a chapel; he saw the stained-glass windows, but in place of the altar there was a low platform which ran along one end of the building. It was draped with black and set with three desks. It reminded him of nothing so much as a judge's desk, save that the hangings were of purple, the desks of black oak, and the carpet that covered the dais of the same sombre hue.

Three men sat at the desks. They were masked, and a diamond pin in the cravat of one glittered in the light of the huge electrolier which hung from the vaulted roof. Gonsalez had a weakness for jewels.

The remaining member of the Four was to the right of the prisoners.

With the stained-glass windows, the raftered roof, and the solemn character of the architecture, the illusion of the chapel ended. There was no other furniture on the floor; it was tiled and bare of chair or pew.

Black took all this in quickly. He noted a door behind the three, through which they came and apparently made their exit. He could see no means of escape save by the way he had come.

The central figure of the three at the desk spoke in a voice which was harsh and stern and uncompromising. "Morris Black," he said solemnly, "what of Fanks?"

Black shrugged his shoulders and looked round as though weary of a question which he found it impossible to answer.

"What of Jakobs, of Coleman, of a dozen men who have stood in your way and have died?" asked the voice.

Still Black was silent. His eye took in the situation. Behind him were two doors, and he observed that the key was in the lock. He could see that he was in an old Norman chapel which private enterprise had restored for a purpose.

It's already said at first the he was in a chapel, so does the author meant here that Black firstly guessed that he was in a chapel, then he became totally sure of that?

2 Answers 2


The writer is playing with definitions a little, the room has the form of a chapel and has been a chapel in Norman times, but has now been restored to meet a non-ecclesiastical purpose and no longer has the function of a chapel.

This is why it has the built features of a chapel, but not the furnishings of one.

This causes a dissonance where the form is initially recognised, then the impression is over-ridden by closer observation then the fact of its adapted and original functions mesh to an understanding of the rooms changes over time.


The stained-glass windows, raftered roof, and solemn character of the architecture gave the illusion of being a chapel. But that was all. Nothing else about the room looked like a chapel. The illusion ended after those three things.

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