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The Bag of Diamonds   By: (1831-1909)

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The Bag of Diamonds, by George Manville Fenn.

This is a short book, and indeed later editions added some short stories to bring the book up to a respectable size. The story is also unusual for this author, for much of the action takes place on the lower floors of a doctor's house in nineteenth century London.

The edition used was one of the worst printed books your reviewer has ever seen, yet with diligence the story has been extracted from it and is here presented. The doctor had for some years been obsessed with an idea that he could make an elixir of eternal life, and at some point in the recent past he had started to neglect his patients, so that he had very few new patients, so there was not much money in the house, and times were hard. The most amusing character in the book is Bob, the "boots" boy, and it is he who at almost the last chapter rediscovers the Bag of Diamonds, that had somehow got lost in almost the first.

There are villains, heroes, heroines and Bob with his antics in this book, and you will enjoy it. For the whole middle part of the book the people in it are blundering about, none of them ever quite sure what was going on. You, as the reader, may well have a better idea than they do, but be prepared to be wrong in your surmises. Makes a good audiobook.




"Ugh! what a night! And I used to grumble about Hogley Marsh! Why, it's like living in a drain!"

Ramillies Street, W.C., was certainly not attractive at twelve o'clock on that December night, for it had been snowing in the early part of the evening; that snow was suffering from a fall of blacks: and as evil communications corrupt good manners, the evil communication of the London soot was corrupting the good manners of the heavenly snow, which had become smirched by the town's embrace, and was sorrowfully weeping itself away in tears beneath a sky

No, there was not any sky. For four days there had not been a breath of air to dissipate the heavy mist, and into this mist the smoke of a million chimneys had rolled, mingled, and settled down in the streets in one horrible yellowish black mirk.

There were gas lamps in Ramillies Street here and there distinguishing themselves by a faint glow overhead; but John Whyley, policeman on the beat, was hardly aware of their existence till he laid his hand upon each post.

"Now, only that Burglar Bill and Company aren't such fools as to come out on such a night as this, here's their chance. Why, they might burgle every house on one side of the street while the whole division was on the other. Blest if I know hardly where I am!"

J.W. stopped and listened, but it seemed as if utter silence as well as utter darkness had descended upon the great city. But few people were about, and where a vehicle passed along a neighbouring street the patter of hoofs and roll of wheels was hushed by the thick snow.

"It is a puzzler," muttered the man. "Blind man's buff's nothing to it, and no pretty gals to catch. Now, whereabouts am I? I should say I'm just close to the corner by the square, and well, now, look at that!"

He uttered a low chuckle, and stared up from the curbstone at a dull, red glare that seemed like the eye of some fierce monster swimming in the sea of fog, and watching the man upon his beat.

"And if I didn't think I was t'other side of the street! Ah, how you do 'member me of old times," he continued, apostrophising the red glare; "seems like being back at Hogley, and looking off the station platform to see if you was burning all right after I'd been and lit you up. Red signals for trains red signals for them as wants help," he muttered as, with his hands within his belt, he stepped slowly up under an arch of iron scroll work rusting away, a piece of well forged ornamentation, which had once borne an oil lamp, and at whose sides were iron extinguishers, into which, in the bygone days when Ramillies was a fashionable street, footmen had thrust their smoking links... Continue reading book >>

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