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The Lunatic at Large   By: (1870-1944)

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First Page:

THE LUNATIC AT LARGE

A NOVEL

BY J. STORER CLOUSTON

AUTHORIZED EDITION

BRENTANO'S NEW YORK 1915

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTORY. PART I. CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V. CHAPTER VI. CHAPTER VII. PART II. CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V. CHAPTER VI. CHAPTER VII. CHAPTER VIII. CHAPTER IX. PART III. CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V. CHAPTER VI. CHAPTER VII. PART IV. CHAPTER I. CHAPTER II. CHAPTER III. CHAPTER IV. CHAPTER V. ERRATA.

THE LUNATIC AT LARGE.

INTRODUCTORY.

Into the history of Mr Francis Beveridge, as supplied by the obliging candour of the Baron von Blitzenberg and the notes of Dr Escott, Dr Twiddel and his friend Robert Welsh make a kind of explanatory entry. They most effectually set the ball a rolling, and so the story starts in a small room looking out on a very uninteresting London street.

It was about three o'clock on a November afternoon, that season of fogs and rains and mud, when towns people long for fresh air and hillsides, and country folk think wistfully of the warmth and lights of a city, when nobody is satisfied, and everybody has a cold. Outside the window of the room there were a few feet of earth adorned with a low bush or two, a line of railings, a stone paved street, and on the other side a long row of uniform yellow brick houses. The apartment itself was a modest chamber, containing a minimum of rented furniture and a flickering gas stove. By a small caseful of medical treatises and a conspicuous stethoscope, the least experienced could see that it was labelled consulting room.

Dr Twiddel was enjoying one of those moments of repose that occur even in the youngest practitioner's existence. For the purposes of this narrative he may briefly be described as an amiable looking young man, with a little bit of fair moustache and still less chin, no practice to speak of, and a considerable quantity of unpaid bills. A man of such features and in such circumstances invites temptation. At the present moment, though his waistcoat was unbuttoned and his feet rested on the mantelpiece, his mind seemed not quite at ease. He looked back upon a number of fortunate events that had not occurred, and forward to various unpleasant things that might occur, and then he took a letter from his pocket and read it abstractedly.

"I can't afford to refuse," he reflected, lugubriously; "and yet, hang it! I must say I don't fancy the job."

When metal is molten it can be poured into any vessel; and at that moment a certain deep receptacle stood on the very doorstep.

The doctor heard the bell, sat up briskly, stuffed the letter back into his pocket, and buttoned his waistcoat.

"A patient at last!" and instantly there arose a vision of a simple operation, a fabulous fee, and twelve sickly millionaires an hour ever after. The door opened, and a loud voice hailed him familiarly.

"Only Welsh," he sighed, and the vision went the way of all the others.

The gentleman who swaggered in and clapped the doctor on the back, who next threw himself into the easiest chair and his hat and coat over the table, was in fact Mr Robert Welsh. From the moment he entered he pervaded the room; the stethoscope seemed to grow less conspicuous, Dr Twiddel's chin more diminutive, the apartment itself a mere background to this guest. Why? It would be hard to say precisely. He was a black moustached, full faced man, with an air of the most consummate assurance, and a person by some deemed handsome. Yet somehow or other he inevitably recalled the uncles of history. Perhaps this assurance alone gave him his atmosphere. You could have felt his egotism in the dark... Continue reading book >>




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