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The Man with the Double Heart   By:

The Man with the Double Heart by Muriel Hine

First Page:

[Illustration: Cover art]

[Frontispiece: He could picture in the next box Cydonia's golden head at just the same angle and in between the narrow velvet curtains barely separating the pair. See page 93 .]

THE MAN WITH

THE DOUBLE HEART

BY

MURIEL HINE

(MRS. SIDNEY COXON)

LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD

NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY

TORONTO: BELL & COCKBURN : : MCMXIV

COPYRIGHT, 1914

BY JOHN LANE COMPANY

J. J. Little & Ives Company

New York, U. S. A.

TO

MY MOTHER

Some starlit garden grey with dew Some chamber flushed with wine and fire What matters where, so I and you Are worthy our desire? W. L. Henley .

THE MAN WITH

THE DOUBLE HEART

PART I

"Flower o' the broom Take away love and our earth is a tomb!" R. Browning .

CHAPTER I

The hour was close on midday, but the lamps in Cavendish Square shone with a blurred light through the unnatural gloom.

The fog, pouring down from Regent's Park above, was wedged tight in Harley Street like a wad of dirty wool, but in the open space fronting Harcourt House it found room to expand and took on spectral shape; dim forms with floating locks that clung to the stunted trees and, shuddering, pressed against the high London buildings which faded away indistinctly into the blackened sky.

From thence ragged pennons went busily fluttering South to be caught in the draught of the traffic in noisy Oxford Street, where hoarse and confusing cries were blent with the rumble of wheels in all the pandemonium of man at war with the elements.

The air was raw and sooty, difficult to breathe, and McTaggart, already irritable with the nervous tension due to his approaching interview, his throat dry, his eyes smarting as he peered at the wide crossing, started violently as the horn of an unseen motor sounded unpleasantly near at hand.

"Confound the man!" he said, in apology to himself and stepped back quickly onto the narrow path as a shapeless monster with eyes of flame swung past, foiled of its prey.

"A nice pace to go on a day like this!" And here something struck him sharply in the rear, knocking his hat forward onto the bridge of his nose.

"What the...!" he checked his wrath with a sudden shamefaced laugh as he found his unseen adversary to consist of the square railings.

Somewhere down Wigmore Street a clock boomed forth the hour. A quarter to twelve. McTaggart counted the strokes and gave a sigh of relief not unmixed with amusement: the secret congratulation of an unpunctual man redeemed by an accident from the error of his ways.

Wedging his hat more firmly down on his head, he dared again the black space before him, struck the curb on the opposite side and, one hand against the wall, steered round the corner and up into Harley Street.

Under the first lamp he paused and hunted for the number over the nearest door where four brass plates menaced the passer by with that modern form of torture that few live to escape the inquisitorial process known as dentistry.

Making a rapid calculation, he came to the conclusion that the house he sought must lie at the further end of the street London's "Bridge of Sighs" where breathless hope and despair elbow each other ceaselessly in the wake of suffering humanity.

The fog was changing colour from a dirty yellow to opal, and the damp pavement was becoming visible as McTaggart moved forward with a quick stride that held an elasticity which it did not owe to elation.

He walked with an ease and lightness peculiar in an Englishman who, athletic as he may be, yet treads the earth with a certain conscious air of possessing it: a tall, well built man, slender and very erect, but without that balanced stiffness, the hall mark of "drill."

A keen observer would guess at once an admixture of blood that betrayed its foreign strain in that supple grace of his; in the olive skin, the light feet, and the glossy black hair that was brushed close and thick to his shapely head... Continue reading book >>




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