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Master of His Fate   By:

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Master Of His Fate






I. Julius Courtney II. A Mysterious Case III. "M. Dolaro" IV. The Man of the Crowd V. The Remarkable Case of Lady Mary Fane VI. At The Bedside of the Doctor VII. Contains a Love Interlude VIII. Strange Scenes in Curzon Street IX. An Apparition And a Confession

To Z. Mennell, Esq.

My dear Mennell,

It has been my fortune to see something of the practice of the art of healing under widely different conditions, and I know none who better represents the most humane and most exacting of all professions than yourself. The good doctor of this story the born surgeon and healer, the ever young and alert, the self forgetful, the faithful friend, gifted with "that exquisite charity which can forgive all things" is studied from you.

It is one of the greatest pleasures of my life to inscribe your name on this dedicatory page, and to subscribe myself,

Your sincere friend and grateful patient,

J. Maclaren Cobban.

London, November 1889.

Chapter I.

Julius Courtney.

The Hyacinth Club has the reputation of selecting its members from among the freshest and most active spirits in literature, science, and art. That is in a sense true, but activity in one or another of those fields is not a condition of membership; for, just as the listening Boswell was the necessary complement of the talking Johnson, so in the Hyacinth Club there is an indispensable contingent of passive members who find their liveliest satisfaction in hearing and looking on, rather than in speaking and doing. Something of the home principle of male and female is necessary for the completeness even of a club.

The Hyacinth Club house looks upon Piccadilly and the Green Park. The favourite place of concourse of its members is the magnificent smoking room on the first floor, the bow windows of which command a view up and down the fashionable thoroughfare, and over the trees and the undulating sward of the Park to the gates of Buckingham Palace. On a Monday afternoon in the beginning of May, the bow windows were open, and several men sat in leather lounges (while one leaned against a window sash), luxuriously smoking, and noting the warm, palpitating life of the world without. A storm which had been silently and doubtfully glooming and gathering the night before had burst and poured in the morning, and it was such a spring afternoon as thrills the heart with new life and suffuses the soul with expectation such an afternoon as makes all women appear beautiful and all men handsome. The south west wind blew soft and balmy, and all nature rejoiced as the bride in the presence of the bridegroom. The trees in the Park were full of sap, and their lusty buds were eagerly opening to the air and the light. The robin sang with a note almost as rich and sensuous as that of the thrush; and the shrill and restless sparrows chirped and chattered about the houses and among the horses' feet, and were as full of the joy of life as the men and women who thronged the pavements or reclined in their carriages in the sumptuous ease of wealth and beauty.

Of the men who languidly gazed upon the gay and splendid scene from the windows of the Club, none seemed so interested as the man who leaned against the window frame. He appeared more than interested absorbed, indeed in the world without, and he looked bright and handsome enough, and charged enough with buoyant health, to be the ideal bridegroom of Nature in her springtide.

He was a dark man, tall and well built, with clear brown eyes. His black hair (which was not cropped short, as is the fashion) had a lustrous softness, and at the same time an elastic bushiness, which nothing but the finest tempered health can give; and his complexion, though tanned by exposure, had yet much of the smoothness of youth, save where the razor had passed upon his beard. Thus seen, a little way off, he appeared a young man in his rosy twenties; on closer view and acquaintance, however, that superficial impression was contradicted by the set expression of his mouth and the calm observation and understanding of his eye, which spoke of ripe experience rather than of green hope... Continue reading book >>

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