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The letters of my friend Mr. Stark Munro appear to
me to form so connected a whole, and to give so plain an
account of some of the troubles which a young man may be
called upon to face right away at the outset of his
career, that I have handed them over to the gentleman who
is about to edit them.  There are two of them, the fifth
and the ninth, from which some excisions are necessary;
but in the main I hope that they may be reproduced as
they stand.  I am sure that there is no privilege which
my friend would value more highly than the thought that
some other young man, harassed by the needs of this world
and doubts of the next, should have gotten strength by
reading how a brother had passed down the valley of
shadow before him.




HOME. 30th March, 1881.

I have missed you very much since your return to
America, my dear Bertie, for you are the one man upon
this earth to whom I have ever been able to unreservedly
open my whole mind.  I don't know why it is; for, now
that I come to think of it, I have never enjoyed very
much of your confidence in return.  But that may be my
fault.  Perhaps you don't find me sympathetic, even
though I have every wish to be.  I can only say that I
find you intensely so, and perhaps I presume too much
upon the fact.  But no, every instinct in my nature tells
me that I don't bore you by my confidences.

Can you remember Cullingworth at the University?  You
never were in the athletic set, and so it is possible
that you don't.  Anyway, I'll take it for granted
that you don't, and explain it all from the beginning.
I'm sure that you would know his photograph, however, for
the reason that he was the ugliest and queerest-looking
man of our year.

Physically he was a fine athlete--one of the fastest
and most determined Rugby forwards that I have ever
known, though he played so savage a game that he was
never given his international cap.  He was well-grown,
five foot nine perhaps, with square shoulders, an arching
chest, and a quick jerky way of walking.  He had a round
strong head, bristling with short wiry black hair.  His
face was wonderfully ugly, but it was the ugliness of
character, which is as attractive as beauty.  His jaw and
eyebrows were scraggy and rough-hewn, his nose aggressive
and red-shot, his eyes small and near set, light blue in
colour, and capable of assuming a very genial and also an
exceedingly vindictive expression.  A slight wiry
moustache covered his upper lip, and his teeth were
yellow, strong, and overlapping.  Add to this that he
seldom wore collar or necktie, that his throat was the
colour and texture of the bark of a Scotch fir, and that
he had a voice and especially a laugh like a bull's
bellow.  Then you have some idea (if you can piece all
these items in your mind) of the outward James Cullingworth.

But the inner man, after all, was what was most worth
noting.  I don't pretend to know what genius is.
Carlyle's definition always seemed to me to be a very
crisp and clear statement of what it is NOT.  Far
from its being an infinite capacity for taking pains, its
leading characteristic, as far as I have ever been able
to observe it, has been that it allows the possessor of
it to attain results by a sort of instinct which other
men could only reach by hard work.  In this sense
Cullingworth was the greatest genius that I have ever
known.  He never seemed to work, and yet he took the
anatomy prize over the heads of all the ten-hour-a-day
men.  That might not count for much, for he was quite
capable of idling ostentatiously all day and then reading
desperately all night; but start a subject of your own
for him, and then see his originality and strength.  Talk
about torpedoes, and he would catch up a pencil, and on
the back of an old envelope from his pocket he would
sketch out some novel contrivance for piercing a ship's
netting and getting at her side, which might no doubt
involve some technical impossibility, but which would at
least be quite plausible and new.  Then as he drew, his
bristling eyebrows would contract, his small eyes would
gleam with excitement, his lips would be pressed
together, and he would end by banging on the paper with
his open hand, and shouting in his exultation.  You would
think that his one mission in life was to invent
torpedoes.  But next instant, if you were to express
surprise as to how it was  that the Egyptian workmen
elevated the stones to the top of the pyramids, out would
come the pencil and envelope, and he would propound a
scheme for doing that with equal energy and conviction.
This ingenuity was joined to an extremely sanguine
nature.  As he paced up and down in his jerky quick-
stepping fashion after one of these flights of invention,
he would take out patents for it, receive you as his
partner in the enterprise, have it adopted in every
civilised country, see all conceivable applications of
it, count up his probable royalties, sketch out the novel
methods in which he would invest his gains, and finally
retire with the most gigantic fortune that has ever been
amassed.  And you would be swept along by his words,
and would be carried every foot of the way with him, so
that it would come as quite a shock to you when you
suddenly fell back to earth again, and found yourself
trudging the city street a poor student, with Kirk's
Physiology under your arm, and hardly the price of
your luncheon in your pocket.

I read over what I have written, but I can see that
I give you no real insight into the demoniac cleverness
of Cullingworth.  His views upon medicine were most
revolutionary, but I daresay that if things fulfil their
promise I may have a good deal to say about them in the
sequel.  With his brilliant and unusual gifts, his fine
athletic record, his strange way of dressing (his hat on
the back of his head and his throat bare), his thundering
voice, and his ugly, powerful face, he had quite the most
marked individuality of any man that I have ever known.

Now, you will think me rather prolix about this man;
but, as it looks as if his life might become entwined
with mine, it is a subject of immediate interest to me,
and I am writing all this for the purpose of reviving my
own half-faded impressions, as well as in the hope of
amusing and interesting you.  So I must just give you
one or two other points which may make his character more
clear to you.

He had a dash of the heroic in him.  On one occasion
he was placed in such a position that he must choose
between compromising a lady, or springing out of a third-
floor window.  Without a moment's hesitation he hurled
himself out of the window.  As luck would have it, he
fell through a large laurel bush on to a garden plot,
which was soft with rain, and so escaped with a shaking
and a bruising.  If I have to say anything that gives a
bad impression of the man, put that upon the other side.

He was fond of rough horse-play; but it was better to
avoid it with him, for you could never tell what it might
lead to.  His temper was nothing less than infernal.  I
have seen him in the dissecting-rooms begin to skylark
with a fellow, and then in an instant the fun would go
out of his face, his little eyes would gleam with fury,
and the two would be rolling, worrying each other like
dogs, below the table.  He would be dragged off, panting
and speechless with fury, with his wiry hair bristling
straight up like a fighting terrier's.

This pugnacious side of his  character would be
worthily used sometimes.  I remember that an address
which was being given to us by an eminent London
specialist was much interrupted by a man in the front
row, who amused himself by interjecting remarks.  The
lecturer appealed to his audience at last.  "These
interruptions are insufferable, gentlemen," said he;
"will no one free me from this annoyance?"  "Hold your
tongue--you, sir, on the front  bench," cried
Cullingworth, in his bull's bellow.  "Perhaps you'll make
me," said the fellow, turning a contemptuous face over
his shoulder.  Cullingworth closed his note-book, and
began to walk down on the tops of the desks to the
delight of the three hundred spectators.  It was fine to
see the deliberate way in which he picked his way among
the ink bottles.  As he sprang down from the last bench
on to the floor, his opponent struck him a smashing blow
full in the face.  Cullingworth got his bulldog grip on
him, however, and rushed him backwards out of the class-
room.  What he did with him I don't know, but there was
a noise like the delivery of a ton of coals; and the
champion of law and order returned, with the sedate
air of a man who had done his work.  One of his eyes
looked like an over-ripe damson, but we gave him three
cheers as he made his way back to his seat.  Then we went
on with the dangers of Placenta Praevia.

He was not a man who drank hard, but a little drink
would have a very great effect upon him.  Then it was
that the ideas would surge from his brain, each more
fantastic and ingenious than the last.  And if ever he
did get beyond the borderland he would do the most
amazing things.  Sometimes it was the fighting instinct
that would possess him, sometimes the preaching, and
sometimes the comic, or they might come in succession,
replacing each other so rapidly as to bewilder his
companions.  Intoxication brought all kinds of queer
little peculiarities with it.  One of them was that he
could walk or run perfectly straight, but that there
always came a time when he unconsciously returned upon
his tracks and retraced his steps again.  This had a
strange effect sometimes, as in the instance which I am
about to tell you.

Very sober to outward seeming, but in a frenzy
within, he went down to the station one night, and,
stooping to the pigeon-hole, he asked the ticket-clerk,
in the suavest voice, whether he could tell him how far
it was to London.  The official put forward his face to
reply when Cullingworth drove his fist through the little
hole with the force of a piston.  The clerk flew
backwards off his stool, and his yell of pain and
indignation brought some police and railway men to his
assistance.  They pursued Cullingworth; but he, as active
and as fit as a greyhound, outraced them all,  and
vanished into the darkness, down the long, straight
street.  The pursuers had stopped, and were gathered  in
a knot talking the matter over, when, looking up, they
saw, to their amazement, the man whom they were after,
running at the top of his speed in their direction.  His
little peculiarity had asserted itself, you see, and he
had unconsciously turned in his flight.  They tripped him
up, flung themselves upon him, and after a long and
desperate struggle dragged him to the police station.  He
was charged before the magistrate next morning, but made
such a brilliant speech from the dock in his own
defence that he carried the Court with him, and escaped
with a nominal fine.  At his invitation, the witnesses
and the police trooped after him to the nearest hotel,
and the affair ended in universal whisky-and-sodas.

Well, now, if, after all these illustrations, I have
failed to give you some notion of the man, able,
magnetic, unscrupulous, interesting, many-sided, I must
despair of ever doing so.  I'll suppose, however, that I
have not failed; and I will proceed to tell you, my most
patient of confidants, something of my personal relations
with Cullingworth.

When I first made a casual acquaintance with him he
was a bachelor.  At the end of a long vacation, however,
he met me in the street, and told me, in his loud-voiced
volcanic shoulder-slapping way, that he had just been
married.  At his invitation, I went up with him then and
there to see his wife; and as we walked he told me the
history of his wedding, which was as extraordinary as
everything else he did.  I won't tell it to you here, my
dear Bertie, for I feel that I have dived down too many
side streets already; but it was a most bustling
business, in which the locking of a governess into her
room and the dyeing of Cullingworth's hair played
prominent parts.  Apropos of the latter he was never
quite able to get rid of its traces; and from this time
forward there was added to his other peculiarities the
fact that when the sunlight struck upon his hair at
certain angles, it turned it all iridescent and

Well, I went up to his lodgings with him, and was
introduced to Mrs. Cullingworth.  She was a timid,
little, sweet-faced, grey-eyed woman, quiet-voiced and
gentle-mannered.  You had only to see the way in which
she looked at him to understand that she was absolutely
under his control, and that do what he might, or say what
he might, it would always be the best thing to her.  She
could be obstinate, too, in a gentle, dove-like sort of
way; but her obstinacy lay always in the direction of
backing up his sayings and doings.  This, however, I was
only to find out afterwards; and at that, my first visit,
she impressed me as being one of the sweetest little
women that I had ever known.

They were living in the most singular style, in
a suite of four small rooms, over a grocer's shop.  There
was a kitchen, a bedroom, a sitting-room, and a fourth
room, which Cullingworth insisted upon regarding as a
most unhealthy apartment and a focus of disease, though
I am convinced that it was nothing more than the smell of
cheeses from below which had given him the idea.  At any
rate, with his usual energy he had not only locked the
room up, but had gummed varnished paper over all the
cracks of the door, to prevent the imaginary contagion
from spreading.  The furniture was the sparest possible.
There were, I remember, only two chairs in the sitting-
room; so that when a guest came (and I think I was the
only one) Cullingworth used to squat upon a pile of
yearly volumes of the British Medical Journal in the
corner.  I can see him now levering himself up from his
lowly seat, and striding about the room roaring and
striking with his hands, while his little wife sat mum in
the corner, listening to him with love and admiration in
her eyes.  What did we care, any one of the three of us,
where we sat or how we lived, when youth throbbed hot in
our veins, and our souls were all aflame with the
possibilities of life?  I still look upon those Bohemian
evenings, in the bare room amid the smell of the cheese,
as being among the happiest that I have known.

I was a frequent visitor to the Cullingworths, for
the pleasure that I got was made the sweeter by the
pleasure which I hoped that I gave.  They knew no one,
and desired to know no one; so that socially I seemed to
be the only link that bound them to the world.  I even
ventured to interfere in the details of their little
menage.  Cullingworth had a fad at the time, that all
the diseases of civilisation were due to the abandonment
of the open-air life of our ancestors, and as a corollary
he kept his windows open day and night.  As his wife was
obviously fragile, and yet would have died before she
would have uttered a word of complaint, I took it upon
myself to point out to him that the cough from which she
suffered was hardly to be cured so long as she spent her
life in a draught.  He scowled savagely at me for my
interference; and I thought we were on the verge of a
quarrel, but it blew over, and he became more considerate
in the matter of ventilation.

Our evening occupations just about that time were of
a most extraordinary character.  You are aware that there
is a substance, called waxy matter, which is deposited in
the tissues of the body during the course of certain
diseases.  What this may be and how it is formed has been
a cause for much bickering among pathologists.
Cullingworth had strong views upon the subject, holding
that the waxy matter was really the same thing as the
glycogen which is normally secreted by the liver.  But it
is one thing to have an idea,  and another to be able to
prove it.  Above all, we wanted some waxy matter with
which to experiment.  But fortune favoured us in the most
magical way.  The Professor of Pathology had come into
possession of a magnificent specimen of the condition.
With pride he exhibited the organ to us in the class-room
before ordering his assistant to remove it to the ice-
chest, preparatory to its being used for microscopical
work in the practical class.  Cullingworth saw his
chance, and acted on the instant.  Slipping out of the
classroom, he threw open the ice-chest, rolled his ulster
round the dreadful glistening mass, closed the chest
again, and walked quietly away.  I have no doubt that to
this day the disappearance of that waxy liver is one of
the most inexplicable mysteries in the career of our

That evening, and for many evenings to come, we
worked upon our liver.  For our experiments it was
necessary to subject it all to great heat in an endeavour
to separate the nitrogenous cellular substance from the
non-nitrogenous waxy matter.  With our limited appliances
the only way we could think of was to cut it into fine
pieces and cook it in a frying pan.  So night after night
the curious spectacle might have been seen of a beautiful
young woman and two very earnest young men busily engaged
in making these grim fricassees.  Nothing came of all our
work; for though Cullingworth considered that he had
absolutely established his case, and wrote long screeds
to the medical papers upon the subject, he was never apt
at stating his views with his pen, and he left, I am
sure, a very confused idea on the minds of his readers as
to what it was that he was driving at.  Again, as he was
a mere student without any letters after his name, he
got scant attention, and I never heard that he gained
over a single supporter.

At the end of the year we both passed our
examinations and became duly qualified medical men.  The
Cullingworths vanished away, and I never heard any more
of them, for he was a man who prided himself upon never
writing a letter.  His father had formerly a very large
and lucrative practice in the West of Scotland, but he
died some years ago.  I had a vague idea, founded upon
some chance remark of his, that Cullingworth had gone to
see whether the family name might still stand him in good
stead there.  As for me I began, as you will remember
that I explained in my last, by acting as assistant in my
father's practice.  You know, however, that at its best
it is not worth more than L700 a year, with no room for
expansion.  This is not large enough to keep two of us at
work.  Then, again, there are times when I can see that
my religious opinions annoy the dear old man.  On the
whole, and for every reason, I think that it would be
better if I were out of this.  I applied for several
steamship lines, and for at least a dozen house
surgeonships; but there is as much competition for a
miserable post with a hundred a year as if it were the
Viceroyship of India.  As a rule, I simply get my
testimonials returned without any comment, which is the
sort of thing that teaches a man humility.  Of course, it
is very pleasant to live with the mater, and my little
brother Paul is a regular trump.  I am teaching him
boxing; and you should see him put his tiny fists up, and
counter with his right.  He got me under the jaw this
evening, and I had to ask for poached eggs for supper.

And all this brings me up to the present time and the
latest news.  It is that I had a telegram from
Cullingworth this morning--after nine months' silence.
It was dated from Avonmouth, the town where I had
suspected that he had settled, and it said simply, "Come
at once.  I have urgent need of you.  "CULLINGWORTH."  Of
course, I shall go by the first train to-morrow.  It may
mean anything or nothing.  In my heart of hearts I hope
and believe that old Cullingworth sees an opening for me
either as his partner or in some other way.  I always
believed that he would turn up trumps, and make my
fortune as well as his own.  He knows that if I am not
very quick or brilliant I am fairly steady and reliable.
So that's what I've been working up to all along, Bertie,
that to-morrow I go to join Cullingworth, and that it
looks as if there was to be an opening for me at last.
I gave you a sketch of him and his ways, so that you may
take an interest in the development of my fortune, which
you could not do if you did not know something of the man
who is holding out his hand to me.

Yesterday was my birthday, and I was two and twenty
years of age.  For two and twenty years have I swung
around  the sun.  And in all seriousness, without a touch
of levity, and from the bottom of my soul, I assure you
that I have at the present moment the very vaguest idea
as to whence I have come from, whither I am going, or
what I am here for.  It is  not for want of inquiry, or
from indifference.  I have mastered the principles of
several religions.  They have all shocked me by the
violence which I should have to do to my reason to accept
the  dogmas of any one of them.  Their ethics are usually
excellent.  So are the ethics of the common law of
England.  But the scheme of creation upon which those
ethics are built!  Well, it really is to me the most
astonishing thing that I have seen in my short earthly
pilgrimage, that so many able men, deep philosophers,
astute lawyers, and clear-headed men of the world should
accept such an explanation of the facts of life.  In the
face of their apparent concurrence my own poor little
opinion would not dare to do more than lurk at the back
of my soul, were it not that I take courage when I
reflect that the equally eminent lawyers and philosophers
of Rome and Greece were all agreed that Jupiter had
numerous wives and was fond of a glass of good wine.

Mind, my dear Bertie, I do not wish to run down your
view or that of any other man.  We who claim toleration
should be the first to extend it to others.  I am only
indicating my own position, as I have often done before.
And I know your reply so well.  Can't I hear your grave
voice saying "Have faith!"  Your conscience allows you
to.  Well, mine won't allow me.  I see so clearly that
faith is not a virtue, but a vice.  It is a goat which
has been herded with the sheep.  If a man deliberately
shut his physical eyes and refused to use them, you
would be as quick as any one in seeing that it was
immoral and a treason to Nature.  And yet you would
counsel a man to shut that far more precious gift, the
reason, and to refuse to use it in the most intimate
question of life.

"The reason cannot help in such a matter," you reply.
I answer that to say so is to give up a battle before it
is fought.  My reason SHALL help me, and when it can
help no longer I shall do without help.

It's late, Bertie, and the fire's out, and I'm
shivering; and you, I'm very sure, are heartily weary of
my gossip and my heresies, so adieu until my next.


HOME, 10th April, 1881.

Well, my dear Bertie, here I am again in your
postbox.  It's not a fortnight since I wrote you that
great long letter, and yet you see I have news enough to
make another formidable budget.  They say that the art of
letter-writing has been lost; but if quantity may atone
for quality, you must confess that (for your sins) you
have a friend who has retained it.

When I wrote to you last I was on the eve of going
down to join the Cullingworths at Avonmouth, with every
hope that he had found some opening for me.  I must tell
you at some length the particulars of that expedition.

I travelled down part of the way with young Leslie
Duncan, whom I think you know.  He was gracious enough to
consider that a third-class carriage and my company were
to be preferred to a first class with solitude.  You know
that he came into his uncle's money a little time
ago, and after a first delirious outbreak, he has now
relapsed into that dead heavy state of despair which is
caused by having everything which one can wish for.  How
absurd are the ambitions of life when I think that I, who
am fairly happy and as keen as a razor edge, should be
struggling for that which I can see has brought neither
profit nor happiness to him!  And yet, if I can read my
own nature, it is not the accumulation of money which is
my real aim, but only that I may acquire so much as will
relieve my mind of sordid cares and enable me to develop
any gifts which I may have, undisturbed.  My tastes are
so simple that I cannot imagine any advantage which
wealth can give--save indeed the exquisite pleasure of
helping a good man or a good cause.  Why should people
ever take credit for charity when they must know that
they cannot gain as much pleasure out of their guineas in
any other fashion?  I gave my watch to a broken
schoolmaster the  other day (having no change in my
pocket), and the mater could not quite determine whether
it was a trait of madness or of nobility.  I could have
told her with absolute confidence that it was neither the
one nor the other, but a sort of epicurean
selfishness with perhaps a little dash of swagger away
down at the bottom of it.  What had I ever had from my
chronometer like the quiet thrill of satisfaction when
the fellow brought me the pawn ticket and told me that
the thirty shillings had been useful?

Leslie Duncan got out at Carstairs, and I was left
alone with a hale, white-haired, old Roman Catholic
priest, who had sat quietly reading his office in the
corner.  We fell into the most intimate talk, which
lasted all the way to Avonmouth--indeed, so interested
was I that I very nearly passed through the place without
knowing it.  Father Logan (for that was his name) seemed
to me to be a beautiful type of what a priest should be--
self-sacrificing and pure-minded, with a kind of simple
cunning about him, and a deal of innocent fun.  He had
the defects as well as the virtues of his class, for he
was absolutely reactionary in his views.  We discussed
religion with fervour, and his theology was somewhere
about the Early Pliocene.  He might have chattered the
matter over with a priest of Charlemagne's Court, and
they would have shaken hands after every sentence.  He
would acknowledge this and claim it as a merit.  It
was consistency in his eyes.  If our astronomers and
inventors and law-givers had been equally consistent
where would modern civilisation be?  Is religion the only
domain of thought which is non-progressive, and to be
referred for ever to a standard set two thousand years
ago?  Can they not see that as the human brain evolves it
must take a wider outlook?  A half-formed brain makes a
half-formed God, and who shall say that our brains are
even half-formed yet?  The truly inspired priest is the
man or woman with the big brain.  It is not the shaven
patch on the outside, but it is the sixty ounces within
which is the real mark of election.

You know that you are turning up your nose at me,
Bertie.  I can see you do it.  But I'll come off the thin
ice, and you shall have nothing but facts now.  I'm
afraid that I should never do for a story-teller, for the
first stray character that comes along puts his arm in
mine and walks me off, with my poor story straggling away
to nothing behind me.

Well, then, it was night when we reached Avonmouth,
and as I popped my head out of the carriage window, the
first thing that my eyes rested upon was old
Cullingworth, standing in, the circle of light under a
gas-lamp.  His frock coat was flying open, his waistcoat
unbuttoned at the top, and his hat (a top hat this time)
jammed on the back of his head, with his bristling hair
spurting out in front of it.  In every way, save that he
wore a collar, he was the same Cullingworth as ever.  He
gave a roar of recognition when he saw me, bustled me out
of my carriage, seized my carpet bag, or grip-sack as you
used to call it, and a minute later we were striding
along together through the streets.

I was, as you may imagine, all in a tingle to know
what it was that he wanted with me.  However, as he made
no allusion to it, I did not care to ask, and, during our
longish walk, we talked about indifferent matters.  It
was football first, I remember, whether Richmond had a
chance against Blackheath, and the way in which the new
passing game was shredding the old scrimmages.  Then he
got on to inventions, and became so excited that he had
to give me back my bag in order that he might be able to
slap all his points home with his fist upon his palm.
I can see him now stopping, with his face leaning forward
and his yellow tusks gleaming in the lamplight.

"My dear Munro" (this was the style of the thing),
"why was armour abandoned, eh?  What!  I'll tell you why.
It was because the weight of metal that would protect a
man who was standing up was more than he could carry.
But battles are not fought now-a-days by men who are
standing up.  Your infantry are all lying on their
stomachs,  and it would take very little to protect them.
And steel has improved, Munro!  Chilled steel!  Bessemer!
Bessemer!  Very good.  How much to cover a man?  Fourteen
inches by twelve, meeting at an angle so that the bullet
will glance.  A notch at one side for the rifle.  There
you have it, laddie--the Cullingworth patent portable
bullet-proof shield!  Weight?  Oh, the weight would be
sixteen pounds.  I  worked it out.  Each company carries
its shields in go-carts, and they are served out on going
into action.  Give me twenty thousand good shots, and
I'll go in at Calais and come out at Pekin.  Think of it,
my boy! the moral effect.  One side gets home every
time and the other plasters its bullets up against
steel plates.  No troops would stand it.  The nation that
gets it first will pitchfork the rest of Europe over the
edge.  They're bound to have it--all of them.  Let's
reckon it out.  There's about eight million of them on a
war footing.  Let us suppose that only half of them have
it.  I say only half, because I don't want to be too
sanguine.  That's four million, and I should take a
royalty of four shillings on wholesale orders.  What's
that, Munro?  About three-quarters of a million sterling,
eh?  How's that, laddie, eh?  What?"

Really, that is not unlike his style of talk, now
that I come to read it over, only you miss the queer
stops, the sudden confidential whispers, the roar with
which he triumphantly answered his own questions, the
shrugs and slaps, and gesticulations.  But not a word all
the time as to what it was that made him send me that
urgent wire which brought me to Avonmouth.

I had, of course, been puzzling in my mind as to
whether he had succeeded or not, though from his cheerful
appearance and buoyant talk, it was tolerably clear
to me that all was well with him.  I was, however,
surprised when, as we walked along a quiet, curving
avenue, with great houses standing in their own grounds
upon either side, he stopped and turned in through the
iron gate which led up to one of the finest of them.  The
moon had broken out and shone upon the high-peaked roof,
and upon the gables at each corner.  When he knocked it
was opened by a footman with red plush knee-breeches.  I
began to perceive that my friend's success must have been
something colossal.

When we came down to the dining-room for supper, Mrs.
Cullingworth was waiting there to greet me.  I was sorry
to see that she was pale and weary-looking.  However, we
had a merry meal in the old style, and her husband's
animation reflected itself upon her face, until at last
we might have been back in the little room, where the
Medical Journals served as a chair, instead of in the
great oak-furnished, picture-hung chamber to which we had
been promoted.  All the time, however, not one word as to
the object of my journey.

When the supper was finished, Cullingworth led
the way into a small sitting-room, where we both lit our
pipes, and Mrs. Cullingworth her cigarette.  He sat for
some little time in silence, and then bounding up rushed
to the door and flung it open.  It is always one of his
strange peculiarities to think that people are
eavesdropping or conspiring against him; for, in spite of
his superficial brusqueness and frankness, a strange vein
of suspicion runs through his singular and complex
nature.  Having satisfied himself now that there were no
spies or listeners he threw himself down into his

"Munro," said he, prodding at me with his pipe, "what
I wanted to tell you is, that I am utterly, hopelessly,
and irretrievably ruined."

My chair was tilted on its back legs as he spoke, and
I assure you that I was within an ace of going over.
Down like a pack of cards came all my dreams as to the
grand results which were to spring from my journey to
Avonmouth.  Yes, Bertie, I am bound to confess it: my
first thought was of my own disappointment, and my
second of the misfortune of my friends.  He had the most
diabolical intuitions, or I a very tell-tale face, for he
added at once--

"Sorry to disappoint you, my boy.  That's not what
you expected to hear, I can see."

"Well," I stammered, "it IS rather a surprise,
old chap.  I thought from the . . . from the . . ."

"From the house, and the footman, and the furniture,"
said he.  "Well, they've eaten me up among them . . .
licked me clean, bones and gravy.  I'm done for, my boy,
unless . . ."--here I saw a question in his eyes--"unless
some friend were to lend me his name on a bit of stamped

"I can't do it, Cullingworth," said I."  It's a
wretched thing to have to refuse a friend; and if I had
money . . ."

"Wait till you're asked, Munro," he interrupted, with
his ugliest of expressions.  "Besides, as you have
nothing and no prospects, what earthly use would YOUR
name on a paper be?"

"That's what I want to know," said I, feeling a
little mortified, none the less.

"Look here, laddie," he went on; "d'you see that pile
of letters on the left of the table?"


"Those are duns.  And d'you see those documents
on the right?  Well, those are County Court summonses.
And, now, d'you see that;" he picked up a little ledger,
and showed me three or, four names scribbled on the first

"That's the practice," he roared, and laughed until
the great veins jumped out on his forehead.  His wife
laughed heartily also, just as she would have wept, had
he been so disposed.

"It's this way, Munro," said he, when he had got over
his paroxysm.  "You have probably heard--in fact, I have
told you myself--that my father had the finest practice
in Scotland.  As far as I could judge he was a man of no
capacity, but still there you are--he had it."

I nodded and smoked.

"Well, he's been dead seven years, and fifty nets
dipping into his little fish-pond.  However, when I
passed I thought my best move was to come down to the old
place, and see whether I couldn't piece the thing
together again.  The name ought to be worth something, I
thought.  But it was no use doing the thing in a half
hearted way.  Not a bit of use in that, Munro.  The kind
of people who came to him were wealthy, and must see a
fine house and a man in livery.  What chance was
there of gathering them into a bow-windowed forty pound-
a-year house with a grubby-faced maid at the door?  What
do you suppose I did?  My boy, I took the governor's old
house, that was unlet--the very house that he kept up at
five thousand a year.  Off I started in rare style, and
sank my last cent in furniture.  But it's no use, laddie.
I can't hold on any longer.  I got two accidents and an
epileptic--twenty-two pounds, eight and sixpence--that's
the lot!

"What will you do, then?"

"That's what I wanted your advice about.  That's why
I wired for you.  I always respected your opinion, my
boy, and I thought that now was the time to have it."

It struck me that if he had asked for it nine months
before there would have been more sense in it.  What on
earth could I do when affairs were in such a tangle?
However, I could not help feeling complimented when so
independent a fellow as Cullingworth turned to me in this

"You really think," said I, "that it is no use
holding on here?"

He jumped up, and began pacing the room in his swift
jerky way.

"You take warning from it, Munro," said he.  "You've
got to start yet.  Take my tip, and go where no one knows
you.  People will trust a stranger quick enough; but if
they can remember you as a little chap who ran about in
knickerbockers, and got spanked with a hair brush for
stealing plums, they are not going to put their lives in
your keeping.  It's all very well to talk about
friendship and family connections; but when a man has a
pain in the stomach he doesn't care a toss about all
that.  I'd stick it up in gold, letters in every medical
class-room--have it carved across the gate of the
University--that if a man wants friends be must go among
strangers.  It's all up here, Munro; so there's no use in
advising me to hold on."

I asked him how much he owed.  It came to about seven
hundred pounds.  The rent alone was two hundred.  He had
already raised money on the furniture, and his whole
assets came to less than a tenner.  Of course, there was
only one possible thing that I could advise.

"You must call your creditors together," said I;
"they can see for themselves that you are young and
energetic--sure to succeed sooner or later.  If they
push you into a corner now, they can get nothing.  Make
that clear to them.  But if you make a fresh start
elsewhere and succeed, you may pay them all in full.  I
see no other possible way out of it."

"I knew that you'd say that, and it's just what I
thought myself.  Isn't it, Hetty?  Well, then, that
settles it; and I am much obliged to you for your advice,
and that's all we'll say about the matter to-night.  I've
made my shot and missed.  Next time I shall hit, and it
won't be long either."

His failure did not seem to weigh very heavily on his
mind, for in a few minutes he was shouting away as
lustily as ever.  Whiskey and hot water were brought in,
that we might all drink luck to the second venture.

And this whiskey led us to what might have been a
troublesome affair.  Cullingworth, who had drunk off a
couple of glasses, waited until his wife had left the
room, and then began to talk of the difficulty of getting
any exercise now that he had to wait in all day in the
hope of patients.  This led us round to the ways in which
a man might take his exercise indoors, and that to
boxing.  Cullingworth took a couple of pairs of
gloves out of a cupboard, and proposed that we should
fight a round or two then and there.

If I hadn't been a fool, Bertie, I should never have
consented.  It's one of my many weaknesses, that, whether
it's a woman or a man, anything like a challenge sets me
off.  But I knew Cullingworth's ways, and I told you in
my last what a lamb of a temper he has.  None the less,
we pushed back the table, put the lamp on a high bracket,
and stood up to one another.

The moment I looked him in the face I smelled
mischief.  He had a gleam of settled malice in his eye.
I believe it was my refusal to back his paper which was
running in his head.  Anyway he looked as dangerous as he
could look, with his scowling face sunk forward a little,
his hands down near his hips (for his boxing, like
everything else about him, is unconventional), and his
jaw set like a rat-trap.

I led off, and then in he came hitting with both
hands, and grunting like a pig at every blow.  From what
I could see of him he was no boxer at all, but just a
formidable rough and tumble fighter.  I was guarding
with both hands for half a minute, and then was rushed
clean off my legs and banged up against the door, with my
head nearly through one of the panels.  He wouldn't stop
then, though he saw that I had no space to get my elbows
back; and he let fly a right-hander which would have put
me into the hall, if I hadn't slipped it and got back to
the middle of the room.

"Look here, Cullingworth," said I; "there's not much
boxing about this game."

"Yes, I hit pretty hard, don't I?"

"If you come boring into me like that, I'm bound to
hit you out again," I said.  "I want to play light if
you'll let me."

The words were not out of my mouth  before he was on
me like a flash.  I slipped him again; but the room was
so small, and he as active as a cat, that there was no
getting away from him.  He was on me once more with a
regular football rush that knocked me off my balance.
Before I knew where I was he got his left on the mark and
his right on my ear.  I tripped over a footstool, and
then before I could get my balance he had me on the same
ear again, and my head was singing like a tea-kettle.
He was as pleased as possible with himself, blowing out
his chest and slapping it with his palms as he took his
place in the middle of the room.

"Say when you've had enough, Munro," said he.

This was pretty stiff, considering that I had two
inches the better of him in height, and as many stone in
weight, besides being the better boxer.  His energy and
the size of the room had been against me so far, but he
wasn't to have all the slogging to himself in the next
round if I could help it.

In he came with one of his windmill rushes.  But I
was on the look-out for him this time.  I landed him with
my left a regular nose-ender as he came, and then,
ducking under his left, I got him a cross-counter on the
jaw that laid him flat across his own hearthrug.  He was
up in an instant, with a face like a madman.

"You swine!" he shouted.  "Take those gloves off, and
put your hands up!"  He was tugging at his own to get
them off.

"Go on, you silly ass!" said I.  "What is there to
fight about?"

He was mad with passion, and chucked his gloves down
under the table.

"By God, Munro," he cried, "if you don't take those
gloves off, I'll go for you, whether you have them on or

"Have a glass of soda water," said I.

He made a crack at me.  "You're afraid of me, Munro.
That's what's the matter with you," he snarled.

This was getting too hot, Bertie.  I saw all the
folly of the thing.  I believed that I might whip him;
but at the same time I knew that we were so much of a
match that we would both get pretty badly cut up without
any possible object to serve.  For all that, I took my
gloves off, and I think perhaps it was the wisest course
after all.  If Cullingworth once thought he had the
whiphand of you, you might be sorry for it afterwards.

But, as fate would have it, our little barney was
nipped in the bud.  Mrs. Cullingworth came into the room
at that instant, and screamed out when she saw her
husband.  His nose was bleeding and his chin was all
slobbered with blood, so that I don't wonder that it gave
her a turn.

"James!" she screamed; and then to me":  "What is the
meaning of this, Mr. Munro?"

You should have seen the hatred in her dove's eyes.
I felt an insane impulse to pick her up and kiss her.

"We've only been having a little spar, Mrs.
Cullingworth," said I.  "Your husband was complaining
that he never got any exercise."

"It's all right, Hetty," said he, pulling his coat on
again.  "Don't be a little stupid.  Are the servants gone
to bed?  Well, you might bring some water in a basin from
the kitchen.  Sit down, Munro, and light your pipe again.
I have a hundred things that I want to talk to you

So that was the end of it, and all went smoothly for
the rest of the evening.  But, for all that, the little
wife will always look upon me as a brute and a bully;
while as to Cullingworth----well, it's rather difficult
to say what Cullingworth thinks about the matter.

When I woke next morning he was in my room, and
a funny-looking object he was.  His dressing-gown lay on
a chair, and he was putting up a fifty-six pound dumb-
bell, without a rag to cover him.  Nature didn't give him
a very symmetrical face, nor the sweetest of expressions;
but he has a figure like a Greek statue.  I was amused to
see that both his eyes had a touch of shadow to them.  It
was his turn to grin when I sat up and found that my ear
was about the shape and consistence of a toadstool.
However, he was all for peace that morning, and chatted
away in the most amiable manner possible.

I was to go back to my father's that day, but I had
a couple of hours with Cullingworth in his consulting
room before I left.  He was in his best form, and full of
a hundred fantastic schemes, by which I was to help him.
His great object was to get his name into the newspapers.
That was the basis of all success, according to his
views.  It seemed to me that he was confounding cause
with effect; but I did not argue the point.  I laughed
until my sides ached over the grotesque suggestions which
poured from him.  I was to lie senseless in the roadway,
and to be carried into him by a sympathising crowd,
while the footman ran with a paragraph to the newspapers.
But there was the likelihood that the crowd might carry
me in to the rival practitioner opposite.  In various
disguises I was to feign fits at his very door, and so
furnish fresh copy for the local press.  Then I was to
die--absolutely to expire--and all Scotland was to
resound with how Dr. Cullingworth, of Avonmouth, had
resuscitated me.  His ingenious brain rang a thousand
changes out of the idea, and his own impending bankruptcy
was crowded right out of his thoughts by the flood of
half-serious devices.

But the thing that took the fun out of him, and made
him gnash his teeth, and stride cursing about the room,
was to see a patient walking up the steps which led to
the door of Scarsdale, his opposite neighbour.  Scarsdale
had a fairly busy practice, and received his people at
home from ten to twelve, so that I got quite used to
seeing Cullingworth fly out of his chair, and rush raving
to the window.  He would diagnose the cases, too, and
estimate their money value until he was hardly

"There you are!" he would suddenly yell; "see that
man with a limp!  Every morning he goes.  Displaced
semilunar cartilage, and a three months' job.  The man's
worth thirty-five shillings a week.  And there!  I'm
hanged if the woman with the rheumatic arthritis isn't
round in her bath-chair again.  She's all sealskin and
lactic acid.  It's simply sickening to see how they crowd
to that man.  And such a man!  You haven't seen him.  All
the better for you.  I don't know what the devil you are
laughing at, Munro.  I can't see where the fun comes in

Well, it was a short experience that visit to
Avonmouth, but I think that I shall remember it all my
life.  Goodness knows, you must be sick enough of the
subject, but when I started with so much detail I was
tempted to go.  It ended by my going back again in the
afternoon, Cullingworth assuring me that he would call
his creditors together as I had advised, and that he
would let me know the result in a few days.  Mrs. C.
would hardly shake hands with me when I said goodbye; but
I like her the better for that.  He must have a great
deal of good in him, or he could not have won her love
and confidence so completely.  Perhaps there is another
Cullingworth behind the scenes--a softer, tenderer man,
who can love and invite love.  If there is, I have
never got near him.  And yet I may only have been tapping
at the shell.  Who knows?  For that matter, it is likely
enough that he has never got at the real Johnnie Munro.
But you have, Bertie; and I think that you've had a
little too much of him this time, only you encourage me
to this sort of excess by your sympathetic replies.
Well, I've done as much as the General Post Office will
carry for fivepence, so I'll conclude by merely remarking
that a fortnight has passed, and that I have had no news
from Avonmouth, which does not in the very slightest
degree surprise me.  If I ever do hear anything, which is
exceedingly doubtful, you may be sure that I will put a
finish to this long story.


HOME, 15th October, 1881.

Without any figure of speech I feel quite ashamed
when I think of you, Bertie.  I send you one or two
enormously long letters, burdened, as far as I can
remember them, with all sorts of useless detail.  Then,
in spite of your kindly answers and your sympathy, which
I have done so little to deserve, I drop you completely
for more than six months.  By this J pen I swear that it
shall not happen again; and this letter may serve to
bridge the gap and to bring you up to date in my poor
affairs, in which, of all outer mankind, you alone take
an interest.

To commence with what is of most moment, you may rest
assured that what you said in your last letter about
religion has had my most earnest attention.  I am sorry
that I have not got it by me to refer to (I lent it to
Charlie), but I think I have the contents in my head.  It
is notorious, as you say, that an unbeliever may
be as bigoted as any of the orthodox, and that a man may
be very dogmatic in his opposition to dogma.  Such men
are the real enemies of free thought.  If anything could
persuade me to turn traitor to my reason, it would, for
example, be the blasphemous and foolish pictures
displayed in some of the agnostic journals.

But every movement has its crowd of camp followers.
who straggle and scatter.  We are like a comet, bright at
the head but tailing away into mere gas behind.  However,
every man may speak for himself, and I do not feel that
your charge comes home to me.  I am only bigoted against
bigotry, and that I hold to be as legitimate as violence
to the violent.  When one considers what effect the
perversion of the religious instinct has had during the
history of the world; the bitter wars, Christian and
Mahomedan, Catholic and Protestant; the persecutions, the
torturings, the domestic hatreds, the petty spites, with
ALL creeds equally blood-guilty, one cannot but be
amazed that the concurrent voice of mankind has not
placed bigotry at the very head of the deadly sins.  It
is surely a truism to say that neither smallpox nor
the plague have brought the same misery upon mankind.

I cannot be bigoted, my dear boy, when I say from the
bottom of my heart that I respect every good Catholic and
every good Protestant, and that I recognise that each of
these forms of faith has been a powerful instrument in
the hands of that inscrutable Providence which rules all
things.  Just as in the course of history one finds that
the most far-reaching and admirable effects may proceed
from a crime; so in religion, although a creed be founded
upon an entirely inadequate conception of the Creator and
His ways, it may none the less be the very best practical
thing for the people and age which have adopted it.  But
if it is right for those to whom it is intellectually
satisfying to adopt it, it is equally so for those to
whom it is not, to protest against it, until by this
process the whole mass of mankind gets gradually
leavened, and pushed a little further upon their slow
upward journey.

Catholicism is the more thorough.  Protestantism is
the more reasonable.  Protestantism adapts itself to
modern civilisation.  Catholicism expects civilisation to
adapt itself to it.  Folk climb from the one big
branch to the other big branch, and think they have made
a prodigious change, when the main trunk is rotten
beneath them, and both must in their present forms be
involved sooner or later in a common ruin.  The movement
of human thought, though slow, is still in the direction
of truth, and the various religions which man sheds as he
advances (each admirable in its day) will serve, like
buoys dropped down from a sailing vessel, to give the
rate and direction of his progress.

But how do I know what is truth, you ask?  I don't.
But I know particularly well what isn't.  And surely that
is something to have gained.  It isn't true that the
great central Mind that planned all things is capable of
jealousy or of revenge, or of cruelty or of injustice.
These are human attributes; and the book which ascribes
them to the Infinite must be human also.  It isn't true
that the laws of Nature have been capriciously disturbed,
that snakes have talked, that women have been turned to
salt, that rods have brought water out of rocks.  You
must in honesty confess that if these things  were
presented to us when we were, adults for the first
time, we should smile at them.  It isn't true that the
Fountain of all common sense should punish a race for a
venial offence committed by a person long since dead, and
then should add to the crass injustice by heaping the
whole retribution upon a single innocent scapegoat.  Can
you not see all the want of justice and logic, to say
nothing of the want of mercy, involved in such a
conception?  Can you not see it, Bertie?  How can you
blind yourself to it!  Take your eyes away from the
details for a moment, and look at this root idea of the
predominant Faith.  Is the general conception of it
consistent with infinite wisdom and mercy?  If not, what
becomes of the dogmas, the sacraments, the whole scheme
which is founded upon this sand-bank?  Courage, my
friend!  At the right moment all will be laid aside, as
the man whose strength increases lays down the crutch
which has been a good friend to him in his weakness.  But
his changes won't be over then.  His hobble will become
a walk, and his walk a run.  There is no finality--
CAN be none since the question concerns the infinite.
All this, which appears too advanced to you to-day,
will seem reactionary and conservative a thousand years

Since I am upon this topic, may I say just a little
more without boring you?  You say that criticism such as
mine is merely destructive, and that I have nothing to
offer in place of what I pull down.  This is not quite
correct.  I think that there are certain elemental truths
within our grasp which ask for no faith for their
acceptance, and which are sufficient to furnish us with
a practical religion, having so much of reason in it that
it would draw thinking men into its fold, not drive them
forth from it.

When we all get back to these elemental and provable
facts there will be some hopes of ending the petty
bickerings of creeds, and of including the whole human
family in one comprehensive system of thought.

When first I came out of the faith in which I had
been reared, I certainly did feel for a time as if my
life-belt had burst.  I won't exaggerate and say that I
was miserable and plunged in utter spiritual darkness.
Youth is too full of action for that.  But I was
conscious of a vague unrest, of a constant want of
repose, of an emptiness and hardness which I had not
noticed in life before.  I had so identified religion
with the Bible that I could not conceive them apart.
When the foundation proved false, the whole structure
came rattling about my ears.  And then good old Carlyle
came to the rescue; and partly from him, and partly from
my own broodings, I made a little hut of my own, which
has kept me snug ever since, and has even served to
shelter a friend or two besides.

The first and main thing was to get it thoroughly
soaked into one that the existence of a Creator and an
indication of His attributes does in no way depend upon
Jewish poets, nor upon human paper or printing ink.  On
the contrary, all such efforts to realise Him must only
belittle Him, bringing the Infinite down to the narrow
terms of human thought, at a time when that thought was
in the main less spiritual than it is at present.  Even
the most material of modern minds would flinch at
depicting the Deity as ordering wholesale executions, and
hacking kings to pieces upon the horns of altars.

Then having prepared your mind for a higher (if
perhaps a vaguer) idea of the Deity, proceed to study Him
in His works, which cannot be counterfeited or
manipulated.  Nature is the true revelation of the Deity
to man.  The nearest green field is the inspired page
from which you may read all that it is needful for you to

I confess that I have never been able to understand
the position of the atheist.  In fact, I have come to
disbelieve in his existence, and to look upon the word as
a mere term of theological reproach.  It may represent a
temporary condition, a passing mental phase, a defiant
reaction against an anthropomorphic ideal; but I cannot
conceive that any man can continue to survey Nature and
to deny that there are laws at work which display
intelligence and power.  The very existence of a world
carries with it the proof of a world-maker, as the table
guarantees the pre-existence of the carpenter.  Granting
this, one may form what conception one will of that
Maker, but one cannot be an atheist.

Wisdom and power and means directed to an end run all
through the scheme of Nature.  What proof do we want,
then, from a book?  If the man who observes the myriad
stars, and considers that they and their innumerable
satellites move in their serene dignity through the
heavens, each swinging clear of the other's orbit--if, I
say, the man who sees this cannot realise the Creator's
attributes without the help of the book of Job, then his
view of things is beyond my understanding.  Nor is it
only in the large things that we see the ever present
solicitude of some intelligent force.  Nothing is too
tiny for that fostering care.  We see the minute
proboscis of the insect carefully adjusted to fit into
the calyx of the flower, the most microscopic hair and
gland each with its definite purposeful function to
perform.  What matter whether these came by special
creation or by evolution?  We know as a matter of fact
that they came by evolution, but that only defines the
law.  It does not explain it.

But if this power has cared for the bee so as to
furnish it with its honey bag and its collecting forceps,
and for the lowly seed so as to have a thousand devices
by which it reaches a congenial soil, then is it
conceivable that we, the highest product of all, are
overlooked?  It is NOT conceivable.  The idea is
inconsistent with the scheme of creation as we see it.
I say again that no faith is needed to attain the
certainty of a most watchful Providence.

And with this certainty surely we have all that is
necessary for an elemental religion.  Come what may after
death, our duties lie clearly defined before us in this
life; and the ethical standard of all creeds agrees so
far that there is not likely to be any difference of
opinion as to that.  The last reformation simplified
Catholicism.  The coming one will simplify Protestantism.
And when the world is ripe for it another will come and
simplify that.  The ever improving brain will give us an
ever broadening creed.  Is it not glorious to think that
evolution is still living and acting--that if we have an
anthropoid ape as an ancestor, we may have archangels for
our posterity?

Well, I really never intended to inflict all this
upon you, Bertie.  I thought I could have made my
position clear in a page or so.  But you can see how one
point has brought up another.  Even now I am leaving so
much unsaid.  I can see with such certainty exactly
what you will say.  "If you deduce a good Providence from
the good things in nature, what do you make of the evil?"
That's what you will say.  Suffice it that I am inclined
to deny the existence of evil.  Not another word will I
say upon the subject; but if you come back to it
yourself, then be it on your own head.

You remember that when I wrote last I had just
returned from visiting the Cullingworths at Avonmouth,
and that he had promised to let me know what steps he
took in appeasing his creditors.  As I expected, I have
not had one word from him since.  But in a roundabout way
I did get some news as to what happened.  From this
account, which was second-hand, and may have been
exaggerated, Cullingworth did exactly what I had
recommended, and calling all his creditors together he
made them a long statement as to his position.  The good
people were so touched by the picture that he drew of a
worthy man fighting against adversity that several of
them wept, and there was not only complete unanimity as
to letting their bills stand over, but even some talk of
a collection then and there to help Cullingworth on
his way.  He has, I understand, left Avonmouth, but no
one has any idea what has become of him.  It is generally
supposed that he has gone to England.  He is a strange
fellow, but I wish him luck wherever he goes.

When I came back I settled down once more to the
routine of my father's practice, holding on there until
something may turn up.  And for six months I have had to
wait; a weary six months they have been.  You see I
cannot ask my father for money--or, at least, I cannot
bring myself to take an unnecessary penny of his money--
for I know how hard a fight it is with him to keep the
roof over our heads and pay for the modest little horse
and trap which are as necessary to his trade as a goose
is to a tailor.  Foul fare the grasping taxman who wrings
a couple of guineas from us on the plea that it is a
luxury!  We can just hold on, and I would not have him a
pound the poorer for me.  But you can understand, Bertie,
that it is humiliating for a man of my age to have to go
about without any money in my pocket.  It affects me in
so many petty ways.  A poor man may do me a kindness, and
I have to seem mean in his eyes.  I may want a flower for
a girl, and must be content to appear ungallant.  I
don't know why I should be ashamed of this, since it is
no fault of mine, and I hope that I don't show it to any
one else that I AM ashamed of it; but to you, my dear
Bertie, I don't mind confessing that it hurts my self-
respect terribly.

I have often wondered why some of those writing
fellows don't try their hands at drawing the inner life
of a young man from about the age of puberty until he
begins to find his feet a little.  Men are very fond of
analysing the feelings of their heroines, which they
cannot possibly know anything about, while they have
little to say of the inner development of their heroes,
which is an experience which they have themselves
undergone.  I should like to try it myself, but it would
need blending with fiction, and I never had a spark of
imagination.  But I have a vivid recollection of what I
went through myself.  At the time I thought (as everybody
thinks) that it was a unique experience; but since I have
heard the confidences of my father's patients I am
convinced that it is the common lot.  The shrinking,
horrible shyness, alternating with occasional absurd fits
of audacity which represent the reaction against it,
the longing for close friendship, the agonies over
imaginary slights, the extraordinary sexual doubts, the
deadly fears caused by non-existent diseases, the vague
emotion produced by all women, and the half-frightened
thrill by particular ones, the aggressiveness caused by
fear of being afraid, the sudden blacknesses, the
profound self-distrust--I dare bet that you have felt
every one of them, Bertie, just as I have, and that the
first lad of eighteen whom you see out of your window is
suffering from them now.

This is all a digression, however, from the fact that
I have been six months at home and am weary of it, and
pleased at the new development of which I shall have to
tell you.  The practice here, although unremunerative, is
very busy with its three-and-sixpenny visits and guinea
confinements, so that both the governor and I have had
plenty to do.  You know how I admire him, and yet I fear
there is little intellectual sympathy between us.  He
appears to think that those opinions of mine upon
religion and politics which come hot from my inmost soul
have been assumed either out of indifference or bravado.
So I have ceased to talk on vital subjects  with  him,
and,  though  we affect to ignore it, we both know
that there is a barrier there.  Now, with my mother--ah,
but my mother must have a paragraph to herself.

You met her, Bertie!  You must remember her sweet
face, her sensitive mouth, her peering, short-sighted
eyes, her general suggestion of a plump little hen, who
is still on the alert about her chickens.  But you cannot
realise all that she is to me in our domestic life.
Those helpful fingers!  That sympathetic brain!  Ever
since I can remember her she has been the quaintest
mixture of the housewife and the woman of letters, with
the highbred spirited lady as a basis for either
character.  Always a lady, whether she was bargaining
with the butcher, or breaking in a skittish charwoman, or
stirring the porridge, which I can see her doing with the
porridge-stick in one hand, and the other holding her
Revue des deux Mondes within two inches of her dear
nose.  That was always her favourite reading, and I can
never think of her without the association of its browny-
yellow cover.

She is a very well-read woman is the mother; she
keeps up to date in French literature as well as in
English, and can talk by the hour about the
Goncourts, and Flaubert, and Gautier.  Yet she is always
hard at work; and how she imbibes all her knowledge is a
mystery.  She reads when she knits, she reads when she
scrubs, she even reads when she feeds her babies.  We
have a little joke against her, that at an interesting
passage she deposited a spoonful of rusk and milk into my
little sister's car-hole, the child having turned her
head at the critical instant.  Her hands are worn with
work, and yet where is the idle woman who has read as

Then, there is her family pride.  That is a very
vital portion of the mother.  You know how little I think
of such things.  If the Esquire were to be snipped once
and for ever from the tail of my name I should be the
lighter for it.  But, ma foi!--to use her own
favourite expletive--it would not do to say this to her.
On the Packenham side (she is a Packenham) the family can
boast of some fairly good men--I mean on the direct
line--but when we get on the side branches there is not
a monarch upon earth who does not roost on that huge
family tree.  Not once, nor twice, but thrice did the
Plantagenets intermarry with us, the Dukes of Brittany
courted our alliance, and the Percies of
Northumberland intertwined themselves with our whole
illustrious record.  So in my boyhood she would expound
the matter, with hearthbrush in one hand and a glove full
of cinders in the other, while I would sit swinging my
knickerbockered legs, swelling with pride until my
waistcoat was as tight as a sausage skin, as I
contemplated the gulf which separated me from all other
little boys who swang their legs upon tables.  To this
day if I chance to do anything of which she strongly
approves, the dear heart can say no more than that I am
a thorough Packenham; while if I fall away from the
straight path, she says with a sigh that there are points
in which I take after the Munros.

She is broad-minded and intensely practical in her
ordinary moods, though open to attacks of romance.  I can
recollect her coming to see me at a junction through
which my train passed, with a six months' absence on
either side of the incident.  We had five minutes'
conversation, my head out of the carriage window.  "Wear
flannel next your skin, my dear boy, and never believe in
eternal punishment," was her last item of advice as we
rolled out of the station.  Then to finish her
portrait I need not tell you, who have seen her, that she
is young-looking and comely to be the mother of about
thirty-five feet of humanity.  She was in the railway
carriage and I on the platform the other day.  "Your
husband had better get in or we'll go without him," said
the guard.  As we went off, the mother was fumbling
furiously in her pocket, and I know that she was looking
for a shilling.

Ah! what a gossip I have been!  And all to lead up to
the one sentence that I could not have stayed at home
this six months if it had not been for the company and
the sympathy of my mother.

Well, now I want to tell you about the scrape that I
got myself into.  I suppose that I ought to pull a long
face over it, but for the life of me I can't help
laughing.  I have you almost up to date in my history
now, for what I am going to tell you happened only last
week.  I must mention no names here even to you; for the
curse of Ernulphus, which includes eight and forty minor
imprecations, be upon the head of the man who kisses and

You must know, then, that within the boundaries
of this city there are two ladies, a mother and a
daughter, whom I shall call Mrs. and Miss Laura Andrews.
They are patients of the governor's, and have become to
some extent friends of the family.  Madame is Welsh,
charming in appearance, dignified in her manners, and
High Church in her convictions.  The daughter is rather
taller than the mother, but otherwise they are strikingly
alike.  The mother is thirty-six and the daughter
eighteen.  Both are exceedingly charming.  Had I to
choose between them, I think, entre nous, that the
mother would have attracted me most, for I am thoroughly
of Balzac's opinion as to the woman of thirty.  However,
fate was to will it otherwise.

It was the coming home from a dance which first
brought Laura and me together.  You know how easily and
suddenly these things happen, beginning in playful
teasing and ending in something a little warmer than
friendship.  You squeeze the slender arm which is passed
through yours, you venture to take the little gloved
hand, you say good night at absurd length in the shadow
of the door.  It is innocent and very interesting, love
trying his wings in a first little flutter.  He will
keep his sustained flight later on, the better for the
practice.  There was never any question of engagements
between us, nor any suggestion of harm.  She knew that I
was a poor devil with neither means nor prospects, and I
knew that her mother's will was her law, and that her
course was already marked out for her.  However, we
exchanged our little confidences, and met occasionally by
appointment, and tried to make our lives brighter without
darkening those of any one else.  I can see you shake
your head here and growl, like the comfortable married
man that you are, that such relations are very dangerous.
So they are, my boy: but neither of us cared, she out of
innocence and I out of recklessness, for from the
beginning all the fault in the matter was mine.

Well, matters were in this state when one day last
week a note came up to the Dad saying that Mrs. Andrews'
servant was ill, and would he come at once.  The old man
had a touch of gout, so I donned  my professional coat
and sallied forth, thinking that perhaps I might combine
pleasure with business, and have a few words with Laura.
Sure enough, as I passed up the gravel drive which
curves round to the door, I glanced through the drawing-
room window, and saw her sitting painting, with her back
to the light.  It was clear that she had not heard me.
The hall door was ajar, and when I pushed it open, no one
was in the hall.  A sudden fit of roguishness came over
me.  I pushed the drawing-room door very slowly wider,
crept in on tiptoe, stole quietly across, and bending
down, I kissed the artist upon the nape of her neck.  She
turned round with a squeal, and it was the mother!

I don't know whether you have ever been in a tighter
corner than that, Bertie.  It was quite tight enough for
me.  I remember that I smiled as I stole across the
carpet on that insane venture.  I did not smile again
that evening.  It makes me hot now when I think of it.

Well, I made the most dreadful fool of myself.  At
first, the good lady who (as I think I told you) is very
dignified and rather reserved, could not believe her
senses.  Then, as the full force of my enormity came upon
her she reared herself up until she seemed the tallest
and the coldest woman I had ever seen.  It was an
interview with a refrigerator.  She  asked me what I had
ever observed in her conduct which had encouraged me to
subject her to such an outrage.  I saw, of course, that
any excuses upon my part would put her on the right track
and give poor Laura away; so I stood with my hair
bristling and my top hat in my hand, presenting, I am
sure, a most extraordinary figure.  Indeed, she looked
rather funny herself, with her palette in one hand, her
brush in the other, and the blank astonishment on her
face.  I stammered out something about hoping that she
did not mind, which made her more angry than ever.  "The
only possible excuse for your conduct, sir, is that you
are under the influence of drink," said she.  "I need not
say that we do not require the services of a medical man
in that condition."  I did not try to disabuse her of the
idea, for really I could see no better explanation; so I
beat a retreat in a very demoralised condition.  She
wrote a letter to my father about it in the evening, and
the old man was very angry indeed.  As to the mother, she
is as staunch as steel,  and quite prepared to prove
that poor Mrs. A. was a very deep designing person, who
had laid a trap for innocent Johnnie.  So there has been
a grand row; and not a soul upon earth has the least idea
of what it all means, except only yourself as you read
this letter.

You can imagine that this has not contributed to make
life here more pleasant, for my father cannot bring
himself to forgive me.  Of course, I don't wonder at his
anger.  I should be just the same myself.  It does look
like a shocking breach of professional honour, and a sad
disregard of his interests.  If he knew the truth he
would see that it was nothing worse than a silly ill-
timed boyish joke.  However, he never shall know the

And now there is some chance of my getting something
to do.  We had a letter to-night from Christie & Howden,
the writers to the Signet, saying that they desire an
interview with me, in view of a possible appointment.  We
can't imagine what it means, but I am full of hopes.  I
go to-morrow morning to see them, and I shall let you
know the result.

Good-bye, my dear Bertie!  Your life flows in a
steady stream, and mine in a broken torrent.  Yet I would
have every detail of what happens to you.


HOME, 1st December, 1881.

I may be doing you an injustice, Bertie, but it
seemed to me in your last that there were indications
that the free expression of my religious views had been
distasteful to you.  That you should disagree with me I
am prepared for; but that you should object to free and
honest discussion of those subjects which above all
others men should be honest over, would, I confess, be a
disappointment.  The Freethinker is placed at this
disadvantage in ordinary society, that whereas it would
be considered very bad taste upon his part to obtrude his
unorthodox opinion, no such consideration hampers those
with whom he disagrees.  There was a time when it took a
brave man to be a Christian.  Now it takes a brave man
not to be.  But if we are to wear a gag, and hide our
thoughts when writing in confidence to our most
intimate----no, but I won't believe it.  You and
I have put up too many thoughts together and chased them
where-ever{sic} they would double, Bertie; so just write
to me like a good fellow, and tell me that I am an ass.
Until I have that comforting assurance, I shall place a
quarantine upon everything which could conceivably be
offensive to you.

Does not lunacy strike you, Bertie, as being a very
eerie thing?  It is a disease of the soul.  To think that
you may have a man of noble mind, full of every lofty
aspiration, and that a gross physical cause, such as the
fall of a spicule of bone from the inner table of his
skull on to the surface of the membrane which covers his
brain, may have the ultimate effect of turning him into
an obscene creature with every bestial attribute!  That
a man's individuality should swing round from pole to
pole, and yet that one life should contain these two
contradictory personalities--is it not a wondrous thing?

I ask myself, where is the man, the very, very inmost
essence of the man?  See how much you may subtract from
him without touching it.  It does not lie in the limbs
which serve him as tools, nor in the apparatus by which
he is to digest, nor in that by which he is to inhale
oxygen.  All these are mere accessories, the slaves of
the lord within.  Where, then, is he?  He does not lie in
the features which are to express his emotions, nor in
the eyes and ears which can be dispensed with by the
blind and deaf.  Nor is he in the bony framework which is
the rack over which nature hangs her veil of flesh.  In
none of these things lies the essence of the man.  And
now what is left?  An arched whitish putty-like mass,
some fifty odd ounces in weight, with a number of white
filaments hanging down from it, looking not unlike the
medusae which float in our summer seas.  But these
filaments only serve to conduct nerve force to muscles
and to organs which serve secondary purposes.  They may
themselves therefore be disregarded.  Nor can we stop
here in our elimination.  This central mass of nervous
matter may be pared down on all sides before we seem to
get at the very seat of the soul.  Suicides have shot
away the front lobes of the brain, and have lived to
repent it.  Surgeons have cut down upon it and have
removed sections.  Much of it is merely for the
purpose of furnishing the springs of motion, and much
for the reception of impressions.  All this may be put
aside as we search for the physical seat of what we call
the soul--the spiritual part of the man.  And what is
left then?  A little blob of matter, a handful of nervous
dough, a few ounces of tissue, but there--somewhere
there--lurks that impalpable seed, to which the rest of
our frame is but the pod.  The old philosophers who put
the soul in the pineal gland were not right, but after
all they were uncommonly near the mark.

You'll find my physiology even worse than my
theology, Bertie.  I have a way of telling stories
backwards to you, which is natural enough when you
consider that I always sit down to write under the
influence of the last impressions which have come upon
me.  All this talk about the soul and the brain arises
simply from the fact that I have been spending the last
few weeks with a lunatic.  And how it came about I will
tell you as clearly as I can.

You remember that in my last I explained to you how
restive I had been getting at home, and how my idiotic
mistake had annoyed my father and had made my
position here very uncomfortable.  Then I mentioned, I
think, that I had received a letter from Christie &
Howden, the lawyers.  Well, I brushed up my Sunday hat,
and my mother stood on a chair and landed me twice on the
ear with a clothes brush, under the impression that she
was making the collar of my overcoat look more
presentable.  With which accolade out I sallied into the
world, the dear soul standing on the steps, peering after
me and waving me success.

Well, I was in considerable trepidation when I
reached the office, for I am a much more nervous person
than any of my friends will ever credit me with being.
However, I was shown in at once to Mr. James Christie, a
wiry, sharp, thin-lipped kind of man, with an abrupt
manner, and that sort of Scotch precision of speech which
gives the impression of clearness of thought behind it.

"I understand from Professor Maxwell that you have
been looking about for an opening, Mr. Munro," said he.

 Maxwell had said that he would give me a hand if he
could; but you remember that he had a reputation for
giving such promises rather easily.  I speak of a man
as I find him, and to me he has been an excellent friend.

"I should be very happy to hear of any opening," said

"Of your medical qualifications there is no need to
speak," he went on, running his eyes all over me in the
most questioning way.  "Your Bachelorship of Medicine
will answer for that.  But Professor Maxwell thought you
peculiarly fitted for this vacancy for physical reasons.
May I ask you what your weight is?"

"Fourteen stone."

"And you stand, I should judge, about six feet high?"


"Accustomed too, as I gather, to muscular exercise of
every kind.  Well, there can be no question that you are
the very man for the post, and I shall be very happy to
recommend you to Lord Saltire."

"You forget," said I, "that I have not yet heard what
the position is, or the terms which you offer."

He began to laugh at that.  "It was a little
precipitate on my part," said he; "but I do not think
that we are likely to quarrel as to position or terms.
You may have heard perhaps of the sad misfortune of our
client, Lord Saltire?  Not?  To put it briefly then, his
son, the Hon. James Derwent, the heir to the estates and
the only child, was struck down by the sun while fishing
without his hat last July.  His mind has never recovered
from the shock, and he has been ever since in a chronic
state of moody sullenness which breaks out every now and
then into violent mania.  His father will not allow him
to be removed from Lochtully Castle, and it is his desire
that a medical man should stay there in constant
attendance upon his son.  Your physical strength would of
course be very useful in restraining those violent
attacks of which I have spoken.  The remuneration will be
twelve pounds a month, and you would be required to take
over your duties to-morrow."

I walked home, my dear Bertie, with a bounding heart,
and the pavement like cotton wool under my feet.  I found
just eightpence in my pocket, and I spent the whole of it
on a really good cigar with which to celebrate the
occasion.  Old Cullingworth has always had a very high
opinion of lunatics for beginners.  "Get a lunatic,
my boy!  Get a lunatic!" he used to say.  Then it was not
only the situation, but the fine connection that it
opened up.  I seemed to see exactly what would happen.
There would be illness in the family,--Lord Saltire
himself perhaps, or his wife.  There would be no time to
send for advice.  I would be consulted.  I would gain
their confidence and become their family attendant.  They
would recommend me to their wealthy friends.  It was all
as clear as possible.  I was debating before I reached
home whether it would be worth my while to give up a
lucrative country practice in order to take the
Professorship which might be offered me.

My father took the news philosophically enough, with
some rather sardonic remark about my patient and me being
well qualified to keep each other company.  But to my
mother it was a flash of joy, followed by a thunderclap
of consternation.  I had only three under-shirts, the
best of my linen had gone to Belfast to be refronted and
recuffed, the night-gowns were not marked yet--there were
a dozen of those domestic difficulties of which the mere
male never thinks.  A dreadful vision of Lady Saltire
looking over my things and finding the heel out of one of
my socks obsessed my mother.  Out we trudged together,
and before evening her soul was at rest, and I had
mortgaged in advance my first month's salary.  She was
great, as we walked home, upon the grand people into
whose service I was to enter.  "As a matter of fact, my
dear," said she, "they are in a sense relations of yours.
You are very closely allied to the Percies, and the
Saltires have Percy blood in them also.  They are only a
cadet branch, and you are close upon the main line; but
still it is not for us to deny the connection."  She
brought a cold sweat out upon me by suggesting that she
should make things easy by writing to Lord Saltire and
explaining our respective positions.  Several times
during the evening I heard her murmur complacently that
they were only the cadet branch.

Am I not the slowest of story-tellers?  But you
encourage me to it by your sympathetic interest in
details.  However, I shall move along a little faster
now.  Next morning I was off to Lochtully, which, as you
know, is in the north of Perthshire.  It stands three
miles from the station, a great gray pinnacled house,
with two towers cocking out above the fir woods, like a
hare's ears from a tussock of grass.  As we drove up to
the door I felt pretty solemn--not at all as the main
line should do when it condescends to visit the cadet
branch.  Into the hall as I entered came a grave learned-
looking man, with whom in my nervousness I was about to
shake hands cordially.  Fortunately he forestalled the
impending embrace by explaining that he was the butler.
He showed me into a small study, where everything stank
of varnish and morocco leather, there to await the great
man.  He proved when he came to be a much less formidable
figure than his retainer--indeed, I felt thoroughly at my
ease with him from the moment he opened his mouth.  He is
grizzled, red-faced, sharp-featured, with a prying and
yet benevolent expression, very human and just a trifle
vulgar.  His wife, however, to whom I was afterwards
introduced, is a most depressing person,--pale, cold,
hatchet-faced, with drooping eyelids and very prominent
blue veins at her temples.  She froze me up again just as
I was budding out under the influence of her husband.
However, the thing that interested me most of all was to
see my patient, to whose room I was taken by Lord
Saltire after we had had a cup of tea.

The room was a large bare one, at the end of a long
corridor.  Near the door was seated a footman, placed
there to fill up the gap between two doctors, and looking
considerably relieved at my advent.  Over by the window
(which was furnished with a wooden guard, like that of a
nursery) sat a tall, yellow-haired, yellow-bearded, young
man, who raised a pair of startled blue eyes as we
entered.  He was turning over the pages of a bound copy
of the Illustrated London News.

"James," said Lord Saltire, "this is Dr. Stark Munro,
who has come to look after you."

My patient mumbled something in his beard, which
seemed to me suspiciously like "Damn Dr. Stark Munro!"
The peer evidently thought the same, for he led me aside
by the elbow.

"I don't know whether you have been told that James
is a little rough in his ways at present," said he; "his
whole nature has deteriorated very much since this
calamity came upon him.  You must not be offended by
anything he may say or do."

"Not in the least," said I.

"There is a taint of this sort upon my wife's
side," I whispered the little lord; "her uncle's
symptoms were identical.  Dr. Peterson says that the
sunstroke was only the determining cause.  The
predisposition was already there.  I may tell you that
the footman will always be in the next room, so that you
can call him if you need his assistance."

Well, it ended by lord and lacquey moving off, and
leaving me with my patient.  I thought that I should lose
no time in establishing a kindly relation with him, so I
drew a chair over to his sofa and began to ask him a few
questions about his health and habits.  Not a word could
I get out of him in reply.  He sat as sullen as a mule,
with a kind of sneer about his handsome face, which
showed me very well that he had heard everything.  I
tried this and tried that, but not a syllable could I get
from him; so at last I turned from him and began to look
over some illustrated papers on the table.  He doesn't
read, it seems, and will do nothing but look at pictures.
Well, I was sitting like this with my back half turned,
when you can imagine my surprise to feel something
plucking gently at me, and to see a great brown hand
trying to slip its way into my coat pocket.  I caught at
the wrist and turned swiftly round, but too late to
prevent my handkerchief being whisked out and concealed
behind the Hon. James Derwent, who sat grinning at me
like a mischievous monkey.

"Come, I may want that," said I, trying to treat the
matter as a joke.

He used some language which was more scriptural than
religious.  I saw that he did not mean giving it up, but
I was determined not to let him get the upper hand over
me.  I grabbed for the handkerchief; and he, with a
snarl, caught my hand in both of his.  He had a powerful
grip, but I managed to get his wrist and to give it a
wrench round, until, with a howl, he dropped my property.

"What fun," said I, pretending to laugh.  "Let us try
again.  Now, you take it up, and see if I can get it

But he had had enough of that game.  Yet he appeared
to be better humoured than before the incident, and I got
a few short answers to the questions which I put to him.

And here comes in the text which started me
preaching about lunacy at the beginning of this
letter.  WHAT a marvellous thing it is!  This man,
from all I can learn of him, has suddenly swung clean
over from one extreme of character to the other.  Every
plus has in an instant become a minus.    He's another
man, but in the same case.  I am told that he used to be
(only a few months ago, mind you) most fastidious in
dress and speech.  Now he is a foul-tongued rough!  He
had a nice taste in literature.  Now he stares at you if
you speak of Shakespeare.  Queerest of all, he used to be
a very high-and-dry Tory in his opinions.  He is fond now
of airing the most democratic views, and in a needlessly
offensive way.  When I did get on terms with him at last,
I found that there was nothing on which he could be drawn
on to talk so soon as on politics.  In substance, I am
bound to say that I think his new views are probably
saner than his old ones, but the insanity lies in his
sudden reasonless change and in his violent blurts of

It was some weeks, however, before I gained his
confidence, so far as to be able to hold a real
conversation with him.  For a long time he was very
sullen and suspicious, resenting the constant watch which
I kept upon him.  This could not be relaxed, for he was
full of the most apish tricks.  One day he got hold of my
tobacco pouch, and stuffed two ounces of my tobacco into
the long barrel of an Eastern gun which hangs on the
wall.  He jammed it all down with the ramrod, and I was
never able to get it up again.    Another time he threw
an earthenware spittoon  through the window, and would
have sent the clock after it had I not prevented him.  
Every day I took him for a two hours' constitutional,
save when it rained, and then we walked religiously for
the same space up and down the room.  Heh! but it was a
deadly, dreary, kind of life.

I was supposed to have my eye upon him all day, with
a two-hour interval every afternoon and an evening to
myself upon Fridays.  But then what was the use of an
evening to myself when there was no town near, and I had
no friends whom I could visit?  I did a fair amount of
reading, for Lord Saltire let me have the run of his
library.  Gibbon gave me a couple of enchanting weeks.
You know the effect that he produces.  You seem to be
serenely floating upon a cloud, and looking down on all
these pigmy armies and navies, with a wise Mentor ever at
your side to whisper to you the inner meaning of all that
majestic panorama.

Now and again young Derwent introduced some
excitement into my dull life.  On one occasion when we
were walking in the grounds, he suddenly snatched up a
spade from a grass-plot, and rushed at an inoffensive
under-gardener.  The man ran screaming for his life, with
my patient cursing at his very heels, and me within a few
paces of him.  When I at last laid my hand on his collar,
he threw down his weapon and burst into shrieks of
laughter.  It was only mischief and not ferocity; but
when that under-gardener saw us coming after that he was
off with a face like a cream cheese.  At night the
attendant slept in a camp-bed at the foot of the
patient's, and my room was next door, so that I could be
called if necessary.  No, it was not a very exhilarating

We used to go down to family meals when there were no
visitors; and there we made a curious quartette:
Jimmy (as he wished me to call him) glum and silent; I
with the tail of my eye always twisted round to him; Lady
Saltire with her condescending eyelids and her blue
veins; and the good-natured peer, fussy and genial, but
always rather subdued in the presence of his wife.  She
looked as if a glass of good wine would do her good, and
he as if he would be the better for abstinence; and so,
in accordance with the usual lopsidedness of life, he
drank freely, and she took nothing but lime-juice and
water.  You cannot imagine a more ignorant, intolerant,
narrow-minded woman than she.  If she had only been
content to be silent and hidden that small brain of hers,
it would not have mattered; but there was no end to her
bitter and exasperating clacking.  What was she after all
but a thin pipe for conveying disease from one generation
to another?  She was bounded by insanity upon the north
and upon the south.  I resolutely set myself to avoid all
argument with her; but she knew, with her woman's
instinct, that we were as far apart as the poles, and
took a pleasure in waving the red flag before me.  One
day she was waxing eloquent as to the crime of a
minister of an Episcopal church performing any service
in a Presbyterian chapel.  Some neighbouring minister had
done it, it seems; and if he had been marked down in a
pot house she could not have spoken with greater
loathing.  I suppose that my eyes were less under control
than my tongue, for she suddenly turned upon me with:

"I see that you don't agree with me, Dr. Munro."

I replied quietly that I did not, and tried to change
the conversation; but she was not to be shaken off.

"Why not, may I ask?"

I explained that in my opinion the tendency of the
age was to break down those ridiculous doctrinal points
which are so useless, and which have for so long set
people by the ears.  I added that I hoped the time was
soon coming when good men of all creeds would throw this
lumber overboard and join hands together.

She half rose, almost speechless with indignation.

"I presume," said she, "that you are one of those
people who would separate the Church from the State?"

"Most certainly," I answered.

She stood erect in a kind of cold fury, and swept out
of the room.  Jimmy began to chuckle, and his father
looked perplexed.

"I am sorry that my opinions are offensive to Lady
Saltire," I remarked.

"Yes, yes; it's a pity; a pity," said he "well, well,
we must say what we think; but it's a pity you think it--
a very great pity."

I quite expected to get my dismissal over this
business, and indeed, indirectly I may say that I did so.
From that day Lady Saltire was as rude to me as she could
be, and never lost an opportunity of making attacks upon
what she imagined to be my opinions.  Of these I never
took the slightest notice; but at last on an evil day she
went for me point-blank, so that there was no getting
away from her.  It was just at the end of lunch, when the
footman had left the room.  She had been talking about
Lord Saltire's going up to London to vote upon some
question in the House of Lords.

"Perhaps, Dr. Munro," said she, turning acidly
upon me, "that is also an institution which has not been
fortunate enough to win your approval."

"It is a question, Lady Saltire, which I should much
prefer not to discuss," I answered.

"Oh, you might just as well have the courage of your
convictions," said she.  "Since you desire to despoil the
National Church, it is natural enough that you should
wish also to break up the Constitution.  I have heard
that an atheist is always a red republican."

Lord Saltire rose, wishing, I have no doubt, to put
an end to the conversation.  Jimmy and I rose also; and
suddenly I saw that instead of moving towards the door he
was going to his mother.  Knowing his little tricks, I
passed my hand under his arm, and tried to steer him
away.  She noticed it, however, and interfered.

"Did you wish to speak to me, James?"

"I want to whisper in your ear, mother."

"Pray don't excite yourself, sir," said I, again
attempting to detain him.  Lady Saltire arched her
aristocratic eyebrows.

"I think, Dr. Munro, that you push your authority
rather far when you venture to interfere between a mother
and her son," said she.  What was it, my poor dear boy?"

Jimmy bent down and whispered something in her ear.
The blood rushed into her pale face, and she sprang from
him as if he had struck her.  Jimmy began to snigger.

"This is your doing, Dr. Munro," she cried furiously.
"You have corrupted my son's mind, and encouraged him to
insult his mother."

"My dear!  My dear!" said her husband soothingly, and
I quietly led the recalcitrant Jimmy upstairs.  I asked
him what it was that he had said to his mother, but got
only chuckles in reply.

I had a presentiment that I should hear more of the
matter; and I was not wrong.  Lord Saltire called me into
his study in the evening.

"The fact is, doctor," said he, "that Lady Saltire
has been extremely annoyed and grieved about what
occurred at lunch to-day.  Of course, you can imagine
that such an expression coming from her own son, shocked
her more than I can tell."

"I assure you, Lord Saltire," said I, "that I have no
idea at all what passed between Lady Saltire and my

"Well," said he, "without going into details, I may
say that what he whispered was a blasphemous wish, most
coarsely expressed, as to the future of that Upper House
to which I have the honor to belong."

"I am very sorry," said I, "and I assure you that I
have never encouraged him in his extreme political views,
which seem to me to be symptoms of his disease."

"I am quite convinced that what you say is true," he
answered; "but Lady Saltire is unhappily of the opinion
that you have instilled these ideas into him.  You know
that it is a little difficult sometimes to reason with a
lady.  However, I have no  doubt that all may be smoothed
over if you would see Lady Saltire and assure her that
she has misunderstood your views upon this point, and
that you are personally a supporter of a Hereditary

It put me in a tight corner, Bertie; but my mind was
instantly made up.  From the first word I had read my
dismissal in every uneasy glance of his little eyes.

"I am afraid," said I, "that that is rather further
than I am prepared to go.  I think that since there has
been for some weeks a certain friction between Lady
Saltire and myself, it would perhaps be as well that I
should resign the post which I hold in your household.  
I shall be happy, however, to remain here until you have
found some one to take over my duties."

"Well, I am sorry it has come to this, and yet it may
be that you are right," said he, with an expression of
relief; "as to James, there need be no difficulty about
that, for Dr. Patterson could come in tomorrow morning."

"Then to-morrow morning let it be," I answered.

"Very good, Dr. Munro; I will see that you have your
cheque before you go."

So there was the end of all my fine dreams about
aristocratic practices and wonderful introductions!  I
believe the only person in the whole house who regretted
me was Jimmy, who was quite downcast at the news.  His
grief, however, did not prevent him from brushing my
new top-hat the wrong way on the morning that I left.  I
did not notice it until I reached the station, and a most
undignified object I must have looked when I took my

So ends the history of a failure.  I am, as you know,
inclined to fatalism, and do not believe that such a
thing as chance exists; so I am bound to think that this
experience was given to me for some end.  It was a
preliminary canter for the big race, perhaps.  My mother
was disappointed, but tried to show it as little as
possible.  My father was a little sardonic over the
matter.  I fear that the gap between us widens.  By the
way, an extraordinary card arrived from Cullingworth
during my absence.  "You are my man," said he; "mind that
I am to have you when I want you."  There was no date and
no address, but the postmark was Bradfield in the north
of England.  Does it mean nothing?  Or may it mean
everything?  We must wait and see.

Good-bye, old man.  Let me hear equally fully about
your own affairs.  How did the Rattray business go off?


MERTON ON THE MOORS, 5th March, 1882.

I was so delighted, my dear chap, to have your
assurance that nothing that I have said or could say upon
the subject of religion could offend you.  It is
difficult to tell you how pleased and relieved I was at
your cordial letter.  I have no one to whom I can talk
upon such matters.  I am all driven inwards, and thought
turns sour when one lets it stagnate like that.  It is a
grand thing to be able to tell it all to a sympathetic
listener--and the more so perhaps when he looks at it all
from another standpoint.  It steadies and sobers one.

Those whom I love best are those who have least
sympathy with my struggles.  They talk about having
faith, as if it could be done by an act of volition.
They might as well tell me to have black hair instead of
red.  I might simulate it perhaps by refusing to use my
reason at all in religious matters.  But I will
never be traitor to the highest thing that God has given
me.  I WILL use it.  It is more moral to use it and
go wrong, than to forego it and be right.  It is only a
little foot-rule, and I have to measure Mount Everest
with it; but it's all I have, and I'll never give it up
while there's breath between my lips.

With all respect to you, Bertie, it is very easy to
be orthodox.  A man who wanted mental peace and material
advancement in this world would certainly choose to be
so.  As Smiles says--"A dead fish can float with the
stream, but it takes a man to swim against it."  What
could be more noble than the start and the starter of
Christianity?  How beautiful the upward struggle of an
idea, like some sweet flower blossoming out amongst
rubble and cinders!  But, alas! to say that this idea was
a final idea!  That this scheme of thought was above the
reason!  That this gentle philosopher was that supreme
intelligence to which we cannot even imagine a
personality without irreverence!--all this will come to
rank with the strangest delusions of mankind.  And then
how clouded has become that fine daybreak of
Christianity!  Its representatives have risen from the
manger to the palace, from the fishing smack to the
House of Lords.  Nor is that other old potentate in the
Vatican, with his art treasures, his guards, and his
cellars of wine in a more logical position.  They are all
good and talented men, and in the market of brains are
worth perhaps as much as they get.  But how can they
bring themselves to pose as the representatives of a
creed, which, as they themselves expound it, is based
upon humility, poverty, and self-denial?  Not one of them
who would not quote with approval the parable of the
Wedding Guest.  But try putting one of them out of their
due precedence at the next Court reception.  It happened
some little time ago with a Cardinal, and England rang
with his protests.  How blind not to see how they would
spring at one leap into the real first place if they
would but resolutely claim the last as the special badge
of their master!

What can we know?  What are we all?  Poor silly half-
brained things peering out at the infinite, with the
aspirations of angels and the instincts of beasts.  But
surely all will be well with us.  If not, then He who
made us is evil, which is not to be thought.  Surely,
then, all must go very well with us!

I feel ashamed when I read this over.  My mind fills
in all the trains of thought of which you have the rude
ends peeping out from this tangle.  Make what you can of
it, dear Bertie, and believe that it all comes from my
innermost heart.  Above all may I be kept from becoming
a partisan, and tempering with truth in order to sustain
a case.  Let me but get a hand on her skirt, and she may
drag me where she will, if she will but turn her face
from time to time that I may know her.

You'll see from the address of this letter, Bertie,
that I have left Scotland and am in Yorkshire.  I have
been here three months, and am now on the eve of leaving
under the strangest circumstances and with the queerest
prospects.  Good old Cullingworth has turned out a trump,
as I always knew he would.  But, as usual, I am beginning
at the wrong end, so here goes to give you an idea of
what has been happening.

I told you in my last about  my lunacy adventure and
my ignominious return from Lochtully Castle.  When I had
settled for the flannel vests which my mother had ordered
so lavishly I had only five pounds left out of my pay.
With this, as it was the first money that I had ever
earned im{sic} my life, I bought her a gold bangle, so
behold me reduced at once to my usual empty pocketed
condition.  Well, it was something just to feel that I
HAD earned money.  It gave me an assurance that I
might again.

I had not been at home more than a few days when my
father called me into the study after breakfast one
morning and spoke very seriously as to our financial
position.  He began the interview by unbuttoning his
waistcoat and asking me to listen at his fifth
intercostal space, two inches from the left sternal line.
I did so, and was shocked to hear a well-marked mitral
regurgitant murmur.

"It is of old standing," said he, "but of late I have
had a puffiness about the ankles and some renal symptoms
which show me that it is beginning to tell."

I tried to express my grief and sympathy, but he cut
me short with some asperity.

"The point is," said he, "that no insurance office
would accept my life, and that I have been unable, owing
to competition and increased expenses, to lay anything
by.  If I die soon (which, between ourselves, is by
no means improbable), I must leave to your care your
mother and the children.  My practice is so entirely a
personal one that I cannot hope to be able to hand over
to you enough to afford a living."

I thought of Cullingworth's advice about going where
you are least known.  "I think," said I, "that, my
chances would be better away from here."

"Then you must lose no time in establishing
yourself," said he.  "Your position would be one of great
responsibility if anything were to happen to me just now.
I had hoped that you had found an excellent opening with
the Saltires; but I fear that you can hardly expect to
get on in the world, my boy, if you insult your
employer's religious and political view at his own

It wasn't a time to argue, so I said nothing.  My
father took a copy of the Lancet out of his desk, and
turned up an advertisement which he had marked with a
blue pencil.  "Read this!" said he.

I've got it before me as I write.  It runs thus:
Qualified Assistant.  Wanted at once in a large country
and colliery practice.  Thorough knowledge of
obstetrics and dispensing indispensable.  Ride and drive.
L70 a year.  Apply Dr, Horton Merton on the Moors,

"There might be an opening there," said he.  "I know
Horton, and I am convinced that I can get you the
appointment.  It would at least give you the opportunity
of looking round and seeing whether there was any vacancy
there.  How do you think it would suit you?"

Of course I could only answer that I was willing to
turn my hand to anything.  But that interview has left a
mark upon me--a  heavy ever-present gloom away at the
back of my soul, which I am conscious of even when the
cause of it has for a moment gone out of my thoughts.  

I had enough to make a man serious before, when I had
to face the world without money or interest.  But now to
think of the mother and my sisters and little Paul all
leaning upon me when I cannot stand myself--it is a
nightmare.  Could there be anything more dreadful in life
than to have those whom you love looking to you for help
and to be unable to give it?  But perhaps it won't come
to that.  Perhaps my father may hold his own for years.
Come what may, I am bound to think that all things
are ordered for the best; though when the good is a
furlong off, and we with our beetle eyes can only see
three inches, it takes some confidence in general
principles to pull us through.

Well, it was all fixed up; and down I came to
Yorkshire.  I wasn't in the best of spirits when I
started, Bertie, but they went down and down as I neared
my destination.  How people can dwell in such places
passes my comprehension.  What can life offer them to
make up for these mutilations of the face of Nature?  No
woods, little grass, spouting chimneys, slate-coloured
streams, sloping mounds of coke and slag, topped by the
great wheels and pumps of the mines.  Cinder-strewn
paths, black as though stained by the weary miners who
toil along them, lead through the tarnished fields to the
rows of smoke-stained cottages.  How can any young
unmarried man accept such a lot while there's an empty
hammock in the navy, or a berth in a merchant forecastle?
How many shillings a week is the breath of the ocean
worth?  It seems to me that if I were a poor man--well,
upon my word, that "if" is rather funny when I think
that many of the dwellers in those smoky cottages have
twice my salary with half my expenses.

Well, as I said, my spirits sank lower and lower
until they got down into the bulb, when on looking
through the gathering gloom I saw "Merton" printed on the
lamps of a dreary dismal station. I got out, and was
standing beside my trunk and my hat-box, waiting for a
porter, when up came a cheery-looking fellow and asked me
whether I was Dr. Stark Munro.  "I'm Horton," said he;
and shook hands cordially.

In that melancholy place the sight of him was like a
fire on a frosty night.  He was gaily dressed in the
first place, check trousers, white waistcoat, a flower in
his button hole.  But the look of the man was very much
to my heart.  He was ruddy checked and black eyed, with
a jolly stout figure and an honest genial smile.  I felt
as we clinched hands in the foggy grimy station that I
had met a man and a friend.

His carriage was waiting, and we drove out to his
residence, The Myrtles, where I was speedily introduced
both to his family and his practice.  The former is
small, and the latter enormous.  The wife is dead; but
her mother, Mrs. White, keeps house for him; and there
are two dear little girls, about five and seven.  Then
there is an unqualified assistant, a young Irish student,
who, with the three maids, the coachman, and the stable
boy, make up the whole establishment.  When I tell you
that we give four horses quite as much as they can do,
you will have an idea of the ground we cover.

The house, a large square brick one, standing in its
own grounds, is built on a small hill in an oasis of
green fields.  Beyond this, however, on every side the
veil of smoke hangs over the country, with the mine pumps
and the chimneys bristling out of it.  It would be a
dreadful place for an idle man: but we are all so busy
that we have hardly time to think whether there's a view
or not.

Day and night we are at work; and yet the three
months have been very pleasant ones to look back upon.

I'll give you an idea of what a day's work is like.
We breakfast about nine o'clock, and immediately
afterwards the morning patients begin to drop in.  Many
of them are very poor people, belonging to the colliery
clubs, the principle of which is, that the members pay a
little over a halfpenny a week all the year round, well
or ill, in return for which they get medicine and
attendance free.  "Not much of a catch for the doctors,"
you would say, but it is astonishing what competition
there is among them to get the appointment.  You see it
is a certainty for one thing, and it leads indirectly to
other little extras.  Besides, it amounts up
surprisingly.  I have no doubt that Horton has five or
six hundred a year from his clubs alone.  On the other
hand, you can imagine that club patients, since they pay
the same in any case, don't let their ailments go very
far before they are round in the consulting room.

Well, then, by half-past nine we are in full blast.
Horton is seeing the better patients in the consulting
room, I am interviewing the poorer ones in the waiting
room, and McCarthy, the Irishman, making up prescriptions
as hard as he can tear.  By the club rules, patients are
bound to find their own bottles and corks.

They generally remember the bottle, but always
forget the cork.  "Ye must pay a pinny or ilse put your
forefinger in," says McCarthy.  They have an idea that
all the strength of the medicine goes if the bottle is
open, so they trot off with their fingers stuck in the
necks.  They have the most singular notions about
medicines.  "It's that strong that a spoon will stand oop
in't!" is one man's description.  Above all, they love to
have two bottles, one with a solution of citric acid, and
the other with carbonate of soda.  When the mixture
begins to fizz, they realise that there is indeed a
science of medicine.

This sort of work, with vaccinations, bandagings, and
minor surgery, takes us to nearly eleven o'clock, when we
assemble in Horton's room to make out the list.  All the
names of patients under treatment are pinned upon a big
board.  We sit round with note books open, and distribute
those who must be seen between us.  By the time this is
done and the horses in, it is half-past eleven.  Then
away we all FLY upon our several tasks:   Horton in
a carriage and pair to see the employers; I in a dog cart
to see the employed; and McCarthy on his good Irish
legs to see those chronic cases to which a qualified man
can do no good, and an unqualified no harm.

Well, we all work back again by two o'clock, when we
find dinner waiting for us.  We may or may not have
finished our rounds.  If not away we go again.  If we
have, Horton dictates his prescriptions, and strides off
to bed with his black clay pipe in his mouth.  He is the
most abandoned smoker I have ever met with, collecting
the dottles of his pipes in the evening, and smoking them
the next morning before breakfast in the stable yard.
When he has departed for his nap, McCarthy and I get to
work on the medicine.  There are, perhaps, fifty bottles
to put up, with pills, ointment, etc.  It is quite half-
past four before we have them all laid out on the shelf
addressed to the respective invalids.  Then we have an
hour or so of quiet, when we smoke or read, or box with
the coachman in the harness room.  After tea the
evening's work commences.  From six to nine people are
coming in  for their medicine, or fresh patients wishing
advice.  When these are settled we have to see again any
very grave cases which may be on the list; and so,
about ten o'clock, we may hope to have another smoke, and
perhaps a game of cards.  Then it is a rare thing for a
night to pass without one or other of us having to trudge
off to a case which may take us two hours, or may take us
ten.  Hard work, as you see; but Horton is such a good
chap, and works so hard himself, that one does not mind
what one does.  And then we are all like brothers in the
house; our talk is just a rattle of chaff, and the
patients are as homely as ourselves, so that the work
becomes quite a pleasure to all of us.

Yes, Horton is a real right-down good fellow.  His
heart is broad and kind and generous.  There is nothing
petty in the man.  He loves to see those around him
happy; and the sight of his sturdy figure and jolly red
face goes far to make them so.  Nature meant him to be a
healer; for he brightens up a sick room as he did the
Merton station when first I set eyes upon him.  Don't
imagine from my description that he is in any way soft,
however.  There is no one on whom one could be less
likely to impose.  He has a temper which is easily aflame
and as easily appeased.  A mistake in the dispensing
may wake it up and then he bursts into the surgery like
a whiff of cast wind, his checks red, his whiskers
bristling, and his eyes malignant.  The daybook is
banged, the bottles rattled, the counter thumped, and
then he is off again with five doors slamming behind him.
We can trace his progress when the black mood is on him
by those dwindling slams.  Perhaps it is that McCarthy
has labelled the cough mixture as the eye-wash, or sent
an empty pillbox with an exhortation to take one every
four hours.  In any case the cyclone comes and goes, and
by the next meal all is peace once more.

I said that the patients were very homely.  Any one
who is over-starched might well come here to be
unstiffened.  I confess that I did not quite fall in with
it at once.  When on one of my first mornings a club
patient with his bottle under his arm came up to me and
asked me if I were the doctor's man, I sent him on to see
the groom in the stable.  But soon one falls into the
humour of it.  There is no offence meant; and why should
any be taken?  They are kindly, generous folk; and if
they pay no respect to your profession in the
abstract, and so rather hurt your dignity, they will be
as leal and true as possible to yourself if you can win
their respect.  I like the grip of their greasy and
blackened hands.

Another peculiarity of the district is that many of
the manufacturers and colliery owners have risen from the
workmen, and have (in some cases at least) retained their
old manners and even their old dress.  The other day Mrs.
White, Horton's mother-in-law, had a violent sick
headache, and, as we are all very fond of the kind old
lady, we were trying to keep things as quiet as possible
down-stairs.  Suddenly there came a bang! bang! bang! at
the knocker; and then in an instant another rattling
series of knocks, as if a tethered donkey were trying to
kick in the panel.  After all our efforts for silence it
was exasperating.  I rushed to the door to find a seedy
looking person just raising his hand to commence a fresh
bombardment.  "What on earth's the matter?" I asked,
only I may have been a little more emphatic.  "Pain in
the jaw," said he.  "You needn't make such a noise," said
I; "other people are ill besides you."  "If I pay my
money, young man, I'll make such noise as I like."  And
actually in cold blood he commenced a fresh assault
upon the door.  He would have gone on with his devil's
tattoo all morning if I had not led him down the path and
seen him off the premises.  An hour afterwards Horton
whirled into the surgery, with a trail of banged doors
behind him.  "What's this about Mr. Usher, Munro?" he
asked.  "He says that you were violent towards him."
"There was a club patient here who kept on banging the
knocker," said I; "I was afraid that he would disturb
Mrs. White, and so I made him stop."  Horton's eyes began
to twinkle.  "My boy," said he, "that club patient, as
you call him, is the richest man in Merton, and worth a
hundred a year to me."  I have no doubt that he appeased
him by some tale of my disgrace and degradation; but I
have not heard anything of the matter since.

It has been good for me to be here, Bertie.  It has
brought me in close contact with the working classes, and
made me realise what fine people they are.  Because one
drunkard goes home howling on a Saturday night, we are
too apt to overlook the ninety-nine decent folk by their
own firesides.  I shall not make that mistake any more.
The kindliness of the poor to the poor makes a man
sick of himself.  And their sweet patience!  Depend upon
it, if ever there is a popular rising, the wrongs which
lead to it must be monstrous and indefensible.  I think
the excesses of the French Revolution are dreadful enough
in themselves, but much more so as an index to the slow
centuries of misery against which they were a mad
protest.  And then the wisdom of the poor!  It is amusing
to read the glib newspaper man writing about the
ignorance of the masses.  They don't know the date of
Magna Charta, or whom John of Gaunt married; but put a
practical up-to-date problem before them, and see how
unerringly they take the right side.  Didn't they put the
Reform Bill through in the teeth of the opposition of the
majority of the so-called educated classes?  Didn't they
back the North against the South when nearly all our
leaders went wrong?  When universal arbitration and the
suppression of the liquor traffic comes, is it not sure
to be from the pressure of these humble folks?  They look
at life with clearer and more unselfish eyes.  It's an
axiom, I think, that to heighten a nation's wisdom you
must lower its franchise.

I often have my doubts, Bertie, if there is such a
thing as the existence of evil?  If we could honestly
convince ourselves that there was not, it would help us
so much in formulating a rational religion.  But don't
let us strain truth even for such an object as that.  I
must confess that there are some forms of vice, cruelty
for example, for which it is hard to find any
explanation, save indeed that it is a degenerate survival
of that war-like ferocity which may once have been of
service in helping to protect the community.  No; let me
be frank, and say that I can't make cruelty fit into my
scheme.  But when you find that other evils, which seem
at first sight black enough, really tend in the long run
to the good of mankind, it may be hoped that those which
continue to puzzle us may at last be found to serve the
same end in some fashion which is now inexplicable.

It seems to me that the study of life by the
physician vindicates the moral principles of right and
wrong.  But when you look closely it is a question
whether that which is a wrong to the present community
may not prove to have been a right to the interests of
posterity.  That sounds a little foggy; but I will make
my meaning more clear when I say that I think right
and wrong are both tools which are being wielded by those
great hands which are shaping the destinies of the
universe, that both are making for improvement; but that
the action of the one is immediate, and that of the other
more slow, but none the less certain.   Our own
distinction of right and wrong is founded too much upon
the immediate convenience of the community, and does not
inquire sufficiently deeply into the ultimate effect.

I have my own views about Nature's methods, though I
feel that it is rather like a beetle giving his opinions
upon the milky way.  However, they have the merit of
being consoling; for if we could conscientiously see that
sin served a purpose, and a good one, it would take some
of the blackness out of life.  It seems to me, then, that
Nature, still working on the lines of evolution,
strengthens the race in two ways.  The one is by
improving those who are morally strong, which is done by
increased knowledge and broadening religious views; the
other, and hardly less important, is by the killing off
and extinction of those who are morally weak.  This
is accomplished by drink and immorality.  These are
really two of the most important forces which work for
the ultimate perfection of the race.  I picture them as
two great invisible hands hovering over the garden of
life and plucking up the weeds.  Looked at in one's own
day, one can only see that they produce degradation and
misery.  But at the end of a third generation from then,
what has happened?  The line of the drunkard and of the
debauchee, physically as well as morally weakened, is
either extinct or on the way towards it.  Struma,
tubercle, nervous disease, have all lent a hand towards
the pruning off of that rotten branch, and the average of
the race is thereby improved.  I believe from the little
that I have seen of life, that it is a law which acts
with startling swiftness, that a majority of drunkards
never perpetuate their species at all, and that when the
curse is hereditary, the second generation generally sees
the end of it.

Don't misunderstand me, and quote me as saying that
it is a good thing for a nation that it should have many
drunkards.  Nothing of the kind.  What I say is, that if
a nation has many morally weak people, then it is
good that there should be a means for checking those
weaker strains.  Nature has her devices, and drink is
among them.  When there are no more drunkards and
reprobates, it means that the race is so advanced that it
no longer needs such rough treatment.  Then the all-wise
Engineer will speed us along in some other fashion.

I've been thinking a good deal lately about this
question of the uses of evil, and of how powerful a tool
it is in the hands of the Creator.  Last night the whole
thing crystallised out quite suddenly into a small set of
verses.  Please jump them if they bore you.



God's own best will bide the test,
   And God's own worst will fall;
But, best or worst or last or first,
   He ordereth it all.


For ALL is good, if understood,
   (Ah, could we understand!)
And right and ill are tools of skill
   Held in His either hand.


The harlot and the anchorite,
   The martyr and the rake,
Deftly He fashions each aright,
   Its vital part to take.


Wisdom He makes to guide the sap
   Where the high blossoms be;
And Lust to kill the weaker branch,
   And Drink to trim the tree.


And Holiness that so the bole
   Be solid at the core;
And Plague and Fever, that the whole
   Be changing evermore.


He strews the microbes in the lung,
   The blood-clot in the brain;
With test and test He picks the best,
   Then tests them once again.


He tests the body and the mind,
   He rings them o'er and o'er;
And if they crack, He throws them back,
   And fashions them once more.


He chokes the infant throat with slime,
   He sets the ferment free;
He builds the tiny tube of lime
   That blocks the artery.


He lets the youthful dreamer store
   Great projects in his brain,
Until he drops the fungus spore
   That smears them out again.


He stores the milk that feeds the babe,
   He dulls the tortured nerve;
He gives a hundred joys of sense
   Where few or none might serve.


And still he trains the branch of good
   Where the high blossoms be,
And wieldeth still the shears of ill
   To prune and prune His tree.


So read I this--and as I try
   To write it clear again,
I feel a second finger lie
   Above mine on the pen.


Dim are these peering eyes of mine,
   And dark what I have seen.
But be I wrong, the wrong is Thine,
   Else had it never been.

I am quite ashamed of having been so didactic.  But
it is fine to think that sin may have an object and work
towards good.  My father says that I seem to look upon
the universe as if it were my property, and can't be
happy until I know that all is right with it.  Well, it
does send a glow through me when I seem to catch a
glimpse of the light behind the clouds.

And now for my big bit of news which is going to
change my whole life.  Whom do you think I had a letter
from last Tuesday week?  From Cullingworth, no less.  It
had no beginning, no end, was addressed all wrong, and
written with a very thick quill pen upon the back of a
prescription.  How it ever reached me is a wonder.  This
is what he had to say:--

"Started here in Bradfield last June.  Colossal
success.  My example must revolutionise medical practice.
Rapidly making fortune.  Have invention which is
worth millions.  Unless our Admiralty take it up shall
make Brazil the leading naval power.  Come down by next
train on receiving this.  Have plenty for you to do."

That was the whole of this extraordinary letter; it
had no name to it, which was certainly reasonable enough,
since no one else could have written it.  Knowing
Cullingworth as well as I did, I took it with
reservations and deductions.  How could he have made so
rapid and complete a success in a town in which he must
have been a complete stranger?  It was incredible.  And
yet there must be some truth in it, or he would not
invite me to come down and test it.  On the whole, I
thought that I had better move very cautiously in the
matter; for I was happy and snug where I was, and kept on
putting a little by, which I hoped would form a nucleus
to start me in practice.  It is only a few pounds up to
date, but in a year or so it might mount to something.
I wrote to Cullingworth, therefore, thanking him  for
having remembered me, and explaining how matters stood.

I had had great difficulty in finding an opening,
I said, and now that I had one I was loth to give it
up save for a permanency.

Ten days passed, during which Cullingworth was
silent.  Then came a huge telegram.

"Your letter to hand.  Why not call me a liar at
once?  I tell you that I have seen thirty thousand
patients in the last year.  My actual takings have been
over four thousand pounds.  All patients come to me.
Would not cross the street to see Queen Victoria.  You
can have all visiting, all surgery, all midwifery.  Make
what you like of it.  Will guarantee three hundred pounds
the first year."

Well, this began to look more like business--
especially that last sentence.  I took it to Horton, and
asked his advice.  His opinion was that I had nothing to
lose and everything to gain.  So it ended by my wiring
back accepting the partnership--if it is a partnership--
and to-morrow morning I am off to Bradfield with great
hopes and a small portmanteau.  I know how interested you
are in the personality of Cullingworth--as every one is
who comes, even at second hand, within range of his
influence; and so you may rely upon it that I shall give
you a very full and particular account of all that
passes between us.  I am looking forward immensely to
seeing him again, and I trust we won't have any rows.

Goodbye, old chap.  My foot is upon the threshold of
fortune.  Congratulate me.


1 THE PARADE, BRADFIELD, 7th March, 1882.

It is only two days since I wrote to you, my dear old
chap, and yet I find myself loaded to the muzzle and at
full cock again.  I have come to Bradfield.  I have seen
old Cullingworth once more, and I have found that all he
has told me is true.  Yes; incredible as it sounded, this
wonderful fellow seems to have actually built up a great
practice in little more than a year.  He really is, with
all his eccentricities, a very remarkable man, Bertie.
He doesn't seem to have a chance of showing his true
powers in this matured civilisation.  The law and custom
hamper him.  He is the sort of fellow who would come
right to the front in a French Revolution.  Or if you put
him as Emperor over some of these little South American
States, I believe that in ten years he would either be in
his grave, or would have the Continent.  Yes;
Cullingworth is fit to fight for a higher stake
than a medical practice, and on a bigger stage than an
English provincial town.  When I read of Aaron Burr in
your history I always picture him as a man like C.

I had the kindest of leave takings from Horton.  If
he had been my brother he could not have been more
affectionate.  I could not have thought that I should
grow so fond of a man in so short a time.  He takes the
keenest interest in my venture, and I am to write him a
full account.  He gave me as we parted a black old
meerschaum which he had coloured himself--the last
possible pledge of affection from a smoker.  It was
pleasant for me to feel that if all went wrong at
Bradfield, I had a little harbour at Merton for which I
could make.  Still, of course, pleasant and instructive
as the life there was, I could not shut my eyes to the
fact that it would take a terribly long time before I
could save enough to buy a share in a practice--a longer
time probably than my poor father's strength would last.
That telegram of Cullingworth's in which, as you may
remember, he guaranteed me three hundred pounds in the
first year, gave me hopes of a much more rapid career.
You will agree with me, I am sure, that I did wisely
to go to him.

I had an adventure upon the way to Bradfield.  The
carriage in which I was travelling contained a party of
three, at whom I took the most casual of glances before
settling down to the daily paper.  There was an elderly
lady, with a bright rosy face, gold spectacles, and a
dash of red velvet in her bonnet.  With her were two
younger people, who I took to be her son and her
daughter--the one a quiet, gentle-looking girl of twenty
or so, dressed in black, and the other a short, thick-set
young fellow, a year or two older.  The two ladies sat by
each other in the far corner, and the son (as I presume
him to be) sat opposite me.  We may have travelled an
hour or more without my paying any attention to this
little family party, save that I could not help hearing
some talk between the two ladies.  The younger, who was
addressed as Winnie, had, as I noticed, a very sweet and
soothing voice.  She called the elder "mother," which
showed that I was right as to the relationship.

I was sitting, then, still reading my paper, when I
was surprised to get a kick on the shins from the young
fellow opposite.  I moved my legs, thinking that it
was an accident, but an instant afterwards I received
another and a harder one.  I dropped my paper with a
growl, but the moment that I glanced at him I saw how the
matter stood.  His foot was jerking spasmodically, his
two hands clenched, and drumming against his breast,
while his eyes were rolling upwards until only the rim of
his iris was to be seen.  I sprang upon him, tore open
his collar, unbuttoned his waistcoat, and pulled his head
down upon the seat.  Crash went one of his heels through
the carriage window, but I contrived to sit upon his
knees while I kept hold of his two wrists.

"Don't be alarmed!" I cried it's epilepsy, and will
soon pass!"

Glancing up, I saw that the little girl was sitting
very pale and quiet in the corner.  The mother had pulled
a bottle out of her bag and was quite cool and helpful.

"He often has them," said she this is bromide."

"He is coming out," I answered; "you look after

I blurted it out because her head seemed to rock as
if she were going off; but the absurdity of the
thing struck us all next moment, and the mother burst
into a laugh in which the daughter and I joined.  The son
had opened his eyes and had ceased to struggle.

"I must really beg your pardon," said I, as I helped
him up again.  "I had not the advantage of knowing your
other name, and I was in such a hurry that I had no time
to think what I was saying."

They laughed again in the most good-humoured way,
and, as soon as the young fellow had recovered, we all
joined in quite a confidential conversation.  It is
wonderful how the intrusion of any of the realities of
life brushes away the cobwebs of etiquette.  In half an
hour we knew all about each other, or at any rate I knew
all about them.  Mrs. La Force was the mother's name, a
widow with these two children.  They had given up
housekeeping, and found it more pleasant to live in
apartments, travelling from one watering place to
another.  Their one trouble was the nervous weakness of
the son Fred.  They were now on their way to Birchespool,
where they hoped that he might get some good from the
bracing air.  I was able to recommend vegetarianism,
which I have found to act like a charm in
such cases.  We had quite a spirited conversation, and I
think that we were sorry on both sides when we came to
the junction where they had to change.  Mrs. La Force
gave me her card, and I promised to call if ever I should
be in Birchespool.

However, all this must be stupid enough to you.  You
know my little ways by this time, and you don't expect me
to keep on the main line of my story.  However, I am back
on the rails now, and I shall try to remain there.

Well, it was nearly six o'clock, and evening was just
creeping in when we drew up in Bradfield Station.  The
first thing I saw when I looked out of the window was
Cullingworth, exactly the same as ever, striding in his
jerky way down the platform, his coat flying open, his
chin thrust forward (he is the most under-hung man I have
ever seen), and his great teeth all gleaming, like a
good-natured blood-hound.  He roared with delight when he
saw me, wrung my hand, and slapped me enthusiastically
upon the shoulder.

"My dear chap!" said he.  "We'll clear this town
out.  I tell you, Munro, we won't leave a doctor in it.
It's all they can do now to get butter to their bread;
and when we get to work together they'll have to eat it
dry.  Listen to me, my boy!  There are a hundred and
twenty thousand folk in this town, all shrieking for
advice, and there isn't a doctor who knows a rhubarb pill
from a calculus.  Man, we only have to gather them in.
I stand and take the money until my arm aches."

"But how is it?" I asked, as we pushed our way
through the crowd.  Are there so few other doctors?"

"Few!" he roared. "By Crums, the streets are blocked
with them.  You couldn't fall out of a window in this
town without killing a doctor.  But of all the----well,
there, you'll see them for yourself.  You walked to my
house at Avonmouth, Munro.  I don't let my friends walk
to my house at Bradfield--eh, what?"

A well-appointed carriage with two fine black horses
was drawn up at the station entrance.  The smart coachman
touched his hat as Cullingworth opened the door.

"Which of the houses, sir?" he asked.

Cullingworth's eyes shot round to me to see what I
thought of such a query.  Between ourselves I have not
the slightest doubt that he had instructed the man to ask
it.  He always had a fine eye for effect, but he usually
erred by underrating the intelligence of those around

"Ah!" said he, rubbing his chin like a man in doubt.
"Well, I daresay dinner will be nearly ready.  Drive to
the town residential."

"Good gracious, Cullingworth!" said I as we started.
"How many houses do you inhabit?  It sounds as if you had
bought the town."

"Well, well," said he, laughing, "we are driving to
the house where I usually live.  It suits us very well,
though I have not been able to get all the rooms
furnished yet.  Then I have a little farm of a few
hundred acres just outside the city.  It is a pleasant
place for the week ends, and we send the nurse and the

"My dear chap, I did not know that you had started a

"Yes, it's an infernal nuisance; but still the
fact remains.  We get our butter and things from the
farm.  Then, of course, I have my house of business in
the heart of the city."

"Consulting and waiting room, I suppose?"

He looked at me with a sort of half vexed, half
amused expression.  "You cannot rise to a situation,
Munro," said he.  "I never met a fellow with such a
stodgy imagination.  I'd trust you to describe a thing
when you have seen it, but never to build up an idea of
it beforehand."

"What's the trouble now?" I asked.

"Well, I have written to you about my practice, and
I've wired to you about it, and here you sit asking me if
I work it in two rooms.  I'll have to hire the market
square before I've finished, and then I won't have space
to wag my elbows.  Can your imagination rise to a great
house with people waiting in every room, jammed in as
tight as they'll fit, and two layers of them squatting in
the cellar?  Well, that's my house of business on an
average day.  The folk come in from the county fifty
miles off, and eat bread and treacle on the doorstep, so
as to be first in when the housekeeper comes down.
The medical officer of health made an official
complaint of the over-crowding of my waiting-rooms.  They
wait in the stables, and sit along the racks and under
the horses' bellies.  I'll turn some of 'em on to you, my
boy, and then you'll know a little more about it."

Well, all this puzzled me a good deal, as you can
imagine, Bertie; for, making every allowance for
Cullingworth's inflated way of talking, there must be
something at the back of it.  I was thinking to myself
that I must keep my head cool, and have a look at
everything with my own eyes, when the carriage pulled up
and we got out.

"This is my little place," said Cullingworth.

It was the corner house of a line of fine buildings,
and looked to me much more like a good-sized hotel than
a private mansion.  It had a broad sweep of steps leading
to the door, and towered away up to five or six stories,
with pinnacles and a flagstaff on the top.  As a matter
of fact, I learned that before Cullingworth took it, it
had been one of the chief clubs in the town, but the
committee had abandoned it on account of the heavy rent.
A smart maid opened the door; and a moment later I
was shaking hands with Mrs. Cullingworth, who was all
kindliness and cordiality.  She has, I think, forgotten
the little Avonmouth business, when her husband and I
fell out.

The inside of the house was even huger than I had
thought from the look of the exterior.  There were over
thirty bedrooms, Cullingworth informed me, as he helped
me to carry my portmanteau upstairs.  The hall and first
stair were most excellently furnished and carpetted, but
it all run to nothing at the landing.  My own bedroom had
a little iron bed, and a small basin standing on a
packing case.  Cullingworth took a hammer from the
mantelpiece, and began to knock in nails behind the door.

"These will do to hang your clothes on," said he;
"you don't mind roughing it a little until we get things
in order?"

"Not in the least."

"You see," he explained, "there's no good my putting
a forty pound suite into a bed-room, and then having to
chuck it all out of the window in order to make room for
a hundred-pound one.  No sense in that, Munro!  Eh,
what!  I'm going to furnish this house as no house
has ever been furnished.  By Crums!  I'll bring the folk
from a hundred miles round just to have leave to look at
it.  But I must do it room by room.  Come down with me
and look at the dining-room.  You must be hungry after
your journey."

It really was furnished in a marvellous way--nothing
flash, and everything magnificent.  The carpet was so
rich that my feet seemed to sink into it as into deep
moss.  The soup was on the table, and Mrs. Cullingworth
sitting down, but he kept hauling me round to look at
something else.

"Go on, Hetty," he cried over his shoulder.  "I just
want to show Munro this.  Now, these plain dining-room
chairs, what d'you think they cost each?  Eh, what?"

"Five pounds," said I at a venture.

"Exactly!" he cried, in great delight; "thirty pounds
for the six.  You hear, Hetty!  Munro guessed the price
first shot.  Now, my boy, what for the pair of curtains?"

They were a magnificent pair of stamped crimson
velvet, with a two-foot gilt cornice above them.  I
thought that I had better not imperil my newly gained
reputation by guessing.

"Eighty pounds!" he roared, slapping them with the
back of his hand.  "Eighty pounds, Munro!  What d'ye
think of that?  Everything that I have in this house is
going to be of the best.  Why, look at this waiting-maid!
Did you ever see a neater one?"

He swung the girl, towards me by the arm.

Don't be silly, Jimmy," said Mrs. Cullingworth
mildly, while he roared with laughter, with all his fangs
flashing under his bristling moustache.  The girl edged
closer to her mistress, looking half-frightened and half-

"All right, Mary, no harm!" he cried.  "Sit down,
Munro, old chap.  Get a bottle of champagne, Mary, and
we'll drink to more luck."

Well, we had a very pleasant little dinner.  It is
never slow if Cullingworth is about.  He is one of those
men who make a kind of magnetic atmosphere, so that you
feel exhilarated and stimulated in their presence.  His
mind is so nimble and his thoughts so extravagant, that
your own break away from their usual grooves, and
surprise you by their activity.  You feel pleased at
your own inventiveness and originality, when you are
really like the wren when it took a lift on the eagle's
shoulder.  Old Peterson, you remember, used to have a
similar effect upon you in the Linlithgow days.

In the middle of dinner he plunged off, and came back
with a round bag about the size of a pomegranate in his

"What d'ye think this is, Munro?  Eh?"

"I have no idea."

"Our day's take.  Eh, Hetty?"  He undid a string, and
in an instant a pile of gold and silver rattled down upon
the cloth, the coins whirling and clinking among the
dishes.  One rolled off the table and was retrieved by
the maid from some distant corner.

"What is it, Mary?  A half sovereign?  Put it in your
pocket.  What did the lot come to, Hetty?"

"Thirty-one pound eight."

"You see, Munro!  One day's work."  He plunged his
hand into his trouser pocket and brought out a pile of
sovereigns, which he balanced in his palm.  "Look at
that, laddie.  Rather different from my Avonmouth
form, eh?  What?"

"It will be good news for them," I suggested.

He was scowling at me in an instant with all his old
ferocity.  You cannot imagine a more savage-looking
creature than Cullingworth is when his temper goes wrong.
He gets a perfectly fiendish expression in his light blue
eyes, and all his hair bristles up like a striking cobra.
He isn't a beauty at his best, but at his worst he's
really phenomenal.  At the first danger signal his wife
had ordered the maid from the room.

"What rot you do talk, Munro!" he cried.  "Do you
suppose I am going to cripple myself for years by letting
those debts hang on to me?"

"I understood that you had promised," said I.
"Still, of course, it is no business of mine."

"I should hope not," he cried.  "A tradesman stands
to win or to lose.  He allows a margin for bad debts.  I
would have paid it if I could.  I couldn't, and so I
wiped the slate clean.  No one in his senses would dream
of spending all the money that I make in Bradfield
upon the tradesmen of Avonmouth."

"Suppose they come down upon you?"

"Well, we'll see about that when they do.  Meanwhile
I am paying ready money for every mortal thing that comes
up the door steps.  They think so well of me here that I
could have had the whole place furnished like a palace
from the drain pipes to the flagstaff, only I determined
to take each room in turn when I was ready for it.
There's nearly four hundred pounds under this one

There came a tap at the door, and in walked a boy in

"If you please, sir, Mr. Duncan wishes to see you."

"Give my compliments to Mr. Duncan, and tell him he
may go to the devil!"

"My dear Jimmy!" cried Mrs. Cullingworth.

"Tell him I am at dinner; and if all the kings in
Europe were waiting in the hall with their crowns in
their hands I wouldn't cross that door mat to see them."

The boy vanished, but was back in an instant.

"Please, sir, he won't go."

"Won't go!  What d'you mean?" Cullingworth sat with
his mouth open and his knife and fork sticking up.  "What
d'you mean, you brat?  What are you boggling about?"

"It's his bill, sir," said the frightened boy.

Cullingworth's face grew dusky, and the veins began
to swell on his forehead.

"His bill, eh!  Look here!"  He took his watch out
and laid it on the table.  "It's two minutes to eight.
At eight I'm coming out, and if I find him there I'll
strew the street with him.  Tell him I'll shred him over
the parish.  He has two minutes to save his life in, and
one of them is nearly gone."

The boy bolted from the room, and in an instant
afterwards we heard the bang of the front door, with a
clatter of steps down the stairs.  Cullingworth lay back
in his chair and roared until the tears shone on his
eyelashes, while his wife quivered all over with
sympathetic merriment.

"I'll drive him mad," Cullingworth sobbed at last.  
"He's a nervous, chicken-livered kind of man; and when I
look at him he turns the colour of putty.  If I pass
his shop I usually just drop in and stand and look at
him.  I never speak, but just look.  It paralyses him.
Sometimes the shop is full of people; but it is just the

"Who is he, then?" I asked.

"He's my corn merchant.  I was saying that I paid my
tradesmen as I go, but he is the only exception.  He has
done me once or twice, you see; and so I try to take it
out of him.  By the way, you might send him down twenty
pounds to-morrow, Hetty.  It's time for an instalment."

What a gossip you will think me, Bertie?  But when I
begin, my memory brings everything back so clearly, and
I write on and on almost unconsciously.  Besides, this
fellow is such a mixture of qualities, that I could never
give you any idea of him by myself; and so I just try to
repeat to you what he says, and what he does, so that you
may build up your own picture of the man.  I know that he
has always interested you, and that he does so more now
than ever since our fates have drawn us together again.

After dinner, we went into the back room, which was
the most extraordinary contrast to the front one, having
only a plain deal table, and half-a-dozen kitchen chairs
scattered about on a linoleum floor.  At one end was an
electric battery and a big magnet.  At the other, a
packing case with several pistols and a litter of
cartridges upon it.  A rook rifle was leaning tip against
it, and looking round I saw that the walls were all
pocked with bullet marks.

"What's this, then?" I asked, rolling my eyes round.

"Hetty, what's this?" he asked, with his pipe in his
hand and his head cocked sideways.

"Naval supremacy and the command of the seas," said
she, like a child repeating a lesson.

"That's it he shouted, stabbing at me with the amber.
"Naval supremacy and command of the seas.  It's all here
right under your nose.  I tell you, Munro, I could go to
Switzerland to-morrow, and I could say to them--`Look
here, you haven't got a seaboard and you haven't got a
port; but just find me a ship, and hoist your flag on it,
and I'll give you every ocean under heaven.'  I'd sweep
the seas until there wasn't a match-box floating on
them.  Or I could make them over to a limited company,
and join the board after allotment.  I hold the salt
water in the cup of this hand, every drop of it."

His wife put her hands on his shoulder with
admiration in her eyes.  I turned to knock out my pipe,
and grinned over the grate.

"Oh, you may grin," said he.  (He was wonderfully
quick at spotting what you were doing.)  "You'll grin a
little wider when you see the dividends coming in.
What's the value of that magnet?"

"A pound?"

"A million pounds.  Not a penny under.  And dirt
cheap to the nation that buys it.  I shall let it go at
that, though I could make ten times as much if I held on.
I shall take it up to the Secretary of the Navy in a week
or two; and if he seems to be a civil deserving sort of
person I shall do business with him.  It's not every day,
Munro, that a man comes into his office with the Atlantic
under one arm and the Pacific under the other.  Eh,

I knew it would make him savage, but I lay back
in my chair and laughed until I was tired.  His wife
looked at me reproachfully; but he, after a moment of
blackness, burst out laughing also, stamping up and down
the room and waving his arms.

"Of course it seems absurd to you," he cried. "Well,
I daresay it would to me if any other fellow had worked
it out.  But you may take my word for it that it's all
right.  Hetty here will answer for it.  Won't you,

"It's splendid, my dear."

"Now I'll show you, Munro; what an unbelieving Jew
you are, trying to look interested, and giggling at the
back of your throat!  In the first place, I have
discovered a method--which I won't tell you--of
increasing the attractive power of a magnet a hundred-
fold.  Have you grasped that?"


"Very good.  You are also aware, I presume, that
modern projectiles are either made of or tipped with
steel.  It may possibly have come to your ears that
magnets attract steel.  Permit me now to show you a small
experiment."  He bent over his apparatus, and I suddenly
heard the snapping of electricity.  "This," he
continued going across to the packing case, "is a saloon
pistol, and will be exhibited in the museums of the next
century as being the weapon with which the new era was
inaugurated.  Into the breech I place a Boxer cartridge,
specialty provided for experimental purposes with a steel
bullet.  I aim point blank at the dab of red sealing wax
upon the wall, which is four inches above the magnet.  I
am an absolutely dead shot.  I fire.  You will now
advance, and satisfy yourself that the bullet is
flattened upon the end of the magnet, after which you
will apologise to me for that grin."

I looked, and it certainly was as he had said.

"I'll tell you what I would do," he cried.  "I am
prepared to put that magnet in Hetty's bonnet, and to let
you fire six shots straight at her face.  How's that for
a test?  You wouldn't mind, Hetty?  Eh, what!"

"I don't think she would have objected, but I
hastened to disclaim any share in such an experiment.

"Of course, you see that the whole thing is to
scale.  My warship of the future carries at her prow and
stern a magnet which shall be as much larger than that as
the big shell will be larger than this tiny bullet.  Or
I might have a separate raft, possibly, to carry my
apparatus.  My ship goes into action.  What happens then,
Munro?  Eh, what!  Every shot fired at her goes smack on
to the magnet.  There's a reservoir below into which they
drop when the electric circuit is broken.  After every
action they are sold by auction for old metal, and the
result divided as prize money among the crew.  But think
of it, man!  I tell you it is an absolute impossibility
for a shot to strike any ship which is provided with my
apparatus.  And then look at the cheapness.  You don't
want armour.  You want nothing.  Any ship that floats
becomes invulnerable with one of these.  The war ship of
the future will cost anything from seven pound ten.
You're grinning again; but if you give me a magnet and a
Brixton trawler with a seven-pounder gun I'll show sport
to the finest battle-ship afloat."

"Well, there must be some flaw about this," I
suggested.  "If your magnet is so strong as all
that, you would have your own broadside boomeranging
back upon you."

"Not a bit of it!  There's a big difference between
a shot flying away from you with all its muzzle velocity,
and another one which is coming towards you and only
needs a slight deflection to strike the magnet.  Besides,
by breaking the circuit I can take off the influence when
I am firing my own broadside.  Then I connect, and
instantly become invulnerable."

"And your nails and screws?"

"The warship of the future will be bolted together by

Well, he would talk of nothing else the whole evening
but of this wonderful invention of his.  Perhaps there is
nothing in it--probably there is not; and yet it
illustrates the many-sided nature of the man, that he
should not say one word about his phenominal success
here--of which I am naturally most anxious to hear--not
a word either upon the important subject of our
partnership, but will think and talk of nothing but this
extraordinary naval idea.  In a week he will have tossed
it aside in all probability, and be immersed in some plan
for reuniting the Jews and settling them in
Madagascar.  Yet from all he has said, and all I
have seen, there can be no doubt that he has in some
inexplicable way made a tremendous hit, and to-morrow I
shall let you know all about it.  Come what may, I am
delighted that I came, for things promise to be
interesting.  Regard this not as the end of a letter, but
of a paragraph.  You shall have the conclusion to-morrow,
or on Thursday at the latest.  Goodbye, and my
remembrance to Lawrence if you see him.  How's your
friend from Yale?


1 THE PARADE, BRADFIELD, 9th March, 1882.

Well, you see I am as good as my word, Bertie; and
here is a full account of this queer little sample gouged
out of real life, never to be seen, I should fancy, by
any eye save your own.  I have written to Horton also,
and of course to my mother; but I don't go into detail
with them, as I have got into the way of doing with you.
You keep on assuring me that you like it; so on your own
head be it if you find my experiences gradually
developing into a weariness.

When I woke in the morning, and looked round at the
bare walls and the basin on the packing case, I hardly
knew where I was.  Cullingworth came charging into the
room in his dressing gown, however, and roused me
effectually by putting his hands on the rail at the end
of the bed, and throwing a somersault over it which
brought his heels on to my pillow with a thud.  He was in
great spirits, and, squatting on the bed, he
held forth about his plans while I dressed.

"I tell you one of the first things I mean to do,
Munro," said he.  "I mean to have a paper of my own.
We'll start a weekly paper here, you and I, and we'll
make them sit up all round.  We'll have an organ of our
own, just like every French politician.  If any one
crosses us, we'll make them wish they had never been
born.  Eh, what, laddie? what d'you think?  So clever,
Munro, that everybody's bound to read it, and so scathing
that it will just fetch out blisters every time.  Don't
you think we could?"

"What politics?" I asked.

"Oh, curse the politics!  Red pepper well rubbed in,
that's my idea of a paper.  Call it the Scorpion.
Chaff the  Mayor and the Council until they call a
meeting and hang themselves.  I'd do the snappy
paragraphs, and you would do the fiction and poetry.  I
thought about it during the night, and Hetty has written
to Murdoch's to get an estimate for the printing.  We
might get our first number out this day week."

"My dear chap!" I gasped.

"I want you to start a novel this morning.  You
won't get many patients at first, and you'll have lots of

"But I never wrote a line in my life."

"A properly balanced man can do anything he sets his
hand to.  He's got every possible quality inside him, and
all he wants is the will to develop it."

"Could you write a novel yourself?" I asked.

"Of course I could.  Such a novel, Munro, that when
they'd read the first chapter the folk would just sit
groaning until the second came out.  They'd wait in rows
outside my door in the hope of hearing what was coming
next.  By Crums, I'll go and begin it now!  "And, with
another somersault over the end of the bed, he rushed
from the room, with the tassels of his dressing gown
flying behind him.

I daresay you've quite come to the conclusion by this
time that Cullingworth is simply an interesting
pathological study--a man in the first stage of lunacy or
general paralysis.  You might not be so sure about it if
you were in close contact with him.  He justifies his
wildest flights by what he does.  It sounds grotesque
when put down in black and white; but then it would have
sounded equally grotesque a year ago if he had said
that he would build up a huge practice in a twelvemonth.
Now we see that he has done it.  His possibilities are
immense.  He has such huge energy at the back of his
fertility of invention.  I am afraid, on thinking over
all that I have written to you, that I may have given you
a false impression of the man by dwelling too much on
those incidents in which he has shown the strange and
violent side of his character, and omitting the stretches
between where his wisdom and judgment have had a chance.
His conversation when he does not fly off at a tangent is
full of pith and idea.  "The greatest monument ever
erected to Napoleon Buonaparte was the British National
debt," said he yesterday.  Again, "We must never forget
that the principal export of Great Britain to the United
States IS the United States."  Again, speaking of
Christianity, "What is intellectually unsound cannot be
morally sound."  He shoots off a whole column of
aphorisms in a single evening.  I should like to have a
man with a note book always beside him to gather up his
waste.  No; you must not let me give you a false
impression of the man's capacity.  On the other hand, it
would be dishonest to deny that I think him
thoroughly unscrupulous, and full of very sinister
traits.  I am much mistaken, however, if he has not fine
strata in his nature.  He is capable of rising to heights
as well as of sinking to depths.

Well, when we had breakfasted we got into the
carriage and drove off to the place of business.

"I suppose you are surprised at Hetty coming with us,
said Cullingworth, slapping me on the knee.  Hetty, Munro
is wondering what the devil you are here for, only he is
too polite to ask."

In fact, it HAD struck me as rather strange that
she should, as a matter of course, accompany us to

"You'll see when we get there," he cried chuckling.
"We run this affair on lines of our own."

It was not very far, and we soon found ourselves
outside a square whitewashed building, which had a huge
"Dr. Cullingworth" on a great brass plate at the side of
the door.  Underneath was printed  "May be consulted
gratis from ten to four."  The door was open, and I
caught a glimpse of a crowd of people waiting in the

"How many here?" asked Cullingworth of the page boy.

"A hundred and forty, sir."

"All the waiting rooms full?"

"Yes, sir."

"Courtyard full?

"Yes, sir."

"Stable full?"

"Yes, sir."

"Coach-house full?"

"There's still room in the coach-house, sir."

"Ah, I'm sorry we haven't got a crowded day for you,
Munro," said he.  "Of course, we can't command these
things, and must take them as they come.  Now then, now
then, make a gangway, can't you?"--this to his patients.
"Come here and see the waiting-room.  Pooh! what an
atmosphere!  Why on earth can't you open the windows for
yourselves?  I never saw such folk!  There are thirty
people in this room, Munro, and not one with sense enough
to open a window to save himself from suffocation."

"I tried, sir, but there's a screw through the sash,"
cried one fellow.

"Ah, my boy, you'll never get on in the world if you
can't open a window without raising a sash," said
Cullingworth, slapping him on the shoulder.  He took the
man's umbrella and stuck it through two of the panes of

"That's the way!" he said.  "Boy, see that the screw
is taken out.  Now then, Munro, come along, and we'll get
to work."

We went up a wooden stair, uncarpeted, leaving every
room beneath us, as far as I could see, crowded with
patients.  At the top was a bare passage, which had two
rooms opposite to each other at one end, and a single one
at the other.

"This is my consulting room," said he, leading the
way into one of these.  It was a good-sized square
chamber, perfectly  empty save for two plain wooden
chairs and an unpainted table with two books and a
stethoscope upon it.  "It doesn't look like four or five
thousand a year, does it?  Now, there is an exactly
similar one opposite which you can have for yourself.
I'll send across any surgical cases which may turn
up.  To-day, however, I think you had better stay
with me, and see how I work things."

"I should very much like to," said I.

"There are one or two elementary rules to be observed
in the way of handling patients," he remarked, seating
himself on the table and swinging his legs.  "The most
obvious is that you must never let them see that you want
them.  It should be pure condescension on your part
seeing them at all; and the more difficulties you throw
in the way of it, the more they think of it.  Break your
patients in early, and keep them well to heel.  Never
make the fatal mistake of being polite to them.  Many
foolish young men fall into this habit, and are ruined in
consequence.  Now, this is my form"--he sprang to the
door, and putting his two hands to his mouth he bellowed:
"Stop your confounded jabbering down there!  I might as
well be living above a poultry show!  There, you see," he
added to me, "they will think ever so much more of me for

"But don't they get offended?" I asked.

"I'm afraid not.  I have a name for this sort of
thing now, and they have come to expect it.
But an offended patient--I mean a thoroughly
insulted one--is the finest advertisement in the world.
If it is a woman, she runs clacking about among her
friends until your name becomes a household word, and
they all pretend to sympathise with her, and agree among
themselves that you must be a remarkably discerning man.
I quarrelled with one man about the state of his gall
duct, and it ended by my throwing him down the stairs.
What was the result?  He talked so much about it that the
whole village from which he came, sick and well, trooped
to see me.  The little country practitioner who had been
buttering them up for a quarter of a century found that
he might as well put up his shutters.  It's human nature,
my boy, and you can't alter it.  Eh, what?  You make
yourself cheap and you become cheap.  You put a high
price on yourself and they rate you at that price.
Suppose I set up in Harley Street to-morrow, and made it
all nice and easy, with hours from ten to three, do you
think I should get a patient?  I might starve first.  How
would I work it?  I should let it be known that I only
saw patients from midnight until two in the morning,
and that bald-headed people must pay double.  That would
set people talking, their curiosity would be stimulated,
and in four months the street would be blocked all night.
Eh, what? laddie, you'd go yourself.  That's my principle
here.  I often come in of a morning and send them all
about their business, tell them I'm going off to the
country for a day.  I turn away forty pounds, and it's
worth four hundred as an advertisement!"

"But I understood from the plate that the
consultations were gratis."

"So they are, but they have to pay for the medicine.
And if a patient wishes to come out of turn he has to pay
half-a-guinea for the privilege.  There are generally
about twenty every day who would rather pay that than
wait several hours.  But, mind you, Munro, don't you make
any mistake about this!  All this would go for nothing if
you had not something, slid behind--I cure them.  That's
the point.  I take cases that others have despaired of,
and I cure them right off.  All the rest is only to bring
them here.  But once here I keep them on my merits.  It
would all be a flash in the pan but for that.  Now,
come along and see Hetty's department."

We walked down the passage to the other room.  It was
elaborately fitted up as a dispensary, and there with a
chic little apron Mrs. Cullingworth was busy making up
pills.  With her sleeves turned up and a litter of
glasses and bottles all round her, she was laughing away
like a little child among its toys.

"The best dispenser in the world!" cried
Cullingworth, patting her on the shoulder.  "You see how
I do it, Munro.  I write on a label what the prescription
is, and make a sign which shows how much is to be
charged.  The man comes along the passage and passes the
label through the pigeon hole.  Hetty makes it up, passes
out the bottle, and takes the money.  Now, come on and
clear some of these folk out of the house."

It is impossible for me to give you any idea of that
long line of patients, filing hour after hour through the
unfurnished room, and departing, some amused, and some
frightened, with their labels in their hands.
Cullingworth's antics are beyond belief.  I laughed until
I thought the wooden chair under me would have come to
pieces.  He roared, he raved, he swore, he pushed
them about, slapped them on the back, shoved them against
the wall, and occasionally rushed out to the head of the
stair to address them en masse.  At the same time,
behind all this tomfoolery, I, watching his
prescriptions, could see a quickness of diagnosis, a
scientific insight, and a daring and unconventional use
of drugs, which satisfied me that he was right in saying
that, under all this charlatanism, there lay solid
reasons for his success.  Indeed, "charlatanism" is a
misapplied word in this connection; for it would describe
the doctor who puts on an artificial and conventional
manner with his patients, rather than one who is
absolutely frank and true to his own extraordinary

To some of his patients he neither said one word nor
did he allow them to say one.  With a loud "hush" he
would rush at them, thump them on the chests, listen to
their hearts, write their labels, and then run them out
of the room by their shoulders.  One poor old lady he
greeted with a perfect scream.  "You've been drinking too
much tea!" he cried.  "You are suffering from tea
poisoning!"  Then, without allowing her to get a word in,
he clutched her by her crackling black mantle,
dragged her up to the table, and held out a copy of
"Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence" which was lying there.
"Put your hand on the book," he thundered, "and swear
that for fourteen days you will drink nothing but cocoa."
She swore with upturned eyes, and was instantly whirled
off with her label in her hand, to the dispensary.  I
could imagine that to the last day of her life, the old
lady would talk of her interview with Cullingworth; and
I could well understand how the village from which she
came would send fresh recruits to block up his waiting

Another portly person was seized by the two armholes
of his waistcoat, just as he was opening his mouth to
explain his symptoms, and was rushed backward down the
passage, down the stairs, and finally into the street, to
the immense delight of the assembled patients, "You eat
too much, drink too much, and sleep too much,"
Cullingworth roared after him.  "Knock down a policeman,
and come again when they let you out."  Another patient
complained of a "sinking feeling."  "My dear," said he,
"take your medicine; and if that does no good, swallow
the cork, for there is nothing better when you are

As far as I could judge, the bulk of the patients
looked upon a morning at Cullingworth's as a most
enthralling public entertainment, tempered only by a
thrill lest it should be their turn next to be made an
exhibition of.

Well, with half-an-hour for lunch, this extraordinary
business went on till a quarter to four in the afternoon.
When the last patient had departed, Cullingworth led the
way into the dispensary, where all the fees had been
arranged upon the counter in the order of their value.
There were seventeen half-sovereigns, seventy-three
shillings, and forty-six florins; or thirty-two pounds
eight and sixpence in all.  Cullingworth counted it up,
and then mixing the gold and silver into one heap, he sat
running his fingers through it and playing with it.
Finally, he raked it into the canvas bag which I had seen
the night before, and lashed the neck up with a boot-

We walked home, and that walk struck me as the most
extraordinary part of all that extraordinary day.
Cullingworth paraded slowly through the principal streets
with his canvas bag, full of money, outstretched at the
full length of his arm.  His wife and I walked on either
side, like two acolytes supporting a priest, and so
we made our way solemnly homewards the people stopping to
see us pass.

"I always make a point of walking through the
doctor's quarter," said Cullingworth.  "We are passing
through it now.  They all come to their windows and gnash
their teeth and dance until I am out of sight."

"Why should you quarrel with them?  What is the
matter with them?" I asked.

"Pooh! what's the use of being mealy-mouthed about
it?" said he.  "We are all trying to cut each other's
throats, and why should we be hypocritical over it?  They
haven't got a good word for me, any one of them; so I
like to take a rise out of them."

"I must say that I can see no sense in that.  They
are your brothers in the profession, with the same
education and the same knowledge.  Why should you take an
offensive attitude towards them?"

"That's what I say, Dr. Munro," cried his wife.  "It
is so very unpleasant to feel that one is surrounded by
enemies on every side."

"Hetty's riled because their wives wouldn't call
upon her," he cried.  "Look at that, my dear," jingling
his bag.  "That is better than having a lot of brainless
women drinking tea and cackling in our drawing-room.
I've had a big card printed, Munro, saying that we don't
desire to increase the circle of our acquaintance.  The
maid has orders to show it to every suspicious person who

"Why should you not make money at your practice, and
yet remain on good terms with your professional
brethren?" said I.  "You speak as if the two things were

"So they are.  What's the good of beating about the
bush, laddie?  My methods are all unprofessional, and I
break every law of medical etiquette as often as I can
think of it.  You know very well that the British Medical
Association would hold up their hands in horror if it
could see what you have seen to-day."

"But why not conform to professional etiquette?"

"Because I know better.  My boy, I'm a doctor's son,
and I've seen too much of it.  I was born inside the
machine, and I've seen all the wires.  All this etiquette
is a dodge for keeping the business in the hands of
the older men.  It's to hold the young men back, and to
stop the holes by which they might slip through to the
front.  I've heard my father say so a score of times.  He
had the largest practice in Scotland, and yet he was
absolutely devoid of brains.  He slipped into it through
seniority and decorum.  No pushing, but take your turn.
Very well, laddie, when you're at the top of the line,
but how about it when you've just taken your place at the
tail?  When I'm on the top rung I shall look down and
say, `Now, you youngsters, we are going to have very
strict etiquette, and I beg that you will come up very
quietly and not disarrange me from my comfortable
position.'  At the same time, if they do what I tell
them, I shall look upon them as a lot of infernal
blockheads.  Eh, Munro, what?"

I could only say again that I thought he took a very
low view of the profession, and that I disagreed with
every word he said.

"Well, my boy, you may disagree as much as you like,
but if you are going to work with me you must throw
etiquette to the devil!"

"I can't do that."

"Well, if you are too clean handed for the job you
can clear out.  We can't keep you here against your

I said nothing; but when we got back, I went upstairs
and packed up my trunk, with every intention of going
back to Yorkshire by the night train.  He came up to my
room, and finding what I was at, he burst into apologies
which would have satisfied a more exacting man than I am.

"You shall do just exactly what you like, my dear
chap.  If you don't like my way, you may try some way of
your own."

"That's fair enough," said I.  "But it's a little
trying to a man's self-respect if he is told to clear out
every time there is a difference of opinion."

"Well, well, there was no harm meant, and it shan't
occur again.  I can't possibly say more than that; so
come along down and have a cup of tea."

And so the matter blew over; but I very much fear,
Bertie, that this is the first row of a series.  I have
a presentiment that sooner or later my position here will
become untenable.  Still, I shall give it a fair
trial as long as he will let me.  Cullingworth is a
fellow who likes to have nothing but inferiors and
dependants round him.  Now, I like to stand on my own
legs, and think with my own mind.  If he'll let me do
this we'll get along very well; but if I know the man he
will claim submission, which is more than I am inclined
to give.  He has a right to my gratitude, which I freely
admit.  He has found an opening for me when I badly
needed one and had no immediate prospects.  But still,
one may pay too high a price even for that, and I should
feel that I was doing so if I had to give up my
individuality and my manhood.

We had an incident that evening which was so
characteristic that I must tell you of it.  Cullingworth
has an air gun which fires little steel darts.  With this
he makes excellent practice at about twenty feet, the
length of the back room.  We were shooting at a mark
after dinner, when he asked me whether I would hold a
halfpenny between my finger and thumb, and allow him to
shoot it out.  A halfpenny not being forthcoming, he took
a bronze medal out of his waistcoat pocket, and I
held that tip as a mark.  Kling!" went the air gun, and
the medal rolled upon the floor.

"Plumb in the centre," said he.

"On the contrary," I answered, "you never hit it at

"Never hit it!  I must have hit it!"

"I am confident you didn't."

"Where's the dart, then?"

"Here," said I, holding up a bleeding forefinger,
from which the tail end of the fluff with which the dart
was winged was protruding.

I never saw a man so abjectly sorry for anything in
my life.  He used language of self-reproach which would
have been extravagant if he had shot off one of my limbs.
Our positions were absurdly reversed; and it  was he who
sat collapsed in a chair, while it was I, with the dart
still in my finger, who leaned over him and laughed the
matter off.  Mrs. Cullingworth had run for hot water, and
presently with a tweezers we got the intruder out.  There
was very little pain (more to-day than yesterday), but if
ever you are called upon to identify my body you may
look for a star at the end of my right forefinger.

When the surgery was completed (Cullingworth writhing
and groaning all the time) my eyes happened to catch the
medal which I had dropped, lying upon the carpet.  I
lifted it up and looked at it, eager to find some topic
which would be more agreeable.  Printed upon it was--
"Presented to James Cullingworth for gallantry in saving
life.  Jan. 1879."

"Hullo, Cullingworth," said I. "You never told me
about this!"

He was off in an instant in his most extravagant

"What! the medal?  Haven't you got one? I thought
every one had.  You prefer to be select, I suppose.  It
was a little boy.  You've no idea the trouble I had to
get him in."

"Get him out, you mean."

"My dear chap, you don't understand!  Any one could
get a child out.  It's getting one in that's the bother.
One deserves a medal for it.  Then there are the
witnesses, four shillings a day I had to pay them, and a
quart of beer in the evenings.  You see you can't pick up
a child and carry it to the edge of a pier and throw
it in.  You'd have all sorts of complications with the
parents.  You must be patient and wait until you get a
legitimate chance.  I caught a quinsy walking up and down
Avonmouth pier before I saw my opportunity.  He was
rather a stolid fat boy, and he was sitting on the very
edge, fishing.  I got the sole of my foot on to the small
of his back, and shot him an incredible distance.  I had
some little difficulty in getting him out, for his
fishing line got twice round my legs, but it all ended
well, and the witnesses were as staunch as possible.  The
boy came up to thank me next day, and said that he was
quite uninjured save for a bruise on the back.  His
parents always send me a brace of fowls every Christmas."

I was sitting with my finger in the hot water
listening to this rigmarole.  When he had finished he ran
off to get his tobacco box, and we could hear the
bellowing of his laughter dwindling up the stair.  I was
still looking at the medal, which, from the dents all
over it, had evidently been often used as a target, when
I felt a timid touch upon my sleeve; it was Mrs.
Cullingworth, who was looking earnestly at me with a very
distressed expression upon her face.

"You believe far too much what James says," said she.
"You don't know him in the least, Mr. Munro.  You don't
look at a thing from his point of view, and you will
never understand him until you do.  It is not, of course,
that he means to say anything that is untrue; but his
fancy is excited, and he is quite carried away by the
humour of any idea, whether it tells against himself or
not.  It hurts me, Mr. Munro, to see the only man in the
world towards whom he has any feeling of friendship,
misunderstanding him so completely, for very often when
you say nothing your face shows very clearly what you

I could only answer lamely that I was very sorry if
I had misjudged her husband in any way, and that no one
had a keener appreciation of some of his qualities than
I had.

"I saw how gravely you looked when he told you that
absurd story about pushing a little boy into the water,"
she continued; and, as she spoke, she drew from somewhere
in the front of her dress a much creased slip of
paper.  "Just glance at that, please, Dr. Munro."

It was a newspaper cutting, which gave the true
account of the incident.  Suffice it that it was an ice
accident, and that Cullingworth had really behaved in a
heroic way and had been drawn out himself insensible,
with the child so clasped in his arms that it was not
until he had recovered his senses that they were able to
separate them.  I had hardly finished reading it when we
heard his step on the stairs; and she, thrusting the
paper back into her bosom, became in an instant the same
silently watchful woman as ever.

Is he not a conundrum?  If he interests you at a
distance (and I take for  granted that what you say in
your letters is not merely conventional compliment) you
can think how piquant he is in actual life.  I must
confess, however, that I can never shake off the feeling
that I am living with some capricious creature  who
frequently growls and may possibly bite.  Well, it won't
be very long before I write again, and by that time I
shall probably know whether I am likely to find any
permanent billet here or not.  I am so sorry to hear
about Mrs. Swanborough's indisposition.  You know that I
take the deepest interest in everything that affects you.
They tell me here that I am looking very fit, though I
think they ought to spell it with an "a."


1 THE PARADE, BRADFIELD, 6th April, 1882.

I am writing this, my dear Bertie, at a little table
which has been fitted up in the window of my bedroom.
Every one in the house is asleep except myself; and all
the noise of the city is hushed.  Yet my own brain is
singularly active, and I feel that I am better employed
in sitting up and writing to you, than in tossing about
upon my bed.  I am often accused of being sleepy in the
daytime, but every now and then Nature gets level by
making me abnormally wakeful at night.

Are you conscious of the restful influence which the
stars exert?  To me they are the most soothing things in
Nature.  I am proud to say that I don't know the name of
one of them.  The glamour and romance would pass away
from them if they were all classified and ticketed in
one's brain.  But when a man is hot and flurried, and
full of his own little ruffled dignities and
infinitesimal misfortunes, then a star bath is the finest
thing in the world.  They are so big, and so serene and
so lovely.  They tell me that the interplanetary spaces
are full of the debris of shattered asteroids; so,
perhaps, even among them there are such things as disease
and death.  Yet just to look at them must remind a man of
what a bacillus of a thing he is--the whole human race
like some sprinkling of impalpable powder upon the
surface of one of the most insignificant fly-wheels of a
monstrous machine.  But there's order in it, Bertie,
there's order!  And where there is order there must be
mind, and where there is mind there must be sense of
Justice.  I don't allow that there can be any doubt as to
the existence of that central Mind, or as to the
possession by it of certain attributes.  The stars help
me to realise these.  It is strange, when one looks upon
them, to think that the Churches are still squabbling
down here over such questions as whether the Almighty is
most gratified by our emptying a tea-spoonful of water
over our babies' heads, or by our waiting a few years and
then plunging them bodily into a tank.  It would be comic
if it were not so tragic.

This train of thought is the after-swell from an
argument with Cullingworth this evening.  He holds that
the human race is deteriorating mentally and morally.  He
calls out at the grossness which confounds the Creator
with a young Jewish Philosopher.  I tried to show him
that this is no proof of degeneration, since the Jewish
Philosopher at least represented a moral idea, and was
therefore on an infinitely higher plane than the sensual
divinities of the ancients.  His own views of the Creator
seem to me to be a more evident degeneration.  He
declares that looking round at Nature he can see nothing
but ruthlessness and brutality.  "Either the Creator is
not all-powerful, or else He is not all-good," says he.
"Either He can stop these atrocities and won't, in which
case He is not all-good; or else He would stop them but
can't, in which case He is not all-powerful."  It was a
difficult dilemma for a man who professes to stick to
reason to get out of.  Of course, if you plead faith, you
can always slip out of anything.  I was forced to get
behind a corner of that buckler with which you have so
often turned my own thrusts.  I said that the dilemma
arose from our taking it for granted that that which
seemed evil really was EVIL.  "It lies with you to
prove that it isn't," said he.  "We may hope that it
isn't," said I.  "Wait until some one tells you that you
have cancer of the pyloric end of the stomach," said he;
and he shouted it out again every time I tried to renew
the argument.

But in all soberness, I really do think, Bertie, that
very much which seems to be saddest in life might be very
different if we could focus it properly.  I tried to give
you my views about this in the case of drink and
immorality.  But physically, I fancy that it applies more
obviously than it does morally.  All the physical evils
of life seem to culminate in death; and yet death, as I
have seen it, has not been a painful or terrible process.
In many cases, a man dies without having incurred nearly
as much pain, during the whole of his fatal illness, as
would have arisen from a whitlow or an abscess of the
jaw.  And it is often those deaths which seem most
terrible to the onlooker, which are least so to the
sufferer.  When a man is overtaken by an express and
shivered into fragments, or when he drops from a fourth-
floor window and is smashed into a bag of splinters, the
unfortunate spectators are convulsed with horror, and
find a text for pessimistic views about the
Providence which allows such things to be.  And yet, it
is very doubtful whether the deceased, could his tongue
be loosened, would remember anything at all about the
matter.  We know, as students of medicine, that though
pain is usually associated with cancers and with
abdominal complaints; still, in the various fevers, in
apoplexy, in blood poisonings, in lung diseases, and, in
short, in the greater proportion of serious maladies,
there is little suffering.

I remember how struck I was when first I saw the
actual cautery applied in a case of spinal disease.  The
white hot iron was pressed firmly into the patient's
back, without the use of any anaesthetic, and what with
the sight and the nauseating smell of burned flesh I felt
faint and ill.  Yet, to my astonishment, the patient
never flinched nor moved a muscle of his face, and on my
inquiring afterwards, he assured me that the proceeding
was absolutely painless, a remark which was corroborated
by the surgeon.  "The nerves are so completely and
instantaneously destroyed," he explained, "that they have
no time to convey a painful impression."  But then if
this be so, what becomes of all the martyrs at the
stake, and the victims of Red Indians, and other poor
folk over whose sufferings and constancy we have
wondered?  It may be that Providence is not only not
cruel itself, but will not allow man to be cruel either.
Do your worst, and it will step in with a "No, I won't
allow this poor child of mine to be hurt"; and then comes
the dulling of the nerve and the lethargy which takes the
victim out of the reach of the tormentor.  David
Livingstone under the claws of the lion must have looked
like an object lesson of the evil side of things, and yet
he has left it upon record that his own sensations were
pleasurable rather than otherwise.  I am well convinced
that if the newly-born infant and the man who had just
died could compare their experiences, the former would
have proved to be the sufferer.  It is not for nothing
that the first thing the newcomer into this planet does
is to open its toothless mouth and protest energetically
against fate.

Cullingworth has written a parable which makes a
paragraph for our wonderful new weekly paper.

"The little cheese mites held debate," he says,
"as to who made the cheese.  Some thought that they
had no data to go upon, and some that it had come
together by a solidification of vapour, or by the
centrifugal attraction of atoms.  A few surmised that the
platter might have something to do with it; but the
wisest of them could not deduce the existence of a cow."

We are at one, he and I, in thinking that the
infinite is beyond our perception.  We differ only in
that he sees evil and I see good in the working of the
universe.  Ah, what a mystery it all is!  Let us be
honest and humble and think kindly of each other.
There's a line of stars all winking at me over the
opposite roof--winking slyly at the silly little person
with the pen and paper who is so earnest about what he
can never understand.

Well, now, I'll come back to something practical.  It
is nearly a month since I wrote to you last.  The date is
impressed upon my memory because it was the day after
Cullingworth shot the air-dart into my finger.  The place
festered and prevented my writing to any one for a week
or two, but it is all right again now.  I have ever so
much of different sorts to tell you, but really when I
come to think of it, it does not amount to very much
after all.

First of all, about the practice.  I told you that I
was to have a room immediately opposite to
Cullingworth's, and that all the surgical cases were to
be turned over to me.  For a few days I had nothing to
do, except to listen to him romping and scuffling with
his patients, or making speeches to them from the top of
the stairs.  However, a great "Dr. Stark Munro, Surgeon,"
has been affixed to the side of the door downstairs,
opposite Cullingworth's plate; and a proud man was I when
first my eyes lit upon it.  On the fourth day, however,
in came a case.  He little knew that he was the first
that I had ever had all to myself in my life.  Perhaps he
would not have looked quite so cheerful if he had
realised it.

Poor chap, he had little enough to be cheery over
either.  He was an old soldier who had lost a good many
teeth, but who had continued to find room between his
nose and chin for a short black clay pipe.  Lately there
appeared a small sore on his nose which had spread, and
become crusted.  On feeling it I found it as hard as a
streak of glue, with constant darting pains passing
through it.  Of course, there could be no question
as to diagnosis.  It was epitheliomatous cancer, caused
by the irritation of the hot tobacco smoke.  I sent him
back to his village, and two days after I drove over in
Cullingworth's dog-cart, and removed the growth.  I only
got a sovereign for it.  But it may be a nucleus for
cases.  The old fellow did most admirably, and he has
just been in (with a most aristocratic curl to his
nostrils) to tell me that he has bought a box full of
churchwardens.  It was my first operation, and I daresay
I was more nervous about it than my patient, but the
result has given me confidence.  I have fully made up my
mind to let nothing pass me.  Come what may, I am
prepared to do it.  Why should a man wait?  Of course, I
know that many men do; but surely one's nerve is more
likely to be strong and one's knowledge fresh now than in
twenty years.

Cases came dribbling in from day to day--all very
poor people, and able to pay very poor fees--but still
most welcome to me.  The first week I took (including
that operation fee) one pound seventeen and sixpence.
The second, I got two pounds exactly.  The third, I had
two pounds five, and now I find that this last week
has brought in two pounds eighteen; so I am moving
in the right direction.  Of course, it compares absurdly
enough with Cullingworth's twenty pound a day, and my
little quiet back-water seems a strange contrast to the
noisy stream which pours for ever through his room.
Still, I am quite satisfied, and I have no doubt at all
that his original estimate of three hundred pounds for
the first year will be amply justified.  It would be a
pleasant thing to think that if anything were really to
happen at home, I should be able to be of some use to
them.  If things go on as they have begun, I shall soon
have my feet firmly planted.

I was compelled, by the way, to forego an opening
which a few months ago would have been the very summit of
my ambition.  You must know (possibly I told you), that
immediately after I passed, I put my name down as a
candidate for a surgeonship on the books of several of
the big steamship lines.  It was done as a forlorn hope,
for a man has usually to wait several years before his
turn comes round.  Well, just a week after I started
here, I got a telegram one night from Liverpool:  "Join
the Decia to-morrow as surgeon, not later than eight
in the evening."  It was from Staunton & Merivale,
the famous South American firm, and the Decia is a
fine 6000-ton passenger boat, doing the round journey by
Bahia and Buenos Ayres to Rio and Valparaiso.  I had a
bad quarter of an hour, I can tell you.  I don't think I
was ever so undecided about anything in my life.
Cullingworth was dead against my going, and his influence
carried the day.

"My dear chap," said he, "you'd knock down the chief
mate, and he'd spread you out with a handspike.  You'd
get tied by your thumbs to the rigging.  You'd be fed on
stinking water and putrid biscuits.  I've been reading a
novel about the merchant service, and I know."

When I laughed at his ideas of modern sea-going he
tried another line.

"You're a bigger fool than I take you for if you go,"
said he.  "Why, what can it lead to?  All the money you
earn goes to buy a blue coat, and daub it with lace.  You
think you're bound for Valparaiso, and you find yourself
at the poor-house.  You've got a rare opening here, and
everything ready to your hand.  You'll never get such
another again."

And so it ended by my letting them have a wire
to say that I could not come.  It is strange when you
come to a point where the road of your life obviously
divides, and you take one turning or the other after
vainly trying to be sure about the finger-post.  I think
after all I chose rightly.  A ship's surgeon must remain
a ship's surgeon, while here there is no horizon to my

As to old Cullingworth, he is booming along as
merrily as ever.  You say in your last, that what you
cannot understand is how he got his hold of the public in
so short a time.  That is just the point which I have
found it hard to get light upon.  He told me that after
his first coming he had not a patient for a month, and
that he was so disheartened that he very nearly made a
moonlight exodus.  At last, however, a few cases came his
way--and he made such extraordinary cures of them, or
else impressed them so by his eccentricity, that they
would do nothing but talk of him.  Some of his wonderful
results got into the local press, though, after my
Avonmouth experience, I should not like to guarantee that
he did not himself convey them there.  He showed me an
almanac, which had a great circulation in the district.

It had an entry sandwiched in this way:

Aug. 15.    Reform Bill passed 1867.

Aug. 16.    Birth of Julius Caesar.

Aug. 17.    Extraordinary cure by Dr. Cullingworth of a case of
dropsy in Bradfield, 1881.

Aug. 18.    Battle of Gravelotte, 1870.

It reads as if it were one of the landmarks of the
latter half of the century.  I asked him how on earth it
got there; but I could only learn that the woman was
fifty-six inches round the waist, and that he had treated
her with elaterium.

That leads me to another point.  You ask me whether
his cures are really remarkable, and, if so, what his
system is.  I answer unhesitatingly, that his cures are
very remarkable, indeed, and that I look  upon him as a
sort of Napoleon of medicine.  His view is that the
pharmacopaeal doses are in nearly every instance much too
low.  Excessive timidity has cut down the dose until it
has ceased to produce a real effect upon the disease.  

 Medical men, according to his view, have been afraid
of producing a poisonous effect with their drugs.  With
him, on the contrary, the whole art of medicine lies in
judicious poisoning, and when the case is serious,
his remedies are heroic.  Where, in epilepsy, I should
have given thirty-grain doses of bromide or chloral every
four hours, he would give two drachms every three.  No
doubt it will seem to you very kill-or-cure, and I am
myself afraid that a succession of coroners' inquests may
check Cullingworth's career; but hitherto he has had no
public scandal, while the cases which he has brought back
to life have been numerous.  He is the most fearless
fellow.  I have seen him pour opium into a dysenteric
patient until my hair bristled.  But either his knowledge
or his luck always brings him out right.

Then there are other cures which depend, I think,
upon his own personal magnetism.  He is so robust and
loud-voiced and hearty that a weak nervous patient goes
away from him recharged with vitality.  He is so
perfectly confident that he can cure them, that he makes
them perfectly confident that they can be cured; and you
know how in nervous cases the mind reacts upon the body.
If he chose to preserve crutches and sticks, as they do
in the mediaeval churches, he might, I am sure, paper his
consulting room with them.  A favourite device of
his with an impressionable patient is to name the exact
hour of their cure.  "My dear," he will say, swaying some
girl about by the shoulders, with his nose about three
inches from hers, "you'll feel better to-morrow at a
quarter to ten, and at twenty past you'll be as well as
ever you were in your life.  Now, keep your eye on the
clock, and see if I am not right."  Next day, as likely
as not, her mother will be in, weeping tears of joy; and
another miracle has been added to Cullingworth's record.
It may smell of quackery, but it is exceedingly useful to
the patient.

Still I must confess that there is nothing about
Cullingworth which jars me so much as the low view which
he takes of our profession.  I can never reconcile myself
to his ideas, and yet I can never convert him to mine; so
there will be a chasm there which sooner or later may
open to divide us altogether.  He will not acknowledge
any philanthropic side to the question.  A profession, in
his view, is a means of earning a livelihood, and the
doing good to our fellow mortals, is quite a secondary

"Why the devil should we do all the good, Munro?" he
shouts.  Eh, what?  A butcher would do good to the race,
would he not, if he served his chops out gratis through
the window?  He'd be a real benefactor; but he goes on
selling them at a shilling the pound for all that.  Take
the case of a doctor who devotes himself to sanitary
science.  He flushes out drains, and keeps down
infection.  You call him a philanthropist!  Well, I call
him a traitor.  That's it, Munro, a traitor and a
renegade!  Did you ever hear of a congress of lawyers for
simplifying the law and discouraging litigation?  What
are the Medical Association and the General Council, and
all these bodies for?  Eh, laddie?  For encouraging the
best interests of the profession.  Do you suppose they do
that by making the population healthy?  It's about time
we had a mutiny among the general practitioners.  If I
had the use of half the funds which the Association has,
I should spend part of them in drain-blocking, and the
rest in the cultivation of disease germs, and the
contamination of drinking water."

Of course, I told him that his views were
diabolical; but, especially since that warning which
I had from his wife, I discount everything that he says.
He begins in earnest; but as he goes on the humour of
exaggeration gets hold of him, and he winds up with
things which he would never uphold in cold blood.
However, the fact remains that we differ widely in our
views of professional life, and I fear that we may come
to grief over the question.

What do you think we have been doing lately?
Building a stable--no less.  Cullingworth wanted to have
another one at the business place, as much, I think, for
his patients as his horses; and, in his audacious way, he
determined that he would build it himself.  So at it we
went, he, I, the coachman, Mrs. Cullingworth, and the
coachman's wife.  We dug foundations, got bricks in by
the cartload, made our own mortar, and I think that we
shall end by making a very fair job of it.  It's not
quite as flat-chested as we could wish; and I think that
if I were a horse inside it, I should be careful about
brushing against the walls; but still it will keep the
wind and rain out when it is finished.    Cullingworth
talks of our building a new house for ourselves; but
as we have three large ones already there does not seem
to be any pressing need.

Talking about horses, we had no end of a fuss here
the other day.  Cullingworth got it into his head that he
wanted a first-class riding horse; and as neither of the
carriage ones would satisfy him, he commissioned a horse
dealer to get him one.  The man told us of a charger
which one of the officers in the garrison was trying to
get rid of.  He did not conceal the fact that the reason
why he wished to sell it was because he considered it to
be dangerous; but, he added, that Captain Lucas had given
L150 for it, and was prepared to sell it at seventy.
This excited Cullingworth, and he ordered the creature to
be saddled and brought round.  It was a beautiful animal,
coal black, with a magnificent neck and shoulders, but
with a nasty backward tilt to its ears, and an unpleasant
way of looking at you.  The horse dealer said that our
yard was too  small to try the creature in; but
Cullingworth clambered up upon its back and formally took
possession of it by lamming it between the ears with the
bone handle of his whip.  Then ensued one of the
most lively ten minutes that I can remember.  The beast
justified his reputation; but Cullingworth, although he
was no horseman, stuck to him like a limpet.  Backwards,
forwards, sideways, on his fore feet, on his hind feet,
with his back curved, with his back sunk, bucking and
kicking, there was nothing the creature did not try.
Cullingworth was sitting alternately on his mane and on
the root of his tail--never by any chance in the saddle--
he had lost both stirrups, and his knees were drawn up
and his heels dug into the creature's ribs, while his
hands clawed at mane, saddle, or ears, whichever he saw
in front of him.  He kept his whip, however; and whenever
the brute eased down, Cullingworth lammed him once more
with the bone handle.  His idea, I suppose, was to break
its spirit, but he had taken a  larger contract than he
could carry through.  The animal bunched his four feet
together, ducked down his head, arched his back like a
yawning cat, and gave three convulsive springs into the
air.  At the first, Cullingworth's knees were above the
saddle flaps, at the second his ankles were retaining a
convulsive grip, at the third he flew forward like
a stone out of a sling, narrowly missed the coping of the
wall, broke with his head the iron bar which held some
wire netting, and toppled back with a thud into the yard.
Up he bounded with the blood streaming down his face, and
running into our half-finished stables he seized a
hatchet, and with a bellow of rage rushed at the horse.
I caught him by the coat and put on a fourteen-stone
drag, while the horse dealer (who was as white as a
cheese) ran off with his horse into the street.
Cullingworth broke away from my grip, and cursing
incoherently, his face slobbered with blood, and his
hatchet waving over his head, he rushed out of the yard--
the most diabolical looking ruffian you can imagine.
However, luckily for the dealer, he had got a good start,
and Cullingworth was persuaded to come back and wash his
face.  We bound up his cut, and found him little the
worse, except in his temper.  But for me he would most
certainly have paid seventy pounds for his insane
outburst of rage against the animal.

I daresay you think it strange that I should write so
much about this fellow and so little about anybody
else; but the fact is, that I know nobody else, and that
my whole circle is bounded by my patients, Cullingworth
and his wife.  They visit nobody, and nobody visits them.
My living with them brings the same taboo from my brother
doctors upon my head, although I have never done anything
unprofessional myself.  Who should I see in the street
the other day but the McFarlanes, whom you will remember
at Linlithgow?  I was foolish enough to propose to Maimie
McFarlane once, and she was sensible enough to refuse me.
What I should have done had she accepted me, I can't
imagine; for that was three years ago, and I have more
ties and less prospect of marriage now than then.  Well,
there's no use yearning for what you can't have, and
there's no other man living to whom I would speak about
the matter at all; but life is a deadly, lonely thing
when a man has no one on his side but himself.   Why is
it that I am sitting here in the moonlight writing to
you, except that I am craving for sympathy and
fellowship?  I get it from you, too--as much as one
friend ever got from another--and yet there are some
sides to my nature with which neither wife nor friend nor
any one else can share.  If you cut your own path, you
must expect to find yourself alone upon it.

Heigh ho! it's nearly dawn, and I as wakeful as ever.
It is chilly, and I have draped a blanket round me.  I've
heard that this is the favourite hour of the suicide, and
I see that I've been tailing off in the direction of
melancholy myself.  Let me wind up on a lighter chord by
quoting Cullingworth's latest article.  I must tell you
that he is still inflamed by the idea of his own paper,
and his brain is in full eruption, sending out a
perpetual stream of libellous paragraphs, doggerel poems,
social skits, parodies, and articles.  He brings them all
to me, and my table is already piled with them.  Here is
his latest, brought up to my room after he had undressed.
It was the outcome of some remarks I had made about the
difficulty which our far-off descendants may have in
determining what the meaning is of some of the commonest
objects of our civilisation, and as a corollary how
careful we should be before we become dogmatic about the
old Romans or Egyptians.

"At the third annual meeting of the New Guinea
Archaeological Society a paper was read upon recent
researches on the supposed site of London, together with
some observations upon hollow cylinders in use among the
ancient Londoners.  Several examples of these metallic
cylinders or tubings were on exhibition in the hall, and
were passed round for inspection among the audience.  The
learned lecturer prefaced his remarks by observing that
on account of the enormous interval of time which
separated them from the days when London was a
flourishing city, it behoved them to be very guarded in
any conclusions to which they might come as to the habits
of the inhabitants.  Recent research appeared to have
satisfactorily established the fact that the date of the
final fall of London was somewhat later than that of the
erection of the Egyptian Pyramids.  A large building had
recently been unearthed near the dried-up bed of the
river Thames; and there could be no question from
existing records that this was the seat of the law-making
council among the ancient Britons--or Anglicans, as they
were sometimes called.  The lecturer proceeded to
point out that the bed of the Thames had been
tunnelled under by a monarch named Brunel, who is
supposed by some authorities to have succeeded Alfred the
Great.  The open spaces of London, he went on to remark,
must have been far from safe, as the bones of lions,
tigers, and other extinct forms of carnivora had been
discovered in the Regent's Park.  Having briefly referred
to the mysterious structures known as `pillar-boxes,'
which are scattered thickly over the city, and which are
either religious in their origin, or else may be taken as
marking the tombs of Anglican chiefs, the lecturer passed
on to the cylindrical piping.  This had been explained by
the Patagonian school as being a universal system of
lightning-conductors.  He (the lecturer) could not assent
to this theory.  In a series of observations, extending
over several months, he had discovered the important fact
that these lines of tubing, if followed out, invariably
led to large hollow metallic reservoirs which were
connected with furnaces.  No one who knew how addicted
the ancient Britons were to the use of tobacco could
doubt what this meant.  Evidently large quantities of the
herb were burned in the central chamber, and the
aromatic and narcotic vapour was carried through the
tubes to the house of every citizen, so that he might
inhale it at will.  Having illustrated his remarks by a
series of diagrams, the lecturer concluded by saying
that, although true science was invariably cautious and
undogmatic, it was none the less an incontestable fact
that so much light had been thrown upon old London, that
every action of the citizens' daily life was known, from
the taking of a tub in the morning, until after a draught
of porter he painted himself blue before retiring to

After all, I daresay this explanation of the London
gas pipes is not more absurd than some of our shots about
the Pyramids, or ideas of life among the Babylonians.

Well, good-bye, old chap; this is a stupid
inconsequential letter, but life has been more quiet and
less interesting just of late.  I may have something a
little more moving for my next.


1 THE PARADE, BRADFIELD, 23rd April, 1882.

I have some recollection, my dear Bertie, that when
I wrote you a rambling disconnected sort of letter about
three weeks ago, I wound up by saying that I might have
something more interesting to tell you next time.  Well,
so it has turned out!  The whole game is up here, and I
am off upon a fresh line of rails altogether.
Cullingworth is to go one way and I another; and yet I am
glad to say that there has not been any quarrel between
us.  As usual, I have begun my letter at the end, but
I'll work up to it more deliberately now, and let you
know exactly how it came about.

And first of all, a thousand thanks for your two long
letters, which lie before me as I write.  There is little
enough personal news in them, but I can quite understand
that the quiet happy routine of your life reels off very
smoothly from week to week.  On the other hand,
you give me plenty of proof of that inner life which is
to me so very much more interesting.  After all, we may
very well agree to differ.  You think some things are
proved which I don't believe in.  You think some things
edifying which do not appear to me to be so.  Well, I
know that you are perfectly honest in your belief.  I am
sure you give me credit for being the same.  The future
wilt decide which of us is right.  The survival of the
truest is a constant law, I fancy, though it must be
acknowledged that it is very slow in action.

You make a mistake, however, in assuming that those
who think as I do are such a miserable minority.  The
whole essence of our thought is independence and
individual judgment; so that we don't get welded into
single bodies as the churches do, and have no opportunity
of testing our own strength.  There are, no doubt, all
shades of opinion among us; but if you merely include
those who in their private hearts disbelieve the
doctrines usually accepted, and think that sectarian
churches tend to evil rather than good, I fancy that the
figures would be rather surprising.  When I read
your letter, I made a list of all those men with whom I
ever had intimate talk upon such matters.  I got
seventeen names, with four orthodox.  Cullingworth tried
and got twelve names, with one orthodox.  From all sides,
one hears that every church complains of the absence of
men in the congregations.  The women predominate three to
one.  Is it that women are more earnest than men?  I
think it is quite the other way.  But the men are
following their reason, and the women their emotion.  It
is the women only who keep orthodoxy alive.

No, you mustn't be too sure of that majority of
yours.  Taking the scientific, the medical, the
professional classes, I question whether it exists at
all.  The clergy, busy in their own limited circles, and
coming in contact only with those who agree with them,
have not realised how largely the rising generation has
outgrown them.  And (with exceptions like yourself) it is
not the  most lax, but the BEST of the younger men,
the larger-brained and the larger-hearted, who have
shaken  themselves most clear of the old theology.  They
cannot abide its want of charity, it's limitations
of God's favours, its claims for a special Providence,
its dogmatism about what seems to be false, its conflict
with what we know to be true.  We KNOW that man has
ascended, not descended; so what is the value of a scheme
of thought which depends upon the supposition of his
fall?  We KNOW that the world was not made in six
days, that the sun could never be stopped since it was
never moving, and that no man ever lived three days in a
fish; so what becomes of the inspiration of a book which
contains such statements?  "Truth, though it crush me!"

There, now, you see what comes of waving the red rag!
Let me make a concession to appease you.  I do believe
that Christianity in its different forms has been the
very best thing for the world during all this long
barbarous epoch.  Of course, it has been the best thing,
else Providence would not have permitted it.  The
engineer knows best what tools to use in strengthening
his own machine.  But when you say that this is the best
and last tool which will be used, you are laying down the
law a little too much.

Now, first of all, I want to tell you about how
the practice has been going on.  The week after I
wrote last showed a slight relapse.  I only took two
pounds.  But on the next I took a sudden jump up to three
pounds seven shillings, and this last week I took three
pounds ten.  So it was steadily creeping up; and I really
thought that I saw my road clear in front of me, when the
bolt suddenly fell from the blue.  There were reasons,
however, which prevented my being very disappointed when
it did come down; and these I must make clear to you.

I think that I mentioned, when I gave you a short
sketch of my dear old mother, that she has a very high
standard of family honour.  She really tries to live up
to the Percy-Plantagenet blend which is said to flow in
our veins; and it is only our empty pockets which prevent
her from sailing through life, like the grande dame
that she is, throwing largesse to right and left,
with her  head in the air and her soul in the clouds.  I
have often heard her say (and I am quite convinced that
she meant it) that she would far rather see any one of us
in our graves than know that we had committed a
dishonourable action.  Yes; for all her softness and
femininity, she could freeze iron-hard at the
suspicion of baseness; and I have seen the blood flush
from her white cap to her lace collar when she has heard
of an act of meanness.

Well, she had heard some details about the
Cullingworths which displeased her when I first knew
them.  Then came the smash-up at Avonmouth, and my mother
liked them less and less.  She was averse to my joining
them in Bradfield, and it was only by my sudden movement
at the end that I escaped a regular prohibition.  When I
got there, the very first question she asked (when I told
her of their prosperity) was whether they had paid their
Avonmouth creditors.  I was compelled to answer that they
had not.  In reply she wrote imploring me to come away,
and saying that, poor as our family was, none of them had
ever fallen so low as to enter into a business
partnership with a man of unscrupulous character and
doubtful antecedents.  I answered that Cullingworth spoke
sometimes of paying his creditors, that Mrs. Cullingworth
was in favour of it also, and that it seemed to me to be
unreasonable to expect that I should sacrifice a good
opening on account of things with which I had no
connection.  I assured her that if Cullingworth did
anything from then onwards which seemed to me
dishonourable, I would disassociate myself from him, and
I mentioned that I had already refused to adopt some of
his professional methods.  Well, in reply to this, my
mother wrote a pretty violent letter about what she
thought of Cullingworth, which led to another from me
defending him, and showing that there were some deep and
noble traits in his character.  That produced another
still more outspoken letter from her; and so the
correspondence went on, she attacking and I defending,
until a serious breach seemed to be opening between us.
I refrained from writing at last, not out of ill temper,
but because I thought that if she were given time she
would cool down, and take, perhaps, a more reasonable
view of the situation.  My father, from the short note
which he sent me, seemed to think the whole business
absolutely irregular, and to refuse to believe my
accounts of Cullingworth's practice and receipts.  This
double opposition, from the very people whose interests
had really been nearest my heart in the whole affair,
caused me to be less disappointed than I should
otherwise have been when it all came to an end.  In
fact, I was quite in the humour to finish it myself when
Fate did it for me.

Now about the Cullingworths.  Madam is as amiable as
ever; and yet somehow, unless I am deceiving myself, she
has changed somewhat of late in her feelings towards me.
I have turned upon her suddenly more than once, and
caught the skirt of a glance which was little less than
malignant.  In one or two small matters I have also
detected a hardness in her which I had never observed
before.  Is it that I have intruded too much into their
family life?  Have I come between the husband and the
wife?  Goodness knows I have striven with all my little
stock of tact to avoid doing so.  And yet I have often
felt that my position was a false one.  Perhaps a young
man attaches too much importance to a woman's glances and
gestures.  He wishes to assign a definite meaning to
each, when they may be only the passing caprice of the
moment.  Ah, well, I have nothing to blame myself with;
and in any case it will soon be all over now.

And then I have seen something of the same sort in
Cullingworth; but he is so strange a being that I
never attach much importance to his variations.   He
glares at me like an angry bull occasionally; and then
when I ask him what is the matter, he growls out, "Oh,
nothing!" and turns on his heel.  Then at other times he
is so cordial and friendly that he almost overdoes it,
and I find myself wondering whether he is not acting.  It
must seem ungracious to you that I should speak so of a
man who has been my benefactor; and it seems so to me
also, but still that IS the impression which he
leaves upon me sometimes.  It's an absurd idea, too; for
what possible object could his wife and he have in
pretending to be amiable, if they did not really feel so?
And yet you know the feeling that you get when a man
smiles with his lips and not with his eyes.

One day we went to the Central Hotel billiard-room in
the evening to play a match.  Our form is just about the
same, and we should have bad an enjoyable game if it had
not been for that queer temper of his.  He had been in a
sullen humour the whole day, pretending not to hear what
I said to him, or else giving snappy answers, and looking
like a thunder-cloud.  I was determined not to have a
row, so I took no notice at all of his continual
provocations, which, instead of pacifying him, seemed to
encourage him to become more offensive.  At the end of
the match, wanting two to win, I put down the white which
was in the jaws of the pocket.  He cried out that this
was bad form.  I contended that it was folly to refrain
from doing it when one was only two off game, and, on his
continuing to make remarks, I appealed to the marker, who
took the same view as I did.  This opposition only
increased his anger, and he suddenly broke out into most
violent language, abusing me in unmeasured terms.  I said
to him, "If you have anything to say to me, Cullingworth,
come out into the street and say it there.  It's a
caddish thing to speak like that before the marker."  He
lifted his cue, and I thought he was going to strike me
with it; but he flung it clattering on the floor, and
chucked half a crown to the man.  When we got out in the
street, he began at once in as offensive a tone as ever.

"That's enough, Cullingworth," I said.  "I've stood
already rather more than I can carry."

We were in the bright light of a shop window at that
moment.  He looked at me, and looked a second time,
uncertain what to do.  At any moment I might have found
myself in a desperate street row with a man who was my
medical partner.  I gave no provocation, but kept myself
keenly on the alert.  Suddenly, to my relief, he burst
out laughing (such a roar as made the people stop on the
other side of the road), and passing his arm through
mine, he hurried me down the street.

"Devil of a temper you've got, Munro," said he.  "By
Crums, it's hardly safe to go out with you.  I never know
what you're going to do next.  Eh, what?  You mustn't be
peppery with me, though; for I mean well towards you, as
you'll see before you get finished with me."

I have told you this trivial little scene, Bertie, to
show the strange way in which Cullingworth springs
quarrels upon me; suddenly, without the slightest
possible provocation, taking a most offensive tone, and
then when he sees he has goaded me to the edge of my
endurance, turning the whole thing to chaff.  This has
occurred again and again recently; and, when coupled with
the change in Mrs. Cullingworth's demeanour, makes one
feel that something has happened to change one's
relations.  What that something may be, I give you my
word that I have no more idea than you have.  Between
their coldness, however, and my unpleasant correspondence
with my mother, I was often very sorry that I had not
taken the South American liner.

Cullingworth is preparing for the issue of our new
paper.  He has carried the matter through with his usual
energy, but he doesn't know enough about local affairs to
be able to write about them, and it is a question whether
he can interest the people here in anything else.  At
present we are prepared to run the paper single-handed;
we are working seven hours a day at the practice; we are
building a stable; and in our odd hours we are practising
at our magnetic ship-protector, with which Cullingworth
is still well pleased, though he wants to get it more
perfect before submitting it to the Admiralty.

His mind runs rather on naval architecture at
present, and he has been devising an ingenious method of
preventing wooden-sided vessels from being crippled by
artillery fire.  I did not think much of his
magnetic attractor, because it seemed to me that even if
it had all the success that he claimed for it, it would
merely have the effect of substituting some other metal
for steel in the manufacture of shells.  This new project
has, however, more to recommend it.  This is the idea, as
put in his own words; and, as he has been speaking of
little else for the last two days, I ought to remember

"If you've got your armour there, laddie, it will be
pierced," says he.  "Put up forty feet thick of steel;
and I'll build a gun that will knock it into tooth-
powder.  It would blow away, and set the folk coughing
after I had one shot at it.   But you can't pierce armour
which only drops after the shot has passed through.
What's the good of it?  Why it keeps out the water.
That's the main thing, after all.  I call it the
Cullingworth spring-shutter screen.  Eh, what, Munro?  I
wouldn't take a quarter of a million for the idea.  You
see how it would work.  Spring shutters are furled all
along the top of the bulwarks where the hammocks used to
be.  They are in sections, three feet broad, we will say,
and capable when let down of reaching the keel.
Very well!  Enemy sends a shot through Section A of the
side.  Section A shutter is lowered.  Only a thin film,
you see, but enough to form a temporary plug.  Enemy's
ram knocks in sections B, C, D of the side.  What do you
do?  Founder?  Not a bit; you lower sections B, C, and D
of Cullingworth's spring-shutter screen.  Or you knock a
hole on a rock.  The same thing again.  It's a ludicrous
sight to see a big ship founder when so simple a
precaution would absolutely save her.  And it's equally
good for ironclads also.  A shot often starts their
plates and admits water without breaking them.  Down go
your shutters, and all is well."

That's his idea, and he is busy on a model made out
of the steels of his wife's stays.  It sounds plausible,
but he has the knack of making anything plausible when he
is allowed to slap his hands and bellow.

We are both writing novels, but I fear that the
results don't bear out his theory that a man may do
anything which he sets his will to.  I thought mine was
not so bad (I have done nine chapters), but Cullingworth
says he has read it all before, and that it is much
too conventional.  We must rivet the attention of the
public from the start, he says.  Certainly, his own is
calculated to do so, for it seems to me to be wild
rubbish.  The end of his first chapter is the only
tolerable point that he has made.  A fraudulent old
baronet is running race-horses on the cross.  His son,
who is just coming of age, is an innocent youth.  The
news of the great race of the year has just been

"Sir Robert tottered into the room with dry lips and
a ghastly face.

"`My poor boy!' he cried.  `Prepare for the worst!'

"`Our horse has lost!' cried the young heir,
springing from his chair.

"The old man threw himself in agony upon the rug.
`No, no!' he screamed.  `IT HAS WON!'"

Most of it, however, is poor stuff, and we are each
agreed that the other was never meant for a novelist.

So much for our domestic proceedings, and all these
little details which you say you like to hear of.  Now I
must tell you of the great big change in my affairs,
and how it came about.

I have told you about the strange, sulky behaviour of
Cullingworth, which has been deepening from day to day.
Well, it seemed to reach a climax this morning, and on
our way to the rooms I could hardly get a word out of
him.  The place was fairly crowded with patients, but my
own share was rather below the average.  When I had
finished I added a chapter to my novel, and waited until
he and his wife were ready for the daily bag-carrying

It was half-past three before he had done.  I heard
him stamp out into the passage, and a moment later he
came banging into my room.  I saw in an instant that some
sort of a crisis had come.

"Munro," he cried, "this practice is going to the

"Ah!" said I.  "How's that?

"It's going to little pieces, Munro.  I've been
taking figures, and I know what I am talking about.  A
month ago I was seeing six hundred a week.  Then I
dropped to five hundred and eighty; then to five-
seventy-five; and now to five-sixty.  What do you think
of that?"

"To be honest, I don't think much of it," I answered.
"The summer is coming on.  You are losing all your coughs
and colds and sore throats.  Every practice must dwindle
at this time of year."

"That's all very well," said he, pacing up and down
the room, with his hands thrust into his pockets, and his
great shaggy eyebrows knotted together.  "You may put it
down to that, but I think quite differently about it."

"What do you put it down to, then?"

"To you."

"How's that?" I asked.

"Well," said he, "you must allow that it is a very
queer coincidence--if it is a coincidence--that from the
day when your plate was put up my practice has taken a
turn for the worse."

"I should be very sorry to think it was cause and
effect," I answered.  "How do you think that my presence
could have hurt you?"

"I'll tell you frankly, old chap," said he, putting
on suddenly that sort of forced smile which always seems
to me to have a touch of a sneer in it.  "You see,
many of my patients are simple country folk, half
imbecile for the most part, but then the half-crown of an
imbecile is as good as any other half-crown.  They come
to my door, and they see two names, and their silly jaws
begin to drop, and they say to each other, `There's two
of 'em here.  It's Dr. Cullingworth we want to see, but
if we go in we'll be shown as likely as not to Dr.
Munro.'  So it ends in some cases in their not coming at
all.  Then there are the women.  Women don't care a toss
whether you are a Solomon, or whether you are hot from an
asylum.  It's all personal with them.  You fetch them, or
you don't fetch them.  I know how to work them, but they
won't come if they think they are going to be turned over
to anybody else.  That's what I put the falling away down

"Well," said I, "that's easily set right."  I marched
out of the room and downstairs, with both Cullingworth
and his wife behind me.  Into the yard I went, and,
picking up a big hammer, I started for the front door,
with the pair still at my heels.  I got the forked end of
the hammer under my plate, and with a good wrench I
brought the whole thing clattering on to the

"That won't interfere with you any more," said I.

"What do you intend to do now?" he asked.

"Oh, I shall find plenty to do.  Don't you worry
about that," I answered.

"Oh, but this is all rot," said he, picking up the
plate.  "Come along upstairs and let us see where we

We filed off once more, he leading with the huge
brass "Dr. Munro" under his arm; then the little woman,
and then this rather perturbed and bemuddled young man.
He and his wife sat on the deal table in the consulting
room, like a hawk and a turtle-dove on the same perch,
while I leaned against the mantelpiece with my hands in
my pockets.  Nothing could be more prosaic and informal;
but I knew very well that I was at a crisis of my life.
Before, it was only a choosing between two roads.  Now my
main track had run suddenly to nothing, and I must go
back or find a bye-path.

"It's this way, Cullingworth," said I.  "I am very
much obliged to you, and to you, Mrs. Cullingworth,
for all your kindness and good wishes, but I did not come
here to spoil your practice; and, after what you have
told me, it is quite impossible for me to work with you
any more."

"Well, my boy," said he, "I am inclined myself to
think that we should do better apart; and that's Hetty's
idea also, only she is too polite to say so."

"It is a time for plain speaking," I answered, it and
we may as well thoroughly understand each other.  If I
have done your practice any harm, I assure you that I am
heartily sorry, and I shall do all I can to repair it.
I cannot say more."

"What are you going to do, then?" asked Cullingworth.

"I shall either go to sea or else start a practice on
my own account."

"But you have no money."

"Neither had you when you started."

"Ah, that was different.  Still, it may be that you
are right.  You'll find it a stiff pull at first."

"Oh, I am quite prepared for that."

"Well, you know, Munro, I feel that I am responsible
to you to some extent, since I persuaded you not to take
that ship the other day."

"It was a pity, but it can't be helped."

"We must do what we can to make up.  Now, I tell you
what I am prepared to do.  I was talking about it with
Hetty this morning, and she thought as I did.  If we were
to allow you one pound a week until you got your legs
under you, it would encourage you to start for yourself,
and you could pay it back as soon as you were able."

"It is very kind of you," said I.  "If you would let
the matter stand just now, I should like just to take a
short walk by myself, and to think it all over."

So the Cullingworths did their bag-procession through
the doctors' quarter alone to-day, and I walked to the
park, where I sat down on one of the seats, lit a cigar,
and thought the whole matter over.  I was down on my luck
at first; but the balmy air and the smell of spring and
the budding flowers soon set me right again.  I began my
last letter among the stars, and I am inclined to finish
this one among the flowers, for they are rare companions
when one's mind is troubled.  Most things on this earth,
from a woman's beauty to the taste of a nectarine, seem
to be the various baits with which Nature lures her silly
gudgeons.  They shall eat, they shall propagate, and for
the sake of pleasing themselves they shall hurry
down the road which has been laid out for them.  But
there lurks no bribe in the smell and beauty of the
flower.  It's charm has no ulterior motive.

Well, I sat down there and brooded.  In my heart I
did not believe that Cullingworth had taken alarm at so
trifling a decrease.  That could not have been his real
reason for driving me from the practice.  He had found me
in the way in his domestic life, no doubt, and he had
devised this excuse for getting rid of me.  Whatever the
reason was, it was sufficiently plain that all my hopes
of building up a surgical practice, which should keep
parallel with his medical one, were for ever at an end.
On the whole, bearing in mind my mother's opposition, and
the continual janglings which we had had during the last
few weeks, I was not very sorry.  On the contrary, a
sudden curious little thrill of happiness took me
somewhere about the back of the midriff, and, as a drift
of rooks passed cawing over my head, I began cawing also
in the overflow of my spirits.

And then as I walked back I considered how far I
could avail myself of this money from Cullingworth.  It
was not much, but it would be madness to start
without it, for I had sent home the little which I had
saved at Horton's.  I had not more than six pounds in the
whole world.  I reflected that the money could make no
difference to Cullingworth, with his large income, while
it made a vast one to me.  I should repay him in a year
or two at the latest.  Perhaps I might get on so well as
to be able to dispense with it almost at once.  There
could be no doubt that it was the representations of
Cullingworth as to my future prospects in Bradfield which
had made me refuse the excellent appointment in the
Decia.  I need not therefore have any scruples at
accepting some temporary assistance from his hands.  On
my return, I told him that I had decided to do so, and
thanked him at the same time for his generosity.

"That's all right," said he.  "Hetty, my dear, get a
bottle of fez in, and we shall drink success to Munro's
new venture."

It seemed only the other day that he had been
drinking my entrance into partnership; and here we were,
the same three, sipping good luck to my exit from it!
I'm afraid our second ceremony was on both sides the
heartier of the two.

"I must decide now where I am to start," I remarked.
"What I want is some nice little town where all the
people are rich and ill."

"I suppose you wouldn't care to settle here in
Bradfield?" asked Cullingworth.

"Well, I cannot see much point in that.  If I harmed
you as a partner, I might do so more as a rival.  If I
succeeded it might be at your expense."

"Well," said he, "choose your town, and my offer
still holds good."

We hunted out an atlas, and laid the map of England
before us on the table.  Cities and villages lay beneath
me as thick as freckles, and yet there was nothing to
lead me to choose one rather than another.

"I think it should be some place large enough to give
you plenty of room for expansion," said he.

"Not too near London," added Mrs. Cullingworth.

"And, above all, a place where I know nobody," said
I.  "I can rough it by myself, but I can't keep up
appearances before visitors."

"What do you say to Stockwell?" said
Cullingworth, putting the amber of his pipe upon a
town within thirty miles of Bradfield.

I had hardly heard of the place, but I raised my
glass.  "Well, here's to Stockwell!" I cried; "I shall go
there to-morrow morning and prospect."  We all drank the
toast (as you will do at Lowell when you read this); and
so it is arranged, and you may rely upon it that I shall
give you a full and particular account of the result.



My dear old chap, things have been happening, and I
must tell you all about it.  Sympathy is a strange thing;
for though I never see you, the mere fact that you over
there in New England are keenly interested in what I am
doing and thinking, makes my own life in old England very
much more interesting to me.  The thought of you is like
a good staff in my right hand.

The unexpected has happened so continually in my life
that it has ceased to deserve the name.  You remember
that in my last I had received my dismissal, and was on
the eve of starting for the little country town of
Stockwell to see if there were any sign of a possible
practice there.  Well, in the morning, before I came down
to breakfast, I was putting one or two things into a bag,
when there came a timid knock at my door, and there
was Mrs. Cullingworth in her dressing-jacket, with her
hair down her back.

"Would you mind coming down and seeing James, Dr.
Munro?" said she.  "He has been very strange all night,
and I am afraid that he is ill."

Down I went, and found Cullingworth looking rather
red in the face, and a trifle wild about the eyes.  He
was sitting up in bed, with the neck of his nightgown
open, and an acute angle of hairy chest exposed.  He had
a sheet of paper, a pencil, and a clinical thermometer
upon the coverlet in front of him.

"Deuced interesting thing, Munro," said he.  "Come
and look at this temperature chart.  I've been taking it
every quarter of an hour since I couldn't sleep, and it's
up and down till it looks  like the mountains in the
geography books.  We'll have some drugs in--eh, what,
Munro?--and by Crums, we'll revolutionise all their ideas
about fevers.  I'll write a pamphlet from personal
experiment that will make all their books clean out of
date, and they'll have to tear them up and wrap
sandwiches in them."

He was talking in the rapid slurring way of a man who
has trouble coming.  I looked at his chart, and saw that
he was over 102 degrees.  His pulse rub-a-dubbed under my
fingers, and his skin sent a glow into my hand.

"Any symptoms?" I asked, sitting down on the side of
his bed.

"Tongue like a nutmeg-grater," said he, thrusting it
out.  "Frontal headache, renal pains, no appetite, and a
mouse nibbling inside my left elbow.  That's as far as
we've got at present."

"I'll tell you what it is, Cullingworth," said I.
"You have a touch of rheumatic fever, and you will have
to lie by for a bit."

"Lie by be hanged!" he cried.  "I've got a hundred
people to see to-day.  My boy, I must be down there if I
have the rattle in my throat.  I didn't build up a
practice to have it ruined by a few ounces of lactic

"James dear, you can easily build up another one,"
said his wife, in her cooing voice.  "You must do what
Dr. Munro tells you."

"Well," said I, "you'll want looking after, and your
practice will want looking after, and I am quite ready to
do both.  But I won't take the responsibility unless
you give me your word that you will do what you are

"If I'm to have any doctoring it must come from you,
laddie," he said; "for if I was to turn my toes up in the
public square, there's not a man here who would do more
than sign my certificate.  By Crums, they might get the
salts and oxalic acid mixed up if they came to treat me,
for there's no love lost between us.  But I want to go
down to the practice all the same."

"It's out of the question.  You know the sequel of
this complaint.  You'll have endocarditis, embolism,
thrombosis, metastatic abscesses--you know the danger as
well as I do."

He sank back into his bed laughing.

"I take my complaints one at a time, thank you," said
he.  "I wouldn't be so greedy as to have all those--eh,
Munro, what?--when many another poor devil hasn't got an
ache to his back."  The four posts of his bed quivered
with his laughter.  "Do what you like, laddie--but I say,
mind, if anything should happen, no tomfoolery over my
grave.  If you put so much as a stone there, by Crums,
Munro, I'll come back in the dead of the night and
plant it on the pit of your stomach."

Nearly three weeks passed before he could set his
foot to the ground again.  He wasn't such a bad patient,
after all; but he rather complicated my treatment by
getting in all sorts of phials and powders, and trying
experiments upon his own symptoms.  It was impossible to
keep him quiet, and our only means of retaining him in
bed was to allow him all the work that he could do there.

He wrote copiously, built up models of his patent
screen, and banged off pistols at his magnetic target,
which he had rigged tip on the mantelpiece.  Nature has
given him a constitution of steel, however, and he shook
off his malady more quickly and more thoroughly than the
most docile of sufferers.

In the meantime, Mrs. Cullingworth and I ran the
practice together.  As a substitute for him I was a
dreadful failure.  They would not believe in me in the
least.  I felt that I was as flat as water after
champagne.  I could not address them from the stairs, nor
push them about, nor prophesy to the anaeemic  women.  I
was much too solemn and demure after what they had
been accustomed to.  However, I held the thing together
as best I could, and I don't think that he found the
practice much the worse when he was able to take it over.
I could not descend to what I thought was unprofessional,
but I did my very best to keep the wheels turning.

Well, I know that I am a shocking bad story-teller,
but I just try to get things as near the truth as I can
manage it.  If I only knew how to colour it up, I could
make some of this better reading.  I can get along when
I am on one line, but it is when I have to bring in a
second line of events that I understand what C. means
when he says that I will never be able to keep myself in
nibs by what I earn in literature.

The second line is this, that I had written to my
mother on the same night that I wrote to you last,
telling her that there need no longer be a shadow of a
disagreement between us, because everything was arranged,
and I was going to leave Cullingworth at once.  Then
within a couple of posts I had to write again and
announce that my departure was indefinitely postponed,
and  that I was actually doing his whole practice.      
Well, the dear old lady was very angry.  I don't
suppose she quite understood how temporary the necessity
was, and how impossible it would have been to leave
Cullingworth in the lurch.  She was silent for nearly
three weeks, and then she wrote a very stinging letter
(and she handles her adjectives most deftly when she
likes).  She went so far as to say that Cullingworth was
a "bankrupt swindler," and that I had dragged the family
honour in the dirt by my prolonged association with him.
This letter came on the morning of the very last day that
my patient was confined to the house.  When I returned
from work I found him sitting in his dressing-gown
downstairs.  His wife, who had driven home, was beside
him.  To my surprise, when I congratulated him on being
fit for work again, his manner (which had been most
genial during his illness) was as ungracious as before
our last explanation.  His wife, too, seemed to avoid my
eye, and cocked her chin at me when she spoke.

"Yes, I'll take it over to-morrow," said he.  "What
do I owe you for looking after it?"

"Oh, it was all in the day's work," said I.

"Thank you, I had rather have strict business,"
he answered.  "You know where you are then, but a
favour is a thing with no end to it.  What d'you put it

"I never thought about it in that light."

"Well, think about it now.  A locum would have cost
me four guineas a week.  Four fours sixteen.  Make it
twenty.  Well, I promised to allow you a pound a week,
and you were to pay it back.   I'll put twenty pounds to
your credit account, and you'll have it every week as
sure as Saturday."

"Thank you," said I.  "If you are so anxious to make
a business matter of it, you can arrange it so."  I could
not make out, and cannot make out now, what had happened
to freeze them up so; but I supposed that they had been
talking it over, and came to the conclusion that I was
settling down too much upon the old lines, and that they
must remind me that I was under orders to quit.  They
might have done it with more tact.

To cut a long story short, on the very day that
Cullingworth was able to resume his work I started off
for Stockwell, taking with me only a bag, for it was
merely a prospecting expedition, and I intended to return
for my luggage if I saw reason for hope.  Alas!
there was not the faintest.  The sight of the place would
have damped the most sanguine man that ever lived.  It is
one of those picturesque little English towns with a
history and little else.  A Roman trench and a Norman
keep are its principal products.  But to me the most
amazing thing about it was the cloud of doctors which had
settled upon it.  A double row of brass plates flanked
the principal street.  Where their patients came from I
could not imagine, unless they practised upon each other.
The host of the "Bull" where I had my modest lunch
explained the mystery to some extent by saying that, as
there was pure country with hardly a hamlet for nearly
twelve miles in every direction, it was in these
scattered farm-houses that the Stockwell doctors found
their patients.  As I chatted with him a middle-aged,
dusty-booted man trudged up the street.  "There's Dr.
Adam," said he.  "He's only a new-comer, but they say
that some o' these days he'll be starting his carriage."
"What do you mean by a new-comer?" I asked.  "Oh, he's
scarcely been here ten years," said the landlord.  "Thank
you," said I.  "Can you tell me when the next train
leaves for Bradfield?"  So back I came, rather heavy
at heart, and having spent ten or twelve shillings which
I could ill afford.  My fruitless journey seemed a small
thing, however, when I thought of the rising Stockwellite
with his ten years and his dusty boots.  I can trudge
along a path, however rough, if it will but lead to
something; but may kindly Fate keep me out of all cul-

The Cullingworths did not receive me cordially upon
my return.  There was a singular look upon both their
faces which seemed to ME to mean that they were
disappointed at this hitch in getting rid of me.  When I
think of their absolute geniality a few days ago, and
their markedly reserved manner now, I can make no sense
out of it.  I asked Cullingworth point blank what it
meant, but he only turned it off with a forced laugh, and
some nonsense about my thin skin.  I think that I am the
last man in the world to take offence where none is
meant; but at any rate I determined to end the matter by
leaving Bradfield at once.  It had struck me, during my
journey back from Stockwell, that Birchespool would be a
good place; so on the very next day I started off, taking
my luggage with me, and bidding a final good-bye to
Cullingworth and his wife.

"You rely upon me, laddie," said C. with something of
his old geniality, as we shook hands on parting.  "You
get a good house in a central position, put up your plate
and hold on by your toe-nails.  Charge little or nothing
until you get a connection, and none of your professional
haw-dammy or you are a broken man.  I'll see that you
don't stop steaming for want of coal."

So with that comforting assurance I left them on the
platform of the Bradfield station.  The words seem kind,
do they not? and yet taking this money jars every nerve
in my body.  When I find that I can live on bread and
water without it, I will have no more of it.  But to do
without it now would be for the man who cannot swim to
throw off his life-belt.

I had plenty of time on my way to Birchespool to
reflect upon my prospects and present situation.  My
baggage consisted of a large brassplate, a small leather
trunk, and a hat-box.  The plate with my name engraved
upon it was balanced upon the rack above my head.  In my
box were a stethoscope, several medical books, a
second pair of boots, two suits of clothes, my linen
and my toilet things.  With this, and the five pounds
eighteen shillings which remain in my purse, I was
sallying out to clear standing-room, and win the right to
live from my fellow-men.  But at least there was some
chance of permanency about this; and if there was the
promise of poverty and hardship, there was also that of
freedom.  I should have no Lady Saltire to toss up her
chin because I had my own view of things, no Cullingworth
to fly out at me about nothing.  I would be my own--my
very own.  I capered up and down the carriage at the
thought.  After all, I had everything to gain and nothing
in the whole wide world to lose.  And I had youth and
strength and energy, and the whole science of medicine
packed in between my two ears.  I felt as exultant as
though I were going to take over some practice which lay
ready for me.

It was about four in the afternoon when I reached
Birchespool, which is fifty-three miles by rail from
Bradfield.  It may be merely a name to you, and, indeed,
until I set foot in it I knew nothing of it myself; but
I can tell you now that it has a population of a hundred
and thirty thousand souls (about the same as
Bradfield), that it is mildly manufacturing, that it is
within an hour's journey of the sea, that it has an
aristocratic western suburb with a mineral well, and that
the country round is exceedingly beautiful.  It is small
enough to have a character of its own, and large enough
for solitude, which is always the great charm of a city,
after the offensive publicity of the country.

When I turned out with my brass plate, my trunk, and
my hat-box upon the Birchespool platform, I sat down and
wondered what my first move should be.  Every penny was
going to be of the most vital importance to me, and I
must plan things within the compass of that tiny purse.
As I sat pondering, there came a sight of interest, for
I heard a burst of cheering with the blare of a band upon
the other side of the station, and then the pioneers and
leading files of a regiment came swinging on to the
platform.  They wore white sun-hats, and were leaving for
Malta, in anticipation of war in Egypt.  They were young
soldiers--English by the white facings--with a colonel
whose moustache reached his shoulders, and a number
of fresh-faced long-legged subalterns.  I chiefly
remember one of the colour-sergeants, a man of immense
size and ferocious face, who leaned upon his Martini,
with two little white kittens peeping over either
shoulder from the flaps of his knapsack.  I was so moved
at the sight of these youngsters going out to do their
best for the dear old country, that I sprang up on my
box, took off my hat, and gave them three cheers.  At
first the folk on my side looked at me in their bovine
fashion--like a row of cows over a wall.  At the second
a good many joined, and at the third my own voice was
entirely lost.  So I turned to go my way, and the soldier
laddies to go theirs; and I wondered which of us had the
stiffest and longest fight before us.

I left my baggage at the office, and jumped into a
tramcar which was passing the station, with the intention
of looking for lodgings, as I judged that they would be
cheaper than an hotel.  The conductor interested himself
in my wants in that personal way which makes me think
that the poorer classes in England are one of the
kindliest races on earth.  Policemen, postmen, railway
guards, busmen, what good helpful fellows they all are!
This one reckoned the whole thing out, how this street
was central but dear, and the other was out-of-the-way
but cheap, and finally dropped me at a medium shabby-
genteel kind of thoroughfare called Cadogan Terrace, with
instructions that I was to go down there and see how I
liked it.

I could not complain of a limited selection, for a
"to let " or "apartments" was peeping out of every second
window.  I went into the first attractive house that I
saw, and interviewed the rather obtuse and grasping old
lady who owned it.  A sitting-bed-room was to be had for
thirteen shillings a week.  As I had never hired rooms
before, I had no idea whether this was cheap or dear; but
I conclude it was the latter, since on my raising my
eyebrows as an experiment she instantly came down to ten
shillings and sixpence.  I tried another look and an
exclamation of astonishment; but as she stood firm, I
gathered that I had touched the bottom.

"Your rooms are quite clean?" I asked, for there
was a wooden panelling which suggested possibilities.

"Quite clean, Sir."

"No vermin?"

"The officers of the garrison come sometimes."

This took some thinking out.  It had an ugly sound,
but I gathered that she meant that there could be no
question about the cleanliness since these gentlemen were
satisfied.  So the bargain was struck, and I ordered tea
to be ready in an hour, while I went back to the station
to fetch up my luggage.  A porter brought it up for
eightpence (saving fourpence on a cab, my boy!) and so I
found myself in the heart of Birchespool with a base of
operations secured.  I looked out of the little window of
my lodgings at the reeking pots and grey sloping roofs,
with a spire or two spurting up among them, and I shook
my teaspoon defiantly at them.  "You've got to conquer
me," said I, "or else I'm man enough to conquer you."

Now, you would hardly expect that a fellow would have
an adventure on his very first night in a strange
town; but I had--a trivial one, it is true, but fairly
exciting while it lasted.  Certainly it reads more like
what might happen to a man in a book, but you may take it
from me that it worked out just as I set it down here.

When I had finished my tea, I wrote a few letters--
one to Cullingworth, and one to Horton.  Then, as it was
a lovely evening, I determined to stroll out and see what
sort of a place it was upon which Fate had washed me up.
"Best begin as you mean to go on," thought I; so I donned
my frock-coat, put on my carefully-brushed top-hat, and
sallied forth with my very respectable metal-headed
walking stick in my hand.

I walked down to the Park, which is the chief centre
of the place, and I found that I liked everything I saw
of it.  It was a lovely evening, and the air was fresh
and sweet.  I sat down and listened to the band for an
hour, watching all the family parties, and feeling
particularly lonely.  Music nearly always puts me into
the minor key; so there came a time when I could stand it
no longer, and I set off to find my way back to my
lodgings.  On the whole, I felt that Birchespool was
a place in which a man might very well spend a happy

At one end of Cadogan Terrace (where I am lodging)
there is a wide open space where several streets meet.
In the centre of this stands a large lamp in the middle
of a broad stone pedestal, a foot or so high, and ten or
twelve across.  Well, as I strolled along I saw there was
something going on round this lamppost.  A crowd of
people had gathered, with a swirl in the centre.  I was,
of course, absolutely determined not to get mixed up in
any row; but I could not help pushing my way through the
crowd to see what was the matter.

It wasn't a pretty sight.  A woman, pinched and
bedraggled, with a baby on her arm, was being knocked
about by a burly brute of a fellow whom I judged to be
her husband from the way in which he cherished her.  He
was one of those red-faced, dark-eyed men who can look
peculiarly malignant when they choose.  It was clear that
he was half mad with drink, and that she had been trying
to lure him away from some den.  I was just in time to
see him take a flying kick at her, amid cries of "Shame!
"from the crowd, and then lurch forward again, with
the evident intention of having another, the mob still
expostulating vaguely.

If, Bertie, it had been old student days, I should
have sailed straight in, as you or any other fellow would
have done.  My flesh crept with my loathing for the
brute.  But I had also to think of what I was and where
I was, and what I had come there to do.  However, there
are some things which a man cannot stand, so I took a
couple of steps forward, put my hand on the fellow's
shoulder, and said in as conciliatory and genial a voice
as I could muster:  "Come, come, my lad!  Pull yourself

Instead of "pulling himself together," he very nearly
knocked me asunder.  I was all abroad for an instant.  He
had turned on me like a flash, and had struck me on the
throat just under the chin, my head being a little back
at the moment.  It made me swallow once or twice, I can
tell you.  Sudden as the blow was, I had countered, in
the automatic sort of way that a man who knows anything
of boxing does.  It was only from the elbow, with no body
behind it, but it served to stave him off for the moment,
while I was making inquiries about my windpipe.
Then in he came with a rush; and the crowd swarming round
with shrieks of delight, we were pushed, almost locked in
each other's arms on to that big pedestal of which I have
spoken.  "Go it, little 'un!"  "Give him beans!" yelled
the mob, who had lost all sight of the origin of the
fray, and could only see that my opponent was two inches
the shorter man.  So there, my dear Bertie, was I, within
a few hours of my entrance into this town, with my top-
hat down to my ears, my highly professional frock-coat,
and my kid gloves, fighting some low bruiser on a
pedestal in one of the most public places, in the heart
of a yelling and hostile mob!  I ask you whether that was
cruel luck or not?

Cullingworth told me before I started that
Birchespool was a lively place.  For the next few minutes
it struck me as the liveliest I had ever seen.  The
fellow was a round hand hitter, but so strong that he
needed watching.  A round blow is, as you know, more
dangerous than a straight one if it gets home; for the
angle of the jaw, the ear, and the temple, are the three
weakest points which you present.  However, I took
particular care that my man did not get home; but, on the
other hand, I fear that I did not do him much harm
either.  He bored in with his head down; and I, like a
fool, broke my knuckles over the top of his impenetrable
skull.  Of course, theoretically I should either have
stepped back and tried an undercut, or else taken him
into chancery; but I must confess to feeling flurried and
rattled from the blow I had had, as well as from the
suddenness of the whole affair.  However, I was cooling
down, and I daresay should in time have done something
rational, when the affray came to a sudden and unexpected

This was from the impatience and excitement of the
crowd.  The folk behind, wishing to see all that was
going on, pushed against those in front, until half-a-
dozen of the foremost (with, I think, a woman among them)
were flung right up against us.  One of these, a rough,
sailor-like fellow in a jersey, got wedged between us;
and my antagonist, in his blind rage, got one of his
swinging blows home upon this new-comer's ear.  "What,
you----!" yelled the sailor; and in an instant he had
taken over the whole contract, and was at it hammer and
tongs with my beauty.  I grabbed my stick, which had
fallen among the crowd, and backed my way out,
rather dishevelled, but very glad to get off so cheaply.
From the shouting which I could hear some time after I
reached the door of my lodgings, I gathered that a good
battle was still raging.

You see, it was the merest piece of luck in the world
that my first appearance in Birchespool was not in the
dock of the police-court.  I should have had no one to
answer for me, if I had been arrested, and should have
been put quite on a level with my adversary.  I daresay
you think I made a great fool of myself, but I should
like to know how I could have acted otherwise.  The only
thing that I feel now is my loneliness.  What a lucky
fellow you are with your wife and child!

After all, I see more and more clearly that both men
and women are incomplete, fragmentary, mutilated
creatures, as long as they are single.  Do what they may
to persuade themselves that their state is the happiest,
they are still full of vague unrests, of dim, ill-defined
dissatisfactions, of a tendency to narrow ways and
selfish thoughts.  Alone each is a half-made being, with
every instinct and feeling yearning for its missing
moiety.  Together they form a complete and symmetrical
whole, the minds of each strongest where that of the
other needs reinforcing.  I often think that if our souls
survive death (and I believe they do, though I base my
believe on very different grounds from yours), every male
soul will have a female one attached to or combined with
it, to round it off and give it symmetry.  So thought the
old Mormon, you remember, who used it as an argument for
his creed.  "You cannot take your railway stocks into the
next world with you," he said.  "But with all our wives
and children we should make a good start in the world to

I daresay you are smiling at me, as you read this,
from the vantage ground of your two years of matrimony.
It will be long before I shall be able to put my views
into practice.

Well, good-bye, my dear old chap!  As I said at the
beginning of my letter, the very thought of you is good
for me, and never more so than at this moment, when I am
alone in a strange city, with very dubious prospects, and
an uncertain future.  We differ as widely as the poles,
you and I, and have done ever since I have known you.
You are true to your faith, I to my reason--you to your
family belief, I to my own ideas; but our friendship
shows that the real essentials of a man, and his affinity
for others, depends upon quite other things than views on
abstract questions.  Anyway, I can say with all my heart
that I wish I saw you with that old corncob of yours
between your teeth, sitting in that ricketty American-
leather armchair, with the villanous lodging-house
antimacassar over the back of it.  It is good of you to
tell me how interested you are in my commonplace
adventures; though if I had not KNOWN that you were
so, you may be sure that I should never have ventured to
inflict any of them upon you.  My future is now all
involved in obscurity, but it is obvious that the first
thing I must do is to find a fitting house, and my second
to cajole the landlord into letting me enter into
possession of it without any prepayment.  To that I will
turn myself to-morrow morning, and you shall know the
result.  Whom should I hear from the other day but Archie
McLagan?  Of course it was a begging letter.  You can
judge how far I am in a state to lose money; but in a hot
fit I sent him ten shillings, which now, in my cold, I
bitterly regret.  With every good wish to you and yours,
including your town, your State, and your great country,
yours as ever.



Birchespool is really a delightful place, dear
Bertie; and I ought to know something about it, seeing
that I have padded a good hundred miles through its
streets during the last seven days.  Its mineral springs
used to be quite the mode a century or more ago; and it
retains many traces of its aristocratic past, carrying it
with a certain grace, too, as an emigre countess
might wear the faded dress which had once rustled in
Versailles.  I forget the new roaring suburbs with their
out-going manufactures and their incoming wealth, and I
live in the queer health-giving old city of the past.
The wave of fashion has long passed over it, but a
deposit of dreary respectability has been left behind.
In the High Street you can see the long iron
extinguishers upon the railings where the link-boys used
to put out their torches, instead of stamping upon them
or slapping them on the pavement, as was the custom
in less high-toned quarters.  There are the very high
curbstones too, so that Lady Teazle or Mrs. Sneerwell
could step out of coach or sedan chair without soiling
her dainty satin shoes.  It brings home to me what an
unstable chemical compound man is.  Here are the stage
accessories as good as ever, while the players have all
split up into hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and
carbon, with traces of iron and silica and phosphorus.
A tray full of chemicals and three buckets of water,--
there is the raw material of my lady in the sedan chair!
It's a curious double picture, if one could but conjure
it up.  On the one side, the high-born bucks, the mincing
ladies, the scheming courtiers, pushing and planning, and
striving every one of them to attain his own petty
object.  Then for a jump of a hundred years.  What is
this in the corner of the old vault?  Margarine and
chlesterine, carbonates, sulphates, and ptomaines!  We
turn from it in loathing, and as we go we carry with us
that from which we fly.

But, mind you, Bertie, I have a very high respect for
the human body, and I hold that it has been unduly
snubbed and maligned by divines and theologians:
"our gross frames" and "our miserable mortal clay" are
phrases which to my mind partake more of blasphemy than
of piety.  It is no compliment to the Creator to
depreciate His handiwork.  Whatever theory or belief we
may hold about the soul, there can, I suppose, be no
doubt that the body is immortal.  Matter may be
transformed (in which case it may be re-transformed), but
it can never be destroyed.  If a comet were to strike
this globule of ours, and to knock it into a billion
fragments, which were splashed all over the solar
system--if its fiery breath were to lick up the earth's
surface until it was peeled like an orange, still at the
end of a hundred millions of years every tiniest particle
of our bodies would exist--in other forms and
combinations, it is true, but still those very atoms
which now form the forefinger which traces these words.
So the child with the same wooden bricks will build a
wall, then strew them on the table; then a tower, then
strew once more, and so ever with the same bricks.

But then our individuality?  I often wonder whether
something of that wilt cling to our atoms--whether the
dust of Johnnie Munro will ever have something of
him about it, and be separable from that of Bertie
Swanborough.  I think it is possible that we DO
impress ourselves upon the units of our own structure.
There are facts which tend to show that every tiny
organic cell of which a man is composed, contains in its
microcosm a complete miniature of the individual of which
it forms a part.  The ovum itself from which we are all
produced is, as you know, too small to be transfixed upon
the point of a fine needle; and yet within that narrow
globe lies the potentiality, not only for reproducing the
features of two individuals, but even their smallest
tricks of habit and of thought.  Well, if a single cell
contains so much, perhaps a single molecule and atom has
more than we think.

Have you ever had any personal experience of dermoid
cysts?  We had one in Cullingworth's practice just before
his illness, and we were both much excited about it.
They seem to me to be one of those wee little chinks
through which one may see deep into Nature's workings.
In this case the fellow, who was a clerk in the post
office, came to us with a swelling over his eyebrow.  We
opened it under the impression that it was an
abscess, and found inside some hair and a
rudimentary jaw with teeth in it.  You know that such
cases are common enough in surgery, and that no
pathological museum is without an example.

But what are we to understand by it?  So startling a
phenomenon must have a deep meaning.  That can only be,
I think, that EVERY cell in the body has the power
latent in it by which it may reproduce the whole
individual--and that occasionally under some special
circumstances--some obscure nervous or vascular
excitement--one of these microscopic units of structure
actually does make a clumsy attempt in that direction.

But, my goodness, where have I got to?  All this
comes from the Birchespool lamp-posts and curb-stones.
And I sat down to write such a practical letter too!
However, I give you leave to be as dogmatic and didactic
as you like in return.  Cullingworth says my head is like
a bursting capsule, with all the seeds getting loose.
Poor seed, too, I fear, but some of it may lodge
somewhere--or not, as Fate pleases.

I wrote to you last on the night that I reached here.
Next morning I set to work upon my task.  You would be
surprised (at least I was) to see how practical and
methodical I can be.  First of all I walked down to the
post-office and I bought a large shilling map of the
town.  Then back I came and pinned this out upon the
lodging-house table.  This done, I set to work to study
it, and to arrange a series of walks by which I should
pass through every street of the place.  You have no idea
what that means until you try to do it.  I used to have
breakfast, get out about ten, walk till one, have a cheap
luncheon (I can do well on three-pence), walk till four,
get back and note results.  On my map I put a cross for
every empty house and a circle for every doctor.  So at
the end of that time I had a complete chart of the whole
place, and could see at a glance where there was a
possible opening, and what opposition there was at each

In the meantime I had enlisted a most unexpected
ally.  On the second evening a card was solemnly brought
up by the landlady's daughter from the lodger who
occupied the room below.  On it was inscribed "Captain
Whitehall"; and then underneath, in brackets, "Armed
Transport."  On the back of the card was written,
"Captain Whitehall (Armed Transport) presents his
compliments to Dr. Munro, and would be glad of his
company to supper at 8.30."  To this I answered, "Dr.
Munro presents his compliments to Captain Whitehall
(Armed Transport), and will be most happy to accept his
kind invitation."  What "Armed Transport" might mean I
had not an idea, but I thought it well to include it, as
he seemed so particular about it himself.

On descending I found a curious-looking figure in a
gray dressing-gown with a purple cord.  He was an elderly
man--his hair not quite white yet, but well past mouse
colour.  His beard and moustache, however, were of a
yellowish brown, and his face all puckered and shot with
wrinkles, spare and yet puffy, with hanging bags under
his singular light blue eyes.

"By God, Dr. Munro, sir," said he, as he shook my
hand.  "I take it as very kind of you that you should
accept an informal invitation.  I do, sir, by God!"

This sentence was, as it proved, a very typical one,
for he nearly always began and ended each with an oath,
while the centre was, as a rule, remarkable for a
certain suave courtesy.  So regular was his formula that
I may omit it and you suppose it, every time that he
opened his mouth.  A dash here and there will remind you.

It's been my practice, Dr. Munro, sir, to make
friends with my neighbours through life; and some strange
neighbours I have had.   By ----, sir, humble as you see
me, I have sat with a general on my right, and an admiral
on my left, and my toes up against a British ambassador.
That was when I commanded the armed transport Hegira
in the Black Sea in '55.  Burst up in the great gale in
Balaclava Bay, sir, and not as much left as you could
pick your teeth with."

There was a strong smell of whisky in the room, and
an uncorked bottle upon the mantelpiece.  The captain
himself spoke with a curious stutter, which I put down at
first to a natural defect; but his lurch as he, turned
back to his armchair showed me that he had had as much as
he could carry.

"Not much to offer you, Dr. Munro, sir.  The hind leg
of a ---- duck, and a sailor's welcome.  Not Royal
Navy, sir, though I have a ---- sight better manners than
many that are.  No, sir, I fly no false colours, and put
no R. N. after my name; but I'm the Queen's servant, by
----!  No mercantile marine about me!  Have a wet, sir!
It's the right stuff, and I have drunk enough to know the

Well, as the supper progressed I warmed with the
liquor and the food, and I told my new acquaintance all
about my plans and intentions.  I didn't realise how
lonely I had been until I found the pleasure of talking.
He listened to it all with much sympathy, and to my
horror tossed off a whole tumbler-full of neat whisky to
my success.  So enthusiastic was he that it was all I
could do to prevent him from draining a second one.

"You'll do it, Dr. Munro, sir!" he cried.  "I know a
man when I see one, and you'll do it.  There's my hand,
sir!  I'm with you!  You needn't be ashamed to grasp it,
for by ----, though I say it myself, it's been open to
the poor and shut to a bully ever since I could suck
milk.  Yes, sir, you'll make a good ship-mate, and
I'm ---- glad to have you on my poop.

For the remainder of the evening his fixed delusion
was that I had come to serve under him; and he read me
long rambling lectures about ship's discipline, still
always addressing me as "Dr. Munro. sir."  At last,
however, his conversation became unbearable--a foul young
man is odious, but a foul old one is surely the most
sickening thing on earth.  One feels that the white upon
the hair, like that upon the mountain, should signify a
height attained.  I rose and bade him good-night, with a
last impression of him leaning back in his dressing-gown,
a sodden cigar-end in the corner of his mouth, his beard
all slopped with whisky, and his half-glazed eyes looking
sideways after me with the leer of a satyr.  I had to go
into the street and walk up and down for half-an-hour
before I felt clean enough to go to bed.

Well, I wanted to see no more of my neighbour, but in
he came as I was sitting at breakfast, smelling like a
bar-parlour, with stale whisky oozing at every pore.

"Good morning, Dr. Munro, sir," said he, holding
out a twitching hand.  "I compliment you, sir!  You look
fresh, ---- fresh, and me with a head like a toy-shop.
We had a pleasant, quiet evening, and I took nothing to
hurt, but it is the ---- relaxing air of this place that
settles me.  I can't bear up against it.  Last year it
gave me the horrors, and I expect it will again.  You're
off house-hunting, I suppose?"

"I start immediately after breakfast."

"I take a cursed interest in the whole thing.  You
may think it a ---- impertinence, but that's the way I'm
made.  As long as I can steam I'll throw a rope to
whoever wants a tow.  I'll tell you what I'll do, Dr.
Munro, sir.  I'll stand on one tack if you'll stand on
the other, and I'll let you know if I come across
anything that will do."

There seemed to be no alternative between taking him
with me, or letting him go alone; so I could only thank
him and let him have carte blanche.  Every night he would
turn up, half-drunk as a rule, having, I believe, walked
his ten or fifteen miles as conscientiously as I had
done.  He came with the most grotesque suggestions.  

Once he had actually entered into negotiations with
the owner of a huge shop, a place that had been a
raper's, with a counter about sixty feet long.  His
reason was that he knew an innkeeper who had done very
well a little further down on the other side.  Poor old
"armed transport" worked so hard that I could not help
being touched and grateful; yet I longed from my heart
that he would stop for he was a most unsavoury agent, and
I never knew what extraordinary step he might take in my
name.  He introduced me to two other men, one of them a
singular-looking creature named Turpey, who was
struggling along upon a wound-pension, having, when only
a senior midshipman, lost the sight of one eye and the
use of one arm through the injuries he received at some
unpronounceable Pah in the Maori war.  The other was a
sad-faced poetical-looking man, of good birth as I
understood, who had been disowned by his family on the
occasion of his eloping with the cook.  His name was
Carr, and his chief peculiarity, that he was so regular
in his irregularities that he could always tell the time
of day by the state of befuddlement that he was in.  He
would cock his head, think over his own symptoms,
and then give you the hour fairly correctly.  An unusual
drink would disarrange him, however; and if you forced
the pace in the morning, he would undress and go to bed
about tea-time, with a full conviction that all the
clocks had gone mad.  These two strange waifs were among
the craft to whom old Whitehall had in his own words,
"thrown a rope"; and long after I had gone to bed I could
hear the clink of their glasses, and the tapping of their
pipes against the fender in the room below.

Well, when I had finished my empty-house-and-doctor
chart, I found that there was one villa to let, which
undoubtedly was far the most suitable for my purpose.  In
the first place it was fairly cheap-forty pounds, or
fifty with taxes.  The front looked well.  It had no
garden.  It stood with the well-to-do quarter upon the
one side, and the poorer upon the other.  Finally, it was
almost at the intersection of four roads, one of which
was a main artery of the town.  Altogether, if I had
ordered a house for my purpose I could hardly have got
anything better, and I was thrilled with apprehension
lest some one should get before me to the agent.  I
hurried round and burst into the office with a
precipitancy which rather startled the demure clerk

His replies, however, were reassuring.  The house was
still to let.  It was not quite the quarter yet, but I
could enter into possession.  I must sign an agreement to
take it for one year, and it was usual to pay a quarter's
rent in advance.

I don't know whether I turned colour a little.

"In advance!" I said, as carelessly as I could.

"It is usual."

"Or references?"

"Well, that depends, of couse{sic}, upon the

"Not that it matters much," said I.  (Heaven forgive
me!)  "Still, if it is the same to the firm, I may as
well pay by the quarter, as I shall do afterwards."

"What names did you propose to give?" he asked.

My heart gave a bound, for I knew that all was right.
My uncle, as you know, won his knighthood in the
Artillery, and though I have seen nothing of him, I knew
that he was the man to pull me out of this tight corner.

"There's my uncle, Sir Alexander Munro, Lismore
House, Dublin," said I.  "He would be happy to answer any
inquiry, and so would my friend Dr. Cullingworth of

I brought him down with both barrels.  I could see it
by his eyes and the curve of his back.

"I have no doubt that that will be quite
satisfactory," said he.  "Perhaps you would kindly sign
the agreement."

I did so, and drew my hind foot across the Rubicon.
The die was cast.  Come what might, 1 Oakley Villas was
on my hand for a twelve-month.

"Would you like the key now?"

I nearly snatched it out of his hands.  Then away I
ran to take possession of my property.  Never shall I
forget my feelings, my dear Bertie, when the key clicked
in the lock, and the door flew open.  It was my own
house--all my very own!  I shut the door again, the noise
of the street died down, and I had, in that empty, dust-
strewn hall, such a sense of soothing privacy as had
never come to me before.  In all my life it was the first
time that I had ever stood upon boards which were not
paid for by another.

Then I proceeded to go from room to room with a
delicious sense of exploration.  There were two upon the
ground floor, sixteen feet square each, and I saw with
satisfaction that the wall papers were in fair condition.
The front one would make a consulting room, the other a
waiting room, though I did not care to reflect who was
most likely to do the waiting.  I was in the highest
spirits, and did a step dance in each room as an official

Then down a winding wooden stair to the basement,
where were kitchen and scullery, dimly lit, and asphalt-
floored.  As I entered the latter I stood staring.  In
every corner piles of human jaws were grinning at me.
The place was a Golgotha!  In that half light the effect
was sepulchral.  But as I approached and picked up one of
them the mystery vanished.  They were of plaster-of-
Paris, and were the leavings evidently of the dentist,
who had been the last tenant.  A more welcome sight was
a huge wooden dresser with drawers and a fine cupboard in
the corner.  It only wanted a table and a chair to be a
furnished room.

Then I ascended again and went up the first flight of
stairs.  There were two other good sized apartments
there.  One should be my bedroom, and the other a spare
room.  And then another flight with two more.  One for
the servant, when I had one, and the other for a guest.

 From the windows I had a view of the undulating gray
back of the city, with the bustle of green tree tops.  It
was a windy day, and the clouds were drifting swiftly
across the heavens, with glimpses of blue between.  I
don't know how it was, but as I stood looking through the
grimy panes in the empty rooms a sudden sense of my own
individuality and of my responsibility to some higher
power came upon me, with a vividness which was
overpowering.  Here was a new chapter of my life about to
be opened.  What was to be the end of it?  I had
strength, I had gifts.  What was I going to do with them?
All the world, the street, the cabs, the houses, seemed
to fall away, and the mite of a figure and the
unspeakable Guide of the Universe were for an instant
face to face.  I was on my knees--hurled down all against
my own will, as it were.  And even then I could find no
words to say.  Only vague yearnings and emotions and a
heartfelt wish to put my shoulder to the great wheel of
good.  What could I say?  Every prayer seemed based
on the idea that God was a magnified man--that He needed
asking and praising and thanking.  Should the cog of the
wheel creak praise to the Engineer?  Let it rather cog
harder, and creak less.  Yet I did, I confess, try to put
the agitation of my soul into words.  I meant it for a
prayer; but when I considered afterwards the "supposing
thats" and "in case ofs" with which it was sprinkled, it
must have been more like a legal document.  And yet I
felt soothed and happier as I went downstairs again.

I tell you this, Bertie, because if I put reason
above emotion I would not have you think that I am not
open to attacks of the latter also.  I feel that what I
say about religion is too cold and academic.  I feel that
there should be something warmer and sweeter and more
comforting.  But if you ask me to buy this at the price
of making myself believe a thing to be true, which all
that is nearest the divine in me cries out against, then
you are selling your opiates too high.  I'm a volunteer
for "God's own forlorn hope," and I'll clamber up the
breech as long as I think I can see the flag of
truth waving in front of me.

Well, my next two cares were to get drugs and
furniture.  The former I was sure that I could obtain on
long credit; while the latter I was absolutely determined
not to get into debt over.  I wrote to the Apothecaries'
Company, giving the names of Cullingworth and of my
father, and ordering twelve pounds' worth of tinctures,
infusions, pills, powders, ointments, and bottles.
Cullingworth must, I should think, have been one of their
very largest customers, so I knew very well that my order
would meet with prompt attention.

There remained the more serious matter of the
furniture.  I calculated that when my lodgings were paid
for I might, without quite emptying my purse, expend four
pounds upon furniture--not a large allowance for a good
sized villa.  That would leave me a few shillings to go
on with, and before they were exhausted Cullingworth's
pound would come in.  Those pounds, however, would be
needed for the rent, so I could hardly reckon upon them
at all, as far as my immediate wants went.  I found in
the columns of the Birchespool Post that there
was to be a sale of furniture that evening, and I went
down to the auctioneer's rooms, accompanied, much against
my will, by Captain Whitehall, who was very drunk and

"By God, Dr. Munro, sir, I'm the man that's going to
stick to you.  I'm only an old sailor-man, sir, with
perhaps more liquor than sense; but I'm the Queen's
servant, and touch my pension every quarter day.  I don't
claim to be R. N., but I'm not merchant service either.
Here I am, rotting in lodgings, but by ----, Dr. Munro,
sir, I carried seven thousand stinking Turks from Varna
to Balaclava Bay.  I'm with you, Dr. Munro, and we put
this thing through together."

We came to the auction rooms and we stood on the
fringe of the crowd waiting for our chance.  Presently up
went a very neat little table.  I gave a nod and got it
for nine shillings.  Then three rather striking looking
chairs, black wood and cane bottoms.  Four shillings each
I gave for those.  Then a metal umbrella-stand, four and
sixpence.  That was a mere luxury, but I was warming to
the work.  A job lot of curtains all tied together
in a bundle went up.  Somebody bid five shillings.  The
auctioneer's eye came round to me, and I nodded.  Mine
again for five and sixpence.  Then I bought a square of
red drugget for half-a-crown, a small iron bed for nine
shillings, three watercolour paintings, "Spring," "The
Banjo Player," and "Windsor Castle," for five shillings;
a tiny fender, half-a-crown; a toilet set, five
shillings; another very small square-topped table, three
and sixpence.  Whenever I bid for anything, Whitehall
thrust his black-thorn up into the air, and presently I
found him doing so on my behalf when I had no intention
of buying.  I narrowly escaped having to give fourteen
and sixpence for a stuffed macaw in a glass case.

"It would do to hang in your hall, Dr. Munro, sir,"
said he when I remonstrated with him.

"I should have to hang myself in my hall soon if I
spent my money like that," said I. "I've got as much as
I can afford now, and I must stop."

When the auction was over, I paid my bill and had my
goods hoisted on to a trolly, the porter undertaking
to deliver them for two shillings.  I found that I had
over-estimated the cost of furnishing, for the total
expense was little more than three pounds.  We walked
round to Oakley Villa, and I proudly deposited all my
goods in the hall.  And here came another extraordinary
example of the kindness of the poorer classes.  The
porter when I had paid him went out to his trolly and
returned with a huge mat of oakum, as ugly a thing as I
have ever set eyes upon.  This he laid down inside my
door, and then without a word, brushing aside every
remonstrance or attempt at thanks, he vanished away with
his trolly into the night.

Next morning I came round to my house--MY house,
my boy!--for good and all, after paying off my landlady.
Her bill came to more than I expected, for I only had
breakfast and tea, always "dining out" as I majestically
expressed it.  However, it was a relief to me to get it
settled, and to go round with my box to Oakley Villas.
An ironmonger had fixed my plate on to the railings for
half-a-crown the evening before, and there it was,
glittering in the sun, when I came round.  It made
me quite shy to look at it, and I slunk into the house
with a feeling that every window in the street had a face
in it.

But once inside, there was so much to be done that
I did not know what I should turn to first.  I bought a
one-and-ninepenny broom and set to work.  You notice that
I am precise about small sums, because just there lies
the whole key of the situation.  In the yard I found a
zinc pail with a hole in it, which was most useful, for
by its aid I managed to carry up all the jaws with which
my kitchen was heaped.  Then with my new broom, my coat
hung on a gas-bracket and my shirt sleeves turned to the
elbow, I cleaned out the lower rooms and the hall,
brushing the refuse into the yard.  After that I did as
much for the upper floor, with the result that I brought
several square yards of dust down into the hall again,
and undid my previous cleaning.  This was disheartening,
but at least it taught me to begin at the furthest point
in future.  When I had finished, I was as hot and dirty
as if it were half-time at a football match.  I thought
of our tidy charwoman at home, and realised what
splendid training she must be in.

Then came the arranging of the furniture.  The hall
was easily managed, for the planks were of a dark colour,
which looked well of themselves.  My oakum mat and my
umbrella stand were the only things in it; but I bought
three pegs for sixpence, and fastened them up at the
side, completing the effect by hanging my two hats upon
them.  Finally, as the expanse of bare floor was
depressing, I fixed one of my curtains about halfway down
it, draping it back, so that it had a kind of oriental
look, and excited a vague idea of suites of apartments
beyond.  It was a fine effect, and I was exceedingly
proud of it.

From that I turned to the most important point of
all--the arrangement of my consulting room.  My
experience with Cullingworth had taught me one thing at
least,--that patients care nothing about your house if
they only think that you can cure them.  Once get that
idea into their heads, and you may live in a vacant stall
in a stable and write your prescriptions on the manger.
Still, as this was, for many a day to come, to be the
only furnished room in my house, it was worth a
little planning to get it set out to the best advantage.

My red drugget I laid out in the centre, and fastened
it down with brass-headed nails.  It looked much smaller
than I had hoped,--a little red island on an ocean of
deal board, or a postage stamp in the middle of an
envelope.  In the centre of it I placed my table, with
three medical works on one side of it, and my
stethoscope and dresser's case upon the other.  One chair
went with the table, of course; and then I spent the next
ten minutes in trying to determine whether the other two
looked better together--a dense block of chairs, as it
were--or scattered so that the casual glance would get
the idea of numerous chairs.  I placed them finally  one
on the right, and one in front of the table.  Then I put
down my fender, and nailed "Spring," "The Banjo Players,"
and "Windsor Castle" on to three of the walls, with the
mental promise that my first spare half-crown should buy
a picture for the fourth.  In the window I placed my
little square table, and balanced upon it a photograph
with an ivory mounting and a nice plush frame which I had
brought in my trunk.  Finally, I found a pair of
dark brown curtains among the job lot which I had bought
at the sale, and these I put up and drew pretty close
together, so that a subdued light came into the room,
which toned everything down, and made the dark corners
look furnished.  When I had finished I really do not
believe that any one could have guessed that the total
contents of that room came to about thirty shillings.

Then I pulled my iron bed upstairs and fixed it in
the room which I had from the first determined upon as my
bedchamber.  I found an old packing case in the yard--a
relic of my predecessor's removal--and this made a very
good wash-hand stand for my basin and jug.  When it was
all fixed up I walked, swelling with pride, through my
own chambers, giving a touch here and a touch there until
I had it perfect.  I wish my mother could see it--or, on
second thoughts, I don't; for I know that her first act
would be to prepare gallons of hot water, and to
holystone the whole place down, from garret to cellar--
and I know by my own small experience what that means.

Well, that's as far as I've got as yet.  What
trivial, trivial stuff, interesting to hardly a soul
under heaven, save only about three!  Yet it pleases me
to write as long as I have your assurance that it pleases
you to read.  Pray, give my kindest remembrances to your
wife, and to Camelford also, if he should happen to come
your way.  He was on the Mississippi when last I heard.



When I had made all those dispositions which I
described with such painful prolixity in my last letter,
my dear Bertie, I sat down on my study chair, and I laid
out the whole of my worldly wealth upon the table in
front of me.  I was startled when I looked at it,--three
half-crowns, a florin, and four sixpences, or eleven and
sixpence in all.  I had expected to hear from
Cullingworth before this; but at least he was always
there, a trusty friend, at my back.  Immediately upon
engaging the house I had written him a very full letter,
telling him that I had committed myself to keeping it for
one year, but assuring him that I was quite convinced
that with the help which he had promised me I should be
able to hold my own easily.  I described the favourable
position of the house, and gave him every detail of the
rent and neighbourhood.  That letter would, I
was sure, bring a reply from him which would contain my
weekly remittance.  One thing I had, above all,
determined upon.  That was that, whatever hardships might
lie before me, I would fight through them without help
from home.  I knew, of course, that my mother would have
sold everything down to her gold eye-glasses to help me,
and that no thought of our recent disagreement would have
weighed with her for an instant; but still a man has his
feelings, you know, and I did not propose to act against
her judgment and then run howling for help.

I sat in my house all day, with that ever-present
sense of privacy and novelty which had thrilled me when
I first shut the street door behind me.  At evening I
sallied out and bought a loaf of bread, half a pound of
tea ("sweepings," they call it, and it cost eightpence),
a tin kettle (fivepence), a pound of sugar, a tin of
Swiss milk, and a tin of American potted meat.  I had
often heard my mother groan over the expenses of
housekeeping, and now I began to understand what she
meant.  Two and ninepence went like a flash, but at least
I had enough to keep myself going for some days.

There was a convenient gas bracket in the back room.
I hammered a splinter of wood into the wall above it, and
so made an arm upon which I could hang my little kettle
and boil it over the flame.  The attraction of the idea
was that there was no immediate expense, and many things
would have happened before I was called upon to pay the
gas bill.  The back room was converted then into both
kitchen and dining room.  The sole furniture consisted of
my box, which served both as cupboard, as table, and as
chair.  My eatables were all kept inside, and when I
wished for a meal I had only to pick them out and lay
them on the lid, leaving room for myself to sit beside

It was only when I went to my bedroom that I realised
the oversights which I had made in my furnishing.  There
was no mattress and no pillow or bed-clothes.  My mind
had been so centred upon the essentials for the practice,
that I had never given a thought to my own private wants.
I slept that night upon the irons of my bed, and rose up
like St. Lawrence from the gridiron.  My second suit of
clothes with Bristowe's "Principles of Medicine" made an
excellent pillow, while on a warm June night a man
can do well wrapped in his overcoat.  I had no fancy for
second-hand bed-clothes, and determined until I could buy
some new ones, to make myself a straw pillow, and to put
on both my suits of clothes on the colder nights.  Two
days later, however, the problem was solved in more
luxurious style by the arrival of a big brown tin box
from my mother, which was as welcome to me, and as much
of a windfall, as the Spanish wreck to Robinson Crusoe.
There were too pairs of thick blankets, two sheets, a
counterpane, a pillow, a camp-stool, two stuffed bears'
paws (of all things in this world!), two terra-cotta
vases, a tea-cosy, two pictures in frames, several books,
an ornamental ink-pot, and a number of antimacassars and
coloured tablecloths.  It is not until you own a table
with a deal top and mahogany legs, that you understand
what the true inner meaning of an ornamental cloth is.
Right on the top of this treasure came a huge hamper from
the Apothecaries' Society with the drugs which I had
ordered.  When they were laid out in line, the bottles
extended right down one side of the dining-room and
half down the other.  As I walked through my house and
viewed my varied possessions, I felt less radical in my
views, and begun to think that there might be something
in the rights of property after all.

And I added to my effects in a marvellous way.  I
made myself an excellent mattress out of some sacking and
the straw in which the medicine bottles had been packed.

Again, out of three shutters which belonged to the
room, I rigged up a very effective side-table for my own
den, which when covered with a red cloth, and ornamented
with the bears' paws, might have cost twenty guineas for
all that the patient could say to the contrary.  I had
done all this with a light heart and a good spirit before
the paralysing blow which I shall have to tell you about,
came upon me.

Of course it was obvious from the first that a
servant was out of the question.  I could not feed one,
far less pay one, and I had no kitchen furniture.  I must
open my door to my own patients--let them think what they
would of it.  I must clean my own plate and brush down my
own front; and these duties must be thoroughly done,
come what might, for I must show a presentable outside to
the public.  Well, there was no great hardship in that,
for I could do it under the cover of night.  But I had
had a suggestion from my mother which simplified matters
immensely.  She had written to say that if I wished she
would send my little brother Paul to keep me company.  I
wrote back eagerly to agree.  He was a hardy cheery
little fellow of nine, who would, I knew, gladly share
hard times with me; while, if they became unduly so, I
could always have him taken home again.  Some weeks must
pass before he could come, but it cheered me to think of
him.  Apart from his company, there were a thousand ways
in which he might be useful.

Who should come in on the second day but old Captain
Whitehall?  I was in the back room, trying how many
slices I could make out of a pound of potted beef, when
he rang my bell, and I only just shut my mouth in time to
prevent my heart jumping out.

How that bell clanged through the empty house!  I saw
who it was, however, when I went into the hall; for the
middle panels of my door are of glazed glass, so
that I can always study a silhouette of my visitors
before coming to closer quarters.

I was not quite sure yet whether I loathed the man or
liked him.  He was the most extraordinary mixture of
charity and drunkenness, lechery and self-sacrifice that
I had ever come across.  But he brought into the house
with him a whiff of cheeriness and hope for which I could
not but be grateful.  He had a large brown paper parcel
under his arm, which he unwrapped upon my table,
displaying a great brown jar.  This he carried over and
deposited on the centre of my mantel-piece.

"You will permit me, Dr. Munro, sir, to place this
trifle in your room.  It's lava, sir; lava from Vesuvius,
and made in Naples.  By ----, you may think its empty,
Dr. Munro, sir, but it is full of my best wishes; and
when you've got the best practice in this town you may
point to that vase and tell how it came from a skipper of
an armed transport, who backed you from the start."

I tell you, Bertie, the tears started to my eyes, and
I could hardly gulp out a word or two of thanks.
What a crisscross of qualities in one human soul!  It was
not the deed or the words; but it was the almost womanly
look in the eyes of this broken, drink-sodden old
Bohemian--the sympathy and the craving for sympathy which
I read there.  Only for an instant though, for he
hardened again into his usual reckless and half defiant

"There's another thing, sir.  I've been thinking for
some time back of having a medical opinion on myself.
I'd be glad to put myself under your hands, if you would
take a survey of me."

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"Dr. Munro, sir," said he, "I am a walking museum.
You could fit what ISN'T the matter with me on to the
back of a ---- visiting card.  If there's any complaint
you want to make a special study of, just you come to me,
sir, and see what I can do for you.  It's not every one
that can say that he has had cholera three times, and
cured himself by living on red pepper and brandy.  If you
can only set the ---- little germs sneezing they'll soon
leave you alone.  That's my theory about cholera, and you
should make a note of it, Dr. Munro, sir, for I was
shipmates with fifty dead men when I was commanding the
armed transport Hegira in the Black Sea, and I know
---- well what I am talking about."

I fill in Whitehall's oaths with blanks because I
feel how hopeless it is to reproduce their energy and
variety.  I was amazed when he stripped, for his whole
body was covered with a perfect panorama of tattooings,
with a big blue Venus right over his heart.

"You may knock," said he, when I began to percuss his
chest, "but I am ---- sure there's no one at home.
They've all gone visiting one another.  Sir John Hutton
had a try some years ago.  `Why, dammy, man, where's your
liver?' said he.  `Seems to me that some one has stirred
you up with a porridge stick,' said he.  `Nothing is in
its right place.'  `Except my heart, Sir John,' said I.
`Aye, by ----, that will never lose its moorings while it
has a flap left.'"

Well, I examined him, and I found his own account not
very far from the truth.  I went over him carefully from
head to foot, and there was not much left as Nature made
it.  He had mitral regurgitation, cirrhosis of the
liver, Bright's disease, an enlarged spleen, and
incipient dropsy.  I gave him a lecture about the
necessity of temperance, if not of total abstinence; but
I fear that my words made no impression.  He chuckled,
and made a kind of clucking noise in his throat all the
time that I was speaking, but whether in assent or
remonstrance I cannot say.

He pulled out his purse when I had finished, but I
begged him to look on my small service as a mere little
act of friendship.  This would not do at all, however,
and he seemed so determined about it that I was forced to
give way.

"My fee is five shillings, then, since you insist
upon making it a business matter."

"Dr.  Munro, sir," he broke out, "I have been
examined by men whom I wouldn't throw a bucket of water
over if they were burning, and I never paid them less
than a guinea.  Now that I have come to a gentleman and
a friend, stiffen me purple if I pay one farthing less."

So, after much argument, it ended in the kind fellow
going off and leaving a sovereign and a shilling on the
edge of my table.  The money burned my fingers, for I
knew that his pension was not a very large one; and
yet, since I could not avoid taking it, there was no
denying that it was exceedingly useful.  Out I sallied
and spent sixteen shillings of it upon a new palliasse
which should go under the straw mattress upon my bed.
Already, you see, I was getting to a state of enervating
luxury in my household arrangements, and I could only
lull my conscience by reminding myself that little Paul
would have to sleep with me when he came.

However, I had not quite got to the end of
Whitehall's visit yet.  When I went back I took down the
beautiful lava jug, and inside I found his card.  On the
back was written, "You have gone into action, sir.  It
may be your fate to sink or to swim, but it can never be
your degradation to strike.  Die on the last plank and be
damned to you, or come into port with your ensign flying

Was it not fine?  It stirred my blood, and the words
rang like a bugle call in my head.  It braced me, and the
time was coming when all the bracing I could get would
not be too much.  I copied it out, and pinned it on one
side of my mantel-piece.  On the other I stuck up a chip
from Carlyle, which I daresay is as familiar to you
as to me.  "One way or another all the light, energy, and
available virtue which we have does come out of us, and
goes very infallibly into God's treasury, living and
working through eternities there.  We are not lost--not
a single atom of us--of one of us."  Now, there is a
religious sentence which is intellectually satisfying,
and therefore morally sound.

This last quotation leads to my second visitor.  Such
a row we had!  I make a mistake in telling you about it,
for I know your sympathies will be against me; but at
least it will have the good effect of making you boil
over into a letter of remonstrance and argument than
which nothing could please me better.

Well, the second person whom I admitted through my
door was the High Church curate of the parish--at least,
I deduced High Church from his collar and the cross which
dangled from his watch chain.  He seemed to be a fine
upstanding manly fellow--in fact, I am bound in honesty
to admit that I have never met the washy tea-party curate
outside the pages of Punch.  As a body, I think they
would compare very well in manliness (I do not say
in brains) with as many young lawyers or doctors.  Still,
I have no love for the cloth.  Just as cotton, which is
in itself the most harmless substance in the world,
becomes dangerous on being dipped into nitric acid, so
the mildest of mortals is to be feared if he is once
soaked in sectarian religion.  If he has any rancour or
hardness in him it will bring it out.  I was therefore by
no means overjoyed to see my visitor, though I trust that
I received him with fitting courtesy.  The quick little
glance of surprise which he shot round him as he entered
my consulting-room, told me that it was not quite what he
had expected.

"You see, the Vicar has been away for two years," he
explained, "and we have to look after things in his
absence.  His chest is weak, and he can't stand
Birchespool.  I live just opposite, and, seeing your
plate go up, I thought I would call and welcome you into
our parish."

I told him that I was very much obliged for the
attention.  If he had stopped there all would have been
well, and we should have had a pleasant little chat.  But
I suppose it was his sense of duty which would not permit

"I trust," said he, "that we shall see you at St.

I was compelled to explain that it was not probable.

"A Roman Catholic?" he asked, in a not unfriendly

I shook my head, but nothing would discourage him.

"Not a dissenter!" he exclaimed, with a sudden
hardening of his genial face.

I shook my head again.

"Ah, a little lax--a little remiss!" he said
playfully, and with an expression of relief.
"Professional men get into these ways.  They have much to
distract them.  At least, you cling fast, no doubt, to
the fundamental truths of Christianity?"

"I believe from the bottom of my heart," said I,
"that the Founder of it was the best and sweetest
character of whom we have any record in the history of
this planet."

But instead of soothing him, my conciliatory answer
seemed to be taken as a challenge.  "I trust," said he
severely, "that your belief goes further than that.  You,
are surely prepared to admit that He was an
incarnation of the God-head."

I began to feel like the old badger in his hole who
longs to have a scratch at the black muzzle which is so
eager to draw him.

"Does it not strike you," I said, "that if He were
but a frail mortal like ourselves, His life assumes a
much deeper significance?  It then becomes a standard
towards which we might work.  If, on the other hand, He
was intrinsically of a different nature to ourselves,
then His existence loses its point, since we and He start
upon a different basis.  To my mind it is obvious that
such a supposition takes away the beauty and the moral of
His life.  If He was divine then He COULD not sin,
and there was an end of the matter.  We who are not
divine and can sin, have little to learn from a life like

"He triumphed over sin," said my visitor, as if a
text or a phrase were an argument.

"A cheap triumph!" I said.  "You remember that Roman
emperor who used to descend into the arena fully armed,
and pit himself against some poor wretch who had only a
leaden foil which would double up at a thrust.
According to your theory of your Master's life, you would
have it that He faced the temptations of this world at
such an advantage that they were only harmless leaden
things, and not the sharp assailants which we find them.
I confess, in my own case, that my sympathy is as strong
when I think of His weaknesses as of His wisdom and His
virtue.  They come more home to me, I suppose, since I am
weak myself."

"Perhaps you would be good enough to tell me what has
impressed you as weak in His conduct?" asked my visitor

"Well, the more human traits--`weak' is hardly the
word I should have used.  His rebuke of the Sabbatarians,
His personal violence to the hucksters, His outbursts
against the Pharisees, His rather unreasoning petulance
against the fig-tree because it bore no fruit at the
wrong season of the year, His very human feeling towards
the housewife who bustled about when He was talking, his
gratification that the ointment should have been used for
Him instead of being devoted to the poor, His self-
distrust before the crisis--these make me realise
and love the man."

"You are a Unitarian, then, or rather, perhaps, a
mere Deist?" said the curate, with a combative flush.

"You may label me as you like," I answered (and by
this time I fear that I had got my preaching stop fairly
out); "I don't pretend to know what truth is, for it is
infinite, and I finite; but I know particularly well what
it is NOT.  It is not true that religion reached its
acme  nineteen hundred years ago, and that we are for
ever to refer back to what was written and said in those
days.  No, sir; religion is a vital living thing, still
growing and working, capable of endless extension and
development, like all other fields of thought.  There
were many eternal truths spoken of old and handed down to
us in a book, some parts of which may indeed be called
holy.  But there are others yet to be revealed; and if we
are to reject them because they are not in those pages,
we should act as wisely as the scientist who would take
no notice of Kirschoff's spectral analysis because there
is no mention of it in Albertus Magnus.  A modern
prophet may wear a broadcloth coat and write to the
magazines; but none the less he may be the little pipe
which conveys a tiny squirt from the reservoirs of truth.
Look at this!" I cried, rising and reading my Carlyle
text.  "That comes from no Hebrew prophet, but from a
ratepayer in Chelsea.  He and Emerson are also among the
prophets.  The Almighty has not said His last say to the
human race, and He can speak through a Scotchman or a New
Englander as easily as through a Jew.  The Bible, sir, is
a book which comes out in instalments, and `To be
continued,' not `Finis,' is written at the end of it."

My visitor had been showing every sign of acute
uneasiness during this long speech of mine.  Finally, he
sprang to his feet, and took his hat from the table.

"Your opinions are highly dangerous, sir," said he.
"It is my duty to tell you so.  You believe in nothing."

"Nothing which limits the power or the goodness of
the Almighty," I answered.

"You have evolved all this from your own
spiritual pride and self-sufficiency," said he,
hotly.  "Why do you not turn to that Deity whose name you
use.  Why do you not humble yourself before Him?"

"How do you know I don't?"

"You said yourself that you never went to church."

"I carry my own church about under my own hat," said
I.  "Bricks and mortar won't make a staircase to heaven.
I believe with your Master that the human heart is the
best temple.  I am sorry to see that you differ from Him
upon the point."

Perhaps it was too bad of me to say that.  I might
have guarded without countering.  Anyhow; it had the
effect of ending an interview which was becoming
oppressive.  My visitor was too indignant to answer, and
swept out of the room without a word.  From my window I
could see him hurry down the street, a little black angry
thing, very hot and troubled because he cannot measure
the whole universe with his pocket square and compasses.

 Think of it, and think of what he is, an atom among
atoms, standing at the meeting point of two
eternities!  But what am I, a brother atom, that I
should judge him?

After all, I own to you, that it might have been
better had I listened to what he had to say, and refused
to give my own views.  On the other hand, truth MUST
be as broad as the universe which it is to explain, and
therefore far broader than anything which the mind of man
can conceive.  A protest against sectarian thought must
always be an aspiration towards truth.  Who shall dare to
claim a monopoly of the Almighty?  It would be an
insolence on the part of a solar system, and yet it is
done every day by a hundred little cliques of mystery
mongers.  There lies the real impiety.

Well, the upshot of it all is, my dear Bertie, that
I have begun my practice by making an enemy of the man
who, of the whole parish, has the most power to injure
me.  I know what my father would think about it, if he

And now I come to the great event of this morning,
from which I am still gasping.  That villain Cullingworth
has cut the painter, and left me to drift as best I may.

My post comes at eight o'clock in the morning, and I
usually get my letters and take them into bed to read
them.  There was only one this morning, addressed in his
strange, unmistakable hand.  I made sure, of course, that
it was my promised remittance, and I opened it with a
pleasurable feeling of expectation.  This is a copy of
what I read:--

"When the maid was arranging your room after your
departure, she cleared some pieces of torn paper from
under the grate.  Seeing my name upon them, she brought
them, as in duty bound, to her mistress, who pasted them
together and found that they formed a letter from your
mother to you, in which I am referred to in the vilest
terms, such as `a bankrupt swindler' and `the
unscrupulous Cullingworth.'  I can only say that we are
astonished that you could have been a party to such a
correspondence while you were a guest under our roof, and
we refuse to have anything more to do with you in any
shape or form."

That was a nice little morning greeting was it not,
after I had, on the strength of his promise,
started in practice, and engaged a house for a year with
a few shillings in my pocket?  I  have given up smoking
for reasons of economy; but I felt that the situation was
worthy of a pipe, so I climbed out of bed, gathered a
little heap of tobacco-dust from the linings of my
pocket, and smoked the whole thing over.  That life-belt
of which I had spoken so confidingly had burst, and left
me to kick as best I might in very deep water.  I read
the note over and over again; and for all my dilemma, I
could not help laughing at the mingled meanness and
stupidity of the thing.  The picture of the host and
hostess busying themselves in gumming together the torn
letters of their departed guest struck me as one of the
funniest things I could remember.  And there was the
stupidity of it, because surely a child could have seen
that my mother's attack was in answer to my defence.  Why
should we write a duet each saying the same thing?  Well,
I'm still very confused about it all, and I don't in the
least know what I am going to do--more likely to die on
the last plank, than to get into port with my ensign
mast-high.  I must think it out and let you know the
result.  Come what may, one thing only is sure, and that
is that, in weal or woe, I remain, ever, your
affectionate and garrulous friend.



When I wrote my last letter, my dear Bertie, I was
still gasping, like a cod on a sand-bank, after my final
dismissal by Cullingworth.  The mere setting of it all
down in black and white seemed to clear the matter up,
and I felt much more cheery by the time I had finished my
letter.  I was just addressing the envelope (observe what
a continuous narrative you get of my proceedings!) when
I was set jumping out of my carpet slippers by a ring at
the bell.  Through the glass panel I observed that it was
a respectable-looking bearded individual with a top-hat.
It was a patient.  It MUST be a patient!  Then first
I realised what an entirely different thing it is to
treat the patient of another man (as I had done with
Horton) or to work a branch of another man's practice (as
I had done with Cullingworth), and to have to do
with a complete stranger on your own account.  I had been
thrilling to have one.  Now that he had come I felt for
an instant as if I would not open the door.  But of
course that was only a momentary weakness.  I answered
his ring with, I fear, rather a hypocritical air of
insouciance, as though I had happened to find myself in
the hall, and did not care to trouble the maid to ascend
the stairs.

"Dr. Stark Munro?" he asked.

"Pray step in," I answered, and waved him into the
consulting-room.  He was a pompous, heavy-stepping,
thick-voiced sort of person, but to me he was an angel
from on high.  I was nervous, and at the same time so
afraid that he should detect my nervousness and lose
confidence in me, that I found myself drifting into an
extravagant geniality.  He seated himself at my
invitation and gave a husky cough.

"Ah," said I--I always prided myself on being quick
at diagnosis--"bronchial, I perceive.  These summer colds
are a little trying."

"Yes," said he.  "I've had it some time."

With a little care and treatment----"I suggested.

He did not seem sanguine, but groaned and shook his
head.  "It's not about that I've come," said he.

"No?"  My heart turned to lead.

"No, doctor."  He took out a bulging notebook.  "It's
about a small sum that's due on the meter."

You'll laugh, Bertie, but it was no laughing matter
to me.  He wanted eight and sixpence on account of
something that the last tenant either had or had not
done.  Otherwise the company would remove the gas-meter.
How little he could have guessed that the alternative he
was presenting to me was either to pay away more than
half my capital, or to give up cooking my food!  I at
last appeased him by a promise that I should look into
the matter, and so escaped for the moment, badly shaken
but still solvent.  He gave me a good deal of information
about the state of his tubes (his own, not the gas
company's) before he departed; but I had rather lost
interest in the subject since I had learned that he was
being treated by his club doctor.

That was the first of my morning incidents.  My
second followed hard upon the heels of it.  Another ring
came, and from my post of observation I saw that a
gipsy's van, hung with baskets and wickerwork chairs, had
drawn up at the door.  Two or three people appeared to be
standing outside.  I understood that they wished me to
purchase some of their wares, so I merely opened the door
about three inches, said "No, thank you," and closed it.
They seemed not to have heard me for they rang again,
upon which I opened the door wider and spoke more
decidedly.  Imagine my surprise when they rang again.  I
flung the door open, and was about to ask them what they
meant by their impudence, when one of the little group
upon my doorstep said, "If you please, sir, it's the
baby."  Never was there such a change--from the outraged
householder to the professional man.  "Pray step in,
madam," said I, in quite my most courtly style; and in
they all came--the husband, the brother, the wife and the
baby.  The latter was in the early stage of measles.
They were poor outcast sort of people, and seemed not to
have sixpence among them; so my demands for a fee at the
end of the consultation ended first in my giving the
medicine for nothing, and finally adding fivepence in
coppers, which was all the small change I had.  A few
more such patients and I am a broken man.

However, the two incidents together had the effect of
taking up my attention and breaking the blow which I had
had in the Cullingworth letter.  It made me laugh to
think that the apparent outsider should prove to be a
patient, and the apparent patient an outsider.  So back
I went, in a much more judicial frame of mind, to read
that precious document over again, and to make up my mind
what it was that I should do.

And now I came to my first real insight into the
depths which lie in the character of Cullingworth.  I
began by trying to recall how I could have torn up my
mother's letters, for it is not usual for me to destroy
papers in this manner.  I have often been chaffed about
the way in which I allow them to accumulate until my
pockets become unbearable.  The more I thought about it
the more convinced I was that I could not have done
anything of the sort; so finally I got out the little
house jacket which I had usually worn at Bradfield, and
I examined the sheaves of letters which it
contained.  It was there, Bertie!  Almost the very first
one that I opened was the identical one from which
Cullingworth was quoting in which my mother had described
him in those rather forcible terms.

Well, this made me sit down and gasp.  I am, I think,
one of the most unsuspicious men upon earth, and through
a certain easy-going indolence of disposition I never
even think of the possibility of those with whom I am
brought in contact trying to deceive me.  It does not
occur to me.  But let me once get on that line of
thought--let me have proof that there is reason for
suspicion--and then all faith slips completely away from
me.  Now I could see an explanation for much which had
puzzled me at Bradfield.  Those sudden fits of ill
temper, the occasional ill-concealed animosity of
Cullingworth--did they not mark the arrival of each of my
mother's letters?  I was convinced that they did.  He had
read them then--read them from the pockets of the little
house coat which I used to leave carelessly in the hall
when I put on my professional one to go out.  I could
remember, for example, how at the end of his illness his
manner had suddenly changed on the very day when
that final letter of my mother's had arrived.  Yes, it
was certain that he had read them from the beginning.

But a blacker depth of treachery lay beyond.  If he
had read them, and if he had been insane enough to think
that I was acting disloyally towards him, why had he not
said so at the time?  Why had he contented himself with
sidelong scowls and quarrelling over trivialities--
breaking, too, into forced smiles when I had asked him
point blank what was the matter?  One obvious reason was
that he could not tell his grievance without telling also
how he had acquired his information.     But I knew
enough of Cullingworth's resource to feel that he could
easily have got over such a difficulty as that.  In fact,
in this last letter he HAD got over it by his tale
about the grate and the maid.  He must have had some
stronger reason for restraint.  As I thought over the
course of our relations I was convinced that his scheme
was to lure me on by promises until I had committed
myself, and then to abandon me, so that I should myself
have no resource but to compound with my creditors-
to be, in fact, that which my mother had called him.

But in that case he must have been planning it out
almost from the beginning of my stay with him, for my
mother's letters stigmatising his conduct had begun very
early.  For some time he had been uncertain how to
proceed.  Then he had invented the excuse (which seemed
to me at the time, if you remember, to be quite
inadequate) about the slight weekly decline in the
practice in order to get me out of it.  His next move was
to persuade me to start for myself; and as this would be
impossible without money, he had encouraged me to it by
the promise of a small weekly loan.  I remembered how he
had told me not to be afraid about ordering furniture and
other things, because tradesmen gave long credit to
beginners, and I could always fall back upon him if
necessary.  He knew too from his own experience that the
landlord would require at least a year's tenancy.  Then
he waited to spring his mine until I had written to say
that I had finally committed myself, on which by return
of post came his letter breaking the connection.  It was
so long and so elaborate a course of deceit, that I
for the first time felt something like fear as I thought
of Cullingworth.  It was as though in the guise and dress
of a man I had caught a sudden glimpse of something sub-
human--of something so outside my own range of thought
that I was powerless against it.

Well, I wrote him a little note--only a short one,
but with, I hope, a bit of a barb to it.  I said that his
letter had been a source of gratification to me, as it
removed the only cause for disagreement between my mother
and myself.  She had always thought him a blackguard, and
I had always defended him; but I was forced now to
confess that she had been right from the beginning.  I
said enough to show him that I saw through his whole
plot; and I wound up by assuring him that if he thought
he had done me any harm he had made a great mistake; for
I had every reason to believe that he had unintentionally
forced me into the very opening which I had most desired

After this bit of bravado I felt better, and I
thought over the situation.  I was alone in a strange
town, without connections, without introductions,
with less than a pound in my pocket, and with no
possibility of freeing myself from my responsibilities.
I had no one at all to look to for help, for all my
recent letters from home had given a dreary account of
the state of things there.  My poor father's health and
his income were dwindling together.  On the other hand,
I reflected that there were some points in my favour.  I
was young.  I was energetic.  I had been brought up hard,
and was quite prepared to rough it.  I was well up in my
work, and believed I could get on with patients.  My
house was an excellent one for my purpose, and I had
already put the essentials of furniture into it.  The
game was not played out yet.  I jumped to my feet and
clenched my hand, and swore to the chandelier that it
never should be played out until I had to beckon for help
from the window.

For the next three days I had not a single ring at
the bell of any sort whatever.  A man could not be more
isolated from his  kind.  It used to amuse me to sit
upstairs and count how many of the passers-by stopped to
look at my plate.  Once (on a Sunday morning) there were
over a hundred in an hour, and often I could see
from their glancing over their shoulders as they walked
on, that they were thinking or talking of the new doctor.

This used to cheer me up, and make me feel that
something was going on.

Every night between nine and ten I slip out and do my
modest shopping, having already made my MENU for the
coming day.  I come back usually with a loaf of bread, a
paper of fried fish, or a bundle of saveloys.  Then when
I think things are sufficiently quiet, I go out and brush
down the front with my broom, leaning it against the wall
and looking up meditatively at the stars whenever anyone
passes.  Then, later still, I bring out my polishing
paste, my rag, and my chamois leather; and I assure you
that if practice went by the brilliancy of one's plate,
I should sweep the town.

Who do you think was the first person who broke this
spell of silence?  The ruffian whom I had fought under
the lamp-post.  He is a scissors-grinder it seems, and
rang to know if I had a job for him.  I could not help
grinning at him when I opened the door and saw who it
was.  He showed no sign of recognising me, however,
which is hardly to be wondered at.

The next comer was a real bona fide patient, albeit
a very modest one.  She was a little anaemic old maid, a
chronic hypochondriac I should judge, who had probably
worked her way round every doctor in the town, and was
anxious to sample this novelty.  I don't know whether I
gave her satisfaction.  She said that she would come
again on Wednesday, but her eyes shifted as she said it.
One and sixpence was as much as she could pay, but it was
very welcome.  I can live three days on one and sixpence.

I think that I have brought economy down to its
finest point.  No doubt, for a short spell I could manage
to live on a couple of pence a day; but what I am doing
now is not to be a mere spurt, but my regular mode of
life for many a month to come.  My tea and sugar and milk
(Swiss) come collectively to one penny a day.  The loaf
is at twopence three-farthings, and I  consume one a day.
My dinner consists in rotation of one third of a pound of
bacon, cooked over the gas (twopence halfpenny), or
two saveloys (twopence), or two pieces of fried fish
(twopence), or a quarter of an eightpenny tin of Chicago
beef (twopence).  Any one of these, with a due allowance
of bread and water, makes a most substantial meal.
Butter I have discarded for the present.  My actual board
therefore comes well under sixpence a day, but I am a
patron of literature to the extent of a halfpenny a day,
which I expend upon an evening paper; for with events
hurrying on like this in Alexandria, I cannot bear to be
without the news.  Still I often reproach myself with
that halfpenny, for if I went out in the evening  and
looked at the placards I might save it, and yet have a
general idea of what is going on.  Of course, a halfpenny
a night sounds nothing, but think of a shilling a month!
Perhaps you picture me as bloodless and pulled down on
this diet!  I am thin, it is true, but I never  felt more
fit in my life.  So full of energy am I that I start off
sometimes at ten at night and walk hard until two or
three in the morning.  I  dare not go out during the day,
you see, for fear that I should miss a patient.  I have
asked my mother not to send little Paul down yet
until I see my way more clearly.

Old Whitehall came in to see me the other day.  The
object of his visit was to invite me to dinner, and the
object of the dinner to inaugurate my starting in
practice.  If I were the kind old fellow's son he could
not take a deeper interest in me and my prospects.

"By ----, Dr. Munro, sir," said he, "I've asked every
---- man in Birchespool that's got anything the matter
with him.  You'll have the lot as patients within a week.
There's Fraser, who's got a touch of Martell's three
star.  He's coming.  And there's Saunders, who talks
about nothing but his spleen.  I'm sick of his ----
spleen!  But I asked him.  And there's Turpey's wound!
This wet weather sets it tingling, and his own surgeon
can do nothing but dab it with vaseline.  He'll be there.
And there's Carr, who is drinking himself to death.  He
has not much for the doctors, but what there is you may
as well have."

All next day he kept popping in to ask me questions
about the dinner.  Should we have clear soup or ox-tail?
Didn't I think that burgundy was better than port
and sherry?  The day after was the celebration itself,
and he was in with a bulletin immediately after
breakfast.  The cooking was to be done at a neighbouring
confectioner's.  The landlady's son was coming in to
wait.  I was sorry to see that Whitehall was already
slurring his words together, and had evidently been
priming himself heavily.  He looked in again in the
afternoon to tell me what a good time we should have.  
So-and-so could talk well, and the other man could sing
a song.  He was so far gone by now, that I ventured (in
the capacity of medical adviser) to speak to him about

It's not the liquor, Dr. Munro, sir," said he
earnestly.  It's the ---- relaxing air of this town.  But
I'll go home and lie I'll down, and be as fresh as paint
to welcome my guests."

But the excitement of the impending event must have
been too much for him.  When I arrived at five minutes to
seven, Turpey, the wounded lieutenant, met me in the hall
with a face of ill omen.

"It's all up with Whitehall," said he.

"What's the matter?"

"Blind, speechless and paralytic.  Come and look."

The table in his room was nicely laid for dinner, and
several decanters with a large cold tart lay upon the
sideboard.  On the sofa was stretched our unfortunate
host, his head back, his forked beard pointing to the
cornice, and a half finished tumbler of whisky upon the
chair beside him.  All our shakes and shouts could not
break in upon that serene drunkenness.

"What are we to do?" gasped Turpey.

"We must not let him make an exhibition of himself.
We had better get him away before any one else arrives."

So we bore him off, all in coils and curves like a
dead python, and deposited him upon his bed.  When we
returned three other guests had arrived.

"You'll be sorry to hear that Whitehall is not very
well," said Turpey.  Dr. Munro thought it would be better
that he should not come down."

"In fact, I have ordered him to bed," said I.

"Then I move that Mr. Turpey be called upon to
act as host," said one of the new comers; and so it was
at once agreed.

Presently the other men arrived; but there was no
sign of the dinner.  We waited for a quarter of an hour,
but nothing appeared.  The landlady was summoned, but
could give no information.

"Captain Whitehall ordered it from a confectioner's,
sir," said she, in reply to the lieutenant's cross-
examination.  "He did not tell me which confectioner's.
It might have been any one of four or five.  He only said
that it would all come right, and that I should bake an
apple tart."

Another quarter of an hour passed, and we were all
ravenous.  It was evident that Whitehall had made some
mistake.  We began to roll our eyes towards the apple
pie, as the boat's crew does towards the boy in the
stories of shipwreck.  A large hairy man, with an anchor
tattooed upon his hand, rose and set the pie in front of

"What d'you say, gentlemen,--shall I serve it out?"

We all drew up at the table with a decision
which made words superfluous.  In five minutes the
pie dish was as clean as when the cook first saw it.  And
our ill-luck vanished with the pie.  A minute later the
landlady's son entered with the soup; and cod's head,
roast beef, game and ice pudding followed in due
succession.   It all came from some misunderstanding
about time.  But we did them justice, in spite of the
curious hors d'oeuvre with which we had started; and
a pleasanter dinner or a more enjoyable evening I have
seldom had.

"Sorry I was so bowled over, Dr. Munro, sir," said
Whitehall next morning.  "I need hilly country and a
bracing air, not a ---- croquet lawn like this.  Well,
I'm ---- glad to hear that you gentlemen enjoyed
yourselves, and I hope you found everything to your

I assured him that we did; but I had not the heart to
tell him about the apple pie.

I tell you these trivial matters, my dear Bertie,
just to show you that I am not down on my luck, and that
my life is not pitched in the minor key altogether, in
spite of my queer situation.  But, to turn to graver
things:  I was right glad to get your letter, and to
read all your denunciations about dogmatic science.
Don't imagine that my withers are wrung by what you say,
for I agree with almost every word of it.

The man who claims that we can know nothing is, to my
mind, as unreasonable as he who insists that everything
has been divinely revealed to us.  I know nothing more
unbearable than the complacent type of scientist who
knows very exactly all that he does know, but has not
imagination enough to understand what a speck his little
accumulation of doubtful erudition is when compared with
the immensity of our ignorance.  He is the person who
thinks that the universe can be explained by laws, as if
a law did not require construction as well as a world!
The motion of the engine can be explained by the laws of
physics, but that has not made the foregoing presence of
an engineer less obvious.  In this world, however, part
of the beautiful poise of things depends upon the fact
that whenever you have an exaggerated fanatic of any
sort, his exact opposite at once springs up to neutralise
him.  You have a Mameluke: up jumps a Crusader.  You
have a Fenian: up jumps an Orangeman.  Every force has
its recoil.  And so these more hide-bound scientists must
be set against those gentlemen who still believe that the
world was created in the year 4004 B. C.

After all, true science must be synonymous with
religion, since science is the acquirement of fact; and
facts are all that we have from which to deduce what we
are and why we are here.  But surely the more we pry into
the methods by which results are brougt{sic} about, the
more stupendous and wonderful becomes the great unseen
power which lies behind, the power which drifts the solar
system in safety through space, and yet adjusts the
length of the insects proboscis to the depth of the
honey-bearing flower.  What is that central intelligence?
You may fit up your dogmatic scientist with a 300-
diameter microscope, and with a telescope with a six-foot
speculum, but neither near nor far can he get a trace of
that great driving power.

What should we say of a man who has a great and
beautiful picture submitted to him, and who, having
satisfied himself that the account given of the painting
of the picture is incorrect, at once concludes that
no one ever painted it, or at least asserts that he has
no possible means of knowing whether an artist has
produced it or not?  That is, as it seems to me, a fair
statement of the position of some of the more extreme
agnostics.  "Is not the mere existence of the picture in
itself a proof that a skilful artist has been busied upon
it? one might ask.  "Why, no," says the objector.  It is
possible that the picture produced itself by the aid of
certain rules.  Besides, when the picture was first
submitted to me I was assured that it had all been
produced within a week, but by examining it I am able to
say with certainty that it has taken a considerable time
to put together.  I am therefore of opinion that it is
questionable whether any one ever painted it at all."

Leaving this exaggerated scientific caution on the
one side, and faith on the other, as being equally
indefensible, there remains the clear line of reasoning
that a universe implies the existence of a universe
maker, and that we may deduce from it some of His
attributes, His power, His wisdom, His forethought for
small wants, His providing of luxuries for His creatures.
On the other hand, do not let us be disingenuous enough
to shirk the mystery which lies in pain, in cruelty,
in all which seems to be a slur upon His work.  The best
that we can say for them is to hope that they are not as
bad as they seem, and possibly lead to some higher end.
The voices of the ill-used child and of the tortured
animal are the hardest of all for the philosopher to

Good-bye, old chap!  It is quite delightful to think
that on one point at least we are in agreement.


1 OAKLEY VILLAS, BIRCHESPOOL, 15th January, 1883.

You write reproachfully, my dear Bertie, and you say
that absence must have weakened our close friendship,
since I have not sent you a line during this long seven
months.  The real truth of the matter is that I had not
the heart to write to you until I could tell you
something cheery; and something cheery has been terribly
long in coming.  At present I can only claim that the
cloud has perhaps thinned a little at the edges.

You see by the address of this letter that I still
hold my ground, but between ourselves it has been a
terrible fight, and there have been times when that last
plank of which old Whitehall wrote seemed to be slipping
out of my clutch.  I have ebbed and flowed, sometimes
with a little money, sometimes without.  At my best I was
living hard, at my worst I was very close upon
starvation.  I have lived for a whole day upon the crust
of a loaf, when I had ten pounds in silver in
the drawer of my table.  But those ten pounds had been
most painfully scraped together for my quarter's rent,
and I would have tried twenty-four hours with a tight
leather belt before I would have broken in upon it.  For
two days I could not raise a stamp to send a letter.  I
have smiled when I have read in my evening paper of the
privations of our fellows in Egypt.  Their broken
victuals would have been a banquet to me.  However, what
odds how you take your carbon and nitrogen and oxygen, as
long as you DO get it?  The garrison of Oakley Villa
has passed the worst, and there is no talk of surrender.

It was not that I have had no patients.  They have
come in as well as could be expected.  Some, like the
little old maid, who was the first, never returned.  I
fancy that a doctor who opened his own door forfeited
their confidence.  Others have become warm partisans.
But they have nearly all been very poor people; and when
you consider how many one and sixpences are necessary in
order to make up the fifteen pounds which I must find
every quarter for rent, taxes, gas and water, you will
understand that even with some success, I have still
found it a hard matter to keep anything in the
portmanteau which serves me as larder.  However, my boy,
two quarters are paid up, and I enter upon a third one
with my courage unabated.  I have lost about a stone, but
not my heart.

I have rather a vague recollection of when it was
exactly that my last was written.  I fancy that it must
have been a fortnight after my start, immediately after
my breach with Cullingworth.  It's rather hard to know
where to begin when one has so many events to narrate,
disconnected from each other, and trivial in themselves,
yet which have each loomed large as I came upon them,
though they look small enough now that they are so far
astern.  As I have mentioned Cullingworth, I may as well
say first the little that is to be said about him.  I
answered his letter in the way which I have, I think,
already described.  I hardly expected to hear from him
again; but my note had evidently stung him, and I had a
brusque message in which he said that if I wished him to
believe in my "bona-fides" (whatever he may have meant by
that), I would return the money which I had had during
the time that I was with him at Bradfield.  To this
I replied that the sum was about twelve pounds; that I
still retained the message in which he had guaranteed me
three hundred pounds if I came to Bradfield, that the
balance in my favour was two hundred and eighty-eight
pounds; and that unless I had a cheque by return, I
should put the matter into the hands of my solicitor.
This put a final end to our correspondence.

There was one other incident, however.  One day after
I had been in practice about two months, I observed a
bearded commonplace-looking person lounging about on the
other side of the road.  In the afternoon he was again
visible from my consulting-room window.  When I saw him
there once more next morning, my suspicions were aroused,
and they became certainties when, a day or so afterwards,
I came out of a patient's house in a poor street, and saw
the same fellow looking into a greengrocer's shop upon
the other side.  I walked to the end of the street,
waited round the corner, and met him as he came hurrying

"You can go back to Dr. Cullingworth, and tell him
that I have as much to do as I care for," said I.  "If
you spy upon me after this it will be at your own risk."

He shuffled and coloured, but I walked on and saw him
no more.  There was no one on earth who could have had a
motive for wanting to know exactly what I was doing
except Cullingworth; and the man's silence was enough in
itself to prove that I was right.  I have heard nothing
of Cullingworth since.

I had a letter from my uncle in the Artillery, Sir
Alexander Munro, shortly after my start, telling me that
he had heard of my proceedings from my mother, and that
he hoped to learn of my success.  He is, as I think you
know, an ardent Wesleyan, like all my father's people,
and he told me that the chief Wesleyan minister in the
town was an old friend of his own, that he had learned
from him that there was no Wesleyan doctor, and that,
being of a Wesleyan stock myself, if I would present the
enclosed letter of introduction to the minister, I should
certainly find it very much to my advantage.  I thought
it over, Bertie, and it seemed to me that it would be
playing it rather low down to use a religious
organisation to my own advantage, when I condemned them
in the abstract.  It was a sore temptation, but I
destroyed the letter.

I had one or two pieces of luck in the way of
accidental cases.  One (which was of immense importance
to me) was that of a grocer named Haywood, who fell down
in a fit outside the floor of his shop.  I was passing on
my way to see a poor labourer with typhoid.  You may
believe that I saw my chance, bustled in, treated the
man, conciliated the wife, tickled the child, and gained
over the whole household.  He had these attacks
periodically, and made an arrangement with me by which I
was to deal with him, and we were to balance bills
against each other.  It was a ghoulish compact, by which
a fit to him meant butter and bacon to me, while a spell
of health for Haywood sent me back to dry bread and
saveloys.  However, it enabled me to put by for the rent
many a shilling which must otherwise have gone in food.
At last, however, the poor fellow died, and there was our
final settlement.

Two small accidents occurred near my door (it was a
busy crossing), and though I got little enough from
either of them, I ran down to the newspaper office on
each occasion, and had the gratification of seeing in the
evening edition that "the driver, though much shaken, is
pronounced by Dr. Stark Munro, of Oakley Villa, to
have suffered no serious injury."  As Cullingworth used
to say, it is hard enough for the young doctor to push
his name into any publicity, and he must take what little
chances he has.  Perhaps the fathers of the profession
would shake their heads over such a proceeding in a
little provincial journal; but I was never able to see
that any of them were very averse from seeing their own
names appended to the bulletin of some sick statesman in
The Times.

And then there came another and a more serious
accident.  This would be about two months after the
beginning, though already I find it hard to put things in
their due order.  A lawyer in the town named Dickson was
riding past my windows when the horse reared up and fell
upon him.  I was eating saveloys in the back room at the
time, but I heard the noise and rushed to the door in
time to meet the crowd who were carrying him in.  They
flooded into my house, thronged my hall, dirtied my
consulting room, and even pushed their way into my back
room, which they found elegantly furnished with a
portmanteau, a lump of bread, and a cold sausage.

However, I had no thought for any one but my
patient, who was groaning most dreadfully.  I saw
that his ribs were right, tested his joints, ran my hand
down his limbs, and concluded that there was no break or
dislocation.  He had strained himself in such a way,
however, that it was very painful to him to sit or to
walk.  I sent for an open carriage, therefore, and
conveyed him to his home, I sitting with my most
professional air, and he standing straight up between my
hands.  The carriage went at a walk, and the crowd
trailed behind, with all the folk looking out of the
windows, so that a more glorious advertisement could not
be conceived.  It looked like the advance guard of a
circus.  Once at his house, however, professional
etiquette demanded that I should hand the case over to
the family attendant, which I did with as good a grace as
possible--not without some lingering hope that the old
established practitioner might say, "You have taken such
very good care of my patient, Dr. Munro, that I should
not dream of removing him from your hands."  On the
contrary, he snatched it away from me with avidity, and
I retired with some credit, an excellent advertisement,
and a guinea.

These are one or two of the points of interest
which show above the dead monotony of my life--small
enough, as you see, but even a sandhill looms large in
Holland.  In the main, it is a dreary sordid record of
shillings gained and shillings spent--of scraping for
this and scraping for that, with ever some fresh slip of
blue paper fluttering down upon me, left so jauntily by
the tax-collector, and meaning such a dead-weight pull to
me.  The irony of my paying a poor-rate used to amuse me.
I should have been collecting it.  Thrice at a crisis I
pawned my watch, and thrice I rallied and rescued it.
But how am I to interest you in the details of such a
career?  Now, if a fair countess had been so good as to
slip on a piece of orange peel before my door, or if the
chief merchant in the town had been saved by some
tour-de-force upon my part, or if I had been summoned
out at midnight to attend some nameless person in a
lonely house with a princely fee for silence--then I
should have something worthy of your attention.  But the
long months and months during which I listened to the
throb of the charwoman's heart and the rustle of the
greengrocer's lungs, present little which is not dull and
dreary.  No good angels came my way.

Wait a bit, though!  One did.  I was awakened at six
in the morning one day by a ringing at my bell, and
creeping to the angle of the stair I saw through the
glass a stout gentleman in a top-hat outside.  Much
excited, with a thousand guesses capping one another in
my head, I ran back, pulled on some clothes, rushed down,
opened the door, and found myself in the grey morning
light face to face with Horton.  The good fellow had come
down from Merton in an excursion train, and had been
travelling all night.  He had an umbrella under his arm,
and two great straw baskets in each hand, which
contained, when unpacked, a cold leg of mutton, half-a-
dozen of beer, a bottle of port, and all sorts of pasties
and luxuries.  We had a great day together, and when he
rejoined his excursion in the evening he left a very much
cheerier man than he had found.

Talking of cheeriness, you misunderstand me, Bertie,
if you think (as you seem to imply) that I take a dark
view of things.  It is true that I discard some
consolations which you possess, because I cannot convince
myself that they are genuine; but in this world, at
least, I see immense reason for hope, and as to the next
I am confident that all will be for the best.  From
annihilation to beatification I am ready to adapt myself
to whatever the great Designer's secret plan my be.

But there is much in the prospects of this world to
set a man's heart singing.  Good is rising and evil
sinking like oil and water in a bottle.  The race is
improving.  There are far fewer criminal convictions.
There is far more education.  People sin less and think
more.  When I meet a brutal looking fellow I often think
that he and his type may soon be as extinct as the great
auk.  I am not sure that in the interest of the 'ologies
we ought not to pickle a few specimens of Bill Sykes, to
show our children's children what sort of a person he

And then the more we progress the more we tend to
progress.  We advance not in arithmetical but in
geometrical progression.  We draw compound interest on
the whole capital of knowledge and virtue which has been
accumulated since the dawning of time.  Some eighty
thousand years are supposed to have existed between
paleolithic and neolithic man.  Yet in all that time he
only learned to grind his flint stones instead of
chipping them.  But within our father's lives what
changes have there not been?  The railway and the
telegraph, chloroform and applied electricity.  Ten years
now go further than a thousand then, not so much on
account of our finer intellects as because the light we
have shows us the way to more.  Primeval man stumbled
along with peering eyes, and slow, uncertain footsteps.
Now we walk briskly towards our unknown goal.

And I wonder what that goal is to be!  I mean, of
course, as far as this world is concerned.  Ever since
man first scratched hieroglyphics upon an ostracon, or
scribbled with sepia upon papyrus, he must have wondered,
as we wonder to-day.  I suppose that we DO know a
little more than they.  We have an arc of about three
thousand years given us, from which to calculate out the
course to be described by our descendants; but that arc
is so tiny when compared to the vast ages which
Providence uses in working out its designs that our
deductions from it must, I think, be uncertain.  Will
civilisation be swamped by barbarism?  It happened once
before, because the civilised were tiny specks of light
in the midst of darkness.  But what, for example, could
break down the great country in which you dwell?  No, our
civilisation will endure and grow more complex.  Man
will live  in the air and below the water.  Preventive
medicine will develop until old age shall become the sole
cause of death.  Education and a more socialistic scheme
of society will do away with crime.  The English-speaking
races will unite, with their centre in the United States.
Gradually the European States will follow their example.
War will become rare, but more terrible.  The forms of
religion will be abandoned, but the essence will be
maintained; so that one universal creed will embrace the
whole civilised earth, which will preach trust in that
central power, which will be as unknown then as now.
That's my horoscope, and after that the solar system may
be ripe for picking.  But Bertie Swanborough and Stark
Munro will be blowing about on the west wind, and
dirtying the panes of careful housewives long before the
half of it has come to pass.

And then man himself will change, of course.  The
teeth are going rapidly.  You've only to count the
dentists' brass plates in Birchespool to be sure of that.
And the hair also.  And the sight.  Instinctively, when
we think of the more advanced type of young man, we
picture him as bald, and with double eye-glasses.
I am an absolute animal myself, and my only sign of
advance is that two of my back teeth are going.  On the
other hand, there is some evidence in favour of the
development of a sixth sense-that of perception.  If I
had it now I should know that you are heartily weary of
all my generalisations and dogmatism.

And certainly there must be a spice of dogmatism in
it when we begin laying down laws about the future; for
how do we know that there are not phases of nature coming
upon us of which we have formed no conception?  After
all, a few seconds are a longer fraction of a day than an
average life is of the period during which we know that
the world has been in existence.  But if a man lived only
for a few seconds of daylight, his son the same, and his
son the same, what would their united experiences after
a hundred generations tell them of the phenomenon which
we call night?  So all our history and knowledge is no
guarantee that our earth is not destined for experiences
of which we can form no conception.

But to drop down from the universe to my own gnat's
buzz of an existence, I think I have told you everything
that might interest you of the  first six months of
my venture.  Towards the end of that time my little
brother Paul came  down--and the best of companions he
is!  He shares the discomforts of my little menage in
the cheeriest spirit, takes me out of my blacker humours,
goes long walks with me, is interested in all that
interests me (I always talk to him exactly as if he were
of my own age), and is quite ready to turn his hand to
anything, from boot-blacking to medicine-carrying.  His
one dissipation is cutting out of paper, or buying in
lead (on the rare occasion when we find a surplus), an
army of little soldiers.  I have brought a patient into
the consulting room, and found a torrent of cavalry,
infantry, and artillery pouring across the table.  I have
been myself attacked as I sat silently writing, and have
looked up to find fringes of sharp-shooters pushing up
towards me, columns of infantry in reserve, a troop of
cavalry on my flank, while a battery of pea muzzle-
loaders on the ridge of my medical dictionary has raked
my whole position--with the round, smiling face of the
general behind it all.  I don't know how many regiments
he has on a peace footing; but if serious trouble were
to break out, I am convinced that every sheet of
paper in the house would spring to arms.

One morning I had a great idea which has had the
effect of revolutionising our domestic economy.  It was
at the time when the worst pinch was over, and when we
had got back as far as butter and occasional tobacco,
with a milkman calling daily; which gives you a great
sense of swagger when you have not been used to it.

"Paul, my boy," said I, "I see my way to fitting up
this house with a whole staff of servants for nothing."

He looked pleased, but not surprised.  He had a
wholly unwarranted confidence in my powers; so that if I
had suddenly declared that I saw my way to tilting Queen
Victoria from her throne and seating myself upon it, he
would have come without a question to aid and abet.

I took a piece of paper and wrote, "To Let.  A
basement floor, in exchange for services.  Apply 1 Oakley

"There, Paul," said I, "run down to the
Evening News office, and pay a shilling for
three insertions."

There was no need of three insertions.  One would
have been ample.  Within half an hour of the appearance
of the first edition, I had an applicant at the end of my
bell-wire, and for the remainder of the evening Paul was
ushering them in and I interviewing them with hardly a
break.  I should have been prepared at the outset to take
anything in a petticoat; but as we saw the demand
increase, our conditions went up and up; white aprons,
proper dress for answering door, doing beds and boots,
cooking,--we became more and more exacting.  So at last
we made our selection; a Miss Wotton, who asked leave to
bring her sister with her.  She was a hard-faced brusque-
mannered person, whose appearance in a bachelor's
household was not likely to cause a scandal.  Her nose
was in itself a certificate of virtue.  She was to bring
her furniture into the basement, and I was to give her
and her sister one of the two upper rooms for a bedroom.

They moved in a few days later.  I was out at the
time, and the first intimation I had was finding
three little dogs in my hall when I returned.  I had her
up, and explained that this was a breach of contract, and
that I had no thoughts of running a menagerie.  She
pleaded very hard for her little dogs, which it seems are
a mother and two daughters of some rare breed; so I at
last gave in on the point.  The other sister appeared to
lead a subterranean troglodytic sort of existence; for,
though I caught a glimpse of her whisking round the
corner at times, it was a good month before I could have
sworn to her in a police court.

For a time the arrangement worked well, and then
there came complications.  One morning, coming down
earlier than usual, I saw a small bearded man undoing the
inside chain of my door.  I captured him before he could
get it open.  "Well," said I, "what's this?"

"If you please, sir," said he, "I'm Miss Wotton's

Dreadful doubts of my housekeeper flashed across my
mind, but I thought of her nose and was reassured.  An
examination revealed everything.  She was a married
woman.  The lines were solemnly produced.  Her husband
was a seaman.  She had passed as a miss, because she
thought I was more likely to take a housekeeper without
encumbrances.  Her husband had come home unexpectedly
from a long voyage, and had returned last night.  And
then--plot within plot--the other woman was not her
sister, but a friend, whose name was Miss Williams.  
She thought I was more likely to take two sisters than
two friends.  So we all came to know who the other was;
and I, having given Jack permission to remain, assigned
the other top room to Miss Williams.  From absolute
solitude I seemed to be rapidly developing into the
keeper of a casual ward.

It was a never-failing source of joy to us to see the
procession pass on the way to their rooms at night.  
First came a dog; then Miss Williams, with a candle; then
Jack; then another dog; and finally, Mrs. Wotton, with
her candle in one hand and another dog under her arm.
Jack was with us for three weeks; and as I made him
holystone the whole place down twice a week until the
boards were like a quarter deck, we got something out of
him in return for his lodging.

About this time, finding a few shillings over and no
expense imminent, I laid down a cellar, in the shape of
a four and a half gallon cask of beer, with a firm
resolution that it should never be touched save on high
days and holidays, or when guests had to be entertained.

Shortly afterwards Jack went away to sea again; and
after his departure there were several furious quarrels
between the women down below, which filled the whole
house with treble reproaches and repartees.  At last one
evening Miss Williams--the quiet one--came to me and
announced with sobs that she must go.  Mrs. Wotton made
her life unbearable, she said.  She was determined to be
independent, and had fitted up a small shop in a poor
quarter of the town.  She was going now, at once, to take
possession of it.

I was sorry, because I liked Miss Williams, and I
said a few words to that effect.  She got as far as the
hall door, and then came rustling back again into the
consulting room.  "Take a drink of your own beer!" she
cried, and vanished.

It sounded like some sort of slang imprecation.  If
she had said  "Oh, pull up your socks!"  I should
have been less surprised.  And then suddenly the words
took a dreadful meaning in my mind, and I rushed to the
cellar.  The cask was tilted forward on the trestles.  I
struck it and it boomed like a drum.  I turned the tap,
and not one drop appeared.  Let us draw a veil over the
painful scene.  Suffice it that Mrs. Wotton got her
marching orders then and there--and that next day Paul
and I found ourselves alone in the empty house once more.

But we were demoralised by luxury.  We could no
longer manage without a helper--especially now in the
winter time, when fires had to be lit--the most heart-
breaking task that a man can undertake.  I bethought me
of the quiet Miss Williams, and  hunted her up in her
shop.  She was quite willing to come, and saw how she
could get out of the rent; but the difficulty lay with
her stock.  This sounded formidable at first, but when I
came to learn that the whole thing had cost eleven
shillings, it did not appear insurmountable.  In half an
hour my watch was pawned, and the affair concluded.  I
returned with an excellent housekeeper, and with a larger
basketful of inferior Swedish matches, bootlaces,
cakes of black lead, and little figures made of sugar
than I should have thought it possible to get for the
money.  So now we have settled down, and I hope that a
period of comparative peace lies before us.

Good-bye, old chap, and never think that I forget
you.  Your letters are read and re-read with avidity.  I
think I have every line you ever wrote me.  You simply
knock Paley out every time.  I am so glad that you got
out of that brewery business all right.  For a time I was
really afraid that you must either lose your money or
else risk more upon the shares.  I can only thank you for
your kind offer of blank cheques.

It is wonderful that you should have slipped back
into your American life so easily after your English
hiatus.  As you say, however, it is not a change but only
a modification, since the root idea is the same in each.
Is it not strange how the two great brothers are led to
misunderstand each other?  A man is punished for private
libel (over here at any rate), although the consequences
can only be slight.  But a man may perpetrate
international libel, which is a very heinous and
far-reaching offence, and there is no law in the world
which can punish him.  Think of the contemptible crew of
journalists and satirists who for ever picture the
Englishman as haughty and h-dropping, or the American as
vulgar and expectorating.  If some millionaire would give
them all a trip round the world we should have some
rest--and if the plug came out of the boat midway it
would be more restful still.  And your vote-hunting
politicians with their tail-twisting campaigns, and our
editors of the supercilious weeklies with their inane
tone of superiority, if they were all aboard how much
clearer we should be!  Once more adieu, and good luck!



Do you think that such a thing as chance exists?
Rather an explosive sentence to start a letter with; but
pray cast your mind back over your own life, and tell me
if you think that we really are the sports of chance.
You know how often the turning down this street or that,
the accepting or rejecting of an invitation, may deflect
the whole current of our lives into some other channel.
Are we mere leaves, fluttered hither and thither by the
wind, or are we rather, with every conviction that we are
free agents, carried steadily along to a definite and
pre-determined end?  I confess that as I advance through
life, I become more and more confirmed in that fatalism
to which I have always had an inclination.

Look at it in this way.  We know that
many of the permanent facts of the universe are
NOT chance.  It is not chance that the heavenly
bodies swing clear of each other, that the seed is
furnished with the apparatus which will drift it to a
congenial soil, that the creature is adapted to its
environment.  Show me a whale with its great-coat of fat,
and I want no further proof of design.  But logically, as
it seems to me, ALL must be design, or all must be
chance.  I do not see how one can slash a line right
across the universe, and say that all to the right of
that is chance, and all to the left is pre-ordained.  You
would then have to contend that things which on the face
of them are of the same class, are really divided by an
impassable gulf, and that the lower are regulated, while
the higher are not.  You would, for example, be forced to
contend that the number of articulations in a flea's hind
leg has engaged the direct superintendence of the
Creator, while the mischance which killed a thousand
people in a theatre depended upon the dropping of a wax
vesta upon the floor, and was an unforeseen flaw in the
chain of life.   This seems to me to be unthinkable.

It is a very superficial argument to say that if
a man holds the views of a fatalist he will therefore
cease to strive, and will wait resignedly for what fate
may send him.  The objector forgets that among the other
things fated is that we of northern blood SHOULD
strive and should NOT sit down with folded hands.
But when a man has striven, when he has done all he
knows, and when, in spite of it, a thing comes to pass,
let him wait ten years before he says that it is a
misfortune.  It is part of the main line of his destiny
then, and is working to an end.  A man loses his fortune;
he gains earnestness.  His eyesight goes; it leads him to
a spirituality.  The girl loses her beauty; she becomes
more sympathetic.  We think we are pushing our own way
bravely, but there is a great Hand in ours all the time.

You'll wonder what has taken me off on this line.
Only that I seem to see it all in action in my own life.
But, as usual, I have started merrily off with an
appendix, so I shall go back and begin my report as
nearly as possible where I ended the last.  First of all,
I may say generally that the clouds were thinning then,
and that they broke shortly afterwards.  During the
last few months we have never once quite lost sight
of the sun.

You remember that we (Paul and I) had just engaged a
certain Miss Williams to come and keep house for us.  I
felt that on the basement-lodger principle I had not
control enough; so we now entered upon a more business-
like arrangement, by which a sum (though, alas! an
absurdly small one) was to be paid her for her services.
I would it had been ten times as much, for a better and
a more loyal servant man never had.  Our fortunes seemed
to turn from the hour that she re-entered the house.

Slowly, week by week, and month by month, the
practice began to spread and to strengthen.  There were
spells when never a ring came to the bell, and it seemed
as though all our labour had gone for nothing--but then
would come other days when eight and ten names would
appear in my ledger.  Where did it come from you will
ask.  Some from old Whitehall and his circle of
Bohemians.  Some from accident cases.  Some from new
comers to the town who drifted to me.  Some from people
whom I met first in other capacities.   An insurance
superintendent gave me a few cases to examine, and
that was a very great help.  Above all, I learned a fact
which I would whisper in the ear of every other man who
starts, as I have done, a stranger among strangers.  Do
not think that practice will come to you.  You must go to
it.  You may sit upon your consulting room chair until it
breaks under you, but without purchase or partnership you
will make little or no progress.  The way to do it is to
go out, to mix everywhere with men, to let them know you.
You will come back many a time and be told by a
reproachful housekeeper that some one has been for you in
your absence.  Never mind!  Go out again.  A noisy
smoking concert where you will meet eighty men is better
for you than the patient or two whom you might have seen
at home.  It took me some time to realise, but I speak
now as one who knows.

But--there is a great big "but" in the case.  You must
ride yourself on the curb the whole time.  Unless you are
sure--absolutely sure--that you can do this, you are far
best at home.  You must never for one instant forget
yourself.  You must remember what your object is in
being there.  You must inspire respect.  Be
friendly,  genial, convivial--what you will--but preserve
the tone and bearing of a gentleman.  If you can make
yourself respected and liked you will find every club and
society that you join a fresh introduction to practice.
But beware of drink!  Above everything, beware of drink!
The company that you are in may condone it in each other,
but never in the man who wishes them to commit their
lives to his safe keeping.  A slip is fatal--a half slip
perilous.  Make your rule of life and go by it, in spite
of challenge or coaxers.  It will be remembered in your
favour next morning.

And of course I do not mean merely festive societies.
Literary, debating, political, social, athletic, every
one of them is a tool to your hands.  But you must show
them what a good man you are.  You must throw yourself
into each with energy and conviction.  You will soon find
yourself on the committee--possibly the secretary, or
even in the presidential chair.  Do not grudge labour
where the return may be remote and indirect.  Those are
the rungs up which one climbs.

That was how, when I had gained some sort of opening,
I set to work to enlarge it.  I joined this.  I joined
that.  I pushed in every direction.  I took up athletics
again much to the advantage of my health, and found that
the practice benefited as well as I.  My cricket form for
the season has been fair, with an average of about 20
with the bat and 9 with the ball.

It must be allowed, however, that this system of
sallying out for my patients and leaving my consulting
room empty might be less successful if it were not for my
treasure of a housekeeper.  She is a marvel of
discretion, and the way in which she perjures her soul
for the sake of the practice is a constant weight upon my
conscience.  She is a tall, thin woman, with a grave face
and an impressive manner.  Her standard fiction, implied
rather than said (with an air as if it were so
universally known that it would be absurd to put it into
words) is, that I am so pressed by the needs of my
enormous practice, that any one wishing to consult me
must make their appointment very exactly and a long time
in advance.

"Dear me, now!" she says to some applicant.
He's been hurried off again.  If you'd been here half-an-
hour ago he might have given you a minute.  I never saw
such a thing" (confidentially).  "Between you and me I
don't think he can last at it long.  He's bound to break
down.  But come in, and I'll do all I can for you."

Then, having carefully fastened the patient up in the
consulting room, she goes to little Paul.

"Run round to the bowling green, Master Paul," says
she.  "You'll find the doctor there, I think.  Just tell
him that a patient is waiting for him."

She seems in these interviews to inspire them with a
kind of hushed feeling of awe, as if they had found their
way into some holy of holies.  My own actual appearance
is quite an anti-climax after the introduction by Miss

Another of her devices is to make appointments with
an extreme precision as to time, I being at the moment
worked to death (at a cricket match).

"Let us see!" says she, looking at the slate.  "He
will be clear at seven minutes past eight this evening.
Yes, he could just manage it then.  He has no one at all
from seven past to the quarter past"--and so at the
appointed hour I have my patient precipitating himself
into my room with the demeanour of the man who charges in
for his bowl of hot soup at a railway station.  If he
knew that he is probably the only patient who has opened
my door that evening he would not be in such a hurry--or
think so much of my advice.

One curious patient has come my way who has been of
great service to me.  She is a stately looking widow,
Turner by name, the most depressingly respectable figure,
as of Mrs. Grundy's older and less frivolous sister.  She
lives in a tiny house, with one small servant to scale.
Well, every two months or so she quite suddenly goes on
a mad drink, which lasts for about a week.  It ends as
abruptly as it begins, but while it is on the neighbours
know it.  She shrieks, yells, sings, chivies the servant,
and skims plates out of the window at the passers-by.  Of
course, it is really not funny, but pathetic and
deplorable--all the same, it is hard to keep from
laughing at the absurd contrast between her actions and
her appearance.  I was called in by accident in the first
instance; but I speedily acquired some control over her,
so that now the neighbours send for me the moment the
crockery begins to come through the window.  She has
a fair competence, so that her little vagaries are a help
to me with my rent.  She has, too, a number of curious
jugs, statues, and pictures, a selection of which she
presents to me in the course of each of her attacks,
insisting upon my carrying them away then and there; so
that I stagger out of the house like one of Napoleon's
generals coming out of Italy.  There is a good deal of
method in the old lady, however, and on her recovery she
invariably sends round a porter, with a polite note to
say that she would be very glad to have her pictures back

And now I have worked my way to the point where I can
show you what I mean when I talk about fate.  The medical
practitioner who lives next me--Porter is his name--is a
kindly sort of man, and knowing that I have had a long
uphill fight, he has several times put things in my way.
One day about three weeks ago he came into my consulting
room after breakfast.

"Could you come with me. to a consultation?" he

"With pleasure."

"I have my carriage outside."

He told me something of the case as we went.  It was
a young fellow, an only son, who had been suffering from
nervous symptoms for some time, and lately from
considerable pain in his head.  "His people are living
with a patient of mine, General Wainwright," said Porter.
"He didn't like the symptoms, and thought he would have
a second opinion."

We came to the house, a great big one, in its own
grounds, and had a preliminary talk with the dark-faced,
white-haired Indian soldier who owns it. He was
explaining the responsibility that he felt, the patient
being his nephew, when a lady entered the room.  "This is
my sister, Mrs. La Force," said he, "the mother of the
gentleman whom you are going to see."

I recognised her instantly.  I had met her before and
under curious circumstances.  (Dr. Stark Munro here
proceeds to narrate again how he had met the La Forces,
having evidently forgotten that he had already done so in
Letter VI.)  When she was introduced I could see that she
had not associated me with the young doctor in the train.
I don't wonder, for I have started a beard, in the hope
of making myself look a little older.  She was
naturally all anxiety about her son, and we went up with
her (Porter and I) to have a look at him.  Poor fellow!
he seemed peakier and more sallow than when I had seen
him last.  We held our consultation, came to an agreement
about the chronic nature of his complaint, and finally
departed without my reminding Mrs. La Force of our
previous meeting.

Well, there the matter might have ended; but about
three days afterwards who should be shown into my
consulting room but Mrs. La Force and her daughter.  I
thought the latter looked twice at me, when her mother
introduced her, as if she had some recollection of my
face; but she evidently could not recall where she had
seen it, and I said nothing to help her.  They both
seemed to be much distressed in mind--indeed, the tears
were brimming over from the girl's eyes, and her lip was

"We have come to you, Doctor Munro, in the greatest
distress," said Mrs. La Force; "we should be very glad of
your advice."

"You place me in rather a difficult  position, Mrs.
La Force," said I.  "The fact is, that I look upon you as
Dr. Porter's patients, and it is a breach of etiquette
upon my part to hold any communication with you except
through him."

"It was he who sent us here," said she.

"Oh, that alters the matter entirely."

"He said he could do nothing to help us, and that
perhaps you could."

"Pray let me know what you wish done."

She set out valorously to explain; but the effort of
putting her troubles into words seemed to bring them more
home to her, and she suddenly blurred over and became
inarticulate.  Her daughter bent towards her, and kissed
her with the prettiest little spasm of love and pity.

"I will tell you about it, doctor," said she.  "Poor
mother is almost worn out.  Fred--my brother, that is to
say, is worse.  He has become noisy, and will not be

"And my brother, the general," continued Mrs. La
Force, "naturally did not expect this when he kindly
offered us a home, and, being a nervous man, it is very
trying to him.  In fact, it cannot go on.  He says so

"But what is mother to do?" cried the girl, taking up
the tale again.  "No hotel or lodging-house would take us
in while poor Fred is like that.  And we have not
the heart to send him to an asylum.  Uncle will not have
us any longer, and we have nowhere to go to."  Her grey
eyes tried to look brave, but her mouth would go down at
the corners.

I rose and walked up and down the room, trying to
think it all out.

"What I wanted to ask you," said Mrs. La Force, "was
whether perhaps you knew some doctor or some private
establishment which took in such cases--so that we could
see Fred every day or so.  The only thing is that he must
be taken at once, for really my brother has reached the
end of his patience."

I rang the bell for my housekeeper.

"Miss Williams," said I, "do you think we can furnish
a bedroom by to-night, so as to take in a gentleman who
is ill?"

Never have I so admired that wonderful woman's self-

"Why, easily, sir, if the patients will only let me
alone.  But with that bell going thirty times an hour,
it's hard to say what you are going to do."

This with her funny manner set the ladies
laughing, and the whole business seemed lighter and
easier.  I promised to have the room ready by eight
o'clock.  Mrs. La Force arranged to bring her son round
at that hour, and both ladies thanked me a very great
deal more than I deserved; for after all it was a
business matter, and a resident patient was the very
thing that I needed.  I was able to assure Mrs. La Force
that I had had a similar case under my charge before--
meaning, of course, poor "Jimmy," the son of Lord
Saltire.  Miss Williams escorted them to the door, and
took occasion to whisper to them that it was wonderful
how I got through with it, and that I was within sight of
my carriage."

It was a short notice, but we got everything ready by
the hour.  Carpet, bed, suite, curtains--all came
together, and were fixed in their places by the united
efforts of Miss Williams, Paul, and myself.  Sharp at
eight a cab arrived, and Fred was conducted by me into
his bedroom.  The moment I looked at him I could see that
he was much worse than when I saw him with Dr. Porter.
The chronic brain trouble had taken a sudden acute turn.

His eyes were wild, his cheeks flushed, his lips
drawn slightly away from his teeth.  His temperature was
102@, and he muttered to himself continually, and paid no
attention to my questions.  It was evident to me at a
glance that the responsibility which I had taken upon
myself was to be no light one.

However, we could but do our best.  I undressed him
and got him safely to bed, while Miss Williams prepared
some arrowroot for his supper.  He would eat nothing,
however, but seemed more disposed to dose, so having seen
him settle down we left him.  His room was the one next
to mine, and as the wall was thin, I could hear the least
movement.  Two or three times he muttered and groaned,
but finally he became quiet, and I was able to drop to

At three in the morning, I was awakened by a dreadful
crash.  Bounding out of bed I rushed into the other room.
Poor Fred was standing in his long gown, a pathetic
little figure in the grey light of the dawning day.  He
had pulled over his washing-stand (with what object only
his bemuddled mind could say), and the whole place was a
morass of water with islands of broken crockery.  I
picked him up and put him back into his bed again--
his body glowing through his night-dress, and his eyes
staring wildly about him.  It was evidently impossible to
leave him, and so I spent the rest of the night nodding
and shivering in the armchair.  No, it was certainly not
a sinecure that I had undertaken.

In the morning I went round to Mrs. La Force and gave
her a bulletin.  Her brother had recovered his serenity
now that the patient had left.  He had the Victoria Cross
it seems, and was one of the desperate little garrison
who held Lucknow in that hell-whirl of a mutiny.  And now
the sudden opening of a door sets him shaking, and a
dropped tongs gives him palpitations.  Are we not the
strangest kind of beings?

Fred was a little better during the day, and even
seemed in a dull sort of way to recognise his sister, who
brought him flowers in the afternoon.  Towards evening
his temperature sank to 101.5@, and he fell into a kind
of stupor.  As it happened, Dr. Porter came in about
supper-time, and I asked him if he would step up and have
a look at my patient.  He did so, and we found him dozing
peacefully.  You would hardly think that that small
incident may have been one of the most momentous in my
life.  It was the merest chance in the world that Porter
went up at all.

Fred was taking medicine with a little chloral in it
at this time.  I gave him his usual dose last thing at
night; and then, as he seemed to be sleeping peacefully,
I went to my own room for the rest which I badly needed.
I did not wake until eight in the morning, when I was
roused by the jingling of a spoon in a saucer, and the
step of Miss Williams passing my door.  She was taking
him the arrowroot which I had ordered over-night.  I
heard her open the door, and the next moment my heart
sprang into my mouth as she gave a hoarse scream, and her
cup and saucer crashed upon the floor.  An instant later
she had burst into my room, with her face convulsed with

"My God!" she cried, "he's gone!"

I caught up my dressing-gown and rushed into the next

Poor little Fred was stretched sideways across his
bed, quite dead.  He looked as if he had been rising and
had fallen backwards.  His face was so peaceful and
smiling that I could hardly have recognised the worried,
fever-worn features of yesterday.  There is great
promise, I think, on the faces of the dead.  They say it
is but the post-mortem relaxation of the muscles, but
it is one of the points on which I should like to see
science wrong.

Miss Williams and I stood for five minutes without a
word, hushed by the presence of that supreme fact.  Then
we laid him straight, and drew the sheet over him.  She
knelt down and prayed and sobbed, while I sat on the bed,
with the cold hand in mine.  Then my heart turned to lead
as I remembered that it lay for me to break the news to
the mother.

However, she took it most admirably.  They were all
three at breakfast when I came round, the general, Mrs.
La Force, and the daughter.  Somehow they seemed to know
all that I had to say at the very sight of me; and in
their womanly unselfishness their sympathy was all for
me, for the shock I had suffered, and the disturbance of
my household.  I found myself turned from the consoler
into the consoled.  For an hour or more we talked it
over, I explaining what I hope needed no
explanation, that as the poor boy could not tell me his
symptoms it was hard for me to know how immediate was his
danger.  There can be no doubt that the fall of
temperature and the quietness which both Porter and I had
looked upon as a hopeful sign, were really the beginning
to the end.

Mrs. La Force asked me to see to everything, the
formalities, register, and funeral.  It was on a
Wednesday, and we thought it best that the burial should
be on the Friday.  Back I hurried, therefore, not knowing
what to do first, and found old Whitehall waiting for me
in my consulting room, looking very jaunty with a camelia
in his button-hole.  Not an organ in its right place, and
a camelia in his button-hole!

Between ourselves, I was sorry to see him, for I was
in no humour for his company; but he had heard all about
it from Miss Williams, and had come to stop.  Only then
did I fully realise how much of the kindly, delicate-
minded gentleman remained behind that veil of profanity
and obscenity which he so often held before him.

"I'll trot along with you, Dr. Munro, sir.  A
man's none the worse for a companion at such times.  I'll
not open my mouth unless you wish it, sir; but I am an
idle man, and would take it as a kindness if you would
let me come round with you."

Round he came, and very helpful he was.  He seemed to
know all about the procedure--"Buried two wives, Dr.
Munro, sir! "I signed the certificate myself, conveyed it
to the registrar, got the order for burial, took it round
to the parish clerk, arranged an hour, then off to the
undertaker's, and back to my practice.  It was a kind of
nightmare morning to look back upon, relieved only by the
figure of my old Bohemian, with his pea jacket, his black
thorn, his puffy, crinkly face, and his camelia.

To make a long story short, then, the funeral came
off as arranged, General Wainwright, Whitehall, and I
being the sole mourners.  The captain had never seen poor
Fred in the flesh, but he "liked to be in at the finish,
sir," and so he gave me his company.  It was at eight in
the morning, and it was ten before we found ourselves at
Oakley Villa.  A burly man with bushy whiskers was
waiting for us at the door.

"Are you Dr. Munro, sir?" he asked.

"I am."

"I am a detective from the local office.  I was
ordered to inquire into the death of the young man in
your house lately."

Here was a thunderbolt!  If looking upset is a sign
of guilt, I must have stood confessed as a villain.  It
was so absolutely unexpected.  I hope, however, that I
had command of myself instantly.

"Pray step in!" said I.  Any information I can give
you is entirely at your service.  Have you any objection
to my friend Captain Whitehall being present?

"Not in the least."  So in we both went, taking this
bird of ill-omen.

He was, however, a man of tact and with a pleasant

"Of course, Dr. Munro," said he, "you are much too
well known in the town for any one to take this matter
seriously.  But the fact is that we had an anonymous
letter this morning saying that the young man had died
yesterday and was to be buried at an unusual hour to-day,
and that the circumstances were suspicious."

He died the day before yesterday.  He was buried at
eight to-day," I explained; and then I told him the whole
story from the beginning.  He listened attentively and
took a note or two.

"Who signed the certificate?" he asked.

"I did," said I.

He raised his eyebrows slightly.  "There is really no
one to check your statement then?" said he.

"Oh yes, Dr. Porter saw him the night before he died.
He knew all about the case."

The detective shut his note-book with a snap.  "That
is final, Dr. Munro," said he.  "Of course I must see Dr.
Porter as a matter of form, but if his opinion agrees
with yours I can only apologise to you for this

"And there is one more thing, Mr. Detective, sir,"
said Whitehall explosively.  "I'm not a rich man, sir,
only the ---- half-pay skipper of an armed transport; but
by ----, sir, I'd give you this hat full of dollars to
know the name of the ---- rascal who wrote that anonymous
letter, sir.  By ---- sir, you'd have a real case to look
after then."  And he waved his black thorn ferociously.

So the wretched business ended, Bertie.  But on what
trifling chances do our fortunes depend!  If Porter had
not seen him that night, it is more than likely that
there would have been an exhumation.  And then,--well,
there would be chloral in the body; some money interests
DID depend upon the death of the lad--a sharp lawyer
might have made much of the case.  Anyway, the first
breath of suspicion would have blown my little rising
practice to wind.  What awful things lurk at the corners
of Life's highway, ready to pounce upon us as we pass!

And so you really are going a-voyaging!  Well, I
won't write again until I hear that you are back from the
Islands, and then I hope to have something a little more
cheery to talk about.


1 OAKLEY VILLAS, BIRCHESPOOL, 4th November, 1884.

I face my study window as I write, Bertie.  Slate-
coloured clouds with ragged fringes are drifting slowly
overhead.  Between them one has a glimpse of higher
clouds of a lighter gray.  I can hear the gentle swish
of the rain striking a clearer note on the gravel path
and a duller among the leaves.  Sometimes it falls
straight and heavy, till the air is full of the delicate
gray shading, and for half a foot above the ground there
is a haze from the rebound of a million tiny globules.
Then without any change in the clouds it cases off again.
Pools line my walk, and lie thick upon the roadway, their
surface pocked by the falling drops.  As I sit I can
smell the heavy perfume of the wet earth, and the laurel
bushes gleam where the light strikes sideways upon them.
The gate outside shines above as though it were
new varnished, and along the lower edge of the
upper bar there hangs a fringe of great clear drops.

That is the best that November can do for us in our
dripping little island.  You, I suppose, sitting among
the dying glories of an American fall, think that this
must needs be depressing.  Don't make any mistake about
that, my dear boy.  You may take the States, from Detroit
to the Gulf, and you won't find a happier man than this
one.  What do you suppose I've got att his{sic-- at this}
moment in my consulting room?  A bureau?  A bookcase?
No, I know you've guessed my secret already.  She is
sitting in my big armchair; and she is the best, the
kindest, the sweetest little woman in England.

Yes, I've been married six months now--the almanack
says months, though I should have thought weeks.  I
should, of course, have sent cake and cards, but had an
idea that you were not home from the Islands yet.  It is
a good year since I wrote to you; but when you give an
amorphous address of that sort, what can you expect?
I've thought of you, and talked of you often enough.

Well, I daresay, with the acumen of an old married
man, you have guessed who the lady is as well.  We surely
know by some nameless instinct more about our futures
than we think we know.  I can remember, for example, that
years ago the name of Bradfield used to strike with a
causeless familiarity upon my ear; and since then, as you
know, the course of my life has flowed through it.  And
so when I first saw Winnie La Force in the railway
carriage, before I had spoken to her or knew her name, I
felt an inexplicable sympathy for and interest in her.
Have you had no experience of the sort in your life?  Or
was it merely that she was obviously gentle and retiring,
and so made a silent claim upon all that was helpful and
manly in me?  At any rate, I was conscious of it; and
again and again every time that I met her.  How good is
that saying of some Russian writer that he who loves one
woman knows more of the whole sex than he who has had
passing relations with a thousand!  I thought I knew
something of women.  I suppose every medical student
does.  But now I can see that I really knew nothing.  My
knowledge was all external.  I did not know the
woman soul, that crowning gift of Providence to man,
which, if we do not ourselves degrade it, will set an
edge to all that is good in us.  I did not know how the
love of a woman will tinge a man's whole life and every
action with unselfishness.  I did not know how easy it is
to be noble when some one else takes it for granted that
one will be so; or how wide and interesting life becomes
when viewed by four eyes instead of two.  I had much to
learn, you see; but I think I have learned it.

It was natural that the death of poor Fred La Force
should make me intimate with the family.  It was really
that cold hand which I grasped that morning as I sat by
his bed which drew me towards my happiness.  I visited
them frequently, and we often went little excursions
together.  Then my dear mother came down to stay with me
for a spell, and turned Miss Williams gray by looking for
dust in all sorts of improbable corners; or advancing
with a terrible silence, a broom in one hand and a shovel
in the other, to the attack of a spider's web which she
had marked down in the beer cellar.  Her presence
enabled me to return some of the hospitality which I had
received from the La Forces, and brought us still nearer

I had never yet reminded them of our previous
meeting.  One evening, however, the talk turned upon
clairvoyance, and Mrs. La Force was expressing the utmost
disbelief in it.  I borrowed her ring, and holding it to
my forehead, I pretended to be peering into her past.

"I see you in a railway carriage," said I. "You are
wearing a red feather in your bonnet.  Miss La Force is
dressed in something dark.  There is a young man there.
He is rude enough to address your daughter as Winnie
before he has ever been----"

"Oh, mother," she cried, "of course it is he!  The
face haunted me, and I could not think where we had met

Well, there are some things that we don't talk about
to another man, even when we know each other as well as
I know you.  Why should we, when that which is most
engrossing to us consists in those gradual shades of
advance from friendship to intimacy, and from intimacy to
something more sacred still, which can scarcely be
written at all, far less made interesting to another?
The time came at last when they were to leave
Birchespool, and my mother and I went round the night
before to say goodbye.  Winnie and I were thrown together
for an instant.

"When will you come back to Birchespool?" I asked.

"Mother does not know."

"Will you come soon, and be my wife?"

I had been turning over in my head all the evening
how prettily I could lead up to it, and how neatly I
could say it--and behold the melancholy result!  Well,
perhaps the feeling of my heart managed to make itself
clear even through those bald words.  There was but one
to judge, and she was of that opinion.

I was so lost in my own thoughts that I walked as far
as Oakley Villa with my mother before I opened my mouth.
"Mam," said I at last, "I have proposed to Winnie La
Force, and she has accepted me."

"My boy," said she, "you are a true Packenham."  And
so I knew that my mother's approval had reached the point
of enthusiasm.  It was not for days--not until I
expressed a preference for dust under the bookcase with
quiet, against purity and ructions--that the dear old
lady perceived traces of the Munros.

The time originally fixed for the wedding was six
months after this; but we gradually whittled it down to
five and to four.  My income had risen to about two
hundred and seventy pounds at the time; and Winnie had
agreed, with a somewhat enigmatical smile, that we could
manage very well on that--the more so as marriage sends
a doctor's income up.  The reason of her smile became
more apparent when a few weeks before that date I
received a most portentous blue document in which "We,
Brown & Woodhouse, the solicitors for the herein and
hereafter mentioned Winifred La Force, do hereby"--state
a surprising number of things, and use some remarkably
bad English.  The meaning of it, when all the "whereas's
and aforesaids" were picked out, was, that Winnie had
about a hundred a year of her own.  It could not make me
love her a shade better than I did; but at the same time
I won't be so absurd as to say that I was not glad,
or to deny that it made our marriage much easier than it
would otherwise have been.

Poor Whitehall came in on the morning of the
ceremony.  He was staggering under the weight of a fine
Japanese cabinet which he had carried round from his
lodgings.  I had asked him to come to the church, and the
old gentleman was resplendent in a white waistcoat and a
silk tie.  Between ourselves, I had been just a little
uneasy lest his excitement should upset him, as in the
case of the dinner; but nothing could be more exemplary
than his conduct and appearance.  I had introduced him to
Winnie some days before.

"You'll forgive me for saying, Dr. Munro, sir, that
you are a ---- lucky fellow," said he.  "You've put your
hand in the bag, sir, and taken out the eel first time,
as any one with half an eye can see.  Now, I've had three
dips, and landed a snake every dip.  If I'd had a good
woman at my side, Dr. Munro, sir, I might not be the
broken half-pay skipper of an armed transport to-day."

"I thought you had been twice married, captain."

"Three times, sir.  I buried two.  The other lives at
Brussels.  Well, I'll be at the church, Dr. Munro, sir;
and you may lay that there is no one there who wishes you
better than I do."

And yet there were many there who wished me well.  My
patients had all got wind of it; and they assembled by
the pew-full, looking distressingly healthy.  My
neighbour, Dr. Porter, was there also to lend me his
support, and old General Wainwright gave Winnie away.  My
mother, Mrs. La Force, and Miss Williams were all in the
front pew; and away at the back of the church I caught a
glimpse of the forked beard and crinkly face of
Whitehall, and beside him the wounded lieutenant, the man
who ran away with the cook, and quite a line of the
strange Bohemians who followed his fortunes.  Then when
the words were said, and man's form had tried to sanctify
that which was already divine, we walked amid the
pealings of the "Wedding March" into the vestry, where my
dear mother relieved the tension of the situation by
signing the register in  the wrong place, so that to all
appearance it was she who had just married the clergyman.
And then amid congratulations and kindly faces, we
were together, her hand on my forearm, upon the steps of
the church, and saw the familiar road stretching before
us.  But it was not that road which lay before my eyes,
but rather the path of our lives;--that broader path on
which our feet were now planted, so pleasant to tread,
and yet with its course so shrouded in the mist.  Was it
long, or was it short?  Was it uphill, or was it down?
For her, at least, it should be smooth, if a man's love
could make it so.

We were away for several weeks in the Isle of Man,
and then came back to Oakley Villa, where Miss Williams
was awaiting us in a house in which even my mother could
have found no dust, and with a series of cheering legends
as to the crowds of patients who had blocked the street
in my absence.  There really was a marked increase in my
practice; and for the last six months or so, without
being actually busy, I have always had enough to occupy
me.  My people are poor, and I have to work hard for a
small fee; but I still study and attend the local
hospital, and keep my knowledge up-to-date, so as to be
ready for my opening when it comes.  There are times
when I chafe that I may not play a part upon some larger
stage than this; but my happiness is complete, and if
fate has no further use for me, I am content now from my
heart to live and to die where I am.

You will wonder, perhaps, how we get on--my wife and
I--in the matter of religion.  Well, we both go our own
ways.  Why should I proselytise?  I would not for the
sake of abstract truth take away her child-like faith
which serves to make life easier and brighter to her.  I
have made myself ill-understood by you in these
discursive letters if you have read in them any
bitterness against the orthodox creeds.  Far from saying
that they are all false, it would express my position
better to say that they are all true.  Providence would
not have used them were they not the best available
tools, and in that sense divine.  That they are final I
deny.  A simpler and more universal creed will take their
place, when the mind of man is ready for it; and I
believe it will be a creed founded upon those lines of
absolute and provable truth which I have indicated.  But
the old creeds are still the best suited to certain
minds, and to certain ages.  If they are good enough
for Providence to use, they are good enough for us to
endure.  We have but to wait upon the survival of the
truest.  If I have seemed to say anything aggressive
against them, it was directed at those who wish to limit
the Almighty's favour to their own little clique, or who
wish to build a Chinese wall round religion, with no
assimilation of fresh truths, and no hope of expansion in
the future.  It is with these that the pioneers of
progress can hold no truce.  As for my wife, I would as
soon think of breaking in upon her innocent prayers, as
she would of carrying off the works of philosophy from my
study table.  She is not narrow in her views; but if one
could stand upon the very topmost pinnacle of broad-
mindedness, one would doubtless see from it that even the
narrow have their mission.

About a year ago I had news of Cullingworth from
Smeaton, who was in the same football team at college,
and who had called when he was passing through Bradfield.
His report was not a very favourable one.  The practice
had declined considerably.  People had no doubt
accustomed themselves to his eccentricities, and these
had ceased to impress them.  Again, there had been
one or two coroner's inquests, which had spread the
impression that he had been rash in the use of powerful
drugs.  If the coroner could have seen the hundreds of
cures which Cullingworth had effected by that same
rashness he would have been less confident with his
censures.  But, as you can understand, C.'s rival medical
men were not disposed to cover him in any way.  He had
never had much consideration for them.

Besides this decline in his practice, I was sorry to
hear that Cullingworth had shown renewed signs of that
curious vein of suspicion which had always seemed to me
to be the most insane of all his traits.  His whole frame
of mind towards me had been an example of it, but as far
back as I can remember it had been a characteristic.
Even in those early days when they lived in four little
rooms above a grocer's shop, I recollect that he insisted
upon gumming up every chink of one bedroom for fear of
some imaginary infection.  He was haunted, too, with a
perpetual dread of eavesdroppers, which used to make him
fly at the door and fling it open in the middle of his
conversation, pouncing out into the passage with the
idea of catching somebody in the act.  Once it was
the maid with the tea tray that he caught, I remember;
and I can see her astonished face now, with an aureole of
flying cups and lumps of sugar.

Smeaton tells me that this has now taken the form of
imagining that some one is conspiring to poison him with
copper, against which he takes the most extravagant
precautions.  It is the strangest sight, he says, to see
Cullingworth at his meals; for he sits with an elaborate
chemical apparatus and numerous retorts and bottles at
his elbow, with which he tests samples of every course.
I could not help laughing at Smeaton's description, and
yet it was a laugh with a groan underlying it.  Of all
ruins, that of a fine man is the saddest.

I never thought I should have seen Cullingworth
again, but fate has brought us together.  I have always
had a kindly feeling for him, though I feel that he used
me atrociously.  Often I have wondered whether, if I were
placed before him, I should take him by the throat or by
the hand.  You will be interested to hear what actually

One day, just a week or so back, I was starting
on my round, when a boy arrived with a note.  It fairly
took my breath away when I saw the familiar writing, and
realised that Cullingworth was in Birchespool.  I called
Winnie, and we read it together.

"Dear Munro," it said, "James is in lodgings here for
a few days.  We are on the point of leaving England.  He
would be glad, for the sake of old times, to have a chat
with you before he goes.

"Yours faithfully,


The writing was his and the style of address, so that
it was evidently one of those queer little bits of
transparent cunning which were characteristic of him, to
make it come from his wife, that he might not lay himself
open to a direct rebuff.  The address, curiously enough,
was that very Cadogan Terrace at which I had lodged, but
two doors higher up.

Well, I was averse from going myself, but Winnie was
all for peace and forgiveness.  Women who claim nothing
invariably get everything, and so my gentle little wife
always carries her point.  Half an hour later I was in
Cadogan Terrace with very mixed feelings, but the
kindlier ones at the top.  I tried to think that
Cullingworth's treatment of me had been pathological--the
result of a diseased brain.  If a delirious man had
struck me, I should not have been angry with him.  That
must be my way of looking at it.

If Cullingworth still bore any resentment, he
concealed it most admirably.  But then I knew by
experience that that genial loud-voiced John-Bull manner
of his COULD conceal many things.  His wife was more
open; and I could read in her tightened lips and cold
grey eyes, that she at least stood fast to the old
quarrel.  Cullingworth was little changed, and seemed to
be as sanguine and as full of spirits as ever.

"Sound as a trout, my boy!" he  cried, drumming on
his chest with his hands.  "Played for the London
Scottish in their opening match last week, and was on the
ball from whistle to whistle.  Not so quick on a sprint--
you find that yourself, Munro, eh what?--but a good hard-
working bullocky forward.  Last match I shall have for
many a day, for I am off to South America next week."

"You have given up Bradfield altogether then?"

"Too provincial, my boy!  What's the good of a
village practice with a miserable three thousand or so a
year for a man that wants room to spread?  My head was
sticking out at one end of Bradfield and my feet at the
other.  Why, there wasn't room for Hetty in the place,
let alone me!  I've taken to the eye, my boy.  There's a
fortune in the eye.  A man grudges a half-crown to cure
his chest or his throat, but he'd spend his last dollar
over his eye.  There's money in ears, but the eye is a
gold mine."

"What!" said I, "in South America?"

"Just exactly in South America," he cried, pacing
with his quick little steps up and down the dingy room.
"Look here, laddie!  There's a great continent from the
equator to the icebergs, and not a man in it who could
correct an astigmatism.  What do they know of modern eye-
surgery and refraction?  Why, dammy, they don't know much
about it in the provinces of England yet, let alone
Brazil.  Man, if you could only see it, there's a fringe
of squinting millionaires sitting ten deep round the
whole continent with their money in their hands
waiting for an oculist.  Eh, Munro, what?  By Crums, I'll
come back and I'll buy Bradfield, and I'll give it away
as a tip to a waiter."

"You propose to settle in some large city, then?"

"City!  What use would a city be to me?  I'm there to
squeeze the continent.  I work a town at a time.  I send
on an agent to the next to say that I am coming.  I
`Here's the chance of a lifetime,' says he, `no need to
go back to Europe.  Here's Europe come to you.  Squints,
cataracts, iritis, refractions, what you like; here's the
great Signor Cullingworth, right up to date and ready for
anything!'  In they come of course, droves of them, and
then I arrive and take the money.  Here's my luggage!" he
pointed to two great hampers in the corner of the room.
"Those are glasses, my boy, concave and convex, hundreds
of them.  I test an eye, fit him on the spot, and send
him away shouting.  Then I load up a steamer and come
home, unless I elect to buy one of their little States
and run it."

Of course it sounded absurd as he put it; but I
could soon see that he had worked out his details, and
that there was a very practical side to his visions.

"I work Bahia," said he.  "My agent prepares
Pernambuco.  When Bahia is squeezed dry I move on to
Pernambuco, and the agent ships to Monte Video.  So we
work our way round with a trail of spectacles behind us.
"It'll go like clock-work."

"You will need to speak Spanish," said I.

"Tut, it does not take any Spanish to stick a knife
into a man's eye.  All I shall want to know is, `Money
down--no credit.'  That's Spanish enough for me."

We had a long and interesting talk about all that had
happened to both of us, without, however, any allusion to
our past quarrel.  He would not admit that he had left
Bradfield on account of a falling-off in his practice, or
for any reason except that he found the place too small.
His spring-screen invention had, he said, been favourably
reported upon by one of the first private shipbuilding
firms on the Clyde, and there was every probability of
their adopting it.

"As to the magnet," said he, " I'm very sorry
for my country, but there is no more command of the
seas for her.  I'll have to let the thing go to the
Germans.  It's not my fault.  They must not blame me
when the smash comes.  I put the thing before the
Admiralty, and I could have made a board school
understand it in half the time.  Such letters, Munro!
Colney Hatch on blue paper.  When the war comes, and I
show those letters, somebody will be hanged.  Questions
about this--questions about that.  At last they asked me
what I proposed to fasten my magnet to.  I answered to
any solid impenetrable object, such as the head of an
Admiralty official.  Well, that broke the whole thing up.
They wrote with their compliments, and they were
returning my apparatus.  I wrote with my compliments, and
they might go to the devil.  And so ends a great
historical incident, Munro--eh, what? "

We parted very good friends, but with reservations,
I fancy, on both sides.  His last advice to me was to
clear out of Birchespool.

"You can do better--you can do better, laddie!" said
he.  "Look round the whole world, and when you see a
little round hole, jump in feet foremost.  There's
a lot of 'em about if a man keeps himself ready."

So those were the last words of Cullingworth, and the
last that I may ever see of him also, for he starts
almost immediately upon his strange venture.  He must
succeed.  He is a man whom nothing could hold down.  I
wish him luck, and have a kindly feeling towards him, and
yet I distrust him from the bottom of my heart, and shall
be just as pleased to know that the Atlantic rolls
between us.

Well, my dear Bertie, a happy and tranquil, if not
very ambitious existence stretches before us.  We are
both in our twenty-fifth year, and I  suppose that
without presumption we can reckon that thirty-five more
years lie in front of us.  I can foresee the gradually
increasing routine of work, the wider circle of friends,
the indentification with this or that local movement,
with perhaps a seat on the Bench, or at least in the
Municipal Council in my later years.  It's not a very
startling programme, is it?  But it lies to my hand, and
I see no other.  I should dearly love that the world
should be ever so little better for my presence.  Even on
this small stage we have our two sides, and
something might be done by throwing all one's weight on
the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance,
peace, and kindliness to man and beast.  We can't all
strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for

So good-bye, my dear boy, and remember that when you
come to England our home would be the brighter for your
presence.  In any case, now that I have your address, I
shall write again in a very few weeks.  My kindest
regards to Mrs. Swanborough.

Yours ever,


[This is the last letter which I was destined to
receive from my poor friend.  He started to spend the
Christmas of that year (1884) with his people, and on the
journey was involved in the fatal railroad accident at
Sittingfleet, where the express ran into a freight train
which was standing in the depot.  Dr. and Mrs. Munro were
the only occupants of the car next the locomotive, and
were killed instantly, as were the brakesman and one
other passenger.  It was such an end as both he and
his wife would have chosen; and no one who knew them
would regret that neither was left to mourn the other.
His insurance policy of eleven hundred pounds was
sufficient to provide for the wants of his own family,
which, as his father was sick, was the one worldly matter
which could have caused him concern.--H. S.

End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Stark Munro Letters

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