Exhibition of Doctor Morton Sims and Doctor Medley, with an Account of How Lothian Returned to Mortland Royal
||Psychology of the Inebriate, and the Letter of Jewelled Words
||Dickson Ingworth Under the Microscope
||A Quarrel in the "Most Select Lounge in the County"
||An Omnes Exeunt from Mortland Royal
|FRUIT OF THE DEAD SEA
||The Girls in the Fourth Story Flat
||Over the Rubicon
||The Chamber of Horrors
||The Night Journey from Nice When Mrs. Daly Speaks Words of Fire
||Gilbert Lothian's Diary
||Ingworth Redux: Toftrees Complacens
||The Amnesic Dream-phase
||A Startling Experience for "Wog"
|A YEAR LATER
||What Occurred at the Edward Hall in Kingsway
A BOOK OF POEMS ARRIVES FOR DR. MORTON SIMS
"How many bards gild the lapses of time
A few of them have ever been the food
Of my delighted fancy."
The rain came down through the London fog like ribands of lead as the butler entered the library with tea, and pulling the heavy curtains shut out the picture of the sombre winter's afternoon.
The man poked the fire into a blaze, switched on the electric lights, and putting a late edition of the Westminster Gazette upon the table, left the room.
For five minutes the library remained empty. The fire crackled and threw a glancing light upon the green and gold of the book shelves or sent changing expressions over the faces of the portraits. The ghostly blue flame which burnt under a brass kettle on the tea table sang like a mosquito, and from the square outside came the patter of rain, the drone of passing taxi-cabs, and the occasional beat of horses' hoofs which made an odd flute-like noise upon the wet wood pavement.
Then the door opened and Dr. Morton Sims, the leading authority in England upon Inebriety, entered his study.
The doctor was a slim man of medium height. His moustache and pointed beard were grey and the hair was thinning upon his high forehead. His movements were quick and alert without suggesting nervousness or hurry, and a steady flame burned in brown eyes which were the most remarkable feature of his face.
The doctor drew up a chair to the fire and made himself a cup of weak tea, pouring a little lime-juice into it instead of milk. As he sipped he gazed into the pink and amethyst heart of the fire. His eyes were abstracted—turned inwards upon himself so to speak—and the constriction of thought drew grey threads across his brow.
After about ten minutes, and when he had finished his single cup of tea, Dr. Morton Sims opened the evening paper and glanced rapidly up and down the broad, well-printed columns.
His eye fell upon a small paragraph at the bottom of the second news-sheet which ran thus:—
"Hancock, the Hackney murderer, is to be executed to-morrow morning in The North London Prison at eight o'clock. It is understood that he has refused the ministrations of the Prison Chaplain and seems indifferent to his fate."
The paper dropped from the doctor's hands and he sighed. The paragraph might or might not be accurate—that remained to be seen—but it suggested a curious train of thought to his mind. The man who was to be hanged in a few hours had committed a murder marked by every circumstance of callousness and cunning. The facts were so sinister and cold that the horrible case had excited no sympathy whatever. Even the silly faddists who generally make fools of themselves on such an occasion in England had organised no petition for reprieve.
Morton Sims was one of those rare souls whose charity of mind, as well as of action, was great. He always tried to take the other side, to combat and resist the verdict passed by the world upon the unhappy and discredited.
But in the case of this murderer even he could have had no sympathy, if he had not known and understood something about the man which no one in the country understood, and only a few people would have been