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Resources for students & teachers

R Austin Freeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 280 pages of information about The Vanishing Man.

CHAPTER

    I the vanishing man
   II the eavesdropper
  III John Thorndyke
   IV legal complications and A jackal
    V the watercress-bed
   VI sidelights
  VII John Bellingham’s will
 VIII A museum idyll
   IX the Sphinx of Lincoln’s inn
    X the new alliance
   XI the evidence reviewed
  XII A voyage of discovery
 XIII the CROWNER’S quest
  XIV which carries the reader into the
      probate court
   XV circumstantial evidence
  XVI “O!  Artemidorus, farewell!”
 XVII the accusing finger
XVIII John Bellingham
  XIX A strange symposium
   XX the end of the case

CHAPTER I

THE VANISHING MAN

The school of St. Margaret’s Hospital was fortunate in its lecturer on Medical Jurisprudence, or Forensic Medicine, as it is sometimes described.  At some schools the lecturer on this subject is appointed apparently for the reason that he lacks the qualifications to lecture on any other.  But with us it was very different:  John Thorndyke was not only an enthusiast, a man of profound learning and great reputation, but he was an exceptional teacher, lively and fascinating in style and of endless resources.  Every remarkable case that had ever been recorded he appeared to have at his fingers’ ends; every fact—­chemical, physical, biological, or even historical—­that could in any way be twisted into a medico-legal significance, was pressed into his service; and his own varied and curious experiences seemed as inexhaustible as the widow’s cruse.  One of his favourite devices for giving life and interest to a rather dry subject was that of analysing and commenting upon contemporary cases as reported in the papers (always, of course, with a due regard to the legal and social proprieties); and it was in this way that I first became introduced to the astonishing series of events that was destined to exercise so great an influence on my own life.

The lecture which had just been concluded had dealt with the rather unsatisfactory subject of survivorship.  Most of the students had left the theatre, and the remainder had gathered round the lecturer’s table to listen to the informal comments that Dr. Thorndyke was wont to deliver on these occasions in an easy, conversational manner, leaning against the edge of the table and apparently addressing his remarks to a stick of blackboard chalk that he held in his fingers.

“The problem of survivorship,” he was saying, in reply to a question put by one of the students, “ordinarily occurs in cases where the bodies of the parties are producible, or where, at any rate, the occurrence of death and its approximate time are actually known.  But an analogous difficulty may arise in a case where the body of one of the parties is not forthcoming, and the fact of death may have to be assumed on collateral evidence.

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