The Vanishing Man eBook

R Austin Freeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 356 pages of information about The Vanishing Man.

“Thereupon, Hurst accepted my proposal; I made him the advance and he executed the assignment.  After a few days’ delay, I passed the will as satisfactory.  The actual document was written from the draft by the testator himself; and a fortnight after Hurst had executed the assignment, John signed the will in my office.  By the provisions of that will I stood an excellent chance of becoming virtually the principal beneficiary, unless Godfrey should contest Hurst’s claim and the Court should override the conditions of clause two.

“You will now understand the motives which governed my subsequent actions.  You will also see, Doctor Thorndyke, how very near to the truth your reasoning carried you; and you will understand, as I wish you to do, that Mr. Hurst was no party to any of those proceedings which I am about to describe.

“Coming now to the interview in Queen Square in October, nineteen hundred and two, you are aware of the general circumstances from my evidence in Court, which was literally correct up to a certain point.  The interview took place in a room on the third floor, in which were stored the cases which John had brought with him from Egypt.  The mummy was unpacked, as were some other objects that he was not offering to the Museum, but several cases were still unopened.  At the conclusion of the interview I accompanied Doctor Norbury down to the street door, and we stood on the doorstep conversing for perhaps a quarter of an hour.  Then Doctor Norbury went away and I returned upstairs.

“Now the house in Queen Square is virtually a museum.  The upper part is separated from the lower by a massive door which opens from the hall and gives access to the staircase, and which is fitted with a Chubb night-latch.  There are two latchkeys, of which John used to keep one and I the other.  You will find them both in the safe behind me.  The caretaker had no key and no access to the upper part of the house unless admitted by one of us.

“At the time when I came in, after Doctor Norbury had left, the caretaker was in the cellar, where I could hear him breaking coke for the hot-water furnace.  I had left John on the third floor opening some of the packing cases by the light of a lamp with a tool somewhat like a plasterer’s hammer; that is, a hammer with a small axe-blade at the reverse of the head.  As I stood talking to Doctor Norbury, I could hear him knocking out the nails and wrenching up the lids; and when I entered the doorway leading to the stairs, I could still hear him.  Just as I closed the staircase door behind me, I heard a rumbling noise from above; then all was still.

“I went up the stairs to the second floor, where, as the staircase was all in darkness, I stopped to light the gas.  As I turned to ascend the next flight, I saw a hand projecting over the edge of the half-way landing.  I ran up the stairs, and there, on the landing, I saw John lying huddled up in a heap at the foot of the top flight.  There was a wound at the side of his forehead from which a little blood was trickling.  The case-opener lay on the floor close by him and there was blood on the axe-blade.  When I looked up the stairs I saw a rag of torn matting hanging over the top stair.

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The Vanishing Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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