The Vanishing Man eBook

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

“A quaint old cock.  I found him highly amusing.  We entertained one another for quite a long time with cross questions and crooked answers; I affecting eager curiosity, he replying with a defensive attitude of universal ignorance.  It was a most diverting encounter.”

“He needn’t have been so close,” Miss Bellingham remarked, “seeing that all the world will be regaled with our affairs before long.”

“They are proposing to take the case into Court, then?” said Thorndyke.

“Yes,” said Mr. Bellingham.  “Jellicoe came to tell me that my cousin, Hurst, has instructed his solicitors to make the application and to invite me to join him.  Actually he came to deliver an ultimatum from Hurst—­But, I mustn’t disturb the harmony of this festive gathering with litigious discords.”

“Now, why mustn’t you?” asked Thorndyke.  “Why is a subject in which we are all keenly interested to be tabu?  You don’t mind telling us about it, do you?”

“No, of course not.  But what do you think of a man who buttonholes a doctor at a dinner-party to retail a list of his ailments?”

“It depends on what his ailments are,” replied Thorndyke.  “If he is a chronic dyspeptic and wishes to expound the virtues of Doctor Snaffler’s Purple Pills for Pimply People, he is merely a bore.  But if he chances to suffer from some rare and choice disease, such as Trypanosomiasis or Acromegaly, the doctor will be delighted to listen.”

“Then are we to understand,” Miss Bellingham asked, “that we are rare and choice products, in a legal sense?”

“Undoubtedly,” replied Thorndyke.  “The case of John Bellingham is, in many respects, unique.  It will be followed with the deepest interest by the profession at large, and especially by medical jurists.”

“How gratifying that should be to us!” said Miss Bellingham.  “We may even attain undying fame in textbooks and treatises; and yet we are not so very much puffed up with our importance.”

“No,” said her father; “we could do without the fame quite well, and so, I think, could Hurst.  Did Berkeley tell you of the proposal that he made?”

“Yes,” said Thorndyke; “and I gather from what you say that he has repeated it.”

“Yes.  He sent Jellicoe to give me another chance, and I was tempted to take it; but my daughter was strongly against any compromise, and probably she is right.  At any rate, she is more concerned than I am.”

“What view did Mr. Jellicoe take?” Thorndyke asked.

“Oh, he was very cautious and reserved, but he didn’t disguise his feeling that I should be wise to take a certainty in lieu of a very problematical fortune.  He would certainly like me to agree, for he naturally wishes to get the affair settled and pocket his legacy.”

“And have you definitely refused?”

“Yes; quite definitely.  So Hurst will apply for permission to presume death and prove the will, and Jellicoe will support him; he says he has no choice.”

Project Gutenberg
The Vanishing Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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