“It had been very different from what I had anticipated. As I sat by the laboratory table with my head buried in my hands, I shook as if I had an ague; my skin was bathed in a cold sweat and I felt that it would have been a relief to weep. I was astonished at myself. Twenty-four of these vermin had I exterminated with a light heart, because the blow was dealt in the heat of conflict; and now, because this wretch had been helpless and unresisting, I was nearly broken with the effort of dispatching him.
“I sat in the dark laboratory slowly recovering and thinking of the long years that had slipped away since the hand of this miscreant had robbed me of my darling. Gradually I grew more calm. But fully an hour passed before I could summon resolution to go back into the museum and satisfy myself that the long-outstanding debt had indeed been paid at last to the uttermost farthing.
“On Monday morning I withdrew from my bank a hundred pounds in notes, which I handed to my landlord’s widow—Mr. Nathan had died some years previously—with a note surrendering the shop and house in Saul Street. I emptied the safe and brought away such things as I cared to keep, leaving the rest for Mrs. Nathan. Then I shaved off my ragged beard and white mustache, set my Bloomsbury house in order, pensioned off the sergeant-major (who was now growing an old man) and engaged a set of respectable servants. When the last specimen was finished and put in its place in the museum, my work was done. I had now only to wait quietly for the end. And for that I am now waiting, I hope not impatiently.
“Something tells me that I have not long to wait. Certain new and strange sensations, which I have discussed with my friend Dr. Wharton, seem to herald a change. Wharton makes light of them, but I think and hope he is mistaken. And in that hope I rest content; believing that soon I shall hear the curfew chime steal out of the evening mist to tell me that the day is over and that my little spark may be put out.”