The Ball and the Cross eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 295 pages of information about The Ball and the Cross.

Evan bent his angry eagle face over it; yet something blurred it and he could never swear he saw it distinctly.  He saw something that began:  “Prenatal influences predisposing to mania.  Grandfather believed in return of the Stuarts.  Mother carried bone of St. Eulalia with which she touched children in sickness.  Marked religious mania at early age——­”

Evan fell back and fought for his speech.  “Oh!” he burst out at last.  “Oh! if all this world I have walked in had been as sane as my mother was.”

Then he compressed his temples with his hands, as if to crush them.  And then lifted suddenly a face that looked fresh and young, as if he had dipped and washed it in some holy well.

“Very well,” he cried; “I will take the sour with the sweet.  I will pay the penalty of having enjoyed God in this monstrous modern earth that cannot enjoy man or beast.  I will die happy in your madhouse, only because I know what I know.  Let it be granted, then—­MacIan is a mystic; MacIan is a maniac.  But this honest shopkeeper and editor whom I have dragged on my inhuman escapades, you cannot keep him.  He will go free, thank God, he is not down in any damned document.  His ancestor, I am certain, did not die at Culloden.  His mother, I swear, had no relics.  Let my friend out of your front door, and as for me——­”

The doctor had already gone across to the laden shelves, and after a few minutes’ short-sighted peering, had pulled down another parallelogram of dark-red wood.

This also he unlocked on the table, and with the same unerring egotistic eye on of the company saw the words, written in large letters:  “Turnbull, James.”

Hitherto Turnbull himself had somewhat scornfully surrendered his part in the whole business; but he was too honest and unaffected not to start at his own name.  After the name, the inscription appeared to run:  “Unique case of Eleutheromania.  Parentage, as so often in such cases, prosaic and healthy.  Eleutheromaniac signs occurred early, however, leading him to attach himself to the individualist Bradlaugh.  Recent outbreak of pure anarchy——­”

Turnbull slammed the case to, almost smashing it, and said with a burst of savage laughter:  “Oh! come along, MacIan; I don’t care so much, even about getting out of the madhouse, if only we get out of this room.  You were right enough, MacIan, when you spoke about—­about mad doctors.”

Somehow they found themselves outside in the cool, green garden, and then, after a stunned silence, Turnbull said:  “There is one thing that was puzzling me all the time, and I understand it now.”

“What do you mean?” asked Evan.

“No man by will or wit,” answered Turnbull, “can get out of this garden; and yet we got into it merely by jumping over a garden wall.  The whole thing explains itself easily enough.  That undefended wall was an open trap.  It was a trap laid for two celebrated lunatics.  They saw us get in right enough.  And they will see that we do not get out.”

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The Ball and the Cross from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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