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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about The Ball and the Cross.

“Ah, my dear Mr. Wilkinson,” said the doctor, as if delighted at a coincidence; “and Mr. Turnbull, too.  Why, I want to speak to Mr. Turnbull.”

Mr. Turnbull made some movement rather of surrender than assent, and the doctor caught it up exquisitely, showing even more of his two front teeth.  “I am sure Mr. Wilkinson will excuse us a moment.”  And with flying frock-coat he led Turnbull rapidly round the corner of a path.

“My dear sir,” he said, in a quite affectionate manner, “I do not mind telling you—­you are such a very hopeful case—­you understand so well the scientific point of view; and I don’t like to see you bothered by the really hopeless cases.  They are monotonous and maddening.  The man you have just been talking to, poor fellow, is one of the strongest cases of pure idee fixe that we have.  It’s very sad, and I’m afraid utterly incurable.  He keeps on telling everybody”—­and the doctor lowered his voice confidentially—­“he tells everybody that two people have taken is yacht.  His account of how he lost it is quite incoherent.”

Turnbull stamped his foot on the gravel path, and called out:  “Oh, I can’t stand this.  Really——­”

“I know, I know,” said the psychologist, mournfully; “it is a most melancholy case, and also fortunately a very rare one.  It is so rare, in fact, that in one classification of these maladies it is entered under a heading by itself—­Perdinavititis, mental inflammation creating the impression that one has lost a ship.  Really,” he added, with a kind of half-embarrassed guilt, “it’s rather a feather in my cap.  I discovered the only existing case of perdinavititis.”

“But this won’t do, doctor,” said Turnbull, almost tearing his hair, “this really won’t do.  The man really did lose a ship.  Indeed, not to put too fine a point on it, I took his ship.”

Dr. Quayle swung round for an instant so that his silk-lined overcoat rustled, and stared singularly at Turnbull.  Then he said with hurried amiability:  “Why, of course you did.  Quite so, quite so,” and with courteous gestures went striding up the garden path.  Under the first laburnum-tree he stopped, however, and pulling out his pencil and notebook wrote down feverishly:  “Singular development in the Elenthero-maniac, Turnbull.  Sudden manifestation of Rapinavititis—­the delusion that one has stolen a ship.  First case ever recorded.”

Turnbull stood for an instant staggered into stillness.  Then he ran raging round the garden to find MacIan, just as a husband, even a bad husband, will run raging to find his wife if he is full of a furious query.  He found MacIan stalking moodily about the half-lit garden, after his extraordinary meeting with Beatrice.  No one who saw his slouching stride and sunken head could have known that his soul was in the seventh heaven of ecstasy.  He did not think; he did not even very definitely desire.  He merely wallowed in memories, chiefly in material memories; words said

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