free ebooks
The Vanishing Man by R. Austin Freeman

THE VANISHING MAN

A Detective Romance

BY R. AUSTIN FREEMAN

1911

TO MY FRIEND

A.E.B.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I THE VANISHING MAN II THE EAVESDROPPER III JOHN THORNDYKE IV LEGAL COMPLICATIONS AND A JACKAL V THE WATERCRESS-BED VI SIDELIGHTS VII JOHN BELLINGHAM'S WILL VIII A MUSEUM IDYLL IX THE SPHINX OF LINCOLN'S INN X THE NEW ALLIANCE XI THE EVIDENCE REVIEWED XII A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY XIII THE CROWNER'S QUEST XIV WHICH CARRIES THE READER INTO THE PROBATE COURT XV CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE XVI "O! ARTEMIDORUS, FAREWELL!" XVII THE ACCUSING FINGER XVIII JOHN BELLINGHAM XIX A STRANGE SYMPOSIUM XX THE END OF THE CASE

CHAPTER I

THE VANISHING MAN

The school of St. Margaret's Hospital was fortunate in its lecturer on Medical Jurisprudence, or Forensic Medicine, as it is sometimes described. At some schools the lecturer on this subject is appointed apparently for the reason that he lacks the qualifications to lecture on any other. But with us it was very different: John Thorndyke was not only an enthusiast, a man of profound learning and great reputation, but he was an exceptional teacher, lively and fascinating in style and of endless resources. Every remarkable case that had ever been recorded he appeared to have at his fingers' ends; every fact--chemical, physical, biological, or even historical--that could in any way be twisted into a medico-legal significance, was pressed into his service; and his own varied and curious experiences seemed as inexhaustible as the widow's cruse. One of his favourite devices for giving life and interest to a rather dry subject was that of analysing and commenting upon contemporary cases as reported in the papers (always, of course, with a due regard to the legal and social proprieties); and it was in this way that I first became introduced to the astonishing series of events that was destined to exercise so great an influence on my own life.

The lecture which had just been concluded had dealt with the rather unsatisfactory subject of survivorship. Most of the students had left the theatre, and the remainder had gathered round the lecturer's table to listen to the informal comments that Dr. Thorndyke was wont to deliver on these occasions in an easy, conversational manner, leaning against the edge of the table and apparently addressing his remarks to a stick of blackboard chalk that he held in his fingers.

"The problem of survivorship," he was saying, in reply to a question put by one of the students, "ordinarily occurs in cases where the bodies of the parties are producible, or where, at any rate, the occurrence of death and its approximate time are actually known. But an analogous difficulty may arise in a case where the body of one of the parties is not forthcoming, and the fact of death may have to be assumed on collateral evidence.

"Here, of course, the vital question to be settled is, what is the latest instant at which it is certain that this person was alive? And the settlement of that question may turn on some circumstance of the most trivial and insignificant kind. There is a case in this morning's paper which illustrates this. A gentleman has disappeared rather mysteriously. He was last seen by the servant of a relative at whose house he had called. Now, if this gentleman should never reappear, dead or alive, the question as to what was the latest moment at which he was certainly alive will turn upon the further question: 'Was he or was he not wearing a particular article of jewellery when he called at that relative's house?'"


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us