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|Round The Red Lamp||Arthur Conan Doyle|
A Physiologist's Wife.
|Page 3 of 13||
"I am sure, John, that I wish you the happiness which you deserve. If I hesitated at all, it is because I know how much is at stake, and because the thing is so sudden, so unexpected." Her thin white hand stole up to the black cross upon her bosom. "These are moments when we need guidance, John. If I could persuade you to turn to spiritual----"
The Professor waved the suggestion away with a deprecating hand.
"It is useless to reopen that question," he said. "We cannot argue upon it. You assume more than I can grant. I am forced to dispute your premises. We have no common basis."
His sister sighed.
"You have no faith," she said.
"I have faith in those great evolutionary forces which are leading the human race to some unknown but elevated goal."
"You believe in nothing."
"On the contrary, my dear Ada, I believe in the differentiation of protoplasm."
She shook her head sadly. It was the one subject upon which she ventured to dispute her brother's infallibility.
"This is rather beside the question," remarked the Professor, folding up his napkin. "If I am not mistaken, there is some possibility of another matrimonial event occurring in the family. Eh, Ada? What!"
His small eyes glittered with sly facetiousness as he shot a twinkle at his sister. She sat very stiff, and traced patterns upon the cloth with the sugar-tongs.
"Dr. James M`Murdo O'Brien----" said the Professor, sonorously.
"Don't, John, don't!" cried Miss Ainslie Grey.
"Dr. James M`Murdo O'Brien," continued her brother inexorably, "is a man who has already made his mark upon the science of the day. He is my first and my most distinguished pupil. I assure you, Ada, that his `Remarks upon the Bile-Pigments, with special reference to Urobilin,' is likely to live as a classic. It is not too much to say that he has revolutionised our views about urobilin."
He paused, but his sister sat silent, with bent head and flushed cheeks. The little ebony cross rose and fell with her hurried breathings.
"Dr. James M`Murdo O'Brien has, as you know, the offer of the physiological chair at Melbourne. He has been in Australia five years, and has a brilliant future before him. To-day he leaves us for Edinburgh, and in two months' time, he goes out to take over his new duties. You know his feeling towards you. It, rests with you as to whether he goes out alone. Speaking for myself, I cannot imagine any higher mission for a woman of culture than to go through life in the company of a man who is capable of such a research as that which Dr. James M`Murdo O'Brien has brought to a successful conclusion."
"He has not spoken to me," murmured the lady.
"Ah, there are signs which are more subtle than speech," said her brother, wagging his head. "But you are pale. Your vasomotor system is excited. Your arterioles have contracted. Let me entreat you to compose yourself. I think I hear the carriage. I fancy that you may have a visitor this morning, Ada. You will excuse me now."
With a quick glance at the clock he strode off into the hall, and within a few minutes he was rattling in his quiet, well-appointed brougham through the brick-lined streets of Birchespool.
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|Round The Red Lamp
Arthur Conan Doyle
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