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|Round The Red Lamp||Arthur Conan Doyle|
The Third Generation.
|Page 6 of 7||
"It is very hard on you, no doubt. I can appreciate it more now that I have seen that. But there is no alternative at all. You must give up all thought of it."
"But this is madness, doctor--madness, I tell you. No, I won't raise my voice. I forgot myself. But realise it, man. I am to be married on Tuesday. This coming Tuesday, you understand. And all the world knows it. How can I put such a public affront upon her. It would be monstrous."
"None the less it must be done. My dear lad, there is no way out of it."
"You would have me simply write brutally and break the engagement at the last moment without a reason. I tell you I couldn't do it."
"I had a patient once who found himself in a somewhat similar situation some years ago," said the doctor thoughtfully. "His device was a singular one. He deliberately committed a penal offence, and so compelled the young lady's people to withdraw their consent to the marriage."
The young baronet shook his head. "My personal honour is as yet unstained," said he. "I have little else left, but that, at least, I will preserve."
"Well, well, it is a nice dilemma, and the choice lies with you."
"Have you no other suggestion?"
"You don't happen to have property in Australia?"
"But you have capital?"
"Then you could buy some. To-morrow morning would do. A thousand mining shares would be enough. Then you might write to say that urgent business affairs have compelled you to start at an hour's notice to inspect your property. That would give you six months, at any rate."
"Well, that would be possible. Yes, certainly, it would be possible. But think of her position. The house full of wedding presents--guests coming from a distance. It is awful. And you say that there is no alternative."
The doctor shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, then, I might write it now, and start tomorrow--eh? Perhaps you would let me use your desk. Thank you. I am so sorry to keep you from your guests so long. But I won't be a moment now."
He wrote an abrupt note of a few lines. Then with a sudden impulse he tore it to shreds and flung it into the fireplace.
"No, I can't sit down and tell her a lie, doctor," he said rising. "We must find some other way out of this. I will think it over and let you know my decision. You must allow me to double your fee as I have taken such an unconscionable time. Now good-bye, and thank you a thousand times for your sympathy and advice."
"Why, dear me, you haven't even got your prescription yet. This is the mixture, and I should recommend one of these powders every morning, and the chemist will put all directions upon the ointment box. You are placed in a cruel situation, but I trust that these may be but passing clouds. When may I hope to hear from you again?"
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|Round The Red Lamp
Arthur Conan Doyle
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