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The Secret Adversary Agatha Christie

XIV A Consultation

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"Quite so. An interesting case, a very interesting case. Not so uncommon, really, as you would think. There are several very well known parallels. It's the first case of the kind that I've had under my own personal observation, and I must admit that I've found it of absorbing interest." There was something rather ghoulish in the little man's satisfaction.

"And she remembers nothing," said Sir James slowly.

"Nothing prior to May 7, 1915. After that date her memory is as good as yours or mine."

"Then the first thing she remembers?"

"Is landing with the survivors. Everything before that is a blank. She did not know her own name, or where she had come from, or where she was. She couldn't even speak her own tongue."

"But surely all this is most unusual?" put in Julius.

"No, my dear sir. Quite normal under the circumstances. Severe shock to the nervous system. Loss of memory proceeds nearly always on the same lines. I suggested a specialist, of course. There's a very good man in Paris--makes a study of these cases--but Mrs. Vandemeyer opposed the idea of publicity that might result from such a course."

"I can imagine she would," said Sir James grimly.

"I fell in with her views. There is a certain notoriety given to these cases. And the girl was very young--nineteen, I believe. It seemed a pity that her infirmity should be talked about--might damage her prospects. Besides, there is no special treatment to pursue in such cases. It is really a matter of waiting."


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"Yes, sooner or later, the memory will return--as suddenly as it went. But in all probability the girl will have entirely forgotten the intervening period, and will take up life where she left off--at the sinking of the Lusitania."

"And when do you expect this to happen?"

The doctor shrugged his shoulders.

"Ah, that I cannot say. Sometimes it is a matter of months, sometimes it has been known to be as long as twenty years! Sometimes another shock does the trick. One restores what the other took away."

"Another shock, eh?" said Julius thoughtfully.

"Exactly. There was a case in Colorado----" The little man's voice trailed on, voluble, mildly enthusiastic.

Julius did not seem to be listening. He had relapsed into his own thoughts and was frowning. Suddenly he came out of his brown study, and hit the table such a resounding bang with his fist that every one jumped, the doctor most of all.

"I've got it! I guess, doc, I'd like your medical opinion on the plan I'm about to outline. Say Jane was to cross the herring pond again, and the same thing was to happen. The submarine, the sinking ship, every one to take to the boats--and so on. Wouldn't that do the trick? Wouldn't it give a mighty big bump to her subconscious self, or whatever the jargon is, and start it functioning again right away?"

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The Secret Adversary
Agatha Christie

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