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  9. The Last Days Of Sir Richmond Hardy H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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For a time Sir Richmond dozed. Then he stirred and muttered. "Second rate. . . Poor at the best. . . Love. . . Work. All. . ."

"It had been splendid work," said Dr. Martineau, and was not sure that Sir Richmond heard.

"Those last few days. . . lost my grip. . . Always lose my damned grip.

"Ragged them. . . . Put their backs up . . . .Silly....

"Never.... Never done anything--WELL ....

"It's done. Done. Well or ill....


His voice sank to the faintest whisper. "Done for ever and ever ... and ever . . . and ever."

Again he seemed to doze.

Dr. Martineau stood up softly. Something beyond reason told him that this was certainly a dying man. He was reluctant to go and he had an absurd desire that someone, someone for whom Sir Richmond cared, should come and say good-bye to him, and for Sir Richmond to say good-bye to someone. He hated this lonely launching from the shores of life of one who had sought intimacy so persistently and vainly. It was extraordinary--he saw it now for the first time--he loved this man. If it had been in his power, he would at that moment have anointed him with kindness.

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The doctor found himself standing in front of the untidy writing desk, littered like a recent battlefield. The photograph of the American girl drew his eyes. What had happened? Was there not perhaps some word for her? He turned about as if to enquire of the dying man and found Sir Richmond's eyes open and regarding him. In them he saw an expression he had seen there once or twice before, a faint but excessively irritating gleam of amusement.

"Oh!--WELL!" said Dr. Martineau and turned away. He went to the window and stared out as his habit was.

Sir Richmond continued to smile dimly at the doctor's back until his eyes closed again.

It was their last exchange. Sir Richmond died that night in the small hours, so quietly that for some time the night nurse did not observe what had happened. She was indeed roused to that realization by the ringing of the telephone bell in the adjacent study.

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The Secret Places of the Heart
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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