A Strange Discovery

Charles Romyn Dake
A Strange Discovery

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Title: A Strange Discovery
Author: Charles Romyn Dake
Release Date: August, 2005 [EBook #8665] [This file was first posted
on July 30, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English

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E-text prepared by Suzanne Shell, Colin Cameron, Mary Meehan,
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Charles Romyn Dake



It was once my good fortune to assist in a discovery of some
importance to lovers of literature, and to searchers after the new and
wonderful. As nearly a quarter of a century has since elapsed, and as
two others shared in the discovery, it may seem to the reader strange
that the general public has been kept in ignorance of an event
apparently so full of interest. Yet this silence is quite explicable; for of
the three participants none has heretofore written for publication; and
of my two associates, one is a quiet, retiring man, the other is erratic
and forgetful.
It is also possible that the discovery did not at the time impress either
my companions or myself as having that importance and widespread
interest which I have at last come to believe it really possesses. In any
view of the case, there are reasons, personal to myself, why it was less
my duty than that of either of the others to place on record the facts of
the discovery. Had either of them, in all these years, in ever so brief a
manner, done so, I should have remained forever silent.
The narrative which it is my purpose now to put in written form, I have

at various times briefly or in part related to one and another of my
intimate friends; but they all mistook my facts for fancies, and
good-naturedly complimented me on my story-telling powers--which
was certainty not flattering to my qualifications as an historian.
With this explanation, and this extenuation of what some persons may
think an inexcusable and almost criminal delay, I shall proceed.
In the year 1877 I was compelled by circumstances to visit the States.
At that time, as at the present, my home was near
Newcastle-upon-Tyne. My father, then recently deceased, had left, in
course of settlement in America, business interests involving a
considerable pecuniary investment, of which I hoped a large part might
be recovered. My lawyer, for reasons which seemed to me sufficient,
advised that the act of settlement should not be delegated; and I decided
to leave at once for the United States. Ten days later I reached New
York, where I remained for a day or two and then proceeded westward.
In St. Louis I met some of the persons interested in my business. There
the whole transaction took such form that a final settlement depended
wholly upon the agreement between a certain man and myself; but,
fortunately for the fate of this narrative, the man was not in St. Louis.
He was one of those wealthy so-called "kings" which abound in
America--in this case a "coal king." I was told that he possessed a
really palatial residence in St. Louis--where he did not dwell; and a less
pretentious dwelling directly in the coal-fields, where, for the most of
his time, he did reside. I crossed the Mississippi River into Southern
Illinois, and very soon found him. He was a plain, honest business man;
we did not split hairs, and within a week I had in my pocket London
exchange for something like £20,000, he had in his pocket a transfer of
my interest in certain coal-fields and a certain railroad, and we were
both satisfied.
And now, having explained how I came to be in surroundings to me so
strange, any further mention of business, or of money
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