Master of His Fate

J. Mclaren Cobban
Master of His Fate, by J. Mclaren

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Title: Master of His Fate
Author: J. Mclaren Cobban
Release Date: November 3, 2004 [eBook #13931] [Date last updated:
January 9, 2005]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Suzanne Shell, Branko Collin, and the Project
Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team

Master Of His Fate


Julius Courtney II. A Mysterious Case III. "M. Dolaro" IV. The Man of
the Crowd V. The Remarkable Case of Lady Mary Fane VI. At The
Bedside of the Doctor VII. Contains a Love Interlude VIII. Strange
Scenes in Curzon Street IX. An Apparition And a Confession

To Z. Mennell, Esq.
My dear Mennell,
It has been my fortune to see something of the practice of the art of
healing under widely different conditions, and I know none who better
represents the most humane and most exacting of all professions than
yourself. The good doctor of this story--the born surgeon and healer,
the ever young and alert, the self-forgetful, the faithful friend, gifted
with "that exquisite charity which can forgive all things"--is studied
from you.
It is one of the greatest pleasures of my life to inscribe your name on
this dedicatory page, and to subscribe myself,
Your sincere friend and grateful patient,
J. Maclaren Cobban.

London, November 1889.
Chapter I.
Julius Courtney.
The Hyacinth Club has the reputation of selecting its members from
among the freshest and most active spirits in literature, science, and art.
That is in a sense true, but activity in one or another of those fields is
not a condition of membership; for, just as the listening Boswell was
the necessary complement of the talking Johnson, so in the Hyacinth
Club there is an indispensable contingent of passive members who find
their liveliest satisfaction in hearing and looking on, rather than in
speaking and doing. Something of the home principle of male and
female is necessary for the completeness even of a club.
The Hyacinth Club-house looks upon Piccadilly and the Green Park.
The favourite place of concourse of its members is the magnificent
smoking-room on the first floor, the bow-windows of which command
a view up and down the fashionable thoroughfare, and over the trees
and the undulating sward of the Park to the gates of Buckingham
Palace. On a Monday afternoon in the beginning of May, the
bow-windows were open, and several men sat in leather lounges (while
one leaned against a window-sash), luxuriously smoking, and noting
the warm, palpitating life of the world without. A storm which had
been silently and doubtfully glooming and gathering the night before
had burst and poured in the morning, and it was such a spring afternoon
as thrills the heart with new life and suffuses the soul with
expectation--such an afternoon as makes all women appear beautiful
and all men handsome. The south-west wind blew soft and balmy, and
all nature rejoiced as the bride in the presence of the bridegroom. The
trees in the Park were full of sap, and their lusty buds were eagerly
opening to the air and the light. The robin sang with a note almost as
rich and sensuous as that of the thrush; and the shrill and restless
sparrows chirped and chattered about the houses and among the horses'
feet, and were as full of the joy of life as the men and women who
thronged the pavements or reclined in their carriages in the sumptuous

ease of wealth and beauty.
Of the men who languidly gazed upon the gay and splendid scene from
the windows of the Club, none seemed so interested as the man who
leaned against the window-frame. He appeared more than
interested--absorbed, indeed--in the world without, and he looked
bright and handsome enough, and charged enough with buoyant health,
to be the ideal bridegroom of Nature in her springtide.
He was a dark man, tall and well built, with clear brown eyes. His black
hair (which was not cropped short, as is the fashion) had a lustrous
softness, and at the same time an elastic bushiness, which nothing but
the finest-tempered health can give; and his complexion, though tanned
by exposure, had yet much of the smoothness of youth, save where the
razor had passed upon his beard. Thus seen, a little way off, he
appeared a young man in his rosy twenties; on closer
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