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THE DRUNKARD***


E-text prepared by Mark C. Orton and the Online Distributed Proofreading
Team (http://www.pgdp.net) from page images generously made available by
the Google Books Library Project (http://books.google.com)



Note:



THE DRUNKARD


BY

GUY THORNE

AUTHOR OF "WHEN IT WAS DARK," "FIRST IT WAS
ORDAINED," "MADE IN HIS IMAGE," ETC., ETC.


New York
STURGIS & WALTON COMPANY
1912

COPYRIGHT, 1911
BY
STURGIS & WALTON COMPANY

Published January, 1912




Transcriber's Note: Inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, and
hyphenation have been retained as printed. The cover of this ebook was
created by the transcriber and is hereby placed in the public domain.




DEDICATION

TO LOUIS TRACY, ESQUIRE


_My Dear Louis_:

It is more than a year ago now that I asked you to accept the
dedication of this story. It was on an evening when I was staying with
you at your Yorkshire house and we had just come in from shooting.

But I discussed the tale with you long before that. It was either - as
well as I can remember - at my place in the Isle of Wight, or when we
were all together in the Italian Alps. I like to think that it was at
that time I first asked your opinion and advice about this book upon
which I have laboured so long.

One night comes back to me very vividly - yes, that surely was the
night. Dinner was over. We were sitting in front of the brilliantly lit
hotel with coffee and cigarettes. You had met all my kind Italian
friends. Our wives were sitting together at one little table with
Signora Maerdi and Madame Riva Monico - to whom be greeting! My father
was at ours, and happy as a boy for all his white beard and skull-cap
of black velvet.

Your son, Dick, was dancing with the Italian girls in the bright salon
behind us, and the piano music tinkled out into the hot night. The
Alpine woods of ilex and pine rose up in the moonlight to where the
snow-capped mountains of St. Gothard hung glistening silver-green.

I ask you to take this book as a memorial of a happy, uninterrupted and
dignified friendship, not less valuable and gracious because your wife
and mine are friends also.

_Nil ego contulerim jucundo sanus amico!_

Yours ever sincerely,

GUY THORNE.




FOREWORD


The sixth chapter in the third book of this story can hardly be called
fiction. The notes upon which it is founded were placed in my
possession by a brilliant man of letters some short time before he
died. Serious students of the psychology of the Inebriate may use the
document certain that it is genuine.

I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to the illuminating study in
heredity of Dr. Archdall Reed, M.B., C.M., F.R.S.E. His book
"Alcoholism" ought to be read by every temperance reformer in Europe
and America.

"The Drink Problem," a book published by Messrs. Methuen and written in
concert by the greatest experts on the subject of Inebriety, has been
most helpful. I have not needed technical help to make my story, but I
have found that it gives ample corroboration of protracted
investigation and study.

My thanks are due to Mr. John Theodore Tussaud for assistance in the
writing of chapter four, book three.

Lastly, I should be ungrateful indeed, if I did not put down my sincere
thanks to my secretary Miss Ethel Paczensky for all she has done for me
during the making of this tale. The mere careful typewriting, revision
and arrangement of a long story which is to be published in America and
Europe, requires considerable skill. The fact that the loyal help and
sympathy of a young and acute mind have been so devotedly at my
service, merits more thanks and acknowledgment than can be easily
conveyed in a foreword.

G. T.




CONTENTS


PROLOGUE

PAGE

PART I A BOOK OF POEMS ARRIVES FOR DR. MORTON SIMS 3

PART II THE MURDERER 14


BOOK ONE

LOTHIAN IN LONDON

CHAPTER

I UNDER THE WAGGON-ROOF. A DINNER IN BRYANSTONE SQUARE 37

II GRAVELY UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCE IN MRS. AMBERLEY'S DRAWING
ROOM 58

III SHAME IN "THE ROARING GALLANT TOWN" 76

IV LOTHIAN GOES TO THE LIBRARY OF PURE LITERATURE 103

V "FOR THE FIRST TIME, HE WAS GOING TO HAVE A GIRL FRIEND" 121


BOOK TWO

LOTHIAN IN NORFOLK

I VIGNETTE OF EARLY MORNING. "GILBERT IS COMING HOME!" 145

II AN EXHIBITION OF DOCTOR MORTON SIMS AND DOCTOR MEDLEY,
WITH AN ACCOUNT OF HOW LOTHIAN RETURNED TO MORTLAND
ROYAL 165

III PSYCHOLOGY OF THE INEBRIATE, AND THE LETTER OF JEWELLED
WORDS 204

IV DICKSON INGWORTH UNDER THE MICROSCOPE 237

V A QUARREL IN THE "MOST SELECT LOUNGE IN THE COUNTY" 246

VI AN _OMNES_ EXEUNT FROM MORTLAND ROYAL 269


BOOK THREE

FRUIT OF THE DEAD SEA

I THE GIRLS IN THE FOURTH STORY FLAT 283

II OVER THE RUBICON 295

III THIRST 318

IV THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS 330

V THE NIGHT JOURNEY FROM NICE WHEN MRS. DALY SPEAKS WORDS
OF FIRE 353

VI GILBERT LOTHIAN'S DIARY 367

VII INGWORTH REDUX: TOFTREES COMPLACENS 394

VIII THE AMNESIC DREAM-PHASE 409

IX A STARTLING EXPERIENCE FOR "WOG" 436


EPILOGUE

A YEAR LATER

WHAT OCCURRED AT THE EDWARD HALL IN KINGSWAY 453




PROLOGUE


PART I

A BOOK OF POEMS ARRIVES FOR DR. MORTON SIMS

"How many bards gild the lapses of time
A few of them have ever been the food
Of my delighted fancy."

- _Keats._


The rain came down through the London fog like ribands of lead as the
butler entered the library with tea, and pulling the heavy curtains
shut out the picture of the sombre winter's afternoon.

The man poked the fire into a blaze, switched on the electric lights,
and putting a late edition of the _Westminster Gazette_ upon the table,
left the room.

For five minutes the library remained empty. The fire crackled and
threw a glancing light upon the green and gold of the book shelves or
sent changing expressions over the faces of the portraits. The ghostly
blue flame which burnt under a brass kettle on the tea table sang like
a mosquito, and from the square outside came the patter of rain, the
drone of passing taxi-cabs, and the occasional beat of horses' hoofs
which made an odd flute-like noise upon the wet wood pavement.

Then the door opened and Dr. Morton Sims, the leading authority in
England upon Inebriety, entered his study.

The doctor was a slim man of medium height. His moustache and pointed
beard were grey and the hair was thinning upon his high forehead. His
movements were quick and alert without suggesting nervousness or hurry,
and a steady flame burned in brown eyes which were the most remarkable
feature of his face.

The doctor drew up a chair to the fire and made himself a cup of weak
tea, pouring a little lime-juice into it instead of milk. As he sipped
he gazed into the pink and amethyst heart of the fire. His eyes were
abstracted - turned inwards upon himself so to speak - and the
constriction of thought drew grey threads across his brow.

After about ten minutes, and when he had finished his single cup of
tea, Dr. Morton Sims opened the evening paper and glanced rapidly up
and down the broad, well-printed columns.

His eye fell upon a small paragraph at the bottom of the second
news-sheet which ran thus: -

"Hancock, the Hackney murderer, is to be executed to-morrow morning
in The North London Prison at eight o'clock. It is understood that
he has refused the ministrations of the Prison Chaplain and seems
indifferent to his fate."

The paper dropped from the doctor's hands and he sighed. The paragraph
might or might not be accurate - that remained to be seen - but it
suggested a curious train of thought to his mind. The man who was to
be hanged in a few hours had committed a murder marked by every
circumstance of callousness and cunning. The facts were so sinister and
cold that the horrible case had excited no sympathy whatever. Even the
silly faddists who generally make fools of themselves on such an
occasion in England had organised no petition for reprieve.

Morton Sims was one of those rare souls whose charity of mind, as well
as of action, was great. He always tried to take the other side, to
combat and resist the verdict passed by the world upon the unhappy and
discredited.

But in the case of this murderer even he could have had no sympathy, if
he had not known and understood something about the man which no one in
the country understood, and only a few people would have been capable
of realising if they had been enlightened.

It was his life-work to understand why deeds like this were done.

A clock upon the high mantel of polished oak struck five.

The doctor rose from his chair and stretched himself, and as he did
this the wrinkles faded from his forehead, while his eyes ceased to be
clouded by abstraction.

Morton Sims, in common with many successful men, had entire control
over his own mind. He perfectly understood the structure and the
working of the machine that secretes thought. In his mental context
correct muscular co-ordination, with due action of the reflexes,
enabled him to put aside a subject with the precision of a man closing
a cupboard door.

His mind was divided into thought-tight compartments.

It was so now. He wished to think of the murderer in North London
Prison no more at the moment, and immediately the subject passed away
from him.

At that moment the butler re-entered with some letters and a small
parcel upon a tray.

"The five o'clock post, sir," he said, putting the letters down upon
the table.

"Oh, very well, Proctor," the doctor answered. "Is everything arranged
for Miss Sims and Mrs. Daly?"

"Yes, sir. Fires are lit in both the bedrooms, and dinner is for
half-past six. The boat train from Liverpool gets in to Euston at a
quarter to. The brougham will be at the station in good time. They will
have a cold journey I expect, sir."

"No, I don't think so, Proctor. The Liverpool boat-trains are most
comfortable and they will have had tea. Very well, then."

The butler went away. Morton Sims looked at the clock. It was ten
minutes past five. His sister and her friend, who had arrived at
Liverpool from New York a few hours ago would not arrive in London
before six.

He looked at the four or five letters on the tray but did not open any
of them. The label upon the parcel bore handwriting that he knew. He
cut the string and opened that, taking from it a book bound in light
green and a letter.

Both were from his great friend Bishop Moultrie, late of Simla and now
rector of Great Petherwick in Norfolk, Canon of Norwich, and a sort of
unofficial second suffragan in that enormous diocese.

"My dear John," ran the letter, "Here is the book that I was
telling you of at the Athenæum last week. You may keep this copy,
and I have put your name in it. The author, Gilbert Lothian, lives
near me in Norfolk. I know him a little and he has presented me
with another copy himself.

You won't agree with some of the thoughts, one or two of the poems
you may even dislike. But on the whole you will be as pleased and
interested as I am and you will recognise a genuine new
inspiration - such a phenomenon now-a-days. Such verse must leave
every reader with a quickened sense of the beauty and compass of
human feeling, to say nothing of its special appeal to Xn thinkers.
Some of it is like George Herbert made musical. Lothian is Crashaw
born again, but born greater - sometimes a Crashaw who has been
listening to some one playing Chopin!

But read for yourself.

Give my regards to your sister when she returns. I hear from many
sources of the great mark her speeches have made at the American
Congress and I am anxiously hoping to meet Mrs. Daly during her
stay over here. She must be a splendid woman!

Helena sends all kind remembrances and hopes to see you here soon.

Yours affectionately,

W. D. MOULTRIE."

Three quarters of an hour were at his disposal. Morton Sims took up the
book, which bore the title "SURGIT AMARI" upon the cover, and began to
read.

Like many other members of his profession he was something of a man of
letters. For him the life-long pursuit of science had been humanised
and sweetened by art. Ever since his days at Harrow with his friend,
the Bishop, he had loved books.

He read very slowly the longish opening poem only, applying delicate
critical tests to every word; analytic and scientific still in the
temper of his mind, and distrusting the mere sensuous impression of a
first glance.

This new man, this Gilbert Lothian, would be great. He would make his
way by charm, the charm of voice, of jewel-like language, above all by
the intellectual charm of new, moving, luminous ideas.

At three minutes to six the doctor closed the book and waited. Almost
as the clock struck the hour, he heard his motor-brougham stop outside
the house, and hurrying out into the hall had opened the door before
the butler could reach it.

Two tall women in furs came into the hall.

The brother and sister kissed each other quietly, but their embrace was
a long one and there was something that vibrated deep down in the
voices of their greeting. Then Miss Morton Sims turned to the other
lady. "Forgive me, Julia," she said, in her clear bell-like voice - in
America they had said that her voice "tolled upon the ear" - "But I
haven't seen him for five months. John, here is Julia Daly at last!"

The doctor took his guest's hand. His face was bright and eager as he
looked at the American woman. She was tall, dressed with a kind of
sumptuous good taste, and the face under its masses of grey hair shone
with a Minerva-like wisdom and serenity.

"Welcome," the doctor said simply. "We have been friends so long, we
have corresponded so often, it is a great joy to me to meet you at
last!"

The three people entered the library for a moment, exchanging the happy
commonplaces of greeting, and then the two women went up to their
rooms.

"Dinner at half past six," the doctor called after them. "I knew you'd
want it. We can have a long talk then. At eight I have to go out upon
an important errand."

He stood in front of the library fire, thinking about the new arrivals
and smoking a cigarette.

His sister Edith had always lived with him, had shared his hopes, his
theories and his work. He was the great scientist slowly getting deep
down, discovering the laws which govern the vital question of
Alcoholism. She was the popular voice, one of the famous women leaders
of the Temperance movement, the most lucid, the least emotional of them
all. Her name was familiar to every one in England. Her brother gave
her the weapons with which she fought. His theories upon Temperance
Reform were quite opposed to the majority of those held by earnest
workers in the same field, but he and his sister were beginning to form
a strong party of influential people who thought with them. Mrs. Daly
was, in America, very much what Edith Morton Sims was in Great
Britain - perhaps even more widely known. Apart from her propaganda she
was one of the few great women orators living, and in her case also,
inspiration came from the English doctor, while she was making his
beliefs and schemes widely known in the United States.

As he waited in the library, the doctor thought that probably no man
had ever had such noble helpers as these two women to whom such great
gifts had been given. His heart was very full of love for his sister
that night, of gratitude and admiration for the stately lady who had
come to be his guest and whom he now met in the flesh for the first
time.


For the first part of dinner the ladies were very full of their recent
campaign in America.

There was an infinity of news to tell, experiences and impressions must
be recorded, progress reported. The eager sparkling talk of the two
women was delightful to the doctor, and he was especially pleased with
the conversation of Mrs. Daly. Every word she spoke fell with the right
ring and chimed, he seemed to have known her for years - as indeed he
had done, through the medium of her letters.

Conversation, which with people like these is a sort of music,
resembles the progress of harmonics in this also - that a lull arrives
with mathematical incidence when a certain stage is reached in the
progress of a theme.

It happened so now, at a certain stage of dinner. There was much more
to be said, but all three people had reached a momentary pause.

The butler came into the room just then, with a letter. "This has just
come by messenger from North London Prison, sir," he said, unable to
repress a faint gleam of curiosity in his eyes.

With a gesture of apology, the doctor opened the envelope. "Very well,"
he said, in a moment or two. "I need not write an answer. But go to the
library, Proctor, and ring up the North London Prison. Say Doctor
Morton Sims' thanks and he will be there punctually at half past
eight."

The servant withdrew and both the ladies looked inquiringly at the
doctor.

"It is a dreadful thing," he said, after a moment's hesitation, "but I
may as well tell you. It must go no further though. A wretched man is
to be executed to-morrow and I have to go and see him."

Edith shuddered.

"How frightful," she said, growing rather pale; "but why, John? How
does it concern you? Are you forced to go?"

He nodded. "I must go," he said, "though it is the most painful thing I
have ever had to do. It is Hancock, the Hackney murderer."

Two startled faces were turned to him now, and a new atmosphere
suddenly seemed to have come into the warm luxurious room, something
that was cold, something that had entered from outside.

"You don't know," he went on. "Of course you have been out of England
for some months. Well, it is this. Hancock is a youngish man of five
and twenty. He was a chemist at Hackney, and of quite exceptional
intelligence. He was at one time an assistant at Williamsons' in Oxford
Street, where some of my prescriptions are made up and where I buy
drugs for experimental purposes. I took rather an interest in him
several years ago. He passed all his examinations with credit and
became engaged to a really charming young woman, who was employed in a
big ladies' shop in Regent Street. He wanted to set up in business for
himself, very naturally, and I helped him with a money loan. He married
the girl, bought a business at Hackney, and became prosperous enough in
a moderate sort of way. He paid me back the hundred pounds I lent him
and from time to time I heard that things were going on very well. He
was respected in the district, and his wife especially was liked. She
was a good and religious woman and did a lot of work for a local
church. They appeared to be a most devoted couple."

The doctor stopped in his story and glanced at the set faces turned
towards him. He poured some water into a tumbler and drank it.

"Oh, it's a hideous story," he said, with some emotion and marked
distaste in his voice. "I won't go into the details. Hancock poisoned
his wife with the most calculating and wicked cunning. He had become
enamoured of a girl in the neighbourhood and he wanted to get rid of
his wife in order to marry her. His wife adored him. She had been a
perfect wife to him, but it made no difference. The thing was
discovered, as such things nearly always are, he was condemned to death
and will be hanged to-morrow morning at breakfast time."

"And you are going to see him _to-night_, John?"

"Yes. It is my duty. I owe it to my work, and to the wretched man too.
I was present at the trial. From the first I realised that there must
have been some definite toxic influence at work on the man's mind to
change him from an intelligent and well-meaning member of society into
a ghastly monster of crime. I was quite right. It was alcohol. He had
been secretly drinking for years, though, as strong-minded and cunning
inebriates do, he had managed to preserve appearances. As you know,
Edith, the Home Secretary is a friend of mine and interested in our
work. Hancock has expressed a wish to see me, to give me some definite
information about himself which will be of great use in my researches
into the psychology of alcoholism. With me, the Home Secretary realises
the value of such an opportunity, and as it is the convict's earnest
wish, I am given the fullest facilities for to-night. Of course the
matter is one of absolute privacy. There would be an outcry among the
sentimental section of the public if it were known. But it is my clear
duty to go."

There was a dead silence in the room. Mrs. Daly played uneasily with
her napkin ring. Suddenly it escaped her nervous fingers and rolled up
against a tumbler with a loud ringing sound. She started and seemed to
awake from a bitter dream.

"Again!" she said in a low voice that throbbed with pain. "At all
hours, in all places, we meet it! The scourge of humanity, the Fiend
Alcohol! The curse of the world! - how long, how long?"




PART II

THE MURDERER

"Ma femme est morte, je suis libre!
Je puis donc boire tout mon soûl.
Lorsque je rentrais sans un sou,
Ses cris me déchiraient la fibre."

- _Baudelaire._


The rain had ceased but the night was bitter cold, as Dr. Morton Sims'
motor went from his house in Russell Square towards the North London
Prison.

A pall of fog hung a few hundred feet above London. The brilliant
artificial lights of the streets glowed with a hard and rather ghastly
radiance. As the car rolled down this and that roaring thoroughfare,
the people in it seemed to Morton Sims to be walking like marionettes.
The driver in front moved mechanically like a clockwork puppet, the
town seemed fantastic and unreal to-night.

A heavy depression weighed upon the doctor's senses. His heart beat
slowly. Some other artery within him was throbbing like a funeral drum.

It had come upon him suddenly as he left the house. He had never, in
all his life, known anything like it before. Perhaps the mournful words
of the American woman had been the cause. Her deep contralto voice
tolled in his ears still. Some white cell in the brain was affected,
the nerves of his body were in revolt. The depression grew deeper and
deeper. A nameless malady of the soul was upon him, he had a sick
horror of his task. The hands in his fur gloves grew wet and there was
a salt taste in his mouth.

The car left ways that were familiar. Presently it turned into a street
of long houses. The street rose steeply before, and was outlined by a
long, double row of gas-lamps, stretching away to a point. It was quite
silent, and the note of the car's engine sank a full tone as the ascent
began.

Through the window in front, and to the left of the chauffeur, the
doctor could see the lamps running past him, and suddenly he became
aware of a vast blackness, darker than the houses, deeper than the sky,
coming to meet him. Incredibly huge and sinister, a precipice, a
mountain of stone, a nightmare castle whose grim towers were lost in
night, closed the long road and barred all progress onward.

It was the North London Prison, hideous by day, frightful by night, the
frontier citadel of a land of Death and gloom and shadows.

The doctor left his car and told the man to return in an hour and wait
for him.

He stood before a high arched gateway. In this gateway was a door
studded with sexagonal bosses of iron. Above the door was a gas-lamp.
Hanging to the side of this door was an iron rod terminating in a
handle of brass. This was the bell.

A sombre silence hung over everything. The roar of London seemed like a
sound heard in a vision. A thin night wind sighed like a ghost in the
doctor's ear as he stood before the ultimate reality of life, a reality
surpassing the reality of dreams.



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