The Black Doctor

Bishop's Crossing is a small village lying ten miles in a south-

westerly direction from Liverpool. Here in the early seventies

there settled a doctor named Aloysius Lana. Nothing was known

locally either of his antecedents or of the reasons which had

prompted him to come to this Lancashire hamlet. Two facts only

were certain about him; the one that he had gained his medical

qualification with some distinction at Glasgow; the other that he

came undoubtedly of a tropical race, and was so dark that he

might almost have had a strain of the Indian in his composition.

His predominant features were, however, European, and he

possessed a stately courtesy and carriage which suggested a

Spanish extraction. A swarthy skin, raven-black hair, and dark,

sparkling eyes under a pair of heavily-tufted brows made a

strange contrast to the flaxen or chestnut rustics of England,

and the newcomer was soon known as "The Black Doctor of Bishop's

Crossing." At first it was a term of ridicule and reproach; as

the years went on it became a title of honour which was familiar

to the whole countryside, and extended far beyond the narrow

confines of the village.

For the newcomer proved himself to be a capable surgeon and an

accomplished physician. The practice of that district had been in

the hands of Edward Rowe, the son of Sir William Rowe, the

Liverpool consultant, but he had not inherited the talents of his

father, and Dr. Lana, with his advantages of presence and of

manner, soon beat him out of the field. Dr. Lana's social success

was as rapid as his professional. A remarkable surgical cure in

the case of the Hon. James Lowry, the second son of Lord Belton,

was the means of introducing him to county society, where he became

a favourite through the charm of his conversation and the elegance

of his manners. An absence of antecedents and of relatives is

sometimes an aid rather than an impediment to social advancement,

and the distinguished individuality of the handsome doctor was its

own recommendation.

His patients had one fault--and one fault only--to find with

him. He appeared to be a confirmed bachelor. This was the more

remarkable since the house which he occupied was a large one, and

it was known that his success in practice had enabled him to save

considerable sums. At first the local matchmakers were continually

coupling his name with one or other of the eligible ladies, but as

years passed and Dr. Lana remained unmarried, it came to be

generally understood that for some reason he must remain a

bachelor. Some even went so far as to assert that he was already

married, and that it was in order to escape the consequence of an

early misalliance that he had buried himself at Bishop's Crossing.

And, then, just as the matchmakers had finally given him up in

despair, his engagement was suddenly announced to Miss Frances

Morton, of Leigh Hall.

Miss Morton was a young lady who was well known upon the

country-side, her father, James Haldane Morton, having been the

Squire of Bishop's Crossing. Both her parents were, however, dead,

and she lived with her only brother, Arthur Morton, who had

inherited the family estate. In person Miss Morton was tall and

stately, and she was famous for her quick, impetuous nature and for

her strength of character. She met Dr. Lana at a garden-party, and

a friendship, which quickly ripened into love, sprang up between

them. Nothing could exceed their devotion to each other. There

was some discrepancy in age, he being thirty-seven, and she twenty-

four; but, save in that one respect, there was no possible

objection to be found with the match. The engagement was in

February, and it was arranged that the marriage should take place

in August.

Upon the 3rd of June Dr. Lana received a letter from abroad.

In a small village the postmaster is also in a position to be the

gossip-master, and Mr. Bankley, of Bishop's Crossing, had many of

the secrets of his neighbours in his possession. Of this

particular letter he remarked only that it was in a curious

envelope, that it was in a man's handwriting, that the postscript

was Buenos Ayres, and the stamp of the Argentine Republic. It was

the first letter which he had ever known Dr. Lana to have from

abroad and this was the reason why his attention was particularly

called to it before he handed it to the local postman. It was

delivered by the evening delivery of that date.

Next morning--that is, upon the 4th of June--Dr. Lana called

upon Miss Morton, and a long interview followed, from which he was

observed to return in a state of great agitation. Miss Morton

remained in her room all that day, and her maid found her several

times in tears. In the course of a week it was an open secret to

the whole village that the engagement was at an end, that Dr. Lana

had behaved shamefully to the young lady, and that Arthur Morton,

her brother, was talking of horse-whipping him. In what particular

respect the doctor had behaved badly was unknown--some surmised one

thing and some another; but it was observed, and taken as the

obvious sign of a guilty conscience, that he would go for miles

round rather than pass the windows of Leigh Hall, and that he gave

up attending morning service upon Sundays where he might have met

the young lady. There was an advertisement also in the Lancet

as to the sale of a practice which mentioned no names, but which

was thought by some to refer to Bishop's Crossing, and to mean that

Dr. Lana was thinking of abandoning the scene of his success. Such

was the position of affairs when, upon the evening of Monday, June

21st, there came a fresh development which changed what had been a

mere village scandal into a tragedy which arrested the attention of

the whole nation. Some detail is necessary to cause the facts of

that evening to present their full significance.

The sole occupants of the doctor's house were his housekeeper,

an elderly and most respectable woman, named Martha Woods, and a

young servant--Mary Pilling. The coachman and the surgery-boy

slept out. It was the custom of the doctor to sit at night in his

study, which was next the surgery in the wing of the house which

was farthest from the servants' quarters. This side of the house

had a door of its own for the convenience of patients, so that it

was possible for the doctor to admit and receive a visitor there

without the knowledge of anyone. As a matter of fact, when

patients came late it was quite usual for him to let them in and

out by the surgery entrance, for the maid and the housekeeper were

in the habit of retiring early.

On this particular night Martha Woods went into the doctor's

study at half-past nine, and found him writing at his desk. She

bade him good night, sent the maid to bed, and then occupied

herself until a quarter to eleven in household matters. It was

striking eleven upon the hall clock when she went to her own room.

She had been there about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes

when she heard a cry or call, which appeared to come from within

the house. She waited some time, but it was not repeated. Much

alarmed, for the sound was loud and urgent, she put on a dressing-

gown, and ran at the top of her speed to the doctor's study.

"Who's there?" cried a voice, as she tapped at the door.

"I am here, sir--Mrs. Woods."

"I beg that you will leave me in peace. Go back to your room

this instant!" cried the voice, which was, to the best of her

belief, that of her master. The tone was so harsh and so unlike

her master's usual manner, that she was surprised and hurt.

"I thought I heard you calling, sir," she explained, but no

answer was given to her. Mrs. Woods looked at the clock as she

returned to her room, and it was then half-past eleven.

At some period between eleven and twelve (she could not be

positive as to the exact hour) a patient called upon the doctor and

was unable to get any reply from him. This late visitor was Mrs.

Madding, the wife of the village grocer, who was dangerously ill of

typhoid fever. Dr. Lana had asked her to look in the last thing

and let him know how her husband was progressing. She observed

that the light was burning in the study, but having knocked several

times at the surgery door without response, she concluded that the

doctor had been called out, and so returned home.

There is a short, winding drive with a lamp at the end of it

leading down from the house to the road. As Mrs. Madding emerged

from the gate a man was coming along the footpath. Thinking that

it might be Dr. Lana returning from some professional visit, she

waited for him, and was surprised to see that it was Mr. Arthur

Morton, the young squire. In the light of the lamp she observed

that his manner was excited, and that he carried in his hand a

heavy hunting-crop. He was turning in at the gate when she

addressed him.

"The doctor is not in, sir," said she.

"How do you know that?" he asked harshly.

"I have been to the surgery door, sir."

"I see a light," said the young squire, looking up the drive.

"That is in his study, is it not?"

"Yes, sir; but I am sure that he is out."

"Well, he must come in again," said young Morton, and passed

through the gate while Mrs. Madding went upon her homeward way.

At three o'clock that morning her husband suffered a sharp

relapse, and she was so alarmed by his symptoms that she determined

to call the doctor without delay. As she passed through the gate

she was surprised to see someone lurking among the laurel bushes.

It was certainly a man, and to the best of her belief Mr. Arthur

Morton. Preoccupied with her own troubles, she gave no particular

attention to the incident, but hurried on upon her errand.

When she reached the house she perceived to her surprise that

the light was still burning in the study. She therefore tapped at

the surgery door. There was no answer. She repeated the knocking

several times without effect. It appeared to her to be unlikely

that the doctor would either go to bed or go out leaving so

brilliant a light behind him, and it struck Mrs. Madding that it

was possible that he might have dropped asleep in his chair. She

tapped at the study window, therefore, but without result. Then,

finding that there was an opening between the curtain and the

woodwork, she looked through.

The small room was brilliantly lighted from a large lamp on the

central table, which was littered with the doctor's books and

instruments. No one was visible, nor did she see anything unusual,

except that in the farther shadow thrown by the table a dingy white

glove was lying upon the carpet. And then suddenly, as her eyes

became more accustomed to the light, a boot emerged from the other

end of the shadow, and she realized, with a thrill of horror, that

what she had taken to be a glove was the hand of a man, who was

prostrate upon the floor. Understanding that something terrible

had occurred, she rang at the front door, roused Mrs. Woods, the

housekeeper, and the two women made their way into the study,

having first dispatched the maidservant to the police-station.

At the side of the table, away from the window, Dr. Lana was

discovered stretched upon his back and quite dead. It was

evident that he had been subjected to violence, for one of his eyes

was blackened and there were marks of bruises about his face and

neck. A slight thickening and swelling of his features appeared to

suggest that the cause of his death had been strangulation. He was

dressed in his usual professional clothes, but wore cloth slippers,

the soles of which were perfectly clean. The carpet was marked all

over, especially on the side of the door, with traces of dirty

boots, which were presumably left by the murderer. It was evident

that someone had entered by the surgery door, had killed the

doctor, and had then made his escape unseen. That the assailant

was a man was certain, from the size of the footprints and from the

nature of the injuries. But beyond that point the police found it

very difficult to go.

There were no signs of robbery, and the doctor's gold watch was

safe in his pocket. He kept a heavy cash-box in the room, and this

was discovered to be locked but empty. Mrs. Woods had an

impression that a large sum was usually kept there, but the doctor

had paid a heavy corn bill in cash only that very day, and it was

conjectured that it was to this and not to a robber that the

emptiness of the box was due. One thing in the room was missing--

but that one thing was suggestive. The portrait of Miss Morton,

which had always stood upon the side-table, had been taken from its

frame, and carried off. Mrs. Woods had observed it there when she

waited upon her employer that evening, and now it was gone. On the

other hand, there was picked up from the floor a green eye-patch,

which the housekeeper could not remember to have seen before. Such

a patch might, however, be in the possession of a doctor, and there

was nothing to indicate that it was in any way connected with the


Suspicion could only turn in one direction, and Arthur Morton,

the young squire, was immediately arrested. The evidence against

him was circumstantial, but damning. He was devoted to his sister,

and it was shown that since the rupture between her and Dr. Lana he

had been heard again and again to express himself in the most

vindictive terms towards her former lover. He had, as stated, been

seen somewhere about eleven o'clock entering the doctor's drive

with a hunting-crop in his hand. He had then, according to the

theory of the police, broken in upon the doctor, whose

exclamation of fear or of anger had been loud enough to attract the

attention of Mrs. Woods. When Mrs. Woods descended, Dr. Lana had

made up his mind to talk it over with his visitor, and had,

therefore, sent his housekeeper back to her room. This

conversation had lasted a long time, had become more and more

fiery, and had ended by a personal struggle, in which the doctor

lost his life. The fact, revealed by a post-mortem, that his

heart was much diseased--an ailment quite unsuspected during his

life--would make it possible that death might in his case ensue

from injuries which would not be fatal to a healthy man. Arthur

Morton had then removed his sister's photograph, and had made his

way homeward, stepping aside into the laurel bushes to avoid Mrs.

Madding at the gate. This was the theory of the prosecution, and

the case which they presented was a formidable one.

On the other hand, there were some strong points for the

defence. Morton was high-spirited and impetuous, like his sister,

but he was respected and liked by everyone, and his frank and

honest nature seemed to be incapable of such a crime. His own

explanation was that he was anxious to have a conversation with Dr.

Lana about some urgent family matters (from first to last he

refused even to mention the name of his sister). He did not

attempt to deny that this conversation would probably have been of

an unpleasant nature. He had heard from a patient that the doctor

was out, and he therefore waited until about three in the morning

for his return, but as he had seen nothing of him up to that hour,

he had given it up and had returned home. As to his death, he knew

no more about it than the constable who arrested him. He had

formerly been an intimate friend of the deceased man; but

circumstances, which he would prefer not to mention, had brought

about a change in his sentiments.

There were several facts which supported his innocence. It was

certain that Dr. Lana was alive and in his study at half-past

eleven o'clock. Mrs. Woods was prepared to swear that it was at

that hour that she had heard his voice. The friends of the

prisoner contended that it was probable that at that time Dr. Lana

was not alone. The sound which had originally attracted the

attention of the housekeeper, and her master's unusual impatience

that she should leave him in peace, seemed to point to that. If

this were so then it appeared to be probable that he had met

his end between the moment when the housekeeper heard his voice and

the time when Mrs. Madding made her first call and found it

impossible to attract his attention. But if this were the time of

his death, then it was certain that Mr. Arthur Morton could not be

guilty, as it was AFTER this that she had met the young squire

at the gate.

If this hypothesis were correct, and someone was with Dr. Lana

before Mrs. Madding met Mr. Arthur Morton, then who was this

someone, and what motives had he for wishing evil to the doctor?

It was universally admitted that if the friends of the accused

could throw light upon this, they would have gone a long way

towards establishing his innocence. But in the meanwhile it was

open to the public to say--as they did say--that there was no proof

that anyone had been there at all except the young squire; while,

on the other hand, there was ample proof that his motives in going

were of a sinister kind. When Mrs. Madding called, the doctor

might have retired to his room, or he might, as she thought at the

time, have gone out and returned afterwards to find Mr. Arthur

Morton waiting for him. Some of the supporters of the accused laid

stress upon the fact that the photograph of his sister Frances,

which had been removed from the doctor's room, had not been found

in her brother's possession. This argument, however, did not count

for much, as he had ample time before his arrest to burn it or to

destroy it. As to the only positive evidence in the case--the

muddy footmarks upon the floor--they were so blurred by the

softness of the carpet that it was impossible to make any

trustworthy deduction from them. The most that could be said was

that their appearance was not inconsistent with the theory that

they were made by the accused, and it was further shown that his

boots were very muddy upon that night. There had been a heavy

shower in the afternoon, and all boots were probably in the same


Such is a bald statement of the singular and romantic series of

events which centred public attention upon this Lancashire tragedy.

The unknown origin of the doctor, his curious and distinguished

personality, the position of the man who was accused of the murder,

and the love affair which had preceded the crimes all combined to

make the affair one of those dramas which absorb the whole

interest of a nation. Throughout the three kingdoms men discussed

the case of the Black Doctor of Bishop's Crossing, and many were

the theories put forward to explain the facts; but it may safely be

said that among them all there was not one which prepared the minds

of the public for the extraordinary sequel, which caused so much

excitement upon the first day of the trial, and came to a climax

upon the second. The long files of the Lancaster Weekly with

their report of the case lie before me as I write, but I must

content myself with a synopsis of the case up to the point when,

upon the evening of the first day, the evidence of Miss Frances

Morton threw a singular light upon the case.

Mr. Porlock Carr, the counsel for the prosecution, had

marshalled his facts with his usual skill, and as the day wore on,

it became more and more evident how difficult was the task which

Mr. Humphrey, who had been retained for the defence, had before

him. Several witnesses were put up to swear to the intemperate

expressions which the young squire had been heard to utter about

the doctor, and the fiery manner in which he resented the alleged

ill-treatment of his sister. Mrs. Madding repeated her evidence as

to the visit which had been paid late at night by the prisoner to

the deceased, and it was shown by another witness that the prisoner

was aware that the doctor was in the habit of sitting up alone in

this isolated wing of the house, and that he had chosen this very

late hour to call because he knew that his victim would then be at

his mercy. A servant at the squire's house was compelled to admit

that he had heard his master return about three that morning, which

corroborated Mrs. Madding's statement that she had seen him among

the laurel bushes near the gate upon the occasion of her second

visit. The muddy boots and an alleged similarity in the footprints

were duly dwelt upon, and it was felt when the case for the

prosecution had been presented that, however circumstantial it

might be, it was none the less so complete and so convincing, that

the fate of the prisoner was sealed, unless something quite

unexpected should be disclosed by the defence. It was three

o'clock when the prosecution closed. At half-past four, when the

court rose, a new and unlooked-for development had occurred. I

extract the incident, or part of it, from the journal which I have

already mentioned, omitting the preliminary observations of the


Considerable sensation was caused in the crowded court when the

first witness called for the defence proved to be Miss Frances

Morton, the sister of the prisoner. Our readers will remember that

the young lady had been engaged to Dr. Lana, and that it was his

anger over the sudden termination of this engagement which was

thought to have driven her brother to the perpetration of this

crime. Miss Morton had not, however, been directly implicated in

the case in any way, either at the inquest or at the police-court

proceedings, and her appearance as the leading witness for the

defence came as a surprise upon the public.

Miss Frances Morton, who was a tall and handsome brunette, gave

her evidence in a low but clear voice, though it was evident

throughout that she was suffering from extreme emotion. She

alluded to her engagement to the doctor, touched briefly upon its

termination, which was due, she said, to personal matters connected

with his family, and surprised the court by asserting that she had

always considered her brother's resentment to be unreasonable and

intemperate. In answer to a direct question from her counsel, she

replied that she did not feel that she had any grievance whatever

against Dr. Lana, and that in her opinion he had acted in a

perfectly honourable manner. Her brother, on an insufficient

knowledge of the facts, had taken another view, and she was

compelled to acknowledge that, in spite of her entreaties, he had

uttered threats of personal violence against the doctor, and had,

upon the evening of the tragedy, announced his intention of "having

it out with him." She had done her best to bring him to a more

reasonable frame of mind, but he was very headstrong where his

emotions or prejudices were concerned.

Up to this point the young lady's evidence had appeared to make

against the prisoner rather than in his favour. The questions of

her counsel, however, soon put a very different light upon the

matter, and disclosed an unexpected line of defence.

Mr. Humphrey: Do you believe your brother to be guilty of this


The Judge: I cannot permit that question, Mr. Humphrey. We

are here to decide upon questions of fact--not of belief.

Mr. Humphrey: Do you know that your brother is not guilty of

the death of Doctor Lana?

Miss Morton: Yes.

Mr. Humphrey: How do you know it?

Miss Morton: Because Dr. Lana is not dead.

There followed a prolonged sensation in court, which

interrupted the examination of the witness.

Mr. Humphrey: And how do you know, Miss Morton, that Dr. Lana

is not dead?

Miss Morton: Because I have received a letter from him since

the date of his supposed death.

Mr. Humphrey: Have you this letter?

Miss Morton: Yes, but I should prefer not to show it.

Mr. Humphrey: Have you the envelope?

Miss Morton: Yes, it is here.

Mr. Humphrey: What is the post-mark?

Miss Morton: Liverpool.

Mr. Humphrey: And the date?

Miss Morton: June the 22nd.

Mr. Humphrey: That being the day after his alleged death. Are

you prepared to swear to this handwriting, Miss Morton?

Miss Morton: Certainly.

Mr. Humphrey: I am prepared to call six other witnesses, my

lord, to testify that this letter is in the writing of Doctor Lana.

The Judge: Then you must call them tomorrow.

Mr. Porlock Carr (counsel for the prosecution): In the

meantime, my lord, we claim possession of this document, so that we

may obtain expert evidence as to how far it is an imitation of the

handwriting of the gentleman whom we still confidently assert to be

deceased. I need not point out that the theory so unexpectedly

sprung upon us may prove to be a very obvious device adopted by the

friends of the prisoner in order to divert this inquiry. I would

draw attention to the fact that the young lady must, according to

her own account, have possessed this letter during the proceedings

at the inquest and at the police-court. She desires us to believe

that she permitted these to proceed, although she held in her

pocket evidence which would at any moment have brought them to an


Mr. Humphrey. Can you explain this, Miss Morton?

Miss Morton: Dr. Lana desired his secret to be preserved.

Mr. Porlock Carr: Then why have you made this public?

Miss Morton: To save my brother.

A murmur of sympathy broke out in court, which was instantly

suppressed by the Judge.

The Judge: Admitting this line of defence, it lies with you,

Mr. Humphrey, to throw a light upon who this man is whose body has

been recognized by so many friends and patients of Dr. Lana as

being that of the doctor himself.

A Juryman: Has anyone up to now expressed any doubt about the


Mr. Porlock Carr: Not to my knowledge.

Mr. Humphrey: We hope to make the matter clear.

The Judge: Then the court adjourns until tomorrow.

This new development of the case excited the utmost interest

among the general public. Press comment was prevented by the fact

that the trial was still undecided, but the question was everywhere

argued as to how far there could be truth in Miss Morton's

declaration, and how far it might be a daring ruse for the purpose

of saving her brother. The obvious dilemma in which the missing

doctor stood was that if by any extraordinary chance he was not

dead, then he must be held responsible for the death of this

unknown man, who resembled him so exactly, and who was found in his

study. This letter which Miss Morton refused to produce was

possibly a confession of guilt, and she might find herself in the

terrible position of only being able to save her brother from the

gallows by the sacrifice of her former lover. The court next

morning was crammed to overflowing, and a murmur of excitement

passed over it when Mr. Humphrey was observed to enter in a state

of emotion, which even his trained nerves could not conceal, and to

confer with the opposing counsel. A few hurried words--words which

left a look of amazement upon Mr. Porlock Carr's face--passed

between them, and then the counsel for the defence, addressing the

Judge, announced that, with the consent of the prosecution, the

young lady who had given evidence upon the sitting before would not

be recalled.

The Judge: But you appear, Mr. Humphrey, to have left matters

in a very unsatisfactory state.

Mr. Humphrey: Perhaps, my lord, my next witness may help to

clear them up.

The Judge: Then call your next witness.

Mr. Humphrey: I call Dr. Aloysius Lana.

The learned counsel has made many telling remarks in his day,

but he has certainly never produced such a sensation with so short

a sentence. The court was simply stunned with amazement as the

very man whose fate had been the subject of so much contention

appeared bodily before them in the witness-box. Those among the

spectators who had known him at Bishop's Crossing saw him now,

gaunt and thin, with deep lines of care upon his face. But in

spite of his melancholy bearing and despondent expression, there

were few who could say that they had ever seen a man of more

distinguished presence. Bowing to the judge, he asked if he might

be allowed to make a statement, and having been duly informed that

whatever he said might be used against him, he bowed once more, and


"My wish," said he, "is to hold nothing back, but to tell with

perfect frankness all that occurred upon the night of the 21st of

June. Had I known that the innocent had suffered, and that so much

trouble had been brought upon those whom I love best in the world,

I should have come forward long ago; but there were reasons which

prevented these things from coming to my ears. It was my desire

that an unhappy man should vanish from the world which had known

him, but I had not foreseen that others would be affected by my

actions. Let me to the best of my ability repair the evil which I

have done.

"To anyone who is acquainted with the history of the Argentine

Republic the name of Lana is well known. My father, who came of

the best blood of old Spain, filled all the highest offices of the

State, and would have been President but for his death in the riots

of San Juan. A brilliant career might have been open to my twin

brother Ernest and myself had it not been for financial losses

which made it necessary that we should earn our own living. I

apologize, sir, if these details appear to be irrelevant, but they

are a necessary introduction to that which is to follow.

"I had, as I have said, a twin brother named Ernest, whose

resemblance to me was so great that even when we were together

people could see no difference between us. Down to the smallest

detail we were exactly the same. As we grew older this

likeness became less marked because our expression was not the

same, but with our features in repose the points of difference were

very slight.

"It does not become me to say too much of one who is dead, the

more so as he is my only brother, but I leave his character to

those who knew him best. I will only say--for I HAVE to say

it--that in my early manhood I conceived a horror of him, and that

I had good reason for the aversion which filled me. My own

reputation suffered from his actions, for our close resemblance

caused me to be credited with many of them. Eventually, in a

peculiarly disgraceful business, he contrived to throw the whole

odium upon me in such a way that I was forced to leave the

Argentine for ever, and to seek a career in Europe. The freedom

from his hated presence more than compensated me for the loss of my

native land. I had enough money to defray my medical studies at

Glasgow, and I finally settled in practice at Bishop's Crossing, in

the firm conviction that in that remote Lancashire hamlet I should

never hear of him again.

"For years my hopes were fulfilled, and then at last he

discovered me. Some Liverpool man who visited Buenos Ayres put him

upon my track. He had lost all his money, and he thought that he

would come over and share mine. Knowing my horror of him, he

rightly thought that I would be willing to buy him off. I received

a letter from him saying that he was coming. It was at a crisis in

my own affairs, and his arrival might conceivably bring trouble,

and even disgrace, upon some whom I was especially bound to shield

from anything of the kind. I took steps to insure that any evil

which might come should fall on me only, and that"--here he turned

and looked at the prisoner--"was the cause of conduct upon my part

which has been too harshly judged. My only motive was to screen

those who were dear to me from any possible connection with scandal

or disgrace. That scandal and disgrace would come with my brother

was only to say that what had been would be again.

"My brother arrived himself one night not very long after my

receipt of the letter. I was sitting in my study after the

servants had gone to bed, when I heard a footstep upon the gravel

outside, and an instant later I saw his face looking in at me

through the window. He was a clean-shaven man like myself,

and the resemblance between us was still so great that, for an

instant, I thought it was my own reflection in the glass. He had

a dark patch over his eye, but our features were absolutely the

same. Then he smiled in a sardonic way which had been a trick of

his from his boyhood, and I knew that he was the same brother who

had driven me from my native land, and brought disgrace upon what

had been an honourable name. I went to the door and I admitted

him. That would be about ten o'clock that night.

"When he came into the glare of the lamp, I saw at once that he

had fallen upon very evil days. He had walked from Liverpool, and

he was tired and ill. I was quite shocked by the expression upon

his face. My medical knowledge told me that there was some serious

internal malady. He had been drinking also, and his face was

bruised as the result of a scuffle which he had had with some

sailors. It was to cover his injured eye that he wore this patch,

which he removed when he entered the room. He was himself dressed

in a pea-jacket and flannel shirt, and his feet were bursting

through his boots. But his poverty had only made him more savagely

vindictive towards me. His hatred rose to the height of a mania.

I had been rolling in money in England, according to his account,

while he had been starving in South America. I cannot describe to

you the threats which he uttered or the insults which he poured

upon me. My impression is, that hardships and debauchery had

unhinged his reason. He paced about the room like a wild beast,

demanding drink, demanding money, and all in the foulest language.

I am a hot-tempered man, but I thank God that I am able to say that

I remained master of myself, and that I never raised a hand against

him. My coolness only irritated him the more. He raved, he

cursed, he shook his fists in my face, and then suddenly a horrible

spasm passed over his features, he clapped his hand to his side,

and with a loud cry he fell in a heap at my feet. I raised him up

and stretched him upon the sofa, but no answer came to my

exclamations, and the hand which I held in mine was cold and

clammy. His diseased heart had broken down. His own violence had

killed him.

"For a long time I sat as if I were in some dreadful dream,

staring at the body of my brother. I was aroused by the knocking

of Mrs. Woods, who had been disturbed by that dying cry. I sent

her away to bed. Shortly afterwards a patient tapped at the

surgery door, but as I took no notice, he or she went off again.

Slowly and gradually as I sat there a plan was forming itself in my

head in the curious automatic way in which plans do form. When I

rose from my chair my future movements were finally decided upon

without my having been conscious of any process of thought. It was

an instinct which irresistibly inclined me towards one course.

"Ever since that change in my affairs to which I have alluded,

Bishop's Crossing had become hateful to me. My plans of life had

been ruined, and I had met with hasty judgments and unkind

treatment where I had expected sympathy. It is true that any

danger of scandal from my brother had passed away with his life;

but still, I was sore about the past, and felt that things could

never be as they had been. It may be that I was unduly sensitive,

and that I had not made sufficient allowance for others, but my

feelings were as I describe. Any chance of getting away from

Bishop's Crossing and of everyone in it would be most welcome to

me. And here was such a chance as I could never have dared to hope

for, a chance which would enable me to make a clean break with the


"There was this dead man lying upon the sofa, so like me that

save for some little thickness and coarseness of the features there

was no difference at all. No one had seen him come and no one

would miss him. We were both clean-shaven, and his hair was about

the same length as my own. If I changed clothes with him, then Dr.

Aloysius Lana would be found lying dead in his study, and there

would be an end of an unfortunate fellow, and of a blighted career.

There was plenty of ready money in the room, and this I could carry

away with me to help me to start once more in some other land. In

my brother's clothes I could walk by night unobserved as far as

Liverpool, and in that great seaport I would soon find some means

of leaving the country. After my lost hopes, the humblest

existence where I was unknown was far preferable, in my estimation,

to a practice, however successful, in Bishop's Crossing, where at

any moment I might come face to face with those whom I should wish,

if it were possible, to forget. I determined to effect the change.

"And I did so. I will not go into particulars, for the

recollection is as painful as the experience; but in an hour

my brother lay, dressed down to the smallest detail in my clothes,

while I slunk out by the surgery door, and taking the back path

which led across some fields, I started off to make the best of my

way to Liverpool, where I arrived the same night. My bag of money

and a certain portrait were all I carried out of the house, and I

left behind me in my hurry the shade which my brother had been

wearing over his eye. Everything else of his I took with me.

"I give you my word, sir, that never for one instant did the

idea occur to me that people might think that I had been murdered,

nor did I imagine that anyone might be caused serious danger

through this stratagem by which I endeavoured to gain a fresh start

in the world. On the contrary, it was the thought of relieving

others from the burden of my presence which was always uppermost in

my mind. A sailing vessel was leaving Liverpool that very day for

Corunna, and in this I took my passage, thinking that the voyage

would give me time to recover my balance, and to consider the

future. But before I left my resolution softened. I bethought me

that there was one person in the world to whom I would not cause an

hour of sadness. She would mourn me in her heart, however harsh

and unsympathetic her relatives might be. She understood and

appreciated the motives upon which I had acted, and if the rest of

her family condemned me, she, at least, would not forget. And so

I sent her a note under the seal of secrecy to save her from a

baseless grief. If under the pressure of events she broke that

seal, she has my entire sympathy and forgiveness.

"It was only last night that I returned to England, and during

all this time I have heard nothing of the sensation which my

supposed death had caused, nor of the accusation that Mr. Arthur

Morton had been concerned in it. It was in a late evening paper

that I read an account of the proceedings of yesterday, and I have

come this morning as fast as an express train could bring me to

testify to the truth."

Such was the remarkable statement of Dr. Aloysius Lana which

brought the trial to a sudden termination. A subsequent

investigation corroborated it to the extent of finding out the

vessel in which his brother Ernest Lana had come over from South

America. The ship's doctor was able to testify that he had

complained of a weak heart during the voyage, and that his symptoms

were consistent with such a death as was described.

As to Dr. Aloysius Lana, he returned to the village from which

he had made so dramatic a disappearance, and a complete

reconciliation was effected between him and the young squire, the

latter having acknowledged that he had entirely misunderstood the

other's motives in withdrawing from his engagement. That another

reconciliation followed may be judged from a notice extracted from

a prominent column in the Morning Post:

"A marriage was solemnized upon September 19th, by the Rev.

Stephen Johnson, at the parish church of Bishop's Crossing, between

Aloysius Xavier Lana, son of Don Alfredo Lana, formerly Foreign

Minister of the Argentine Republic, and Frances Morton, only

daughter of the late James Morton, J.P., of Leigh Hall, Bishop's

Crossing, Lancashire."

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