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 Gl
sgow; 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
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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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