The history upon which I am now embarking abounds in incidents so amazing
Read alsoThe First R. Austin Freeman MEGAPACK ®
"The First R. Austin Freeman Megapack" collects 27 mystery tales featuring the forensic sleuth Dr. Thorndyke (and others). Included in this volume are: THE RED THUMB MARK (1907) THE MAN WITH THE NAILED SHOES (1909) THE STRANGER'S LATCHKEY (1909) THE ANTHROPOLOGIST AT LARGE (1909) THE BLUE SEQUIN (1909) THE MOABITE CIPHER…
that, as I look back on them, a something approaching to scepticism
contends with my vivid recollections and makes me feel almost apologetic
in laying them before the reader. Some of them indeed are so out of
character with the workaday life in which they happened that they will
appear almost incredible; but none is more fraught with mystery than the
experience that befell me on a certain September night in the last year
of my studentship and ushered in the rest of the astounding sequence.
It was past eleven o'clock when I let myself out of my lodgings at Gospel
Oak; a dark night, cloudy and warm and rather inclined to rain. But,
despite the rather unfavourable aspect of the weather, I turned my steps
away from the town, and walking briskly up the Highgate Road, presently
turned into Millfield Lane. This was my favourite walk and the pretty
winding lane, meandering so pleasantly from Lower Highgate to the heights
of Hampstead, was familiar to me under all its aspects.
On sweet summer mornings when the cuckoos called from the depths of Ken
Wood, when the path was spangled with golden sunlight, and saucy
squirrels played hide and seek in the shadows under the elms (though the
place was within earshot of Westminster and within sight of the dome of
St. Paul's); on winter days when the Heath wore its mantle of white and
the ring of gliding steel came up from the skaters on the pond below; on
August evenings, when I would come suddenly on sequestered lovers (to our
mutual embarrassment) and hurry by with ill-feigned unconsciousness. I
knew all its phases and loved them all. Even its name was delightful,
carrying the mind back to those more rustic days when the wits
foregathered at the Old Flask Tavern and John Constable tramped through
this very lane with his colour-box slung over his shoulder.
It was very dark after I had passed the lamp at the entrance to the lane.
Very silent and solitary too. Not a soul was stirring at this hour, for
the last of the lovers had long since gone home and the place was little
frequented even in the daytime. The elms brooded over the road, shrouding
it in shadows of palpable black, and their leaves whispered secretly in
the soft night breeze. But the darkness, the quiet and the solitude were
restful after the long hours of study and the glare of the printed page,
and I strolled on past the ghostly pond and the little thatched cottage,
now wrapped in silence and darkness, with a certain wistful regret that I
must soon look my last on them. For I had now passed all my examinations
but the final "Fellowship," and must soon be starting my professional
career in earnest.