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Title: The Brown Hand
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
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Language: English
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The Brown Hand
Arthur Conan Doyle


Everyone knows that Sir Dominick Holden, the famous Indian surgeon,
made me his heir, and that his death changed me in an hour from a
hard-working and impecunious medical man to a well-to-do landed
proprietor. Many know also that there were at least five people
between the inheritance and me, and that Sir Dominick's selection
appeared to be altogether arbitrary and whimsical. I can assure them,
however, that they are quite mistaken, and that, although I only knew
Sir Dominick in the closing years of his life, there were, none the
less, very real reasons why he should show his goodwill towards me. As
a matter of fact, though I say it myself, no man ever did more for
another than I did for my Indian uncle. I cannot expect the story to
be believed, but it is so singular that I should feel that it was a
breach of duty if I did not put it upon record--so here it is, and
your belief or incredulity is your own affair.

Sir Dominick Holden, C.B., K.C.S.I., and I don't know what besides,
was the most distinguished Indian surgeon of his day. In the Army
originally, he afterwards settled down into civil practice in Bombay,
and visited, as a consultant, every part of India. His name is best
remembered in connection with the Oriental Hospital which he founded
and supported. The time came, however, when his iron constitution
began to show signs of the long strain to which he had subjected it,
and his brother practitioners (who were not, perhaps, entirely
disinterested upon the point) were unanimous in recommending him to
return to England. He held on so long as he could, but at last he
developed nervous symptoms of a very pronounced character, and so came
back, a broken man, to his native county of Wiltshire. He bought a
considerable estate with an ancient manor-house upon the edge of
Salisbury Plain, and devoted his old age to the study of Comparative
Pathology, which had been his learned hobby all his life, and in which
he was a foremost authority.

We of the family were, as may be imagined, much excited by the news of
the return of this rich and childless uncle to England. On his part,
although by no means exuberant in his hospitality, he showed some
sense of his duty to his relations, and each of us in turn had an
invitation to visit him. From the accounts of my cousins it appeared
to be a melancholy business, and it was with mixed feelings that I at
last received my own summons to appear at Rodenhurst. My wife was so
carefully excluded in the invitation that my first impulse was to
refuse it, but the interests of the children had to be considered, and
so, with her consent, I set out one October afternoon upon my visit to
Wiltshire, with little thought of what that visit was to entail.

My uncle's estate was situated where the arable land of the plains
begins to swell upwards into the rounded chalk hills which are
characteristic of the county. As I drove from Dinton Station in the
waning light of that autumn day, I was impressed by the weird nature
of the scenery. The few scattered cottages of the peasants were so
dwarfed by the huge evidences of prehistoric life, that the present
appeared to be a dream and the past to be the obtrusive and masterful
reality. The road wound through the valleys, formed by a succession of
grassy hills, and the summit of each was cut and carved into the most
elaborate fortifications, some circular, and some square, but all on a
scale which has defied the winds and the rains of many centuries. Some
call them Roman and some British, but their true origin and the
reasons for this particular tract of country being so interlaced with
entrenchments have never been finally made clear. Here and there on
the long, smooth, olive-coloured slopes there rose small, rounded
barrows or tumuli. Beneath them lie the cremated ashes of the race
which cut so deeply into the hills, but their graves tell us nothing
save that a jar full of dust represents the man who once laboured
under the sun.

It was through this weird country that I approached my uncle's
residence of Rodenhurst, and the house was, as I found, in due keeping
with its surroundings. Two broken and weather-stained pillars, each
surmounted by a mutilated heraldic emblem, flanked the entrance to a
neglected drive. A cold wind whistled through the elms which lined it,
and the air was full of the drifting leaves. At the far end, under the
gloomy arch of trees, a single yellow lamp burned steadily. In the dim
half-light of the coming night I saw a long, low building stretching
out two irregular wings, with deep eaves, a sloping gambrel roof, and
walls which were criss-crossed with timber balks in the fashion of the
Tudors. The cheery light of a fire flickered in the broad, latticed
window to the left of the low-porched door, and this, as it proved,
marked the study of my uncle, for it was thither that I was led by his
butler in order to make my host's acquaintance.

He was cowering over his fire, for the moist chill of an English
autumn had set him shivering. His lamp was unlit, and I only saw the
red glow of the embers beating upon a huge, craggy face, with a Red
Indian nose and cheek, and deep furrows and seams from eye to chin,
the sinister marks of hidden volcanic fires. He sprang up at my
entrance with something of an old-world courtesy and welcomed me
warmly to Rodenhurst. At the same time I was conscious, as the lamp
was carried in, that it was a very critical pair of light-blue eyes
which looked out at me from under shaggy eyebrows, like scouts beneath
a bush, and that this outlandish uncle of mine was carefully reading
off my character with all the ease of a practised observer and an
experienced man of the world.

For my part I looked at him, and looked again, for I had never seen a
man whose appearance was more fitted to hold one's attention. His
figure was the framework of a giant, but he had fallen away until his
coat dangled straight down in a shocking fashion from a pair of broad
and bony shoulders. All his limbs were huge and yet emaciated, and I
could not take my gaze from his knobby wrists, and long, gnarled
hands. But his eyes-those peering, light-blue eyes-they were the most
arrestive of any of his peculiarities. It was not their colour alone,
nor was it the ambush of hair in which they lurked; but it was the
expression which I read in them. For the appearance and bearing of the
man were masterful, and one expected a certain corresponding arrogance
in his eyes, but instead of that I read the look which tells of a
spirit cowed and crushed, the furtive, expectant look of the dog whose
master has taken the whip from the rack. I formed my own medical
diagnosis upon one glance at those critical and yet appealing eyes. I
believed that he was stricken with some mortal ailment, that he knew
himself to be exposed to sudden death, and that he lived in terror of
it. Such was my judgment-a false one, as the event showed; but I
mention it that it may help you to realize the look which I read in
his eyes.

My uncle's welcome was, as I have said, a courteous one, and in an
hour or so I found myself seated between him and his wife at a
comfortable dinner, with curious, pungent delicacies upon the table,
and a stealthy, quick-eyed Oriental waiter behind his chair. The old
couple had come round to that tragic imitation of the dawn of life
when husband and wife, having lost or scattered all those who were
their intimates, find themselves face to face and alone once more,
their work done, and the end nearing fast. Those who have reached that
stage in sweetness and love, who can change their winter into a
gentle, Indian summer, have come as victors through the ordeal of
life. Lady Holden was a small, alert woman with a kindly eye, and her
expression as she glanced at him was a certificate of character to her
husband. And yet, though I read a mutual love in their glances, I read
also mutual horror, and recognized in her face some reflection of that
stealthy fear which I had detected in his. Their talk was sometimes
merry and sometimes sad, but there was a forced note in their
merriment and a naturalness in their sadness which told me that a
heavy heart beat upon either side of me.

We were sitting over our first glass of wine, and the servants had
left the room, when the conversation took a turn which produced a
remarkable effect upon my host and hostess. I cannot recall what it
was which started the topic of the supernatural, but it ended in my
showing them that the abnormal in psychical experiences was a subject
to which I had, like many neurologists, devoted a great deal of
attention. I concluded by narrating my experiences when, as a member
of the Psychical Research Society, I had formed one of a committee of
three who spent the night in a haunted house. Our adventures were
neither exciting nor convincing, but, such as it was, the story
appeared to interest my auditors in a remarkable degree. They listened
with an eager silence, and I caught a look of intelligence between
them which I could not understand. Lady Holden immediately afterwards
rose and left the room.

Sir Dominick pushed the cigar-box over to me, and we smoked for some
little time in silence. That huge, bony hand of his was twitching as
he raised it with his cheroot to his lips, and I felt that the man's
nerves were vibrating like fiddle-strings. My instincts told me that
he was on the verge of some intimate confidence, and I feared to speak
lest I should interrupt it. At last he turned towards me with a
spasmodic gesture like a man who throws his last scruple to the winds.

"From the little that I have seen of you it appears to me, Dr.
Hardacre," said he, "that you are the very man I have wanted to meet."

"I am delighted to hear it, sir."

"Your head seems to be cool and steady. You will acquit me of any
desire to flatter you, for the circumstances are too serious to permit
of insincerities. You have some special knowledge upon these subjects,
and you evidently view them from that philosophical stand-point which
robs them of all vulgar terror. I presume that the sight of an
apparition would not seriously discompose you?"

"I think not, sir."

"Would even interest you, perhaps?"

"Most intensely."

"As a psychical observer, you would probably investigate it in as
impersonal a fashion as an astronomer investigates a wandering comet?"

"Precisely."

 He gave a heavy sigh.

"Believe me, Dr. Hardacre, there was a time when I could have spoken
as you do now. My nerve was a byword in India. Even the Mutiny never
shook it for an instant. And yet you see what I am reduced to-the most
timorous man, perhaps, in all this county of Wiltshire. Do not speak
too bravely upon this subject, or you may find yourself subjected to
as long-drawn a test as I am-a test which can only end in the madhouse
or the grave."

I waited patiently until he should see fit to go farther in his
confidence. His preamble had, I need not say, filled me with interest
and expectation.

"For some years, Dr. Hardacre," he continued, "my life and that of my
wife have been made miserable by a cause which is so grotesque that it
borders upon the ludicrous. And yet familiarity has never made it more
easy to bear-on the contrary, as time passes my nerves become more
worn and shattered by the constant attrition. If you have no physical
fears, Dr. Hardacre, I should very much value your opinion upon this
phenomenon which troubles us so."

"For what it is worth my opinion is entirely at your service. May I
ask the nature of the phenomenon?"

"I think that your experiences will have a higher evidential value if
you are not told in advance what you may expect to encounter. You are
yourself aware of the quibbles of unconscious cerebration and
subjective impressions with which a scientific sceptic may throw a
doubt upon your statement. It would be as well to guard against them
in advance."

"What shall I do, then?"

"I will tell you. Would you mind following me this way?" He led me out
of the dining-room and down a long passage until we came to a terminal
door. Inside there was a large, bare room fitted as a laboratory, with
numerous scientific instruments and bottles. A shelf ran along one
side, upon which there stood a long line of glass jars containing
pathological and anatomical specimens.

"You see that I still dabble in some of my old studies," said Sir
Dominick. "These jars are the remains of what was once a most
excellent collection, but unfortunately I lost the greater part of
them when my house was burned down in Bombay in '92. It was a most
unfortunate affair for me-in more ways than one. I had examples of
many rare conditions, and my splenic collection was probably unique.
These are the survivors."

I glanced over them, and saw that they really were of a very great
value and rarity from a pathological point of view: bloated organs,
gaping cysts, distorted bones, odious parasites-a singular exhibition
of the products of India.

"There is, as you see, a small settee here," said my host. "It was far
from our intention to offer a guest so meagre an accommodation, but
since affairs have taken this turn, it would be a great kindness upon
your part if you would consent to spend the night in this apartment. I
beg that you will not hesitate to let me know if the idea should be at
all repugnant to you."

"On the contrary," I said, "it is most acceptable."

"My own room is the second on the left, so that if you should feel
that you are in need of company a call would always bring me to your
side."

"I trust that I shall not be compelled to disturb you."

"It is unlikely that I shall be asleep. I do not sleep much. Do not
hesitate to summon me."

And so with this agreement we joined Lady Holden in the drawing-room
and talked of lighter things.

It was no affectation upon my part to say that the prospect of my
night's adventure was an agreeable one. I have no pretence to greater
physical courage than my neighbours, but familiarity with a subject
robs it of those vague and undefined terrors which are the most
appalling to the imaginative mind. The human brain is capable of only
one strong emotion at a time, and if it be filled with curiosity or
scientific enthusiasm, there is no room for fear. It is true that I
had my uncle's assurance that he had himself originally taken this
point of view, but I reflected that the breakdown of his nervous
system might be due to his forty years in India as much as to any
psychical experiences which had befallen him. I at least was sound in
nerve and brain, and it was with something of the pleasurable thrill
of anticipation with which the sportsman takes his position beside the
haunt of his game that I shut the laboratory door behind me, and
partially undressing, lay down upon the rug-covered settee.

It was not an ideal atmosphere for a bedroom. The air was heavy with
many chemical odours, that of methylated spirit predominating. Nor
were the decorations of my chamber very sedative. The odious line of
glass jars with their relics of disease and suffering stretched in
front of my very eyes. There was no blind to the window, and a three-
quarter moon streamed its white light into the room, tracing a silver
square with filigree lattices upon the opposite wall. When I had
extinguished my candle this one bright patch in the midst of the
general gloom had certainly an eerie and discomposing aspect. A rigid
and absolute silence reigned throughout the old house, so that the low
wish of the branches in the garden came softly and smoothly to my
ears. It may have been the hypnotic lullaby of this gentle susurrus,
or it may have been the result of my tiring day, but after many
dozings and many efforts to regain my clearness of perception, I fell
at last into a deep and dreamless sleep.

I was awakened by some sound in the room, and I instantly raised
myself upon my elbow on the couch. Some hours had passed, for the
square patch upon the wall had slid downwards and sideways until it
lay obliquely at the end of my bed. The rest of the room was in deep
shadow. At first I could see nothing, presently, as my eyes became
accustomed to the faint light, I was aware, with a thrill which all my
scientific absorption could not entirely prevent, that something was
moving slowly along the line of the wall. A gentle, shuffling sound,
as of soft slippers, came to my ears, and I dimly discerned a human
figure walking stealthily from the direction of the door. As it
emerged into the patch of moonlight I saw very clearly what it was and
how it was employed. It was a man, short and squat, dressed in some
sort of dark-grey gown, which hung straight from his shoulders to his
feet. The moon shone upon the side of his face, and I saw that it was
chocolate-brown in colour, with a ball of black hair like a woman's at
the back of his head. He walked slowly, and his eyes were cast upwards
towards the line of bottles which contained those gruesome remnants of
humanity. He seemed to examine each jar with attention, and then to
pass on to the next. When he had come to the end of the line,
immediately opposite my bed, he stopped, faced me, threw up his hands
with a gesture of despair, and vanished from my sight.

I have said that he threw up his hands, but I should have said his
arms, for as he assumed that attitude of despair I observed a singular
peculiarity about his appearance. He had only one hand! As the sleeves
drooped down from the upflung arms I saw the left plainly, but the
right ended in a knobby and unsightly stump. In every other way his
appearance was so natural, and I had both seen and heard him so
clearly, that I could easily have believed that he was an Indian
servant of Sir Dominick's who had come into my room in search of
something. It was only his sudden disappearance which suggested
anything more sinister to me. As it was I sprang from my couch, lit a
candle, and examined the whole room carefully. There were no signs of
my visitor, and I was forced to conclude that there had really been
something outside the normal laws of Nature in his appearance. I lay
awake for the remainder of the night, but nothing else occurred to
disturb me.

I am an early riser, but my uncle was an even earlier one, for I found
him pacing up and down the lawn at the side of the house. He ran
towards me in his eagerness when he saw me come out from the door.

"Well, well!" he cried. "Did you see him?"

"An Indian with one hand?"

"Precisely."

"Yes, I saw him"-and I told him all that occurred. When I had
finished, he led the way into his study.

"We have a little time before breakfast," said he. "It will suffice to
give you an explanation of this extraordinary affair-so far as I can
explain that which is essentially inexplicable. In the first place,
when I tell you that for four years I have never passed one single
night, either in Bombay, aboard ship, or here in England without my
sleep being broken by this fellow, you will understand why it is that
I am a wreck of my former self. His programme is always the same. He
appears by my bedside, shakes me roughly by the shoulder, passes from
my room into the laboratory, walks slowly along the line of my
bottles, and then vanishes. For more than a thousand times he had gone
through the same routine."

"What does he want?"

"He wants his hand."

"His hand?"

"Yes, it came about in this way. I was summoned to Peshawur for a
consultation some ten years ago, and while there I was asked to look
at the hand of a native who was passing through with an Afghan
caravan. The fellow came from some mountain tribe living away at the
back of beyond somewhere on the other side of Kaffiristan. He talked a
bastard Pushtoo, and it was all I could do to understand him. He was
suffering from a soft sarcomatous swelling of one of the metacarpal
joints, and I made him realize that it was only by losing his hand
that he could hope to save his life. After much persuasion he
consented to the operation, and he asked me, when it was over, what
fee I demanded. The poor fellow was almost a beggar, so that idea of a
fee was absurd, but I answered in jest that my fee should be his hand,
and that I proposed to add it to my pathological collection.

"To my surprise he demurred very much to the suggestion, and he
explained that according to his religion it was an all-important
matter that the body should be reunited after death, and so make a
perfect dwelling for the spirit. The belief is, of course, an old one,
and the mummies of the Egyptians arose from an analogous superstition.
I answered him that his hand was already off, and asked him how he
intended to preserve it. He replied that he would pickle it in salt
and carry it about with him. I suggested that it might be safer in my
keeping than his, and that I had better means than salt for preserving
it. On realizing that I really intended to carefully keep it, his
opposition vanished instantly. 'But remember, sahib,' said he, 'I
shall want it back when I am dead.' I laughed at the remark, and so
the matter ended. I returned to my practice, and he no doubt in the
course of time was able to continue his journey to Afghanistan.

"Well, as I told you last night, I had a bad fire in my house at
Bombay. Half of it was burned down, and, among other things, my
pathological collection was largely destroyed. What you see are the
poor remains of it. The hand of the hillman went with the rest, but I
gave the matter no particular thought at the time. That was six years
ago.

"Four years ago-two years after the fire-I was awakened one night by a
furious tugging at my sleeve. I sat up under the impression that my
favourite mastiff was trying to arouse me. Instead of this, I saw my
Indian patient of long ago, dressed in the long, grey gown which was
the badge of his people. He was holding up his stump and looking
reproachfully at me. He then went over to my bottles, which at that
time I kept in my room, and he examined them carefully, after which he
gave a gesture of anger and vanished. I realized that he had just
died, and that he had come to claim my promise that I should keep his
limb in safety for him.

"Well, there you have it all, Dr. Hardacre. Every night at the same
hour for four years this performance has been repeated. It is a simple
thing in itself, but it has worn me out like water dropping on a
stone. It has brought a vile insomnia with it, for I cannot sleep now
for the expectation of his coming. It has poisoned my old age and that
of my wife, who has been the sharer in this great trouble. But there
is the breakfast gong, and she will be waiting impatiently to know how
it fared with you last night. We are both much indebted to you for
your gallantry, for it takes something from the weight of our
misfortune when we share it, even for a single night, with a friend,
and it reassures us to our sanity, which we are sometimes driven to
question."

This was the curious narrative which Sir Dominick confided to me-a
story which to many would have appeared to be a grotesque
impossibility, but which, after my experience of the night before, and
my previous knowledge of such things, I was prepared to accept as an
absolute fact. I thought deeply over the matter, and brought the whole
range of my reading and experience to bear upon it. After breakfast, I
surprised my host and hostess by announcing that I was returning to
London by the next train. "My dear doctor," cried Sir Dominick in
great distress, "you make me feel that I have been guilty of a gross
breach of hospitality in intruding this unfortunate matter upon you. I
should have borne my own burden."

"It is, indeed, that matter which is taking me to London," I answered;
"but you are mistaken, I assure you, if you think that my experience
of last night was an unpleasant one to me. On the contrary, I am about
to ask your permission to return in the evening and spend one more
night in your laboratory. I am very eager to see this visitor once
again."

My uncle was exceedingly anxious to know what I was about to do, but
my fears of raising false hopes prevented me from telling him. I was
back in my own consulting-room a little after luncheon, and was
confirming my memory of a passage in a recent book upon occultism
which had arrested my attention when I read it. "In the case of earth-
bound spirits," said my authority, "some one dominant idea obsessing
them at the hour of death is sufficient to hold them in this material
world. They are the amphibia of this life and of the next, capable of
passing from one to the other as the turtle passes from land to water.
The causes which may bind a soul so strongly to a life which its body
has abandoned are any violent emotion. Avarice, revenge, anxiety, love
and pity have all been known to have this effect. As a rule it springs
from some unfulfilled wish, and when the wish has been fulfilled the
material bond relaxes. There are many cases upon record which show the
singular persistence of these visitors, and also their disappearance
when their wishes have been fulfilled, or in some cases when a
reasonable compromise has been effected."

"A reasonable compromise effected"-those were the words which I had
brooded over all the morning, and which I now verified in the
original. No actual atonement could be made here-but a reasonable
compromise! I made my way as fast as a train could take me to the
Shadwell Seamen's Hospital, where my old friend Jack Hewett was house-
surgeon. Without explaining the situation I made him understand what
it was that I wanted.

"A brown man's hand!" said he, in amazement. "What in the world do you
want that for?" "Never mind. I'll tell you some day. I know that your
wards are full of Indians."

"I should think so. But a hand-" He thought a little and then struck a
bell.

"Travers," said he to a student-dresser, "what became of the hands of
the Lascar which we took off yesterday? I mean the fellow from the
East India Dock who got caught in the steam winch." "They are in the
post-mortem room, sir.

"Just pack one of them in antiseptics and give it to Dr. Hardacre."

And so I found myself back at Rodenhurst before dinner with this
curious outcome of my day in town. I still said nothing to Sir
Dominick, but I slept that night in the laboratory, and I placed the
Lascar's hand in one of the glass jars at the end of my couch.

So interested was I in the result of my experiment that sleep was out
of the question. I sat with a shaded lamp beside me and waited
patiently for my visitor. This time I saw him clearly from the first.
He appeared beside the door, nebulous for an instant, and then
hardening into as distinct an outline as any living man. The slippers
beneath his grey gown were red and heelless, which accounted for the
low, shuffling sound which he made as he walked. As on the previous
night he passed slowly along the line of bottles until he paused
before that which contained the hand. He reached up to it, his whole
figure quivering with expectation, took it down, examined it eagerly,
and then, with a face which was convulsed with fury and
disappointment, he hurled it down on the floor. There was a crash
which resounded through the house, and when I looked up the mutilated
Indian had disappeared. A moment later my door flew open and Sir
Dominick rushed in.

"You are not hurt?" he cried.

"No-but deeply disappointed."

He looked in astonishment at the splinters of glass, and the brown
hand lying upon the floor. "Good God!" he cried. "What is this?"

I told him my idea and its wretched sequel. He listened intently, but
shook his head.

"It was well thought of," said he, "but I fear that there is no such
easy end to my sufferings. But one thing I now insist upon. It is that
you shall never again upon any pretext occupy this room. My fears that
something might have happened to you-when I heard that crash-have been
the most acute of all the agonies which I have undergone. I will not
expose myself to a repetition of it."

He allowed me, however, to spend the remainder of that night where I
was, and I lay there worrying over the problem and lamenting my own
failure. With the first light of morning there was the Lascar's hand
still lying upon the floor to remind me of my fiasco. I lay looking at
it--and as I lay suddenly an idea flew like a bullet through my head
and brought me quivering with excitement out of my couch. I raised the
grim relic from where it had fallen. Yes, it was indeed so. The hand
was the left hand of the Lascar.

By the first train I was on my way to town, and hurried at once to the
Seamen's Hospital. I remembered that both hands of the Lascar had been
amputated, but I was terrified lest the precious organ which I was in
search of might have been already consumed in the crematory. My
suspense was soon ended. It had still been preserved in the post-
mortem room. And so I returned to Rodenhurst in the evening with my
mission accomplished and the material for a fresh experiment.

But Sir Dominick Holden would not hear of my occupying the laboratory
again. To all my entreaties he turned a deaf ear. It offended his
sense of hospitality, and he could no longer permit it. I left the
hand, therefore, as I had done its fellow the night before, and I
occupied a comfortable bedroom in another portion of the house, some
distance from the scene of my adventures.

But in spite of that my sleep was not destined to be uninterrupted. In
the dead of night my host burst into my room, a lamp in his hand. His
huge, gaunt figure was enveloped in a loose dressing-gown, and his
whole appearance might certainly have seemed more formidable to a
weak-nerved man than that of the Indian of the night before. But it
was not his entrance so much as his expression which amazed me. He had
turned suddenly younger by twenty years at the least. His eyes were
shining, his features radiant, and he waved one hand in triumph over
his head. I sat up astounded, staring sleepily at this extraordinary
visitor. But his words soon drove the sleep from my eyes.

"We have done it! We have succeeded!" he shouted. "My dear Hardacre,
how can I ever in this world repay you?"

"You don't mean to say that it is all right?"

"Indeed I do. I was sure that you would not mind being awakened to
hear such blessed news." "Mind! I should think not indeed. But is it
really certain?"

"I have no doubt whatever upon the point. I owe you such a debt, my
dear nephew, as I have never owed a man before, and never expected to.
What can I possibly do for you that is commensurate? Providence must
have sent you to my rescue. You have saved both my reason and my life,
for another six months of this must have seen me either in a cell or a
coffin. And my wife-it was wearing her out before my eyes. Never could
I have believed that any human being could have lifted this burden off
me." He seized my hand and wrung it in his bony grip.

"It was only an experiment-a forlorn hope-but I am delighted from my
heart that it has succeeded. But how do you know that it is all right?
Have you seen something?"

He seated himself at the foot of my bed.

"I have seen enough," said he. "It satisfies me that I shall be
troubled no more. What has passed is easily told. You know that at a
certain hour this creature always comes to me. To-night he arrived at
the usual time, and aroused me with even more violence than is his
custom. I can only surmise that his disappointment of last night
increased the bitterness of his anger against me. He looked angrily at
me, and then went on his usual round. But in a few minutes I saw him,
for the first time since his persecution began, return to my chamber.
He was smiling. I saw the gleam of his white teeth through the dim
light. He stood facing me at the end of my bed, and three times he
made the low, Eastern salaam which is their solemn leave-taking. And
the third time that he bowed he raised his arms over his head, and I
saw his Two hands outstretched in the air. So he vanished, and, as I
believe, for ever."

So that is the curious experience which won me the affection and the
gratitude of my celebrated uncle, the famous Indian surgeon. His
anticipations were realised, and never again was he disturbed by the
visits of the restless hillman in search of his lost hand. Sir
Dominick and Lady Holden spent a very happy old age, unclouded, so far
as I know, by any trouble, and they finally died during the great
influenza epidemic within a few weeks of each other. In his lifetime
he always turned to me for advice in everything which concerned that
English life of which he knew so little; and I aided him also in the
purchase and development of his estates. It was no great surprise to
me, therefore, that I found myself eventually promoted over the heads
of five exasperated cousins, and changed in a single day from a hard-
working country doctor into the head of an important Wiltshire family.
I, at least, have reason to bless the memory of the man with the brown
hand, and the day when I was fortunate enough to relieve Rodenhurst of
his unwelcome presence.



THE END



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