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Round the Red Lamp

The Case Of Lady Sannox
The relations between Douglas Stone and the notorious Lady Sannox were very well
known both among the fashionable circles of which she was a brilliant member, and the
scientific bodies which numbered him among their most illustrious confreres. There was
naturally, therefore, a very widespread interest when it was announced one morning that
the lady had absolutely and for ever taken the veil, and that the world would see her no
more. When, at the very tail of this rumour, there came the assurance that the celebrated
operating surgeon, the man of steel nerves, had been found in the morning by his valet,
seated on one side of his bed, smiling pleasantly upon the universe, with both legs
jammed into one side of his breeches and his great brain about as valuable as a cap full of
porridge, the matter was strong enough to give quite a little thrill of interest to folk who
had never hoped that their jaded nerves were capable of such a sensation.
Douglas Stone in his prime was one of the most remarkable men in England. Indeed, he
could hardly be said to have ever reached his prime, for he was but nine-and-thirty at the
time of this little incident. Those who knew him best were aware that, famous as he was
as a surgeon, he might have succeeded with even greater rapidity in any of a dozen lines
of life. He could have cut his way to fame as a soldier, struggled to it as an explorer,
bullied for it in the courts, or built it out of stone and iron as an engineer. He was born to
be great, for he could plan what another man dare not do, and he could do what another
man dare not plan. In surgery none could follow him. His nerve, his judgment, his
intuition, were things apart. Again and again his knife cut away death, but grazed the very
springs of life in doing it, until his assistants were as white as the patient. His energy, his
audacity, his full-blooded self-confidence--does not the memory of them still linger to the
south of Marylebone Road and the north of Oxford Street?
His vices were as magnificent as his virtues, and infinitely more picturesque. Large as
was his income, and it was the third largest of all professional men in London, it was far
beneath the luxury of his living. Deep in his complex nature lay a rich vein of sensualism,
at the sport of which he placed all the prizes of his life. The eye, the ear, the touch, the
palate--all were his masters. The bouquet of old vintages, the scent of rare exotics, the
curves and tints of the daintiest potteries of Europe--it was to these that the quick-
running stream of gold was transformed. And then there came his sudden mad passion for
Lady Sannox, when a single interview with two challenging glances and a whispered
word set him ablaze. She was the loveliest woman in London, and the only one to him.
He was one of the handsomest men in London, but not the only one to her. She had a
liking for new experiences, and was gracious to most men who wooed her. It may have
been cause or it may have been effect that Lord Sannox looked fifty, though he was but
six-and-thirty.
He was a quiet, silent, neutral-tinted man, this lord, with thin lips and heavy eyelids,
much given to gardening, and full of home-like habits. He had at one time been fond of
acting, had even rented a theatre in London, and on its boards had first seen Miss Marion
Dawson, to whom he had offered his hand, his title, and the third of a county. Since his
 
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