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Tales of Terror and Mystery

The Beetle-Hunter
A curious experience? said the Doctor. Yes, my friends, I have had one very curious
experience. I never expect to have another, for it is against all doctrines of chances that
two such events would befall any one man in a single lifetime. You may believe me or
not, but the thing happened exactly as I tell it.
I had just become a medical man, but I had not started in practice, and I lived in rooms in
Gower Street. The street has been renumbered since then, but it was in the only house
which has a bow-window, upon the left-hand side as you go down from the Metropolitan
Station. A widow named Murchison kept the house at that time, and she had three
medical students and one engineer as lodgers. I occupied the top room, which was the
cheapest, but cheap as it was it was more than I could afford. My small resources were
dwindling away, and every week it became more necessary that I should find something
to do. Yet I was very unwilling to go into general practice, for my tastes were all in the
direction of science, and especially of zoology, towards which I had always a strong
leaning. I had almost given the fight up and resigned myself to being a medical drudge
for life, when the turning-point of my struggles came in a very extraordinary way.
One morning I had picked up the Standard and was glancing over its contents. There was
a complete absence of news, and I was about to toss the paper down again, when my eyes
were caught by an advertisement at the head of the personal column. It was worded in
this way:
"Wanted for one or more days the services of a medical man. It is essential that he should
be a man of strong physique, of steady nerves, and of a resolute nature. Must be an
entomologist-- coleopterist preferred. Apply, in person, at 77B, Brook Street. Application
must be made before twelve o'clock today."
Now, I have already said that I was devoted to zoology. Of all branches of zoology, the
study of insects was the most attractive to me, and of all insects beetles were the species
with which I was most familiar. Butterfly collectors are numerous, but beetles are far
more varied, and more accessible in these islands than are butterflies. It was this fact
which had attracted my attention to them, and I had myself made a collection which
numbered some hundred varieties. As to the other requisites of the advertisement, I knew
that my nerves could be depended upon, and I had won the weight-throwing competition
at the inter-hospital sports. Clearly, I was the very man for the vacancy. Within five
minutes of my having read the advertisement I was in a cab and on my was to Brook
Street.
As I drove, I kept turning the matter over in my head and trying to make a guess as to
what sort of employment it could be which needed such curious qualifications. A strong
physique, a resolute nature, a medical training, and a knowledge of beetles-- what
connection could there be between these various requisites? And then there was the
 
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