The Great Impersonation
The doctor, with his usual bluntness, did not hesitate to make it known that this unusual
visit was of a private nature. Caroline promptly withdrew, and the two men were left
alone in the great hall. The lights in the billiard-room and drawing-room were
extinguished. Every one in the house except a few servants had retired.
"Sir Everard," the doctor began, "this return of Lady Dominey's has taken me altogether
by surprise. I had intended to-morrow morning to discuss the situation with you."
"I am most anxious to hear your report," Dominey said.
"My report is good," was the confident answer. "Although I would not have allowed her
to have left the nursing home so suddenly had I known, there was nothing to keep her
there. Lady Dominey, except for one hallucination, is in perfect health, mentally and
"And this one hallucination?"
"That you are not her husband."
Dominey was silent for a moment. Then he laughed a little unnaturally.
"Can a person be perfectly sane," he asked, "and yet be subject to an hallucination which
must make the whole of her surroundings seem unreal?"
"Lady Dominey is perfectly sane," the doctor answered bluntly, "and as for that
hallucination, it is up to you to dispel it."
"Perhaps you can give me some advice?" Dominey suggested.
"I can, and I am going to be perfectly frank with you," the doctor replied. "To begin with
then, there are certain obvious changes in you which might well minister to Lady
Dominey's hallucination. For instance, you have been in England now some eight
months, during which time you have reveled an entirely new personality. You seem to
have got rid of every one of your bad habits, you drink moderately, as a gentleman
should, you have subdued your violent temper, and you have collected around you, where
your personality could be the only inducement, friends of distinction and interest. This is
not at all what one expected from the Everard Dominey who scuttled out of England a
dozen years ago."
"You are excusing my wife," Dominey remarked.
"She needs no excuses," was the brusque reply. "She has been a long- enduring and
faithful woman, suffering from a cruel illness, brought on, to take the kindest view if it,