Tales of Terror and Mystery HTML version
The Black Doctor
Bishop's Crossing is a small village lying ten miles in a south- westerly direction from
Liverpool. Here in the early seventies there settled a doctor named Aloysius Lana.
Nothing was known locally either of his antecedents or of the reasons which had
prompted him to come to this Lancashire hamlet. Two facts only were certain about him;
the one that he had gained his medical qualification with some distinction at Glasgow; the
other that he came undoubtedly of a tropical race, and was so dark that he might almost
have had a strain of the Indian in his composition. His predominant features were,
however, European, and he possessed a stately courtesy and carriage which suggested a
Spanish extraction. A swarthy skin, raven-black hair, and dark, sparkling eyes under a
pair of heavily-tufted brows made a strange contrast to the flaxen or chestnut rustics of
England, and the newcomer was soon known as "The Black Doctor of Bishop's
Crossing." At first it was a term of ridicule and reproach; as the years went on it became a
title of honour which was familiar to the whole countryside, and extended far beyond the
narrow confines of the village.
For the newcomer proved himself to be a capable surgeon and an accomplished
physician. The practice of that district had been in the hands of Edward Rowe, the son of
Sir William Rowe, the Liverpool consultant, but he had not inherited the talents of his
father, and Dr. Lana, with his advantages of presence and of manner, soon beat him out
of the field. Dr. Lana's social success was as rapid as his professional. A remarkable
surgical cure in the case of the Hon. James Lowry, the second son of Lord Belton, was
the means of introducing him to county society, where he became a favourite through the
charm of his conversation and the elegance of his manners. An absence of antecedents
and of relatives is sometimes an aid rather than an impediment to social advancement,
and the distinguished individuality of the handsome doctor was its own recommendation.
His patients had one fault--and one fault only--to find with him. He appeared to be a
confirmed bachelor. This was the more remarkable since the house which he occupied
was a large one, and it was known that his success in practice had enabled him to save
considerable sums. At first the local matchmakers were continually coupling his name
with one or other of the eligible ladies, but as years passed and Dr. Lana remained
unmarried, it came to be generally understood that for some reason he must remain a
bachelor. Some even went so far as to assert that he was already married, and that it was
in order to escape the consequence of an early misalliance that he had buried himself at
Bishop's Crossing. And, then, just as the matchmakers had finally given him up in
despair, his engagement was suddenly announced to Miss Frances Morton, of Leigh Hall.
Miss Morton was a young lady who was well known upon the country-side, her father,
James Haldane Morton, having been the Squire of Bishop's Crossing. Both her parents
were, however, dead, and she lived with her only brother, Arthur Morton, who had
inherited the family estate. In person Miss Morton was tall and stately, and she was
famous for her quick, impetuous nature and for her strength of character. She met Dr.