THE MAN WHO LOST HIMSELF (20)

By: H. De Vere Stacpoole
July 9, 2018

This year marks the 100th anniversary of a forgotten Avenger/Artful Dodger-type adventure novel, The Man Who Lost Himself. A man down on his luck wakes up after a drunken night in London only to discover… that he has somehow slipped into the identity of a wealthy aristocrat! HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize this funny, thrilling yarn by H. De Vere Stacpoole — best known as author of The Blue Lagoon — here at HILOBROW.

ALL INSTALLMENTS SO FAR

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CHAPTER XX: THE FAMILY COUNCIL

He arrived at Curzon Street at fifteen minutes after nine next morning, and was shown up to the drawing-room by the butler. Here he took his seat, and waited the coming of the Family, amusing himself as best he could by looking round at the furniture and pictures, and listening to the sounds of the house and the street outside.

He heard taxi horns, the faint rumble of wheels, voices.

Now he heard someone running up the stairs outside, a servant probably, for the sound suddenly ceased and was followed by a laugh as though two servants had met on the stairs and were exchanging words.

One could not imagine any of that terrible family running up the stairs lightly or laughing. Then after another minute or two the door opened and the Duke of Melford entered. He was in light tweeds with a buff waistcoat, he held a morning paper under his arm and was polishing his eye glasses.

He nodded at Jones.

“Morning,” said his grace, waddling to a chair and taking his seat. “The women will be up in a moment.” He took his seat and spread open the paper as if to glance at the news. Then looking up over his spectacles, “Glad to hear from Collins you’ve got that land back. I was in there just after you left and he told me.”

“Yes,” said Jones, “I’ve got it back.” He had no time to say more as at that moment the door opened and the “women” appeared, led by the Dowager Countess of Rochester.

Venetia shut the door and they took their seats about the room whilst Jones, who had risen, reseated himself.

Then, with the deep breath of a man preparing for a dive, he began:

“I have asked you all to come here this morning — I asked you to meet me this morning because I just want to tell you the truth. I am an intruder into your family —”

“An intruder,” cried the mother of the defunct. “Arthur, what are you saying?”

“One moment,” he went on. “I want to begin by explaining what I have done for you all and then perhaps you will see that I am an honest man even though I am in a false position. In the last few days I have got back one million and eight thousand pounds, that is to say the coal mine property and other money as well, one million and eight thousand pounds that would have been a dead loss only for me.”

“You have acted like a man,” said the Duke of Melford, “go on — what do you mean about intrusion?”

“Let me tell the thing in my own way,” said Jones irritably. “The late Lord Rochester got dreadfully involved owing to his own stupidity with a woman — I call him the late Lord Rochester because I have to announce now the fact of his death.”

The effect of this statement was surprising. The four listeners sat like frozen corpses for a moment, then they moved, casting terrified eyes at one another. It was the Duke of Melford who spoke.

“We will leave your father’s name alone,” said he; “yes, we know he is dead — what more have you to say?”

“I was not talking of my father,” said Jones, beginning to get bogged and slightly confused, also angry, “he was not my father. If you will only listen to me without interrupting I will make things plain. I am talking of myself — or at least the man whom I am representing, the Earl of Rochester. I say that I am not the Earl of Rochester, he is dead —” He turned to Rochester’s wife. “I hate to have to tell you this right out and in such a manner, but it has to be told. I am not your husband. I am an American. My name is Victor Jones, and I come from Philadelphia.”

The Dowager Countess of Rochester who had been leaning forward in her chair, sank back, she had fainted.

Whilst Venetia and the Duke of Melford were bringing her to, the wife of Rochester who had been staring at Jones in a terrified manner ran from the room. She ran like a blind person with hands outspread.

Jones stood whilst the unfortunate lady was resuscitated. She returned to consciousness sobbing and flipping her hands, and she was led from the room by Venetia. Beyond the door Jones heard her voice roused in lamentation:

“My boy — my poor boy.”

Venetia had said nothing.

Jones had expected a scene, outcries, questions, but there was something in all this that was quite beyond him. They had asked no questions, seemed to take the whole thing for granted, Venetia especially.

The Duke of Melford shut the door.

“Your mother — I mean Lady Rochester’s heart is not strong,” said he, going to the bell and touching it. “I must send for the doctor to see her.”

Jones, more than ever astonished by the coolness of the other, sat down again.

“Look here,” said he, “I can’t make you all out — you’ve called me no names — you haven’t let me fully explain, the old lady is the only one that seems to have taken the news in. Can’t you understand what I have told you?”

“Perfectly,” said the old gentleman, “and it’s the most extraordinary thing I have ever heard — and the most interesting — I want to have a long talk about it. — James,” to the servant who had answered the bell, “telephone for Dr. Cavendish. Her ladyship has had another attack.”

“Dr. Cavendish has just been telephoned for, your grace, and Dr. Simms.”

“That will do,” said his grace.

“Yes, ’pon my soul, it’s quite extraordinary,” he took a cigar case from his pocket, proffered a cigar which Jones took, and then lit one himself.

“Look here,” said Jones suddenly alarmed by a new idea, “you aren’t guying me, are you? — you haven’t taken it into your heads that I’ve gone dotty—mad?”

“Mad!” cried the old gentleman with a start. “Never — such an idea never entered my mind. Why — why should it?”

“Only you take this thing so quietly.”

“Quietly — well, what would you have? My dear fellow, what is the good of shouting — ever? Not a bit. It’s bad form. I take everything as it comes.”

“Well, then, listen whilst I tell you how all this happened. I came over here some time ago to rope in a contract with the British Government over some steel fixtures. I was partner with a man named Aaron Stringer. Well, I failed on the contract and found myself broke with less than ten pounds in my pocket. I was sitting in the Savoy lounge when in came a man whom I knew at once by sight, but I couldn’t place his name on him. We had drinks together in the American bar, then we went upstairs to the lounge. He would not tell me who he was. ‘Look in the looking-glass behind you,’ said he, ‘and you will see who I am.’ I looked and I saw him. I was his twin image. I must tell you first that I had been having some champagne cocktails and a whisky and soda. I’m not used to drink. We had a jamboree together and dinner at some place, and then he sent me home as himself — I was blind.

“When I woke up next morning I said nothing but lay low, thinking it was all a joke. I ought to have spoken at once, but didn’t, one makes mistakes in life —”

“We all do that,” said the other; “yes — go on.”

“And later that day I opened a newspaper and saw my name and that I had committed suicide. It was Rochester, of course, that had committed suicide; did it on the underground. — Then I was in a nice fix. There I was in Rochester’s clothes, with not a penny in my pockets; couldn’t go to the hotel, couldn’t go anywhere — so I determined to be Rochester, for a while, at least.

“I found his affairs in an awful muddle. You know that business about the coal mine. Well, I’ve managed to right his affairs. I wasn’t thinking of any profit to myself over the business, I just did it because it was the right thing to do.

“Now I want to be perfectly plain with you. I might have carried on this game always and lived in Rochester’s shoes only for two things, one is his wife, the other is a feeling that has been coming on me that if I carried on any longer I might go dotty. Times I’ve had attacks of a feeling that I did not know who I was. It’s leading this double life, you know. Now I want to get right back and be myself and cut clear of all this. You can’t think what it has been, carrying on this double life, hearing the servants calling me ‘your lordship.’ I couldn’t have imagined it would have acted on the brain so. I’ve been simply crazy to hear someone calling me by my right name — well, that’s the end of the matter, I want to settle up and get back to the States —”

The door opened and a servant appeared.

“Dr. Simms has arrived, your grace.”

The Duke of Melford rose from his chair.

“One moment,” said he to Jones. He left the room closing the door.

Jones tipped the ash of his cigar into a jardinière near by.

He was astonished and a bit disturbed by the cool manner in which his wonderful confession had been received. “Can it be they are laying low and sending for the police?” thought he.

He was debating this question when the door opened and the Duke walked in, followed by a bald, elderly, pleasant-looking man; after this latter came a cadaverous gentleman, wearing glasses.

The bald man was Dr. Simms, the cadaverous, Dr. Cavendish.

Simms nodded at Jones as though he knew him.

“I have asked these gentlemen as friends of the family to step in and talk about this matter before seeing Lady Rochester,” said the Duke. “She has been taken to her room, and is not yet prepared for visitors.”

“I shall be delighted to help in any way,” said Simms; “my services, professional or private, are always at your disposal, your grace.” He sat down and turned to Jones. “Now tell us all about it,” said he.

Cavendish took another chair and the Duke remained standing.

Jones felt irritated, felt somewhat as a maestro would feel who, having finished that musical obstacle race The Grand Polonnaise, finds himself requested to play it again.

“I’ve told the whole thing once,” said he, “I can’t go over it again — the Duke knows.”

Suddenly Cavendish spoke:

“I understand from what his grace said on the stairs, that there is some trouble about identity?”

“Some trouble,” said Jones; “I reckon you are right in calling it some trouble.”

“You are Mr. Jones, I think,” said Simms.

“Victor Jones was the name I was christened by,” answered Jones.

“Quite so, American?”

“American.”

“Now, Mr. Jones, as a matter of formality, may I ask where you live in America?”

“Philadelphia.”

“And in Philadelphia what might be your address?”

“Number one thousand, one hundred and one, Walnut Street,” replied Jones.

Cavendish averted his head for a moment and the Duke shifted his position on the hearthrug, leaving his elbow on the mantel and caressing for a moment his chin.

Simms alone remained unmoved.

“Just so,” said Simms. “Have you any family?”

“Nope.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“No.”

“I thought you said nope — my mistake.”

“Not a bit, I did say nope — it’s short for no.”

“Short for no — I see, just so.”

Cavendish interposed with an air of interest.

“How would you spell that word?” asked he. Jones resented Cavendish somehow.

“I don’t know,” said he, “this isn’t a spelling bee. N-o-p-e I suspect. You gentlemen have undertaken to question me on behalf of the family as to my identity, I think we had better stick to that point.”

“Just so,” said Simms, “precisely —”

“Excuse me,” said the Duke of Melford, “I think if Mr. er — Jones wishes to prove his identity as Mr. Jones he will admit that his actions will help. Now Lord Rochester was a very, shall we say, fastidious person, quiet in his actions.”

“Oh, was he,” said Jones, “that’s news.”

“Quiet, that is to say, in his movements — let it stand at that. Now my friend Collins said to me something about the eating of a document —”

Jones bristled. “Collins had no right to tell you that,” said he, “I told him that privately. When did he tell you that?”

“When I called, just after his interview with you — he did not say it in anyway offensively. In fact he seemed to admire you for your — energy and so forth.”

“Did you, in fact, eat a document?” asked Simms, with an air of bland interest.

“I did — and saved a very nasty situation, and a million of money.”

“What was the document?” asked Cavendish.

“A bill of exchange.”

“Now may I ask why you did that?” queried Simms.

“No, you mayn’t,” replied Jones, “it’s a private affair affecting the honour of another person.”

“Quite so,” said Simms, “but just one more question. Did you hear a voice telling you to — er — eat this paper?”

“Yes.”

“What sort of voice was it?”

“It was the sort of voice that belongs to common-sense.”

“Ha, ha,” laughed Cavendish. “Good, very good, — but there is just something I want to ask. How was it, Mr. — er — Jones, that you turned into your present form, exchanged your position as it were with the Earl of Rochester?”

“O Lord,” said Jones. Then to the Duke of Melford, “Tell them.”

“Well,” said the Duke. “Mr. Jones was sitting in the lounge of an hotel when a gentleman entered whom he knew but could not recognize.”

“Couldn’t place his name,” cut in Jones.

“Precisely. The gentleman said ‘turn round and look in that mirror’ —”

“You’ve left the drinks out,” said Jones.

“True. Mr. Jones and the gentleman had partaken of certain drinks.”

“What were the drinks?” put in Simms.

“Champagne cocktails, whisky and soda, then a bottle of Bollinger — after,” said Jones.

“Mr. Jones looked into the mirror,” continued the Duke, “and saw that he was the other gentleman, that is to say, Lord Rochester.”

“No, the twin image,” put in Jones.

“The twin image — well, after that more liquor was consumed —”

“The chap doped me with drink and sent me home as himself,” cut in Jones, “and I woke up in a strange bed with a guy pulling up the window blinds.”

“A guy?” put in Cavendish.

“A chap. Church is his name — I thought I was being bamboozled, so I determined to play the part of Lord Rochester — you know the rest.” Turning to the Duke of Melford.

“Well,” said Cavendish, “I don’t think we need ask any more questions of Mr. Jones; we are convinced, I believe, that Mr. Jones and — er — the Earl of Rochester are different.”

“Quite so,” said Simms, “we are sure of his bonafides and of course it is for the family to decide how to meet this extraordinary situation. I am sure they will sympathize with Mr. Jones and make no trouble. It is quite evident he had no wrong intent.”

“Now you are talking,” said Jones.

“Quite so — One more question, does it seem to you I have not been talking at all up to this?”

Jones laughed. “It seems to me you have uttered one word or two — ask a bee in a bottle, has it been buzzing.”

The cadaverous Cavendish, who, from his outward appearance presented no signs of a sense of humour, exploded at this hit, but Simms remained unmoved.

“Quite so,” said he. “Well, that’s all that remains to be said — but, now as a professional man, has not all this tried you a good deal, Mr. Jones? — I should think it was enough to try any man’s health.”

“Oh, my health is all right,” said Jones. “I can eat and all that, but, times, I’ve felt as if I wasn’t one person or the other, that’s one of my main reasons for quitting, leaving aside other things. You see I had to carry on up to a certain point, and, if you’ll excuse me blowing my own horn, I think I’ve not done bad. I could have put my claws on all that money — If I hadn’t been a straight man, there’s a lot of things I could have done, ’pears to me. Well, now that everything is settled, I think that ought to be taken into consideration. I don’t ask much, just a commission on the money salved.”

“Decidedly,” said Simms. “In my opinion you are quite right. But as a professional man my concern just a moment ago was about your health.”

“Oh, the voyage back to the States will put that right.”

“Quite so, but you will excuse my professional instinct — and I am giving you my services for nothing, if you will let me — I notice signs of nerve exhaustion — Let’s look at your tongue.”

Jones put out his tongue.

“Not bad,” said Simms. “Now just cross your legs.”

Jones crossed his legs, right over left, and Simms, standing before him, gave him a little sharp tap just under the right knee cap. The leg flew out.

Jones laughed.

“Exaggerated patella reflex,” said Simms. “Nerve fag, nothing more. A pill or two is all you want. You don’t notice any difficulty in speech?”

“Not much,” said Jones, laughing.

“Say — ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.’”

“‘Peter Peter piped a pick —’” began Jones, then he laughed.

“You can’t say it,” said Simms, cocking a wise eyebrow.

“You bet I can,” said the patient. “‘Peter Piper pucked a pick’” —

“Nerve exhaustion,” said Simms.

“Say, Doc,” cut in Jones, beginning to feel slight alarm. “What are you getting at, you’re beginning to make me feel frightened, there’s not anything really wrong with me, is there?”

“Nothing but what can be righted by care,” replied Simms.

“Let me try Mr. Jones with a lingual test,” said Cavendish. “Say: ‘She stood at the door of the fish-sauce shop in the Strand welcoming him in.’”

“She stood at the door of the fish shauce shop in the Strand welcom-om ming im,” said Jones.

“H’m, h’m,” said Cavendish.

“That’s crazy,” said Jones, “nobody could say that — Oh, I’m all right — I reckon a little liver pill will fix me up.”

The two doctors withdrew to a window and said a few words together. Then they both nodded to the Duke of Melford.

“Well,” said the Duke, “that’s settled and now, Mr. Jones, I hope you will stay here for luncheon.”

Jones had had enough of that house.

“Thanks,” said he, “but I think I’ll be getting back. I want a walk. You’ll find me at Carlton House Terrace where we can finish up this business. It’s a weight off my mind now everything is over — whew! I can tell you I’m hungry for the States.”

He rose and took his hat which he had placed on the floor, nodded to the Duke of Melford and turned to the door.

Simms was standing in front of the door.

“Excuse me,” said Simms, “but I would not advise you to go out in your condition, much better stay here till your nerves have recovered.”

Jones stared at him.

“My nerves are all right,” said he.

“Don’t, my dear fellow,” said Cavendish.

Jones turned and looked at him, then turned again to the door.

Simms was barring the way still.

“Don’t talk nonsense,” said Jones, “think I was a baby. I tell you I’m all right — what on earth do you mean — upon my soul, you’re like a lot of children.”

He tried to pass Simms.

“You must not leave this room yet,” said Simms. “Pray quiet yourself.”

“You mean to say you’ll stop me?”

“Yes.”

Then in a flash he knew. These men had not been sent for to attend the Dowager Countess of Rochester, they were alienists, and they considered him to be Rochester — Rochester gone mad.

Right from the first start of his confession he had been taken for a mad man, that was why Venetia had said nothing, that was why the old lady had fainted, that was why his wife — at least Rochester’s wife, had run from the room like a blind woman.

He stood appalled for a moment, before this self-evident fact. Then he spoke:

“Open that door — get away from that door.”

“Sit down and quiet yourself,” said Simms, staring him full in the eye, “you — will — not — leave — this — house.”

It was Simms who sat down, flung away by Jones.

Then Cavendish pinioned him from behind, the Duke of Melford shouted directions, Simms scrambled to his feet, and Jones, having won free of Cavendish, the rough and tumble began.

They fought all over the drawing-room, upsetting jardinières, little tables, costly china.

Jones’ foot went into a china cabinet carrying destruction amongst a concert party of little Dresden figures; Simms’ portly behind bumped against a pedestal, bearing a portrait bust of the nineteenth Countess of Rochester, upsetting pedestal and smashing bust, and the Duke of Melford, fine old sportsman that he was, assisting in the business with the activity of a boy of eighteen, received a kick in the shin that recalled Eton across a long vista of years.

Then at last they had him down on a sofa, his hands tied behind his back with the Duke’s bandanna handkerchief.

Jones had uttered no cry, the others no sound, but the bumping and banging and smashing had been heard all over the house. A tap came to the door and a voice. The Duke rushed to the door and opened it.

“Nothing,” said he, “nothing wrong. Off with you.”

He shut the door and turned to the couch.

Jones caught a glimpse of himself in a big mirror, happily un-smashed, caught a glimpse of himself all tumbled and towsled with Simms beside him and Cavendish standing by, re-fixing his glasses.

He recognised a terrible fact; though he had smashed hundreds of pounds’ worth of property, though he had fought these men like a mad bull, now that the fight was over, they showed not the least sign of resentment. Simms was patting his shoulder.

He had become possessed of the mournful privilege of the insane, to fight without raising ire in one’s antagonists, to smash with impunity — to murder without being brought to justice.

Also he recognised that he had been a fool. He had acted like a mad-man — that is to say, like a man furious with anger. Anger and madness have awful similarities.

He moved slightly away from Simms.

“I reckon I’ve been a fool,” said he, “three to one is not fair play. Come, let my hands free, I won’t fight any more.”

“Certainly,” said Simms. “But let me point out that we were not fighting you in the least, only preventing you from taking a course detrimental to your health. Cavendish, will you kindly untie that absurd handkerchief?”

Cavendish obeyed, and Jones, his hands freed, rubbed his wrists.

“What are you going to do now?” asked he.

“Nothing,” said Simms, “you are perfectly free, but we don’t want you to go out till your health is perfectly restored. I know, you will say that you feel all right. No matter, take a physician’s advice and just remain here quiet for a little while. Shall we go to the library where you can amuse yourself with the newspaper or a book whilst I make up a little prescription for you?”

“Look here,” said Jones. “Let’s talk quietly for a moment — you think I’m mad.”

“Not in the least!” said Simms. “You are only suffering from a nerve upset.”

“Well, if I’m not mad you have no right to keep me here.”

This was cunning, but, unfortunately, cunning like anger, is an attribute of madness as well as of sanity.

“Now,” said Simms, with an air of great frankness, “do you think that it is for our pleasure that we ask you to stay here for a while? We are not keeping you, just asking you to stay. We will go down to the library and I will just have a prescription made up. Then, when you have considered matters a bit you can use your own discretion about going.”

Jones recognized at once that there was no use in trying to fight this man with any other weapon than subtlety. He was fairly trapped. His tale was such that no man would believe it, and, persisting in that tale, he would be held as a lunatic. On top of the tale was Rochester’s bad reputation for sanity. They called him mad Rochester.

Then as he rose up and followed to the library, a last inspiration seized him.

He stopped at the drawing-room door.

“Look here,” said he, “one moment. I can prove what I say. You send out a man to Philadelphia and make enquiries, fetch some of the people over that knew me. You’ll find I’m — myself and that I’ve told you no lie.”

“We will do anything you like,” said Simms, “but first let us go down to the library.”

They went. It was a large, pleasant room lined with books.

Simms sat down at the writing-table, whilst the others took chairs. He wrote a prescription, and the Duke, ringing the bell, ordered a servant to take the prescription to the chemists.

Then during the twenty minutes before the servant returned they talked. Jones, giving again his address, that fantastic address which was yet real, and the names and descriptions of people he knew and who would know him.

“You see, gentlemen,” said he, “it’s just this, I have only one crave in life just now, to be myself again. Not exactly that, but to be recognized as myself. You can’t imagine what that feeling is. You needn’t tell me. I know exactly what you think, you think I’m Rochester gone crazy. I know the yarn I’ve slung you sounds crazy, but it’s the truth. The fact is I’ve felt at times that if I didn’t get someone to recognize me as myself I’d go crazy. Just one person to believe in me, that’s all I want and then I’d feel free of this cursed Rochester. Put yourself in my place. Imagine that you have lost touch with everything you ever were, that you were playing another man’s part and that everyone in the world kept on insisting you were the other guy. Think of that for a position. Why, gentlemen, you might open that door wide. I wouldn’t want to go out, not till I had convinced one of you at all events that my story was true. I wouldn’t want to go back to the States, not till I had convinced you that I am who I am. It seems foolish but it’s a bed-rock fact. I have to make good on this position, convince someone who knows the facts, and so get myself back. It wouldn’t be any use my going to Philadelphia. I’d say to people I know there, ‘I’m Jones.’ They’d say, ‘Of course you are,’ and believe me. But then, do you see, they wouldn’t know of this adventure and their belief in me wouldn’t be a bit of good. Of course I know I’m Jones, all the same I’ve been playing the part of Rochester so hard that times I’ve almost believed I’m him, times I’ve lost myself, and I have a feeling at the back of my mind that if I don’t get someone to believe me to be who I am, I may go dotty in earnest. It’s a feeling without reason, I know. It’s more like having a grit in the eye than anything else. I want to get rid of that grit, and I can’t take it out myself, someone else must do it. One person would be enough, just one person to believe in what I say and I would be myself again. That’s why I want you to send to Philadelphia. The mind is a curious thing, gentlemen, the freedom of the body is nothing if the mind is not free, and my mind can never be free till another person who knows my whole story believes in what I say. I could not have imagined anyone being trapped like this — I’ve heard of an actor guy once playing a part so often he went loony and fancied himself the character. I’m not like that, I’m as sane as you, it’s just this uneasy, uncomfortable feeling — this want to get absolutely clean out of this business, that’s the trouble.”

“Never mind!” said Simms cheerfully, “we will get you out only you must not worry yourself. I admit that your story is strange, but we will send to Philadelphia and make all enquiries — come in.”

The servant had knocked at the door. He entered with the medicine. Simms sent him for a wine glass and when it arrived he poured out a dose.

“Now take a dose of your medicine like a man,” said the kindly physician, jocularly, “and another in four hours’ time, it will re-make your nerves.”

Jones tossed the stuff off impatiently.

“Say,” said he, “there’s another point I’ve forgot. You might go to the Savoy and get the clerk there, he’d recognize me, the bar tender in the American bar, he’d maybe be able to recognise me too, he saw us together — I say I feel a bit drowsy, you haven’t doped me, have you?”

Simms and Cavendish, leaving the house together five minutes later, had a moment’s conversation on the steps.

“What do you think of him?” said Simms.

“Bad,” said Cavendish. “He reasons on his own case, that’s always bad, and did you notice how cleverly he worked that in about wanting someone to believe in him.”

They walked down the street together.

“That smash has been coming for a long time,” said Simms — “it’s an heirloom. It’s a good thing it has come, he was getting to be a bye-word — I wonder what it is that introduces the humorous element into insanity; that address, for instance, one thousand one hundred and ninety one Walnut Street, could never have strayed into a sane person’s head.”

“Nor a luncheon on bills of exchange,” said Cavendish. “Well, he will be all right at Hoover’s. What was the dose you gave him?”

“Heroin, mostly,” replied the other. “Well, so long.”

NEXT INSTALLMENT | ALL INSTALLMENTS SO FAR

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SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable | Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire”.

RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION: “Radium Age” is HILOBROW’s name for the 1904–33 era, which saw the discovery of radioactivity, the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. This era also saw the publication of genre-shattering writing by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Karel Čapek, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Philip Gordon Wylie, and other pioneers of post-Verne/Wells, pre-Golden Age “science fiction.” More info here.

READ GORGEOUS PAPERBACKS: HiLoBooks has reissued the following 10 obscure but amazing Radium Age science fiction novels in beautiful print editions: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”), Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, J.D. Beresford’s Goslings, E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man, Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage, and Muriel Jaeger’s The Man with Six Senses. For more information, visit the HiLoBooks homepage.

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