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Text - "Jim Mortimer" Warren Bell


People, unless they be star-gazers, do not walk along, as a rule, with their faces turned towards the sky; hence it was that the slender telephone wire communicating between Dr Mortimer's private residence, "Pangora," and the doctor's private asylum, escaped the notice of all but a few who fared along the eight miles of high road dividing Threeways from Millingbourne, in the county of Eastfolkshire. And yet this slender wire, which showed up against the blue sky much like a substantial cobweb, was fraught with interest. It was barely 300 yards in length, its installation had been a comparatively cheap and simple undertaking, and it had paid for itself scores of times over. Messages of life and death passed across it constantly; instructions in cases of emergency, tingling over the white line of road, saved the time that would otherwise have been occupied in walking the 300 yards--for doctors do not often run; reprimands were roared across it, bulletins despatched by its agency, dietary altered, medicine prescribed. The sunshine was coquetting with the little wire, and the great oaks and elms were surveying the flirtation with affected indifference, one bright September morning, when Mr James Mortimer, the Doctor's grandson, who was known among his hospital intimates as the "Long 'Un," having breakfasted in trousers, shirt, and dressing-gown, rose from the table and ambled out into the surgery--for, in addition to an asylum, the doctor had a lucrative practice in that part of Eastfolkshire. The waiting-room adjoining the surgery was empty, save for one small, pale boy. Although James was on holiday, he occasionally acted as deputy when his grandfather and the latter's assistant were not at hand. And James was quite competent to do so, for he was a fully qualified surgeon.

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