Beyond the City (Chapter 2, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 2

This establishment at least was irreproachable. A reference to "Men of the
Time" showed them that Admiral Hay Denver was a most distinguished
officer, who had begun his active career at Bomarsund, and had ended it
at Alexandria, having managed between these two episodes to see as much
service as any man of his years. From the Taku Forts and the Shannon
brigade, to dhow-harrying off Zanzibar, there was no variety of naval
work which did not appear in his record; while the Victoria Cross, and
the Albert Medal for saving life, vouched for it that in peace as in war
his courage was still of the same true temper. Clearly a very eligible
neighbor this, the more so as they had been confidentially assured by
the estate agent that Mr. Harold Denver, the son, was a most quiet
young gentleman, and that he was busy from morning to night on the Stock

The Hay Denvers had hardly moved in before number two also struck
its placard, and again the ladies found that they had no reason to be
discontented with their neighbors. Doctor Balthazar Walker was a very
well-known name in the medical world. Did not his qualifications, his
membership, and the record of his writings fill a long half-column
in the "Medical Directory," from his first little paper on the "Gouty
Diathesis" in 1859 to his exhaustive treatise upon "Affections of the
Vaso-Motor System" in 1884? A successful medical career which promised
to end in a presidentship of a college and a baronetcy, had been cut
short by his sudden inheritance of a considerable sum from a grateful
patient, which had rendered him independent for life, and had enabled
him to turn his attention to the more scientific part of his profession,
which had always had a greater charm for him than its more practical
and commercial aspect. To this end he had given up his house in Weymouth
Street, and had taken this opportunity of moving himself, his scientific
instruments, and his two charming daughters (he had been a widower for
some years) into the more peaceful atmosphere of Norwood.

There was thus but one villa unoccupied, and it was no wonder that the
two maiden ladies watched with a keen interest, which deepened into a
dire apprehension, the curious incidents which heralded the coming of
the new tenants. They had already learned from the agent that the family
consisted of two only, Mrs. Westmacott, a widow, and her nephew, Charles
Westmacott. How simple and how select it had sounded! Who could have
foreseen from it these fearful portents which seemed to threaten
violence and discord among the dwellers in The Wilderness? Again the two
old maids cried in heartfelt chorus that they wished they had not sold
their field.

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