A Spinner in the Sun (Chapter 4, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 4

At seven o'clock, precisely, Anthony Dexter's old housekeeper rang the rising bell. Drowsy with the soporific he had taken, the doctor did not at once respond to the summons. In fact, the breakfast bell had rung before he was fully awake.

He dressed leisurely, and was haunted by a vague feeling that something unpleasant had happened. At length he remembered that just before dusk, in the garden of Evelina Grey's old house, he had seen a ghost--a ghost who confronted him mutely with a thing he had long since forgotten.

"It was subjective, purely," mused Anthony Dexter. "I have been working too hard." His reason was fully satisfied with the plausible explanation, but he was not a man who was likely to have an hallucination of any sort.

He was strong and straight of body, finely muscular, and did not look over forty, though it was more than eight years ago that he had reached the fortieth milestone. His hair was thinning a little at the temples and the rest of it was touched generously with grey. His features were regular and his skin clear. A full beard, closely cropped, hid the weakness of his chin, but did not entirely conceal those fine lines about the mouth which mean cruelty.

Someway, in looking at him, one got the impression of a machine, well-nigh perfect of its kind. His dark eyes were sharp and penetrating. Once they had been sympathetic, but he had outgrown that. His hands were large, white, and well-kept, his fingers knotted, and blunt at the tips. He had, pre-eminently, the hand of the surgeon, capable of swiftness and strength, and yet of delicacy. It was not a hand that would tremble easily; it was powerful and, in a way, brutal.

He was thoroughly self-satisfied, as well he might be, for the entire countryside admitted his skill, and even in the operating rooms of the hospitals in the city not far distant. Doctor Dexter's name was well known. He had thought seriously, at times, of seeking a wider field, but he liked the country and the open air, and his practice would give Ralph the opportunity he needed. At his father's death, the young physician would fail heir to a practice which had taken many years of hard work to build up.

At the thought of Ralph, the man's face softened a trifle and his keen eyes became a little less keen. The boy's picture was before him upon his chiffonier. Ralph was twenty-three now and would finish in a few weeks at a famous medical school--Doctor Dexter's own alma mater. He had not been at home since he entered the school, having undertaken to do in three years the work which usually required four.

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