Chapter 64227431

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Chapter NumberXXVI
Chapter TitleTHE DYING WORDS.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article64227431
Full Date1891-12-12
Page Number1
Corrections2
Word Count1327
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-06-24
Newspaper TitleBathurst Free Press and Mining Journal (NSW : 1851 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Mount Macedon Mystery
article text

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE DYING WORDS.

The science of pathology, especially in its relation to mental diseases, has made rapid progress during the nineteenth cen- tury. Researches, observations and ex- periments in the past have armed the medical practitioners of to-day with potent weapons for the annihilation of many diseases that afflict humanity. The old idea that a maniac was pos-

sessed by a devil, or a legend of devils, according to the intensity of his fury, has long since died out, as the real causes of such intellectual aberrations are now known with certainty, and if not always curable such mental disorders can be mitigated, and even the idiot — that piti- able object who has the body of a man with the mind of a child is not outside the far reaching influence of medical science.

The superintendent at the Yarra Bend Asylum had correctly diagnosed the case of the "wild man," when he said that as his physical strength declined his mental faculties might resume their normal state. Day by day the strength of that terrible man, in whose grasp the powerful Rennie had been little better than a child, de- clined, and now at times a gleam of in- telligence would light up the vacant face. Rennie and Lynx were almost daily visitors, so eager were they for the infor- mation that would set so many doubts and fears at rest. The young farmer was most restless. He passed his time between his farm and Melbourne, and though he had not told Adeline Derereaux all he knew he had given her sufficient information to lead her to anticipate an important dis- covery. That lady had gone back to Sydney for a month or two on business, but she had expressed her full intention of re- turning as soon as the work was fin- ished. The last time the detective visited the Asylum where all his hopes were now centred, the superintendent there had taken him aside and said "Your patient — or rather mine — will not live another month. He is going very rapidly." " What ! dying ?" asked the detective, in amazement. "Yes ; he cannot hold out much longer. In fact, from the first I never expected that he would live long, but now I am certain," " What is the matter with him. He is a young man, and has no apparent dis- ease," the officer answered. " No apparent disease," laughed the doctor. "Why, I thought you saw a pretty strong exhibition of his disease on the Mount when you captured him." "Yes; but he has no physical disa bility has he ?" "He is afflicted with one of the most fatal complaints a man can have. He has a mind that is killing the body, and consequently committing suicide itself. That leader and guide of the body — the brain — has urged its slave on in a man- ner that must crush it. It is working blindly, and as the maniac would have rolled over the cliff himself to kill Ren- nie, so is the madman's mind slaying it- self in thus harrasing and destroying its fleshy tabernacle." "If he dies his secret will die with him," anxiously spoke Lynx. " I am not so sure of that. I have hopes that he will regain his senses be- fore he dies. That great change scarcely ever ensues without benefically affecting the brain of such as he." "I sincerely hope that he may regain his senses and recollect the past. The happiness of at least two persons depend on him, and I would like to hear what he knows myself," he added, thinking of his professional reputation. A week after this conversation Rennie was in town, and the detective told him what the medical officer had said. " I pray to God he may not die with dumb lips. If he does die my life is blasted." Let us hope for the best," replied his visitor. They went to the Asylum together that day and found the lunatic in bed ; he was too weak to Ieave it. He gave a glance of half recognition at the two men as they entered, and it al- most seemed to Rennie as if he know them. The old wild, restless look had almost gone from his face, and the medical at tendant to whom they spoke was quite pleased with the mental condition of his patient. "He will be as sane as the best of us in a week or two. The man is naturally in telligent, but he has always been predis- posed to insanity, and either through brooding over fancied wrongs or through remorse, the taint has developed and made him what he is." " What a terrible thing hereditary insanity must be," said Rennie, with a shudder. " You may well say that," answered the doctor. "We who make it our daily study know what an accursed enemy it is to the human race. Its evil hand is every- where. Nine-tenths of the murders, suicides, and outrages are directly attri- buted to it. It decimates humanity, but that appalling fact is only now being found out. Doubtless, legislation will be brought to bear against it in coming years. It is an awful realisation of that curse — ' the sins of the father shall be visited on the children.' " Rennie went back to his hotel that evening with mingled fear and hope. The stricken man was evidently regaining his right mind, but what if he knew noth- ing of Edgar's disappearance, or if he did know anything, would he tell it to pro- bably criminate himself ? It was scarcely likely that he would do so. But if he were on his death bed, thought the young man, he would surely not conceal any- thing, for it would avail him nothing. He would be past reward or punish- ment. He was interrupted in his meditations by the entrance of a waiter with a let- ter. It was from Miss Devereaux, stating that she would be back in Melbourne in a few days. The missive turned his thoughts from the gloomy channel they were in, and looking forward with pleasure to the arrival of the young girl, he sauntered down the streets to occupy his mind with the bustle and hurry of the crowded thoroughfare. Miss Devereaux had been in Melbourne a fortnight, and Rennie had not yet gone back to the farm. He would not leave the city for a day, because he did not know the moment he might be summoned to the asylum. He was in a constant state of suppressed ex- citement, as the chances were evenly balanced, whether the dying man in the asylum would say anything to remove the barrier that stood between him and Ade- line Devereaux. The suspense was torturing, and he looked so pale and ill that Adeline urged him to go back to the farm for a change of air. " You are worrying yourself to death here. If you go on like this you will soon be on a sick bed," she said. The young man protested that his looks belied him, and that in reality he was never better in his life. He knew that a crisis in his life had arrived, and he did not wish to let the young girl know that anything unusual was troubling him, " If this man dies silently," he said to himself, "I will give up hoping any longer. He was sitting at breakfast next morn- ing when a telegram was placed before him. It was a message from the Yarra Bend, asking him to call at once. He did not wait to finish his breakfast, but going into the street he hailed a cab, and was driven down at once to the asylum. — To be Continued. MM 11