THE MAN WITH A SECRET "With anxious dread have I avoided thee, Thou haunting evil of my early days, Yet by some trick of Fate we meet again; I pray thee, sir, let me go far away. And place the roaring seas between us twain, There is but sorrow in our comradeship." It was the high road to the village of Garsworth, wide, deeply rutted, and somewhat grass-grown, with a tall hedge of yellow-blossomed gorse on the one side, and on the other a ragged, broken fence, over which leaned a man absorbed in meditation, his eyes fixed upon the setting sun. The fence, rotten and moss-tufted, ran along the edge of a little hill, the slope of which had been lately reaped, and was now covered with bristly yellow stubble, variegated by bare-looking patches of brownish earth. At the bottom of the hill flowed the narrow river Gar, with its sluggish waters rolling lazily along between the low mud banks, bordered by rows of pollard willows and lush rank grasses which hid the burrows of the water-rats. Beyond, towards the distant hills, stretched the damp, melancholy fen-lands, with their long lines of slimy ditches, still pools of black water, and scattered clumps of stunted trees. Still further away appeared a scanty fringe of forest, above which could be seen the square, grey tower of a church, and over all glared an angry red sky barred with thin lines of heavy clouds, looming intensely black against the accentuating crimson light behind. An evil-looking scene it was, for over the brooding loneliness and desolation of the fen-lands flared the fierce scarlet of the sunset, turning the slender line of the river and the sombre pools of water to the tint of blood, as though they had been smitten with the Egyptian plague. FERGUS HUME Fergusson Wright Hume (8 July 1859 – 12 July 1932), known as Fergus Hume, was a prolific English novelist.