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The Amateur - Richard Harding Davis

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THE AMATEUR


I


It was February off the Banks, and so thick was the weather that,
on the upper decks, one could have driven a sleigh.  Inside the
smoking-room Austin Ford, as securely sheltered from the blizzard
as though he had been sitting in front of a wood fire at his club,
ordered hot gin for himself and the ship's doctor.  The ship's
doctor had gone below on another "hurry call" from the widow.  At
the first luncheon on board the widow had sat on the right of
Doctor Sparrow, with Austin Ford facing her.  But since then,
except to the doctor, she had been invisible.  So, at frequent
intervals, the ill health of the widow had deprived Ford of the
society of the doctor.  That it deprived him, also, of the society
of the widow did not concern him.  HER life had not been spent upon
ocean liners; she could not remember when state-rooms were named
after the States of the Union.  She could not tell him of
shipwrecks and salvage, of smugglers and of the modern pirates who
found their victims in the smoking-room.

Ford was on his way to England to act as the London correspondent
of the New York Republic.  For three years on that most sensational
of the New York dailies he had been the star man, the chief
muckraker, the chief sleuth.  His interest was in crime.  Not in
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