Chapter Thirteen

I HAD NOW BEEN in Tannochbrae for more than a year, and although I liked the place and the people, and had moreover a genuine affection for the testy old party who employed me, with the coming of another spring I was conscious of a restive feeling, and my thoughts began to turn toward the future. Ambition still burned bright within me. I wanted to have my own home, my own practice. I was now more than ever in love with Mary, and since so many obstacles were already in the way of our marriage, I felt I must at least try to offset them with some material advantages. Could this be achieved within the narrow confines of a small West Highland village?

At this stage of uncertainty and doubt, a series of events took place which, in a singularly irrational manner, were instrumental in determining the next phase of my unimportant destiny. It all began, ridiculously enough, with a fishbone.

The fishbone was in the throat of Mr. George McKellor, and because of it, one April evening about nine o'clock I was called to the McKellor villa, which stood in its own grounds on the outskirts of the village. I found McKellor in considerable pain, although making little fuss about it. He was a taciturn man, a confirmed bachelor, with the uncommunicative abruptness of one who has made his way in life entirely through his own efforts. By profession a grain merchant, he travelled every day to his office in Glasgow, where he was a highly successful operator on the commodity markets, known to be worth a tidy fortune. Actually his home was in the city, but partly

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