The Dust of Death

The Dust of Death

by Fred Merrick White

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The Dust of Death by Fred Merrick White

A short story in the "Doom of London" series. It begins:

"The front door bell tinkled impatiently; evidently somebody was in a hurry. Alan Hubert answered the call, a thing that even a distinguished physician might do, seeing that it was on the stroke of midnight. The tall, graceful figure of a woman in evening dress stumbled into the hall. The diamonds in her hair shimmered and trembled, her face was full of terror.

"You are Dr. Hubert," she gasped. "I am Mrs. Fillingham, the artist's wife, you know. Will you come with me at once... My husband... I had been dining out. In the studio... Oh, please come!"

... "Hubert walked up the drive and past the trim lawns with Mrs. Fillingham hanging on his arm, and in at the front door. ...a human figure lying on his back before the fireplace. The clean-shaven, sensitive face of the artist had a ghastly, purple-black tinge, there was a large swelling in the throat. ... 'Diphtheria!' he exclaimed. 'Label's type unless I am greatly mistaken. Some authorities are disposed to scoff at Dr. Label's discovery. I was an assistant of his for four years and I know better. Fortunately I happen to know what the treatment—successful in two cases—was.'"

That is only the beginning. The doctor consults Dr. Label, whose theory is that the disease originates in the soil where houses have been built over former garbage dumps or where raw refuse was used as construction fill in London. "For years I have been prophesying an outbreak of some new disease—or some awful form of an old one—and here it comes."

The reader should keep in mind that this was written before the development of antimicrobial drugs, so a diptheria outbreak was very serious. However, even in 1903 there was a treatment for diphtheria, involving injection of anti-toxin produced from animals immunized against heat-inactivated diphtheria bacteria, but it was not used widely or adequately.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940148697695
Publisher: Hillside Publishing
Publication date: 01/12/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 808 KB

About the Author

Fred Merrick White (1859-1935), a British author of many novels and short stories under the name "Fred M. White", was born in 1859 in West Bromwich, a small town near Birmingham, England. The record of his birth indicates that his first name was actually "Fred" — not, as is often assumed, "Frederick." His second name "Merrick" was the maiden name of his mother, Helen, who married his father, Joseph, in West Bromwich in the September quarter of 1858. Before becoming a full-time writer, Fred M. White followed in his father's footsteps and worked as a solicitor's clerk in Hereford. By 1891, Fred M. White, then 31 years old, was working full-time as a journalist and author. The First World War and his 2 sons' war-time experiences as junior officers in the British military evidently influenced Fred M. White's writing during and after this conflict. His novel The Seed Of Empire, published in 1916, describes some of the early trench warfare in great detail—the places and happenings are historically accurate. A number of novels published in the 1920s describe the social changes caused by the war and the difficulties of ex-soldiers in fitting back into normal civilian life. Perhaps best known for his "Doom of London" stories, in which that city experiences a series of devastating catastrophes, Fred M. White produced a huge body of short stories and novels, mainly in the genres of crime, romance and science fiction. He was an avid golfer, which shows in some of his novels, along with fly-fishing and the card game of Bridge. Fred and his wife Clara spent their final years in Barnstaple in the County of Devon, an area which provided the backdrop for his novels The Mystery Of Crocksands, The Riddle Of The Rail, and The Shadow Of The Dead Hand. He died in the December quarter of 1935; his wife died in 1940. (Source: Roy Glashan's Library
Also available
The Master Criminal (1898)
The Romance of the Secret Service Fund (1900)
The River of Death: A Tale of London In Peril (1904)
The Four White Days (1903)
The Invisible Force (1903)
The Four Days' Night (1903)
A Bubble Burst (1903)

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