|photo from Wikipedia|
The House Surgeon is a Rudyard Kipling detective story. You can read it online here. It begins,
On an evening after Easter Day, I sat at a table in a homeward bound steamer’s smoking-room, where half a dozen of us told ghost stories. As our party broke up a man, playing Patience in the next alcove, said to me: “I didn’t quite catch the end of that last story about the Curse on the family’s first-born.”
“It turned out to be drains,” I explained. “As soon as new ones were put into the house the Curse was lifted, I believe. I never knew the people myself.”
“Ah! I’ve had my drains up twice; I’m on gravel too.”
“You don’t mean to say you’ve a ghost in your house? Why didn’t you join our party?”
“Any more orders, gentlemen, before the bar closes?” the steward interrupted.
“Sit down again, and have one with me,” said the Patience player. “No, it isn’t a ghost. Our trouble is more depression than anything else.”
“How interesting? Then it’s nothing any one can see?”
“It’s - it’s nothing worse than a little depression. And the odd part is that there hasn’t been a death in the house since it was built - in 1863. The lawyer said so. That decided me - my good lady, rather and he made me pay an extra thousand for it.”
“How curious. Unusual, too!” I said.
“Yes; ain’t it? It was built for three sisters -Moultrie was the name- three old maids. They all lived together; the eldest owned it. I bought it from her lawyer a few years ago, and if I’ve spent a pound on the place first and last, I must have spent five thousand. Electric light, new servants’ wing, garden - all that sort of thing. A man and his family ought to be happy after so much expense, ain’t it?” He looked at me through the bottom of his glass.
“Does it affect your family much?”
“My good lady -she’s a Greek, by the way- and myself are middle-aged. We can bear up against depression; but it’s hard on my little girl. I say little; but she’s twenty. We send her visiting to escape it. She almost lived at hotels and hydros, last year, but that isn’t pleasant for her. She used to be a canary -a perfect canary- always singing. You ought to hear her. She doesn’t sing now. That sort of thing’s unwholesome for the young, ain’t it?”
“Can’t you get rid of the place?” I suggested.
“Not except at a sacrifice, and we are fond of it. Just suits us three. We’d love it if we were allowed.”
“What do you mean by not being allowed?”
“I mean because of the depression. It spoils everything.”