Read The Return of the Discontinued Man (A Burton & Swinburne Adventure) Online
Authors: Mark Hodder
Published 2014 by Pyr®, an imprint of Prometheus Books
The Return of the Discontinued Man
. Copyright © 2014 by Mark Hodder. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, digital, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or conveyed via the Internet or a website without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Cover illustration © Jon Sullivan
Cover design by Jacqueline Nasso Cooke
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The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:
Hodder, Mark, 1962–
[Strage affair of Spring Heeled Jack]
The return of the discontinued man : a Burton & Swinburne adventure / by Mark Hodder.
pages cm — (A burton & swinburne adventure)
ISBN 978-1-61614-905-5 (paperback) — ISBN 978-1-61614-906-2 (ebook)
1. Burton, Richard Francis, Sir, 1821–1890—Fiction. 2. Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1837–1909—Fiction. 3. Spring-heeled Jack (Legendary character)—Fiction. 4. Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819–1901—Assassination attempts—Fiction. 5. Criminal investigation—England—London—Fiction. I. Title.
Printed in the United States of America
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack
The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man
Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon
The Secret of Abdu El Yezdi
A Red Sun Also Rises
CHAPTER 1 AN APPARITION IN LEICESTER SQUARE
CHAPTER 2 AN EXPERIMENT GONE AWRY
CHAPTER 3 AN EVENING WITH ORPHEUS
CHAPTER 6 THE SECOND EXPERIMENT
CHAPTER 9 AN UNLIKELY EXPEDITION
CHAPTER 11 THE SQUARES, CATS AND DEVIANTS OF 1968
CHAPTER 12 THE GROSVENOR SQUARE RIOT OF 1968
CHAPTER 13 AN OLD FRIEND IN 2022
CHAPTER 14 THE ILLUSORY WORLD OF 2130
CHAPTER 15 THE TRUTH OF 2130 REVEALED
CHAPTER 17 THE UPPERS AND THE LOWLIES
CHAPTER 18 HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA
CHAPTER 19 A PLEA TO PARLIAMENT
CHAPTER 20 SEVEN BIRTHS AND A DEATH
APPENDIX: MEANWHILE, IN THE VICTORIAN AGE AND BEYOND . . .
“You’re a drooling, bulge-eyed drug addict!”
The accusation, which Algernon Charles Swinburne screeched in his characteristically high-pitched and excitable tones, caused the entire saloon bar to fall momentarily silent.
Sir Richard Francis Burton glowered at his diminutive friend. “A little less volume, if you please.”
“You’re hooked! An addle head! What next for you, hey? The gutters, perhaps? Bedlam lunatic asylum? A Limehouse opium den?”
“Limehouse doesn’t exist. It burned to the ground last year, as you well know.”
“Pah! And I’ll say it again! Pah! In fact, once more for good measure! Pah to you, sir!”
Burton sighed, raised his glass, and took a gulp of ale.
Around them, the Black Toad’s other customers—a slovenly crowd of thieves, dollymops, and chancers—returned their attention to their beers, gins, whiskies, and absinthes.
Burton and Swinburne had occupied a table in a dark corner of the disreputable drinking den, there to wet their whistles for a couple of hours prior to a gathering of the Cannibal Club, during which their whistles would no doubt become thoroughly sodden, as they usually did when the pair joined with their friends ostensibly to discuss issues of anthropological and atheistic interest but, more often than not, to instead carouse a night away.
Of these Cannibals, there was no more dedicated a roisterer than Swinburne. His tiny, slope-shouldered body—with its oversized head made all the bigger by the mop of long carroty-red hair curling almost horizontally from it—could hold astonishing quantities of alcohol. The excess of electric vitality that coursed through the young poet’s system, making him constantly twitch and jerk, endowing him with such a skittish nature that many thought him either possessed or crazed, appeared to burn off the effects of his overindulgences at a prodigious rate, so that one moment he might be a slurring, staggering mess, and the next so perfectly clear-eyed and
that he could, on the spot, compose a sonnet of astonishing beauty and technical grace.