It was with a feeling little short of positive annoyance that I heard the door-bell ring. Indeed, I confess, I was tempted to ignore it altogether at first. But as it rang again, and was followed by a rapid tattoo of rapping, as of fists pounded against the door itself, I rose, laid aside my book, and stepped into the hall.
First switching on a porch-light, I opened the outer door, to reveal the figure of an old woman, somewhat stooping, her head covered by a shawl, which sloped wetly from her head to either shoulder, and was caught and held beneath her chin by one bony hand.
"Doctor," she began in a tone of almost frantic excitement. "Dr. Murray--come quick!"
Perhaps I may as well introduce myself here as anywhere else. I am Dr. George Murray, still, as at the time of which I write, in charge of the State Mental Hospital in a Western State. The institution was not then very large, and since taking my position at the head of its staff I had found myself with considerable time for my study along the lines of human psychology and the various powers and aberrations of the mind.
Also, I may as well confess, as a first step toward a better understanding of my part in what followed, that for years before coming to the asylum I had delved more or less deeply into such studies, seeking to learn what I might concerning both the normal and the abnormal manifestations of mental force.