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A Phantom Fortune Novel
by M. E. Braddon
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People dined earlier forty years ago than they do now. Even that salt of the earth, the elect of society, represented by that little great world which lies between the narrow circle bounded by Bryanstone Square on the north and by Birdcage Walk on the south, did not consider seven o’clock too early an hour for a dinner party which was to be followed by routs, drums, concerts, conversazione, as the case might be.
It was known that I was of East Indian birth, but little more was known about me. It was only when years had gone by and I was a merchant on my own account and could afford to go to India on a voyage of discovery--yes, as much a voyage of discovery as that of Vasco de Gama or of Drake--that I got from the Madras agent the clue which enabled me, at the cost of infinite patience and infinite labour, to unravel the mystery of my birth. There is no need to enter now upon the details of that story. I have overwhelming documentary evidence--a cloud of witnesses--to convince the most sceptical as to who and what I am.
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