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The Man with the Double Heart

By Muriel Hine

The hour was close to midday, but the lamps in Cavendish Square shone with a blurred light through the unnatural gloom.

The fog, pouring down from Regent’s Park above, was wedged tight in Harley Street like a wad of dirty wool, but in the open space fronting Harcourt House it found room to expand and took on spectral shape; dim forms with floating locks that clung to the stunted trees and, shuddering, pressed against the high London buildings which faded away indistinctly into the blackened sky.

From thence ragged pennons went busily fluttering South to be caught in the draught of the traffic in noisy Oxford Street, where hoarse and confusing cries were blent with the rumble of wheels in all the pandemonium of man at war with the elements.

The air was raw and sooty, difficult to breathe, and McTaggart, already irritable with the nervous tension due to his approaching interview, his throat dry, his eyes smarting as he peered at the wide crossing, started violently as the horn of an unseen motor sounded unpleasantly near at hand.

“Confound the man!” he said, in apology to himself, and stepped back quickly onto the narrow path as a shapeless monster with eyes of flame swung past, foiled of its prey.

“A nice pace to go on a day like this!” And here something struck him sharply in the rear, knocking his hat forward onto the bridge of his nose.

“What the…!” he checked his wrath with a sudden shamefaced laugh as he found his unseen adversary to consist of the square railings.

Somewhere down Wigmore Street, a clock boomed forth the hour. A quarter to twelve. McTaggart counted the strokes and gave a sigh of relief not unmixed with amusement: the secret congratulation of an unpunctual man redeemed by accident from the error of his ways.

Wedging his hat more firmly down on his head, he dared the black space before him again, struck the curb on the opposite side, and, one hand against the wall, steered round the corner and up into Harley Street.

Under the first lamp, he paused and hunted for the number over the nearest door where four brass plates menaced the passer-by with that modern form of torture that few live to escape—the inquisitorial process known as dentistry.

Making a rapid calculation, he concluded that the house he sought must lie at the further end of the street—London’s “Bridge of Sighs”—where breathless hope and despair elbow each other ceaselessly in the wake of suffering humanity.

The fog was changing color from a dirty yellow to opal, and the damp pavement was becoming visible as McTaggart moved forward with a quick stride that held an elasticity that it did not owe to elation.

He walked with an ease and lightness peculiar in an Englishman who, athletic as he may be, yet treads the earth with a certain conscious air of possessing it: a tall, well-built man, slender and very erect, but without that balanced stiffness, the hall-mark of “drill.”

A keen observer would guess at once an admixture of blood that betrayed its foreign strain in that supple grace of his; in the olive skin, the light feet, and the glossy black hair that was brushed close and thick to his shapely head.

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Muriel Hine

Muriel Hine (18 January 1874 – 16 June 1949) was a prolific British novelist under her name and as Mrs. Sidney Coxon (from the name of her husband). She published 35 volumes of romantic fiction between 1910 and 1950.


Born Muriel Florence Hine in Nottinghamshire, England at the beginning of 1874 to George Thomas Hine the architect, and Florence Deane nee Cooper. Muriel married in 1903 to Sidney Coxon. She died in Chelsea in June 1949.

Literary work

She was a romantic novelist who wrote both under her name and as Mrs. Sidney Coxon after she married in July 1903. She also wrote as Nicholas Bevel. At least one of her novels was turned into a film, the silent film Fifth Avenue Models in 1925 starring Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, and Josef Swickard. Her novels included the fantasy genre and at least one with a feminist theme. Her books were translated into at least Swedish (translated by A. Björklund) and Finnish. Hine also published short stories in magazines.


  • Half in Earnest, 1910
  • April Panhasard, 1913
  • The Man with the Double Heart, 1914
  • The Best in Life, 1918
  • The Hidden Valley, 1919
  • Autumn, 1921
  • The flight, 1923
  • Youth Wins, 1924
  • The breathless moment, 1925
  • Torquil’s Success, 1925
  • Autumn, 1927
  • Earth, 1928
  • The Ladder of Folly, 1928
  • The Reluctant Impostor, 1928
  • The individual, 1928
  • The Seven Lovers, and Other Stories, 1928
  • The Hurcotts, 1929
  • Pilgrim’s Ford, 1930
  • Ten Days’ Wonder, 1931
  • Wild rye, 1932
  • Jenny Rorke, 1933
  • The Door Opens, 1935
  • The Spell of Siris, 1935
  • A Man’s Way, 1935
  • A Different Woman, 1936
  • Clear as the sun, 1938
  • Family circle, 1939
  • Man of the House, 1940
  • Forbidden Love, 1941
  • The Second Wife, 1943
  • Marriage by proxy, 1944
  • The Island Forbidden to Man, 1946
  • Liar’s Progress, 1950

Muriel Hine

Muriel Hine