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Afraid of His Shadow

by Dorothy Donnell Calhoun

THE smoking-room of the club was gray with twilight, and nearly deserted. In one corner an elderly man showing perhaps sixty-five years in his lined, thoughtful face, sat buried in the "Révue Philosophique." Behind him a group of young members stretched their long legs around the dying fire, in desultory chat of one thing and another. Presently, led perhaps by a chance remark on the waning light, the talk touched, strangely enough, on fear.

"I wonder how many of us, if we were quite truthful, would not confess to some sort of fear," mused the young novelist. His glance about the group was whimsical. "Don't worry, I'm not thinking of third-degreeing any of you for copy, but it just occurred to me. I'll wager there isn't a man among us or anywhere else who hasn't some pet, private dread locked away in his own soul where even his wife doesn't know of its presence."

"What do you mean by fear?" objected his neighbor. "The bravest man I ever knew was an army captain, with a V. C. for gallantry in ten engagements, who confessed to me once that he had a deadly horror of cats!"

"That proves my point." The novelist puffed his brier complacently. "Cats, the toothache, death, ridicule—it doesn't matter what. That poor devil of a policeman who was stripped of his shield the other day for failing to follow an armed thief into a dark cellarway was probably no worse a coward at heart than you or I. We're luckier in never having come up against our own particular phobia, that's all."

"Do you remember the verse of Coleridge's about a man walking along a lonely road?" hesitated a third voice. The young physician leaned forward to light his ...

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