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- Doctor Thorne - 60/119 -
'How long will you give him, doctor?' said Mr Rerechild to his new friend, when they were again alone. 'Ten days? I dare say ten days, or from that to a fortnight.'
'Perhaps so,' said the doctor. 'I should not like to say exactly to a day.'
'No, certainly not. We cannot say exactly to a day; but I say ten days; as for anything like a recovery, that you know--'
'Is out of the question,' said Dr Thorne, gravely.
'Quite so; quite so; coating of the stomach clean gone, you know; brain destroyed: did you observe the periporollida? I never saw them so swelled before: now when the periporollida are swollen like that--'
'Yes, very much; it's always the case when paralysis has been brought about by intemperance.'
'Always, always; I have remarked that always; the periporollida in such cases are always extended; most interesting case, isn't it? I do wish Fillgrave could have seen it. But, I believe you and Dr Fillgrave don't quite--eh?'
'No, not quite,'said Dr Thorne; who, as he thought of his last interview with Dr Fillgrave, and of that gentleman's exceeding anger as he stood in the hall below, could not keep himself from smiling, sad as the occasion was.
Nothing would induce Lady Scatcherd to go to bed; but the two doctors agreed to lie down, each in a room on one side of the patient. How was it possible that anything but good should come to him, being so guarded? 'He's going on finely, Lady Scatcherd, quite finely,' were the last words Mr Rerechild said as he left the room.
And then Dr Thorne, taking Lady Scatcherd's hand and leading her out into another chamber, told her the truth.
'Lady Scatcherd,' said he, in his tenderest voice--and his voice could be very tender when occasion required it--'Lady Scatcherd, do not hope; you must not hope; it would be cruel to bid you to do so.'
'Oh, doctor! oh, doctor!'
'My dear friend, there is no hope.'
'Oh, Dr Thorne!' said the wife, looking wildly up into her companion's face, though she hardly yet realized the meaning of what he said, although her senses were half stunned by the blow.
'Dear Lady Scatcherd, is it not better that I should tell you the truth?'
'Oh, I suppose so; oh yes, oh yes; ah me! ah me! ah me!' And then she began rocking herself backwards and forwards on her chair, with her apron up to her eyes.
'Look to Him, Lady Scatcherd, who only can make such grief endurable.'
'Yes, yes, yes; I suppose so. Ah me! ah me! But, Dr Thorne, there must be some chance--isn't there any chance? That man says he's going on so well.'
'I fear there is no chance--as far as my knowledge goes there is no chance.'
'Then why does that chattering magpie tell such lies to a woman? Ah me! ah me! oh, doctor! doctor! what shall I do? what shall I do?' and poor Lady Scatcherd, fairly overcome by her sorrow, burst out crying like a great school-girl.
And yet what had her husband done for her that she should thus weep for him? Would not her life be much more blessed when this cause of all her troubles should be removed from her? Would she not then be a free woman instead of a slave? Might she not then expect to begin to taste the comforts of life? What had that harsh tyrant of hers done that was good or serviceable for her? Why should she thus weep for him in paroxysms of truest grief?
We hear a good deal of jolly widows; and the slanderous raillery of the world tell much of conjugal disturbances as a cure for which women will look forward to a state of widowhood with not unwilling eyes. The raillery of the world is very slanderous. In our daily jests we attribute to each other vices of which neither we, nor our neighbours, nor our friends, nor even our enemies are ever guilty. It is our favourite parlance to talk of the family troubles of Mrs Green on our right, and to tell now Mrs Young on our left is strongly suspected of having raised her hand to her lord and master. What right have we to make these charges? What have we seen in our own personal walks through life to make us believe that women are devils? There may possibly have been Xantippe here and there, but Imogenes are to be found in every bush. Lady Scatcherd, in spite of the life she had led, was one of them.
'You should send a message up to London for Louis,' said the doctor.
'We did that, doctor; we did that to-day--we sent up a telegraph. Oh me! oh me! poor boy, what will he do? I shall never know what to do with him, never! never!' And with such sorrowful wailings she sat rocking herself through the long night, every now and then comforting herself by the performance of some menial service in the sick man's room.
Sir Roger passed the night much as he had passed the day, except that he appeared gradually to be growing nearer to a state of consciousness. On the following morning they succeeded at last in making Mr Rerechild understand that they were not desirous of keeping him longer from his Barchester practice; and at about twelve o'clock Dr Thorne also went, promising that he would return in the evening, and again pass the night at Boxall Hill.
In the course of the afternoon Sir Roger once more awoke to his senses, and when he did so his son was standing at his bedside. Louis Philippe Scatcherd--or as it may be more convenient to call him, Louis--was a young man just of the age of Frank Gresham. But there could hardly be two youths more different in their appearance. Louis, though his father and mother were both robust persons, was short and slight, and now of a sickly frame. Frank was a picture of health and strength; but, though manly in disposition, was by no means precocious either in appearance or manners. Louis Scatcherd looked as though he was four years the other's senior. He had been sent to Eton when he was fifteen, his father being under the impression that this was the most ready and best-recognized method of making him a gentleman. Here he did not altogether fail as regarded the coveted object of his becoming the companion of gentlemen. He had more pocket-money than any other lad in the school, and was possessed of a certain effrontery which carried him ahead among boys of his own age. He gained, therefore, a degree of eclat, even among those who knew, and very frequently said to each other, that young Scatcherd was not fit to be their companion except on such open occasions as those of cricket-matches and boat-races. Boys, in this respect, are at least as exclusive as men, and understand as well the difference between an inner and outer circle. Scatcherd had many companions at school who were glad enough to go up to Maidenhead with him in his boat; but there was not one among them who would have talked to him of his sister.
Sir Roger was vastly proud of his son's success, and did his best to stimulate it by lavish expenditure at the Christopher, whenever he could manage to run down to Eton. But this practice, though sufficiently unexceptionable to the boys, was not held in equal delight by the masters. To tell the truth, neither Sir Roger nor his son were favourites with these stern custodians. At last it was felt necessary to get rid of them both; and Louis was not long in giving them an opportunity, by getting tipsy twice in one week. On the second occasion he was sent away, and he and Sir Roger, though long talked of, were seen no more at Eton.
But the universities were still open to Louis Philippe, and before he was eighteen he was entered as a gentleman-commoner at Trinity. As he was, moreover, the eldest son of a baronet, and had almost unlimited command of money, here also he was enabled for a while to shine.
To shine! but very fitfully; and one may say almost with a ghastly glare. The very lads who had eaten his father's dinners at Eton, and shared his four-oar at Eton, knew much better than to associate with him at Cambridge now that they had put on the toga virilis. They were still as prone as ever to fun, frolic, and devilry--perhaps more so than ever, seeing that more was in their power; but they acquired an idea that it behoved them to be somewhat circumspect as to the men with whom their pranks were perpetrated. So, in those days, Louis Scatcherd was coldly looked on by his whilom Eton friends.
But young Scatcherd did not fail to find companions at Cambridge also. There are few places indeed in which a rich man cannot buy companionship. But the set with whom he lived, were the worst of the place. They were fast, slang men, who were fast and slang, and nothing else--men who imitated grooms in more than their dress, and who looked on the customary heroes of race-courses as the highest lords of the ascendant upon earth. Among those at college young Scatcherd did shine as long as such lustre was permitted him. Here, indeed, his father, who had striven only to encourage him at Eton, did strive somewhat to control him. But that was not now easy. If he limited his son's allowance, he only drove him to do his debauchery on credit. There were plenty to lend money to the son of a great millionaire; and so, after eighteen months' trial of a university education, Sir Roger had no alternative but to withdraw his son from his alma mater.
What was he to do with him? Unluckily it was considered quite unnecessary to take any steps towards enabling him to earn his bread. Now nothing on earth can be more difficult than bringing up well a young man who has not to earn his own bread, and who has no recognized station among other men similarly circumstanced. Juvenile dukes, and sprouting earls, find their duties and their places as easily as embryo clergymen and sucking barristers. Provision is made for their peculiar positions: and, though they may possibly go astray, they have a fair chance given to them of running within the posts. The same may be said of such youths as Frank Gresham. There are enough of them in the community to have made it necessary that their well-being should be a matter of care and forethought. But there are but few men turned out in the world in the position of Louis Scatcherd; and, of those few, but very few enter the real battle of life under good auspices.
Poor Sir Roger though he had hardly time with all his multitudinous railways to look into this thoroughly, had a glimmering of it. When he saw his son's pale face, and paid his wine bills, and heard of his doings in horse-flesh, he did know that things were not going well; he did understand that the heir to a baronetcy and a fortune of some ten thousand a year might be doing better. But what was he to do? he could not watch over his boy himself; so he took a tutor for him and
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