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- A SIMPLETON - 4/84 -
There! Now we are as we always were."
Then she purred to him on every possible topic but the one that now filled his parental heart, and bade him good-night at last with a cheerful smile.
Wyman was exact, and ten minutes afterwards Dr. Snell drove up in a carriage and pair. He was intercepted in the hall by Wyman, and, after a few minutes' conversation, presented to Mr. Lusignan.
The father gave vent to his paternal anxiety in a few simple but touching words, and was proceeding to state the symptoms as he had gathered them from his daughter; but Dr. Snell interrupted him politely, and said he had heard the principal symptoms from Mr. Wyman. Then, turning to the latter, he said, "We had better proceed to examine the patient."
"Certainly," said Mr. Lusignan. "She is in the drawing-room;" and he led the way, and was about to enter the room, when Wyman informed him it was against etiquette for him to be present at the examination.
"Oh, very well!" said he. "Yes, I see the propriety of that. But oblige me by asking her if she has anything on her mind."
Dr. Snell bowed a lofty assent; for, to receive a hint from a layman was to confer a favor on him.
The men of science were closeted full half an hour with the patient. She was too beautiful to be slurred over, even by a busy doctor: he felt her pulse, looked at her tongue, and listened attentively to her lungs, to her heart, and to the organ suspected by Wyman. He left her at last with a kindly assurance that the case was perfectly curable.
At the door they were met by the anxious father, who came with throbbing heart, and asked the doctors' verdict.
He was coolly informed that could not be given until the consultation had taken place; the result of that consultation would be conveyed to him.
"And pray, why can't I be present at the consultation? The grounds on which two able men agree or disagree must be well worth listening to."
"No doubt," said Dr. Snell; "but," with a superior smile, "my dear sir, it is not the etiquette."
"Oh, very well," said Lusignan. But he muttered, "So, then, a father is nobody!"
And this unreasonable person retired to his study, miserable, and gave up the dining-room to the consultation.
They soon rejoined him.
Dr. Snell's opinion was communicated by Wyman. "I am happy to tell you that Dr. Snell agrees with me, entirely: the lungs are not affected, and the liver is congested, but not diseased."
"Is that so, Dr. Snell?" asked Lusignan, anxiously.
"It is so, sir." He added, "The treatment has been submitted to me, and I quite approve it."
He then asked for a pen and paper, and wrote a prescription. He assured Mr. Lusignan that the case had no extraordinary feature, whatever; he was not to alarm himself. Dr. Snell then drove away, leaving the parent rather puzzled, but, on the whole, much comforted.
And here I must reveal an extraordinary circumstance.
Wyman's treatment was by drugs.
Dr. Snell's was by drugs.
Dr. Snell, as you have seen, entirely approved Wyman's treatment.
His own had nothing in common with it. The Arctic and Antarctic poles are not farther apart than was his prescription from the prescription he thoroughly approved.
Amiable science! In which complete diversity of practice did not interfere with perfect uniformity of opinion.
All this was kept from Dr. Staines, and he was entirely occupied in trying to get a position that might lead to fortune, and satisfy Mr. Lusignan. He called on every friend he had, to inquire where there was an opening. He walked miles and miles in the best quarters of London, looking for an opening; he let it be known in many quarters that he would give a good premium to any physician who was about to retire, and would introduce him to his patients.
No: he could hear of nothing.
Then, after a great struggle with himself, he called upon his uncle, Philip Staines, a retired M.D., to see if he would do anything for him. He left this to the last, for a very good reason: Dr. Philip was an irritable old bachelor, who had assisted most of his married relatives; but, finding no bottom to the well, had turned rusty and crusty, and now was apt to administer kicks instead of checks to all who were near and dear to him. However, Christopher was the old gentleman's favorite, and was now desperate; so he mustered courage, and went. He was graciously received--warmly, indeed. This gave him great hopes, and he told his tale.
The old bachelor sided with Mr. Lusignan. "What!" said he, "do you want to marry, and propagate pauperism? I thought you had more sense. Confound it all I had just one nephew whose knock at my street-door did not make me tremble; he was a bachelor and a thinker, and came for a friendly chat; the rest are married men, highwaymen, who come to say, 'Stand and deliver;' and now even you want to join the giddy throng. Well, don't ask me to have any hand in it. You are a man of promise; and you might as well hang a millstone round your neck as a wife. Marriage is a greater mistake than ever now; the women dress more and manage worse. I met your cousin Jack the other day, and his wife with seventy pounds on her back; and next door to paupers. No; whilst you are a bachelor, like me, you are my favorite, and down in my will for a lump. Once marry, and you join the noble army of foot-pads, leeches, vultures, paupers, gone coons, and babblers about brats--and I disown you."
There was no hope from old Crusty. Christopher left him, snubbed and heart-sick. At last he met a sensible man, who made him see there was no short cut in that profession. He must be content to play the up-hill game; must settle in some good neighborhood; marry, if possible, since husbands and fathers of families prefer married physicians; and so be poor at thirty, comfortable at forty, and rich at fifty--perhaps.
Then Christopher came down to his lodgings at Gravesend, and was very unhappy; and after some days of misery, he wrote a letter to Rosa in a moment of impatience, despondency, and passion.
Rosa Lusignan got worse and worse. The slight but frequent hemorrhage was a drain upon her system, and weakened her visibly. She began to lose her rich complexion, and sometimes looked almost sallow; and a slight circle showed itself under her eyes. These symptoms were unfavorable; nevertheless, Dr. Snell and Mr. Wyman accepted them cheerfully, as fresh indications that nothing was affected but the liver; they multiplied and varied their prescriptions; the malady ignored those prescriptions, and went steadily on. Mr. Lusignan was terrified but helpless. Rosa resigned and reticent.
But it was not in human nature that a girl of this age could always and at all hours be mistress of herself. One evening in particular she stood before the glass in the drawing-room, and looked at herself a long time with horror. "Is that Rosa Lusignan?" said she, aloud; "it is her ghost."
A deep groan startled her. She turned; it was her father. She thought he was fast asleep; and so indeed he had been; but he was just awaking, and heard his daughter utter her real mind. It was a thunder-clap. "Oh, my child! what shall I do?" he cried.
Then Rosa was taken by surprise in her turn. She spoke out. "Send for a great physician, papa. Don't let us deceive ourselves; it is our only chance."
"I will ask Mr. Wyman to get a physician down from London."
"No, no; that is no use; they will put their heads together, and he will say whatever Mr. Wyman tells him. La! papa, a clever man like you, not to see what a cheat that consultation was. Why, from what you told me, one can see it was managed so that Dr. Snell could not possibly have an opinion of his own. No; no more echoes of Mr. Chatterbox. If you really want to cure me, send for Christopher Staines."
"Dr. Staines! he is very young."
"But he is very clever, and he is not an echo. He won't care how many doctors he contradicts when I am in danger. Papa, it is your child's one chance."
"I'll try it," said the old man, eagerly. "How confident you look! your color has come back. It is an inspiration. Where is he?"
"I think by this time he must be at his lodgings in Gravesend. Send to him to-morrow morning."
"Not I! I'll go to him to-night. It is only a mile, and a fine clear night."
"My own, good, kind papa! Ah! well, come what may, I have lived long enough to be loved. Yes, dear papa, save me. I am very young to die; and he loves me so dearly."
The old man bustled away to put on something warmer for his night walk, and Rosa leaned back, and the tears welled out of her eyes, now he was gone.
Before she had recovered her composure, a letter was brought her, and this was the letter from Christopher Staines, alluded to already.
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