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consultation with Dr Century, that amiable old gentleman having so
far fallen away from the high Fillgrave tenets as to consent to the
occasional endurance of such degradation.

The next morning he breakfasted early, and, having mounted his strong
iron-grey cob, started for Boxall Hill. Not only had he there to
negotiate the squire's further loan, but also to exercise his medical
skill. Sir Roger having been declared contractor for cutting a canal
from sea to sea, through the Isthmus of Panama, had been making a
week of it; and the result was that Lady Scatcherd had written rather
peremptorily to her husband's medical friend.

The doctor consequently trotted off to Boxall Hill on his iron-grey
cob. Among his other merits was that of being a good horseman, and
he did much of his work on horseback. The fact that he occasionally
took a day with the East Barsetshires, and that when he did so he
thoroughly enjoyed it, had probably not failed to add something to
the strength of the squire's friendship.

"Well, my lady, how is he? Not much the matter, I hope?" said the
doctor, as he shook hands with the titled mistress of Boxall Hill in
a small breakfast-parlour in the rear of the house. The show-rooms
of Boxall Hill were furnished most magnificently, but they were set
apart for company; and as the company never came - seeing that they
were never invited - the grand rooms and the grand furniture were not
of much material use to Lady Scatcherd.

"Indeed then, doctor, he's just bad enough," said her ladyship, not
in a very happy tone of voice; "just bad enough. There's been some'at
at the back of his head, rapping, and rapping, and rapping; and if
you don't do something, I'm thinking it will rap him too hard yet."

"Is he in bed?"

"Why, yes, he is in bed; for when he was first took he couldn't very
well help hisself, so we put him to bed. And then, he don't seem to
be quite right yet about the legs, so he hasn't got up; but he's got
that Winterbones with him to write for him, and when Winterbones is
there, Scatcherd might as well be up for any good that bed'll do
him."

Mr Winterbones was confidential clerk to Sir Roger. That is to say,
he was a writing-machine of which Sir Roger made use to do certain
work which could not well be adjusted without some contrivance. He
was a little, withered, dissipated, broken-down man, whom gin and
poverty had nearly burnt to a cinder, and dried to an ash. Mind he
had none left, nor care for earthly things, except the smallest
modicum of substantial food, and the largest allowance of liquid
sustenance. All that he had ever known he had forgotten, except how
to count up figures and to write: the results of his counting and his
writing never stayed with him from one hour to another; nay, not from
one folio to another. Let him, however, be adequately screwed up with
gin, and adequately screwed down by the presence of his master, and
then no amount of counting and writing would be too much for him.
This was Mr Winterbones, confidential clerk to the great Sir Roger
Scatcherd.

"We must send Winterbones away, I take it," said the doctor.

"Indeed, doctor, I wish you would. I wish you'd send him to Bath, or
anywhere else out of the way. There is Scatcherd, he takes brandy;
and there is Winterbones, he takes gin; and it'd puzzle a woman to
say which is worst, master or man."

It will seem from this, that Lady Scatcherd and the doctor were on
very familiar terms as regarded her little domestic inconveniences.

"Tell Sir Roger I am here, will you?" said the doctor.

"You'll take a drop of sherry before you go up?" said the lady.

"Not a drop, thank you," said the doctor.

"Or, perhaps, a little cordial?"

"Not of drop of anything, thank you; I never do, you know."

"Just a thimbleful of this?" said the lady, producing from some
recess under a sideboard a bottle of brandy; "just a thimbleful? It's
what he takes himself."

When Lady Scatcherd found that even this argument failed, she led the
way to the great man's bedroom.

"Well, doctor! well, doctor! well, doctor!" was the greeting with
which our son of Galen was saluted some time before he entered the
sick-room. His approaching step was heard, and thus the ci-devant
Barchester stone-mason saluted his coming friend. The voice was loud
and powerful, but not clear and sonorous. What voice that is nurtured
on brandy can ever be clear? It had about it a peculiar huskiness, a
dissipated guttural tone, which Thorne immediately recognised, and
recognised as being more marked, more guttural, and more husky than
heretofore.

"So you've smelt me out, have you, and come for your fee? Ha! ha!
ha! Well, I have had a sharpish bout of it, as her ladyship there
no doubt has told you. Let her alone to make the worst of it. But,
you see, you're too late, man. I've bilked the old gentleman again
without troubling you."

"Anyway, I'm glad you're something better, Scatcherd."

"Something! I don't know what you call something. I never was better
in my life. Ask Winterbones there."

"Indeed, now, Scatcherd, you ain't; you're bad enough if you only
knew it. And as for Winterbones, he has no business here up in your
bedroom, which stinks of gin so, it does. Don't you believe him,
doctor; he ain't well, nor yet nigh well."

Winterbones, when the above ill-natured allusion was made to
the aroma coming from his libations, might be seen to deposit
surreptitiously beneath the little table at which he sat, the cup
with which he had performed them.

The doctor, in the meantime, had taken Sir Roger's hand on the
pretext of feeling his pulse, but was drawing quite as much
information from the touch of the sick man's skin, and the look of
the sick man's eye.

"I think Mr Winterbones had better go back to the London office,"
said he. "Lady Scatcherd will be your best clerk for some time, Sir
Roger."

"Then I'll be d - - if Mr Winterbones does anything of the kind,"
said he; "so there's an end of that."

"Very well," said the doctor. "A man can die but once. It is my duty
to suggest measures for putting off the ceremony as long as possible.
Perhaps, however, you may wish to hasten it."

"Well, I am not very anxious about it, one way or the other," said
Scatcherd. And as he spoke there came a fierce gleam from his eye,
which seemed to say - "If that's the bugbear with which you wish to
frighten me, you will find that you are mistaken."

"Now, doctor, don't let him talk that way, don't," said Lady
Scatcherd, with her handkerchief to her eyes.

"Now, my lady, do you cut it; cut at once," said Sir Roger, turning
hastily round to his better-half; and his better-half, knowing that
the province of a woman is to obey, did cut it. But as she went she
gave the doctor a pull by the coat's sleeve, so that thereby his
healing faculties might be sharpened to the very utmost.

"The best woman in the world, doctor; the very best," said he, as the
door closed behind the wife of his bosom.

"I'm sure of it," said the doctor.

"Yes, till you find a better one," said Scatcherd. "Ha! ha! ha! but
good or bad, there are some things which a woman can't understand,
and some things which she ought not to be let to understand."

"It's natural she should be anxious about your health, you know."

"I don't know that," said the contractor. "She'll be very well off.
All that whining won't keep a man alive, at any rate."

There was a pause, during which the doctor continued his medical
examination. To this the patient submitted with a bad grace; but
still he did submit.

"We must turn over a new leaf, Sir Roger; indeed we must."

"Bother," said Sir Roger.

"Well, Scatcherd; I must do my duty to you, whether you like it or
not."

"That is to say, I am to pay you for trying to frighten me."

"No human nature can stand such shocks as these much longer."

"Winterbones," said the contractor, turning to his clerk, "go down,
go down, I say; but don't be out of the way. If you go to the
public-house, by G - - , you may stay there for me. When I take a
drop, - that is if I ever do, it does not stand in the way of work."
So Mr Winterbones, picking up his cup again, and concealing it in
some way beneath his coat flap, retreated out of the room, and the
two friends were alone.

"Scatcherd," said the doctor, "you have been as near your God, as any
man ever was who afterwards ate and drank in this world."

"Have I, now?" said the railway hero, apparently somewhat startled.

"Indeed you have; indeed you have."

"And now I'm all right again?"

"All right! How can you be all right, when you know that your limbs
refuse to carry you? All right! why the blood is still beating round
your brain with a violence that would destroy any other brain but
yours."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Scatcherd. He was very proud of thinking
himself to be differently organised from other men. "Ha! ha! ha!
Well, and what am I to do now?"

The whole of the doctor's prescription we will not give at length.
To some of his ordinances Sir Roger promised obedience; to others he
objected violently, and to one or two he flatly refused to listen.
The great stumbling-block was this, that total abstinence from
business for two weeks was enjoined; and that it was impossible, so
Sir Roger said, that he should abstain for two days.

"If you work," said the doctor, "in your present state, you will
certainly have recourse to the stimulus of drink; and if you drink,
most assuredly you will die."

"Stimulus! Why do you think I can't work without Dutch courage?"

"Scatcherd, I know that there is brandy in the room at this moment,
and that you have been taking it within these two hours."

"You smell that fellow's gin," said Scatcherd.

"I feel the alcohol working within your veins," said the doctor, who
still had his hand on his patient's arm.

Sir Roger turned himself roughly in the bed so as to get away from
his Mentor, and then he began to threaten in his turn.

"I'll tell you what it is, doctor; I've made up my mind, and I'll do
it. I'll send for Fillgrave."

"Very well," said he of Greshamsbury, "send for Fillgrave. Your case
is one in which even he can hardly go wrong."

"You think you can hector me, and do as you like because you had me
under your thumb in other days. You're a very good fellow, Thorne,
but I ain't sure that you are the best doctor in all England."

"You may be sure I am not; you may take me for the worst if you will.
But while I am here as your medical adviser, I can only tell you the
truth to the best of my thinking. Now the truth is this, that another
bout of drinking will in all probability kill you; and any recourse
to stimulus in your present condition may do so."

"I'll send for Fillgrave - "

"Well, send for Fillgrave, only do it at once. Believe me at any
rate in this, that whatever you do, you should do at once. Oblige
me in this; let Lady Scatcherd take away that brandy bottle till Dr
Fillgrave comes."

"I'm d - - if I do. Do you think I can't have a bottle of brandy in
my room without swigging?"

"I think you'll be less likely to swig it if you can't get at it."

Sir Roger made another angry turn in his bed as well as his
half-paralysed limbs would let him; and then, after a few moments'
peace, renewed his threats with increased violence.

"Yes; I'll have Fillgrave over here. If a man be ill, really ill,
he should have the best advice he can get. I'll have Fillgrave, and
I'll have that other fellow from Silverbridge to meet him. What's his
name? - Century."

The doctor turned his head away; for though the occasion was serious,
he could not help smiling at the malicious vengeance with which his
friend proposed to gratify himself.

"I will; and Rerechild too. What's the expense? I suppose five or six
pound apiece will do it; eh, Thorne?"

"Oh, yes; that will be liberal I should say. But, Sir Roger, will you
allow me to suggest what you ought to do? I don't know how far you
may be joking - "

"Joking!" shouted the baronet; "you tell a man he's dying and joking
in the same breath. You'll find I'm not joking."

"Well I dare say not. But if you have not full confidence in me - "

"I have no confidence in you at all."

"Then why not send to London? Expense is no object to you."

"It is an object; a great object."

"Nonsense! Send to London for Sir Omicron Pie: send for some man whom
you will really trust when you see him.

"There's not one of the lot I'd trust as soon as Fillgrave. I've
known Fillgrave all my life, and I trust him. I'll send for Fillgrave
and put my case in his hands. If any one can do anything for me,
Fillgrave is the man."

"Then in God's name send for Fillgrave," said the doctor. "And now,
good-bye, Scatcherd; and as you do send for him, give him a fair
chance. Do not destroy yourself by more brandy before he comes."

"That's my affair, and his; not yours," said the patient.

"So be it; give me your hand, at any rate, before I go. I wish you
well through it, and when you are well, I'll come and see you."

"Good-bye - good-bye; and look here, Thorne, you'll be talking to Lady
Scatcherd downstairs I know; now, no nonsense. You understand me, eh?
no nonsense, you know."




CHAPTER X

Sir Roger's Will


Dr Thorne left the room and went downstairs, being fully aware that
he could not leave the house without having some communication with
Lady Scatcherd. He was not sooner within the passage than he heard
the sick man's bell ring violently; and then the servant, passing
him on the staircase, received orders to send a mounted messenger
immediately to Barchester. Dr Fillgrave was to be summoned to come as
quickly as possible to the sick man's room, and Mr Winterbones was to
be sent up to write the note.

Sir Roger was quite right in supposing that there would be some words
between the doctor and her ladyship. How, indeed, was the doctor to
get out of the house without such, let him wish it ever so much?
There were words; and these were protracted, while the doctor's
cob was being ordered round, till very many were uttered which the
contractor would probably have regarded as nonsense.

Lady Scatcherd was no fit associate for the wives of English
baronets; - was no doubt by education and manners much better fitted
to sit in their servants' halls; but not on that account was she a
bad wife or a bad woman. She was painfully, fearfully, anxious for
that husband of hers, whom she honoured and worshipped, as it behoved
her to do, above all other men. She was fearfully anxious as to his
life, and faithfully believed, that if any man could prolong it, it
was that old and faithful friend whom she had known to be true to her
lord since their early married troubles.

When, therefore, she found that he had been dismissed, and that a
stranger was to be sent for in his place, her heart sank low within
her.

"But, doctor," she said, with her apron up to her eyes, "you ain't
going to leave him, are you?"

Dr Thorne did not find it easy to explain to her ladyship that
medical etiquette would not permit him to remain in attendance on her
husband after he had been dismissed and another physician called in
his place.

"Etiquette!" said she, crying. "What's etiquette to do with it when a
man is a-killing hisself with brandy?"

"Fillgrave will forbid that quite as strongly as I can do."

"Fillgrave!" said she. "Fiddlesticks! Fillgrave, indeed!"

Dr Thorne could almost have embraced her for the strong feeling of
thorough confidence on the one side, and thorough distrust on the
other, which she contrived to throw into those few words.

"I'll tell you what, doctor; I won't let the messenger go. I'll bear
the brunt of it. He can't do much now he ain't up, you know. I'll
stop the boy; we won't have no Fillgraves here."

This, however, was a step to which Dr Thorne would not assent. He
endeavoured to explain to the anxious wife, that after what had
passed he could not tender his medical services till they were again
asked for.

"But you can slip in as a friend, you know; and then by degrees you
can come round him, eh? can't you now, doctor? And as to the
payment - "

All that Dr Thorne said on the subject may easily be imagined. And in
this way, and in partaking of the lunch which was forced upon him, an
hour had nearly passed between his leaving Sir Roger's bedroom and
putting his foot in the stirrup. But no sooner had the cob begun to
move on the gravel-sweep before the house, than one of the upper
windows opened, and the doctor was summoned to another conference
with the sick man.

"He says you are to come back, whether or no," said Mr Winterbones,
screeching out of the window, and putting all his emphasis on the
last words.

"Thorne! Thorne! Thorne!" shouted the sick man from his sick-bed, so
loudly that the doctor heard him, seated as he was on horseback out
before the house.

"You're to come back, whether or no," repeated Winterbones, with
more emphasis, evidently conceiving that there was a strength of
injunction in that "whether or no" which would be found quite
invincible.

Whether actuated by these magic words, or by some internal process of
thought, we will not say; but the doctor did slowly, and as though
unwillingly, dismount again from his steed, and slowly retrace his
steps into the house.

"It is no use," he said to himself, "for that messenger has already
gone to Barchester."

"I have sent for Dr Fillgrave," were the first words which the
contractor said to him when he again found himself by the bedside.

"Did you call me back to tell me that?" said Thorne, who now realy
felt angry at the impertinent petulance of the man before him: "you
should consider, Scatcherd, that my time may be of value to others,
if not to you."

"Now don't be angry, old fellow," said Scatcherd, turning to him,
and looking at him with a countenance quite different from any that
he had shown that day; a countenance in which there was a show of
manhood, - some show also of affection. "You ain't angry now because
I've sent for Fillgrave?"

"Not in the least," said the doctor very complacently. "Not in the
least. Fillgrave will do as much good as I can do you."

"And that's none at all, I suppose; eh, Thorne?"

"That depends on yourself. He will do you good if you will tell him
the truth, and will then be guided by him. Your wife, your servant,
any one can be as good a doctor to you as either he or I; as good,
that is, in the main point. But you have sent for Fillgrave now; and
of course you must see him. I have much to do, and you must let me
go."

Scatcherd, however, would not let him go, but held his hand fast.
"Thorne," said he, "if you like it, I'll make them put Fillgrave
under the pump directly he comes here. I will indeed, and pay all the
damage myself."

This was another proposition to which the doctor could not consent;
but he was utterly unable to refrain from laughing. There was an
earnest look of entreaty about Sir Roger's face as he made the
suggestion; and, joined to this, there was a gleam of comic
satisfaction in his eye which seemed to promise, that if he received
the least encouragement he would put his threat into execution. Now
our doctor was not inclined to taking any steps towards subjecting
his learned brother to pump discipline; but he could not but admit to
himself that the idea was not a bad one.

"I'll have it done, I will, by heavens! if you'll only say the word,"
protested Sir Roger.

But the doctor did not say the word, and so the idea was passed off.

"You shouldn't be so testy with a man when he is ill," said
Scatcherd, still holding the doctor's hand, of which he had again got
possession; "specially not an old friend; and specially again when
you're been a-blowing of him up."

It was not worth the doctor's while to aver that the testiness
had all been on the other side, and that he had never lost his
good-humour; so he merely smiled, and asked Sir Roger if he could do
anything further for him.

"Indeed you can, doctor; and that's why I sent for you, - why I sent
for you yesterday. Get out of the room, Winterbones," he then said,
gruffly, as though he were dismissing from his chamber a dirty
dog. Winterbones, not a whit offended, again hid his cup under his
coat-tail and vanished.

"Sit down, Thorne, sit down," said the contractor, speaking quite in
a different manner from any that he had yet assumed. "I know you're
in a hurry, but you must give me half an hour. I may be dead before
you can give me another; who knows?"

The doctor of course declared that he hoped to have many a
half-hour's chat with him for many a year to come.

"Well, that's as may be. You must stop now, at any rate. You can make
the cob pay for it, you know."

The doctor took a chair and sat down. Thus entreated to stop, he had
hardly any alternative but to do so.

"It wasn't because I'm ill that I sent for you, or rather let her
ladyship send for you. Lord bless you, Thorne; do you think I don't
know what it is that makes me like this? When I see that poor wretch,
Winterbones, killing himself with gin, do you think I don't know
what's coming to myself as well as him?

"Why do you take it then? Why do you do it? Your life is not like
his. Oh, Scatcherd! Scatcherd!" and the doctor prepared to pour out
the flood of his eloquence in beseeching this singular man to abstain
from his well-known poison.

"Is that all you know of human nature, doctor? Abstain. Can you
abstain from breathing, and live like a fish does under water?"

"But Nature has not ordered you to drink, Scatcherd."

"Habit is second nature, man; and a stronger nature than the first.
And why should I not drink? What else has the world given me for
all that I have done for it? What other resource have I? What other
gratification?"

"Oh, my God! Have you not unbounded wealth? Can you not do anything
you wish? be anything you choose?"

"No," and the sick man shrieked with an energy that made him audible
all through the house. "I can do nothing that I would choose to do;
be nothing that I would wish to be! What can I do? What can I be?
What gratification can I have except the brandy bottle? If I go among
gentlemen, can I talk to them? If they have anything to say about
a railway, they will ask me a question: if they speak to me beyond
that, I must be dumb. If I go among my workmen, can they talk to me?
No; I am their master, and a stern master. They bob their heads and
shake in their shoes when they see me. Where are my friends? Here!"
said he, and he dragged a bottle from under his very pillow. "Where
are my amusements? Here!" and he brandished the bottle almost in the
doctor's face. "Where is my one resource, my one gratification, my
only comfort after all my toils. Here, doctor; here, here, here!"
and, so saying, he replaced his treasure beneath his pillow.

There was something so horrifying in this, that Dr Thorne shrank back
amazed, and was for a moment unable to speak.

"But, Scatcherd," he said at last; "surely you would not die for such
a passion as that?"

"Die for it? Aye, would I. Live for it while I can live; and die for
it when I can live no longer. Die for it! What is that for a man to
do? Do not men die for a shilling a day? What is a man the worse for
dying? What can I be the worse for dying? A man can die but once, you
said just now. I'd die ten times for this."

"You are speaking now either in madness, or else in folly, to startle
me."

"Folly enough, perhaps, and madness enough, also. Such a life as mine
makes a man a fool, and makes him mad too. What have I about me that
I should be afraid to die? I'm worth three hundred thousand pounds;
and I'd give it all to be able to go to work to-morrow with a hod and
mortar, and have a fellow clap his hand upon my shoulder, and say:
'Well, Roger, shall us have that 'ere other half-pint this morning?'
I'll tell you what, Thorne, when a man has made three hundred
thousand pounds, there's nothing left for him but to die. It's all
he's good for then. When money's been made, the next thing is to
spend it. Now the man who makes it has not the heart to do that."

The doctor, of course, in hearing all this, said something of a
tendency to comfort and console the mind of his patient. Not that
anything he could say would comfort or console the man; but that it
was impossible to sit there and hear such fearful truths - for as
regarded Scatcherd they were truths - without making some answer.

"This is as good as a play, isn't, doctor?" said the baronet. "You
didn't know how I could come out like one of those actor fellows.
Well, now, come; at last I'll tell you why I have sent for you.



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