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her.

But his bitterness was not chiefly against Frank. That Frank had been
very foolish he could not but acknowledge; but it was a kind of folly
for which the doctor was able to find excuse. For Lady Arabella's
cold propriety he could find no excuse.

With the squire he had spoken no word on the subject up to this
period of which we are now writing. With her ladyship he had never
spoken on it since that day when she had told him that Mary was
to come no more to Greshamsbury. He never now dined or spent his
evenings at Greshamsbury, and seldom was to be seen at the house,
except when called in professionally. The squire, indeed, he
frequently met; but he either did so in the village, or out on
horseback, or at his own house.

When the doctor first heard that Sir Roger had lost his seat, and had
returned to Boxall Hill, he resolved to go over and see him. But the
visit was postponed from day to day, as visits are postponed which
may be made any day, and he did not in fact go till he was summoned
there somewhat peremptorily. A message was brought to him one evening
to say that Sir Roger had been struck by paralysis, and that not a
moment was to be lost.

"It always happens at night," said Mary, who had more sympathy for
the living uncle whom she did know, than for the other dying uncle
whom she did not know.

"What matters? - there - just give me my scarf. In all probability I
may not be home to-night - perhaps not till late to-morrow. God bless
you, Mary!" and away the doctor went on his cold bleak ride to Boxall
Hill.

"Who will be his heir?" As the doctor rode along, he could not quite
rid his mind of this question. The poor man now about to die had
wealth enough to make many heirs. What if his heart should have
softened towards his sister's child! What if Mary should be found in
a few days to be possessed of such wealth that the Greshams should be
again be happy to welcome her at Greshamsbury!

The doctor was not a lover of money - and he did his best to get rid
of such pernicious thoughts. But his longings, perhaps, were not so
much that Mary should be rich, as that she should have the power of
heaping coals of fire upon the heads of those people who had so
injured her.




CHAPTER XXIV

Louis Scatcherd


When Dr Thorne reached Boxall Hill he found Mr Rerechild from
Barchester there before him. Poor Lady Scatcherd, when her husband
was stricken by the fit, hardly knew in her dismay what adequate
steps to take. She had, as a matter of course, sent for Dr Thorne;
but she had thought that in so grave a peril the medical skill of no
one man could suffice. It was, she knew, quite out of the question
for her to invoke the aid of Dr Fillgrave, whom no earthly persuasion
would have brought to Boxall Hill; and as Mr Rerechild was supposed
in the Barchester world to be second - though at a long interval - to
that great man, she had applied for his assistance.

Now Mr Rerechild was a follower and humble friend of Dr Fillgrave;
and was wont to regard anything that came from the Barchester doctor
as sure light from the lamp of Æsculapius. He could not therefore be
other than an enemy of Dr Thorne. But he was a prudent, discreet man,
with a long family, averse to professional hostilities, as knowing
that he could make more by medical friends than medical foes, and
not at all inclined to take up any man's cudgel to his own detriment.
He had, of course, heard of that dreadful affront which had been
put upon his friend, as had all the "medical world" - all the
medical world at least of Barsetshire; and he had often expressed
his sympathy with Dr Fillgrave and his abhorrence of Dr Thorne's
anti-professional practices. But now that he found himself about to
be brought in contact with Dr Thorne, he reflected that the Galen
of Greshamsbury was at any rate equal in reputation to him of
Barchester; that the one was probably on the rise, whereas the other
was already considered by some as rather antiquated; and he therefore
wisely resolved that the present would be an excellent opportunity
for him to make a friend of Dr Thorne.

Poor Lady Scatcherd had an inkling that Dr Fillgrave and Mr Rerechild
were accustomed to row in the same boat, and she was not altogether
free from fear that there might be an outbreak. She therefore took
an opportunity before Dr Thorne's arrival to deprecate any wrathful
tendency.

"Oh, Lady Scatcherd! I have the greatest respect for Dr Thorne,"
said he; "the greatest possible respect; a most skilful
practitioner - something brusque certainly, and perhaps a little
obstinate. But what then? we all have our faults, Lady Scatcherd."

"Oh - yes; we all have, Mr Rerechild; that's certain."

"There's my friend Fillgrave - Lady Scatcherd. He cannot bear anything
of that sort. Now I think he's wrong; and so I tell him." Mr
Rerechild was in error here; for he had never yet ventured to tell Dr
Fillgrave that he was wrong in anything. "We must bear and forbear,
you know. Dr Thorne is an excellent man - in his way very excellent,
Lady Scatcherd."

This little conversation took place after Mr Rerechild's first visit
to his patient: what steps were immediately taken for the relief of
the sufferer we need not describe. They were doubtless well intended,
and were, perhaps, as well adapted to stave off the coming evil day
as any that Dr Fillgrave, or even the great Sir Omicron Pie might
have used.

And then Dr Thorne arrived.

"Oh, doctor! doctor!" exclaimed Lady Scatcherd, almost hanging round
his neck in the hall. "What are we to do? What are we to do? He's
very bad."

"Has he spoken?"

"No; nothing like a word: he has made one or two muttered sounds;
but, poor soul, you could make nothing of it - oh, doctor! doctor! he
has never been like this before."

It was easy to see where Lady Scatcherd placed any such faith as she
might still have in the healing art. "Mr Rerechild is here and has
seen him," she continued. "I thought it best to send for two, for
fear of accidents. He has done something - I don't know what. But,
doctor, do tell the truth now; I look to you to tell me the truth."

Dr Thorne then went up and saw his patient; and had he literally
complied with Lady Scatcherd's request, he might have told her at
once that there was no hope. As, however, he had not the heart to do
this, he mystified the case as doctors so well know how to do, and
told her that "there was cause to fear, great cause for fear; he was
sorry to say, very great cause for much fear."

Dr Thorne promised to stay the night there, and, if possible, the
following night also; and then Lady Scatcherd became troubled in her
mind as to what she should do with Mr Rerechild. He also declared,
with much medical humanity, that, let the inconvenience be what it
might, he too would stay the night. "The loss," he said, "of such a
man as Sir Roger Scatcherd was of such paramount importance as to
make other matters trivial. He would certainly not allow the whole
weight to fall on the shoulders of his friend Dr Thorne: he also
would stay at any rate that night by the sick man's bedside. By the
following morning some change might be expected."

"I say, Dr Thorne," said her ladyship, calling the doctor into the
housekeeping-room, in which she and Hannah spent any time that they
were not required upstairs; "just come in, doctor: you couldn't tell
him we don't want him any more, could you?"

"Tell whom?" said the doctor.

"Why - Mr Rerechild: mightn't he go away, do you think?"

Dr Thorne explained that Mr Rerechild certainly might go away if he
pleased; but that it would by no means be proper for one doctor to
tell another to leave the house. And so Mr Rerechild was allowed to
share the glories of the night.

In the meantime the patient remained speechless; but it soon became
evident that Nature was using all her efforts to make one final
rally. From time to time he moaned and muttered as though he was
conscious, and it seemed as though he strove to speak. He gradually
became awake, at any rate to suffering, and Dr Thorne began to think
that the last scene would be postponed for yet a while longer.

"Wonderful strong constitution - eh, Dr Thorne? wonderful!" said Mr
Rerechild.

"Yes; he has been a strong man."

"Strong as a horse, Dr Thorne. Lord, what that man would have been if
he had given himself a chance! You know his constitution of course."

"Yes; pretty well. I've attended him for many years."

"Always drinking, I suppose; always at it - eh?"

"He has not been a temperate man, certainly."

"The brain, you see, clean gone - and not a particle of coating left
to the stomach; and yet what a struggle he makes - an interesting
case, isn't it?"

"It's very sad to see such an intellect so destroyed."

"Very sad, very sad indeed. How Fillgrave would have liked to have
seen this case. He is a clever man, is Fillgrave - in his way, you
know."

"I'm sure he is," said Dr Thorne.

"Not that he'd make anything of a case like this now - he's not, you
know, quite - quite - perhaps not quite up to the new time of day, if
one may say so."

"He has had a very extensive provincial practice," said Dr Thorne.

"Oh, very - very; and made a tidy lot of money too, has Fillgrave.
He's worth six thousand pounds, I suppose; now that's a good deal of
money to put by in a little town like Barchester."

"Yes, indeed."

"What I say to Fillgrave is this - keep your eyes open; one should
never be too old to learn - there's always something new worth picking
up. But, no - he won't believe that. He can't believe that any new
ideas can be worth anything. You know a man must go to the wall in
that way - eh, doctor?"

And then again they were called to their patient. "He's doing finely,
finely," said Mr Rerechild to Lady Scatcherd. "There's fair ground to
hope he'll rally; fair ground, is there not, doctor?"

"Yes; he'll rally; but how long that may last, that we can hardly
say."

"Oh, no, certainly not, certainly not - that is not with any
certainty; but still he's doing finely, Lady Scatcherd, considering
everything."

"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, not more; but I think he'll struggle on
ten days."

"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 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 is 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 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 realised 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. "What shall I do? what shall I do?"

"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! 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 tells 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 how 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 a Xantippe here and there, but Imogenes
are to be found under 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-recognised 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 also
of a certain effrontery which carried him ahead among boys of his own
age. He gained, therefore, a degree of éclat, 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 an 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 at Cambridge 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
the 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 then 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
recognised 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
sent him abroad.

Louis and the tutor got as far as Berlin, with what mutual
satisfaction to each other need not be specially described. But from
Berlin Sir Roger received a letter in which the tutor declined to go
any further in the task which he had undertaken. He found that he
had no influence over his pupil, and he could not reconcile it to
his conscience to be the spectator of such a life as that which Mr
Scatcherd led. He had no power in inducing Mr Scatcherd to leave
Berlin; but he would remain there himself till he should hear from
Sir Roger. So Sir Roger had to leave the huge Government works which
he was then erecting on the southern coast, and hurry off to Berlin
to see what could be done with young Hopeful.

The young Hopeful was by no means a fool; and in some matters was
more than a match for his father. Sir Roger, in his anger, threatened
to cast him off without a shilling. Louis, with mixed penitence and
effrontery, reminded him that he could not change the descent of the
title; promised amendment; declared that he had done only as do other
young men of fortune; and hinted that the tutor was a strait-laced
ass. The father and the son returned together to Boxall Hill, and
three months afterwards Mr Scatcherd set up for himself in London.

And now his life, if not more virtuous, was more crafty than it had
been. He had no tutor to watch his doings and complain of them, and
he had sufficient sense to keep himself from absolute pecuniary ruin.
He lived, it is true, where sharpers and blacklegs had too often
opportunities of plucking him; but, young as he was, he had been
sufficiently long about the world to take care he was not openly
robbed; and as he was not openly robbed, his father, in a certain
sense, was proud of him.

Tidings, however, came - came at least in those last days - which cut
Sir Roger to the quick; tidings of vice in the son which the father
could not but attribute to his own example. Twice the mother was
called up to the sick-bed of her only child, while he lay raving in
that horrid madness by which the outraged mind avenges itself on the
body! Twice he was found raging in delirium tremens, and twice the
father was told that a continuance of such life must end in an early
death.

It may easily be conceived that Sir Roger was not a happy man. Lying
there with that brandy bottle beneath his pillow, reflecting in his
moments of rest that that son of his had his brandy bottle beneath
his pillow, he could hardly have been happy. But he was not a man to
say much about his misery. Though he could restrain neither himself
nor his heir, he could endure in silence; and in silence he did
endure, till, opening his eyes to the consciousness of death, he at
last spoke a few words to the only friend he knew.

Louis Scatcherd was not a fool, nor was he naturally, perhaps, of a
depraved disposition; but he had to reap the fruits of the worst
education which England was able to give him. There were moments in
his life when he felt that a better, a higher, nay, a much happier
career was open to him than that which he had prepared himself to
lead. Now and then he would reflect what money and rank might have
done for him; he would look with wishful eyes to the proud doings of
others of his age; would dream of quiet joys, of a sweet wife, of a
house to which might be asked friends who were neither jockeys nor
drunkards; he would dream of such things in his short intervals of
constrained sobriety; but the dream would only serve to make him
moody.

This was the best side of his character; the worst, probably, was
that which was brought into play by the fact that he was not a fool.
He would have a better chance of redemption in this world - perhaps
also in another - had he been a fool. As it was, he was no fool: he
was not to be done, not he; he knew, no one better, the value of



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 25 of 49)