Anthony Trollope.

Doctor Thorne online

. (page 41 of 49)
Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 41 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


put it exactly in that shape, even to himself; but could he have
unravelled his own thoughts, he would have found that such was the
web on which they were based.

"Father, I do regard what you say; but you would not have me be
false. Had you doubled the property instead of lessening it, I could
not regard what you say any more."

"I should be able to speak in a very different tone; I feel that,
Frank."

"Do not feel it any more, sir; say what you wish, as you would have
said it under any other circumstances; and pray believe this, the
idea never occurs to me, that I have ground of complaint as regards
the property; never. Whatever troubles we may have, do not let that
trouble you."

Soon after this Frank left him. What more was there that could be
said between them? They could not be of one accord; but even yet it
might not be necessary that they should quarrel. He went out, and
roamed by himself through the grounds, rather more in meditation than
was his wont.

If he did marry, how was he to live? He talked of a profession; but
had he meant to do as others do, who make their way in professions,
he should have thought of that a year or two ago! - or, rather, have
done more than think of it. He spoke also of a farm, but even that
could not be had in a moment; nor, if it could, would it produce a
living. Where was his capital? Where his skill? and he might have
asked also, where the industry so necessary for such a trade? He
might set his father at defiance, and if Mary were equally headstrong
with himself, he might marry her. But, what then?

As he walked slowly about, cutting off the daisies with his stick, he
met Mr Oriel, going up to the house, as was now his custom, to dine
there and spend the evening, close to Beatrice.

"How I envy you, Oriel!" he said. "What would I not give to have such
a position in the world as yours!"

"Thou shalt not covet a man's house, nor his wife," said Mr Oriel;
"perhaps it ought to have been added, nor his position."

"It wouldn't have made much difference. When a man is tempted, the
Commandments, I believe, do not go for much."

"Do they not, Frank? That's a dangerous doctrine; and one which, if
you had my position, you would hardly admit. But what makes you so
much out of sorts? Your own position is generally considered about
the best which the world has to give."

"Is it? Then let me tell you that the world has very little to give.
What can I do? Where can I turn? Oriel, if there be an empty, lying
humbug in the world, it is the theory of high birth and pure blood
which some of us endeavour to maintain. Blood, indeed! If my father
had been a baker, I should know by this time where to look for my
livelihood. As it is, I am told of nothing but my blood. Will my
blood ever get me half a crown?"

And then the young democrat walked on again in solitude, leaving Mr
Oriel in doubt as to the exact line of argument which he had meant to
inculcate.




CHAPTER XL

The Two Doctors Change Patients


Dr Fillgrave still continued his visits to Greshamsbury, for Lady
Arabella had not yet mustered the courage necessary for swallowing
her pride and sending once more for Dr Thorne. Nothing pleased Dr
Fillgrave more than those visits.

He habitually attended grander families, and richer people; but then,
he had attended them habitually. Greshamsbury was a prize taken from
the enemy; it was his rock of Gibraltar, of which he thought much
more than of any ordinary Hampshire or Wiltshire which had always
been within his own kingdom.

He was just starting one morning with his post-horses for
Greshamsbury, when an impudent-looking groom, with a crooked nose,
trotted up to his door. For Joe still had a crooked nose, all the
doctor's care having been inefficacious to remedy the evil effects
of Bridget's little tap with the rolling-pin. Joe had no written
credentials, for his master was hardly equal to writing, and
Lady Scatcherd had declined to put herself into further personal
communication with Dr Fillgrave; but he had effrontery enough to
deliver any message.

"Be you Dr Fillgrave?" said Joe, with one finger just raised to his
cocked hat.

"Yes," said Dr Fillgrave, with one foot on the step of the carriage,
but pausing at the sight of so well-turned-out a servant. "Yes; I am
Dr Fillgrave."

"Then you be to go to Boxall Hill immediately; before anywhere else."

"Boxall Hill!" said the doctor, with a very angry frown.

"Yes; Boxall Hill: my master's place - my master is Sir Louis
Scatcherd, baronet. You've heard of him, I suppose?"

Dr Fillgrave had not his mind quite ready for such an occasion. So he
withdrew his foot from the carriage step, and rubbing his hands one
over another, looked at his own hall door for inspiration. A single
glance at his face was sufficient to show that no ordinary thoughts
were being turned over within his breast.

"Well!" said Joe, thinking that his master's name had not altogether
produced the magic effect which he had expected; remembering, also,
how submissive Greyson had always been, who, being a London doctor,
must be supposed to be a bigger man than this provincial fellow.
"Do you know as how my master is dying, very like, while you stand
there?"

"What is your master's disease?" said the doctor, facing Joe, slowly,
and still rubbing his hands. "What ails him? What is the matter with
him?"

"Oh; the matter with him? Well, to say it out at once then, he do
take a drop too much at times, and then he has the horrors - what is
it they call it? delicious beam-ends, or something of that sort."

"Oh, ah, yes; I know; and tell me, my man, who is attending him?"

"Attending him? why, I do, and his mother, that is, her ladyship."

"Yes; but what medical attendant: what doctor?"

"Why, there was Greyson, in London, and - "

"Greyson!" and the doctor looked as though a name so medicinally
humble had never before struck the tympanum of his ear.

"Yes; Greyson. And then, down at what's the name of the place, there
was Thorne."

"Greshamsbury?"

"Yes; Greshamsbury. But he and Thorne didn't hit it off; and so since
that he has had no one but myself."

"I will be at Boxall Hill in the course of the morning," said Dr
Fillgrave; "or, rather, you may say, that I will be there at once: I
will take it in my way." And having thus resolved, he gave his orders
that the post-horses should make such a detour as would enable him
to visit Boxall Hill on his road. "It is impossible," said he to
himself, "that I should be twice treated in such a manner in the same
house."

He was not, however, altogether in a comfortable frame of mind as he
was driven up to the hall door. He could not but remember the smile
of triumph with which his enemy had regarded him in that hall; he
could not but think how he had returned fee-less to Barchester, and
how little he had gained in the medical world by rejecting Lady
Scatcherd's bank-note. However, he also had had his triumphs since
that. He had smiled scornfully at Dr Thorne when he had seen him in
the Greshamsbury street; and had been able to tell, at twenty houses
through the county, how Lady Arabella had at last been obliged to
place herself in his hands. And he triumphed again when he found
himself really standing by Sir Louis Scatcherd's bedside. As for Lady
Scatcherd, she did not even show herself. She kept in her own little
room, sending out Hannah to ask him up the stairs; and she only just
got a peep at him through the door as she heard the medical creak of
his shoes as he again descended.

We need say but little of his visit to Sir Louis. It mattered
nothing now, whether it was Thorne, or Greyson, or Fillgrave. And Dr
Fillgrave knew that it mattered nothing: he had skill at least for
that - and heart enough also to feel that he would fain have been
relieved from this task; would fain have left this patient in the
hands even of Dr Thorne.

The name which Joe had given to his master's illness was certainly
not a false one. He did find Sir Louis "in the horrors." If any
father have a son whose besetting sin is a passion for alcohol, let
him take his child to the room of a drunkard when possessed by "the
horrors." Nothing will cure him if not that.

I will not disgust my reader by attempting to describe the poor
wretch in his misery: the sunken, but yet glaring eyes; the emaciated
cheeks; the fallen mouth; the parched, sore lips; the face, now dry
and hot, and then suddenly clammy with drops of perspiration; the
shaking hand, and all but palsied limbs; and worse than this, the
fearful mental efforts, and the struggles for drink; struggles to
which it is often necessary to give way.

Dr Fillgrave soon knew what was to be the man's fate; but he did what
he might to relieve it. There, in one big, best bedroom, looking out
to the north, lay Sir Louis Scatcherd, dying wretchedly. There, in
the other big, best bedroom, looking out to the south, had died the
other baronet about a twelvemonth since, and each a victim to the
same sin. To this had come the prosperity of the house of Scatcherd!

And then Dr Fillgrave went on to Greshamsbury. It was a long day's
work, both for himself and the horses; but then, the triumph of being
dragged up that avenue compensated for both the expense and the
labour. He always put on his sweetest smile as he came near the hall
door, and rubbed his hands in the most complaisant manner of which he
knew. It was seldom that he saw any of the family but Lady Arabella;
but then he desired to see none other, and when he left her in a good
humour, was quite content to take his glass of sherry and eat his
lunch by himself.

On this occasion, however, the servant at once asked him to go into
the dining-room, and there he found himself in the presence of Frank
Gresham. The fact was, that Lady Arabella, having at last decided,
had sent for Dr Thorne; and it had become necessary that some one
should be entrusted with the duty of informing Dr Fillgrave. That
some one must be the squire, or Frank. Lady Arabella would doubtless
have preferred a messenger more absolutely friendly to her own side
of the house; but such messenger there was none: she could not send
Mr Gazebee to see her doctor, and so, of the two evils, she chose the
least.

"Dr Fillgrave," said Frank, shaking hands with him very cordially as
he came up, "my mother is so much obliged to you for all your care
and anxiety on her behalf! and, so indeed, are we all."

The doctor shook hands with him very warmly. This little expression
of a family feeling on his behalf was the more gratifying, as he had
always thought that the males of the Greshamsbury family were still
wedded to that pseudo-doctor, that half-apothecary who lived in the
village.

"It has been awfully troublesome to you, coming over all this way, I
am sure. Indeed, money could not pay for it; my mother feels that. It
must cut up your time so much."

"Not at all, Mr Gresham; not at all," said the Barchester doctor,
rising up on his toes proudly as he spoke. "A person of your mother's
importance, you know! I should be happy to go any distance to see
her."

"Ah! but, Dr Fillgrave, we cannot allow that."

"Mr Gresham, don't mention it."

"Oh, yes; but I must," said Frank, who thought that he had done
enough for civility, and was now anxious to come to the point. "The
fact is, doctor, that we are very much obliged for what you have
done; but, for the future, my mother thinks she can trust to such
assistance as she can get here in the village."

Frank had been particularly instructed to be very careful how he
mentioned Dr Thorne's name, and, therefore, cleverly avoided it.

Get what assistance she wanted in the village! What words were those
that he heard? "Mr Gresham, eh - hem - perhaps I do not completely - "
Yes, alas! he had completely understood what Frank had meant that he
should understand. Frank desired to be civil, but he had no idea of
beating unnecessarily about the bush on such an occasion as this.

"It's by Sir Omicron's advice, Dr Fillgrave. You see, this man
here" - and he nodded his head towards the doctor's house, being still
anxious not to pronounce the hideous name - "has known my mother's
constitution for so many years."

"Oh, Mr Gresham; of course, if it is wished."

"Yes, Dr Fillgrave, it is wished. Lunch is coming directly:" and
Frank rang the bell.

"Nothing, I thank you, Mr Gresham."

"Do take a glass of sherry."

"Nothing at all, I am very much obliged to you."

"Won't you let the horses get some oats?"

"I will return at once, if you please, Mr Gresham." And the doctor
did return, taking with him, on this occasion, the fee that was
offered to him. His experience had at any rate taught him so much.

But though Frank could do this for Lady Arabella, he could not
receive Dr Thorne on her behalf. The bitterness of that interview had
to be borne by herself. A messenger had been sent for him, and he was
upstairs with her ladyship while his rival was receiving his _congé_
downstairs. She had two objects to accomplish, if it might be
possible: she had found that high words with the doctor were of
no avail; but it might be possible that Frank could be saved by
humiliation on her part. If she humbled herself before this man,
would he consent to acknowledge that his niece was not the fit bride
for the heir of Greshamsbury?

The doctor entered the room where she was lying on her sofa, and
walking up to her with a gentle, but yet not constrained step,
took the seat beside her little table, just as he had always been
accustomed to do, and as though there had been no break in their
intercourse.

"Well, doctor, you see that I have come back to you," she said, with
a faint smile.

"Or, rather I have come back to you. And, believe me, Lady Arabella,
I am very happy to do so. There need be no excuses. You were,
doubtless, right to try what other skill could do; and I hope it has
not been tried in vain."

She had meant to have been so condescending; but now all that was put
quite beyond her power. It was not easy to be condescending to the
doctor: she had been trying all her life, and had never succeeded.

"I have had Sir Omicron Pie," she said.

"So I was glad to hear. Sir Omicron is a clever man, and has a good
name. I always recommend Sir Omicron myself."

"And Sir Omicron returns the compliment," said she, smiling
gracefully, "for he recommends you. He told Mr Gresham that I was
very foolish to quarrel with my best friend. So now we are friends
again, are we not? You see how selfish I am." And she put out her
hand to him.

The doctor took her hand cordially, and assured her that he bore her
no ill-will; that he fully understood her conduct - and that he had
never accused her of selfishness. This was all very well and very
gracious; but, nevertheless, Lady Arabella felt that the doctor
kept the upper hand in those sweet forgivenesses. Whereas, she had
intended to keep the upper hand, at least for a while, so that her
humiliation might be more effective when it did come.

And then the doctor used his surgical lore, as he well knew how to
use it. There was an assured confidence about him, an air which
seemed to declare that he really knew what he was doing. These
were very comfortable to his patients, but they were wanting in Dr
Fillgrave. When he had completed his examinations and questions,
and she had completed her little details and made her answer, she
certainly was more at ease than she had been since the doctor had
last left her.

"Don't go yet for a moment," she said. "I have one word to say to
you."

He declared that he was not the least in a hurry. He desired nothing
better, he said, than to sit there and talk to her. "And I owe you a
most sincere apology, Lady Arabella."

"A sincere apology!" said she, becoming a little red. Was he going to
say anything about Mary? Was he going to own that he, and Mary, and
Frank had all been wrong?

"Yes, indeed. I ought not to have brought Sir Louis Scatcherd here: I
ought to have known that he would have disgraced himself."

"Oh! it does not signify," said her ladyship in a tone almost of
disappointment. "I had forgotten it. Mr Gresham and you had more
inconvenience than we had."

"He is an unfortunate, wretched man - most unfortunate; with an
immense fortune which he can never live to possess."

"And who will the money go to, doctor?"

This was a question for which Dr Thorne was hardly prepared. "Go to?"
he repeated. "Oh, some member of the family, I believe. There are
plenty of nephews and nieces."

"Yes; but will it be divided, or all go to one?"

"Probably to one, I think. Sir Roger had a strong idea of leaving
it all in one hand." If it should happen to be a girl, thought Lady
Arabella, what an excellent opportunity would that be for Frank to
marry money!

"And now, doctor, I want to say one word to you; considering the very
long time that we have known each other, it is better that I should
be open with you. This estrangement between us and dear Mary has
given us all so much pain. Cannot we do anything to put an end to
it?"

"Well, what can I say, Lady Arabella? That depends so wholly on
yourself."

"If it depends on me, it shall be done at once."

The doctor bowed. And though he could hardly be said to do so
stiffly, he did it coldly. His bow seemed to say, "Certainly; if you
choose to make a proper _amende_ it can be done. But I think it is
very unlikely that you will do so."

"Beatrice is just going to be married, you know that, doctor." The
doctor said that he did know it. "And it will be so pleasant that
Mary should make one of us. Poor Beatrice; you don't know what she
has suffered."

"Yes," said the doctor, "there has been suffering, I am sure;
suffering on both sides."

"You cannot wonder that we should be so anxious about Frank, Dr
Thorne; an only son, and the heir to an estate that has been so very
long in the family:" and Lady Arabella put her handkerchief to her
eyes, as though these facts were in themselves melancholy, and not
to be thought of by a mother without some soft tears. "Now I wish
you could tell me what your views are, in a friendly manner, between
ourselves. You won't find me unreasonable."

"My views, Lady Arabella?"

"Yes, doctor; about your niece, you know: you must have views of some
sort; that's of course. It occurs to me, that perhaps we are all in
the dark together. If so, a little candid speaking between you and me
may set it all right."

Lady Arabella's career had not hitherto been conspicuous for candour,
as far as Dr Thorne had been able to judge of it; but that was no
reason why he should not respond to so very becoming an invitation
on her part. He had no objection to a little candid speaking; at
least, so he declared. As to his views with regard to Mary, they were
merely these: that he would make her as happy and comfortable as he
could while she remained with him; and that he would give her his
blessing - for he had nothing else to give her - when she left him; - if
ever she should do so.

Now, it will be said that the doctor was not very candid in this;
not more so, perhaps, than was Lady Arabella herself. But when one
is specially invited to be candid, one is naturally set upon one's
guard. Those who by disposition are most open, are apt to become
crafty when so admonished. When a man says to you, "Let us be candid
with each other," you feel instinctively that he desires to squeeze
you without giving a drop of water himself.

"Yes; but about Frank," said Lady Arabella.

"About Frank!" said the doctor, with an innocent look, which her
ladyship could hardly interpret.

"What I mean is this: can you give me your word that these young
people do not intend to do anything rash? One word like that from
you will set my mind quite at rest. And then we could be so happy
together again."

"Ah! who is to answer for what rash things a young man will do?" said
the doctor, smiling.

Lady Arabella got up from the sofa, and pushed away the little table.
The man was false, hypocritical, and cunning. Nothing could be made
of him. They were all in a conspiracy together to rob her of her son;
to make him marry without money! What should she do? Where should
she turn for advice or counsel? She had nothing more to say to the
doctor; and he, perceiving that this was the case, took his leave.
This little attempt to achieve candour had not succeeded.

Dr Thorne had answered Lady Arabella as had seemed best to him on the
spur of the moment; but he was by no means satisfied with himself.
As he walked away through the gardens, he bethought himself whether
it would be better for all parties if he could bring himself to be
really candid. Would it not be better for him at once to tell the
squire what were the future prospects of his niece, and let the
father agree to the marriage, or not agree to it, as he might think
fit. But then, if so, if he did do this, would he not in fact say,
"There is my niece, there is this girl of whom you have been talking
for the last twelvemonth, indifferent to what agony of mind you may
have occasioned to her; there she is, a probable heiress! It may be
worth your son's while to wait a little time, and not cast her off
till he shall know whether she be an heiress or no. If it shall turn
out that she is rich, let him take her; if not, why, he can desert
her then as well as now." He could not bring himself to put his niece
into such a position as this. He was anxious enough that she should
be Frank Gresham's wife, for he loved Frank Gresham; he was anxious
enough, also, that she should give to her husband the means of saving
the property of his family. But Frank, though he might find her rich,
was bound to take her while she was poor.

Then, also, he doubted whether he would be justified in speaking
of this will at all. He almost hated the will for the trouble and
vexation it had given him, and the constant stress it had laid on his
conscience. He had spoken of it as yet to no one, and he thought that
he was resolved not to do so while Sir Louis should yet be in the
land of the living.

On reaching home, he found a note from Lady Scatcherd, informing him
that Dr Fillgrave had once more been at Boxall Hill, and that, on
this occasion, he had left the house without anger.

"I don't know what he has said about Louis," she added, "for, to
tell the truth, doctor, I was afraid to see him. But he comes again
to-morrow, and then I shall be braver. But I fear that my poor boy is
in a bad way."




CHAPTER XLI

Doctor Thorne Won't Interfere


At this period there was, as it were, a truce to the ordinary little
skirmishes which had been so customary between Lady Arabella and
the squire. Things had so fallen out, that they neither of them had
much spirit for a contest; and, moreover, on that point which at
the present moment was most thought of by both of them, they were
strangely in unison. For each of them was anxious to prevent the
threatened marriage of their only son.

It must, moreover, be remembered, that Lady Arabella had carried a
great point in ousting Mr Yates Umbleby and putting the management of
the estate into the hands of her own partisan. But then the squire
had not done less in getting rid of Fillgrave and reinstating Dr
Thorne in possession of the family invalids. The losses, therefore,
had been equal; the victories equal; and there was a mutual object.

And it must be confessed, also, that Lady Arabella's taste for
grandeur was on the decline. Misfortune was coming too near to her to
leave her much anxiety for the gaieties of a London season. Things
were not faring well with her. When her eldest daughter was going to
marry a man of fortune, and a member of Parliament, she had thought
nothing of demanding a thousand pounds or so for the extraordinary
expenses incident to such an occasion. But now, Beatrice was to
become the wife of a parish parson, and even that was thought to be
a fortunate event; she had, therefore, no heart for splendour.

"The quieter we can do it the better," she wrote to her
countess-sister. "Her father wanted to give him at least a thousand
pounds; but Mr Gazebee has told me confidentially that it literally
cannot be done at the present moment! Ah, my dear Rosina! how things
have been managed! If one or two of the girls will come over, we
shall all take it as a favour. Beatrice would think it very kind of
them. But I don't think of asking you or Amelia." Amelia was always
the grandest of the de Courcy family, being almost on an equality
with - nay, in some respect superior to - the countess herself. But



Online LibraryAnthony TrollopeDoctor Thorne → online text (page 41 of 49)