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London by Miss Carey, acting on behalf of one of the charitable societies that exist with a view of giving change and fresh air in the country to convalescents in London or other big cities. These people were evidently Londoners; the Cockney accent was clearly audible. Quite unconsciously Miss Carey had done a very wise thing in putting them under the roof of Mrs. Copman, rather than with any other person in the village who might have accommodation for them, for very certainly their town-bred wits would altogether have outrun the slow mental pace of all the rest. Mrs. Copman was the little man's match, and could give him back as good as he gave quite merrily, to the admiration of all whom they might have for audience. The little man had a hectic cough, which very likely might mean consumption. So at least said Dr. Charlton, calling, by Miss Carey's request, at Mrs. Copman's, to see her protégés. "May I ask, Amelia," he inquired of her, when he came to make his report after the visit, "where you picked up these people?"
Miss Carey thereon explained gently that they had been sent down to her by such and such a charitable society in London.
"With references, I suppose, Amelia?"
"Certainly, Richard; oh, certainly with references," Miss Carey had replied, "the society is SO very particular."
"I am very glad to hear it," was the doctor's answer. "Did they mention the profession followed by your friend? William White is his name, is it not?"
"I think they said he was a glazier, Richard; but what does it matter so long as the poor man is respectable and deserving?"
"So long as he is all that, Amelia, certainly nothing matters. A glazier!
So I had heard, but I did not notice any signs of putty about his hands or finger nails."
"I am glad to think he is so scrupulously clean and careful."
"His hands seem very nicely kept," the doctor admitted. "I should imagine it is not often that he does hard manual work."
Miss Carey's worst enemy, if she had an enemy, hardly could have said that her nature erred on the side of being over-prone to suspicion, yet even she was now led to suspect that there was more meaning latent in the doctor's words than appeared upon their surface. "Richard," she said, laying her hand gently on his arm, "you are meaning something; you are meaning something deeper than your words express. I am afraid I am not very clever in catching people's meanings. You must tell me clearly what it is. Do you suspect something? Do you suspect that poor man of being something other than he appears?"
Thus challenged to put his thoughts plainly into words, the doctor began to be a little ashamed of them. usual he covered his rising embarrassment by an affectation of more than his usual brusqueness. "I suspect the man, madam," he said, "of being a rascally little town-bred Cockney with a weak chest that it will take me and the Almighty some trouble to put to rights."
"Please do not be profane, Richard," Miss Carey gently pleaded. "Is that all you have to say against the poor That man, that he is a Cockney? hardly is his fault."
"Neither very likely is this also that I suspect of him his fault. Very likely this too is, properly speaking, more his misfortune- I suspect him very strongly to be a thief."
Miss Carey was greatly shocked. "I am sure. Richard," she said, "that I have the greatest respect for your
judgment, but at the same time I speak as if I presumed to judge the do think that this is an accusation you man. On the contrary, I have parought not to make unless you are very ticularly said that I thought in all probcertain. Have you any reason? Has ability it was his misfortune rather Mrs. Copman lost any of her things? than his fault. I do not judge any If I certainly ought to be
But this I do say, that all the responsible.”
evidences seem to me to point very "Mrs. Copman has lost none of her strongly to the man's being a profesthings, Amelia, so far as I have heard, sional thief, no matter what references nor do I apprehend at all that she he may have got to humbug your prewill. It is not that. It is that I sus- cious society.” pect him, most strongly, of belonging "Richard," Miss Carey replied with to the class of professional criminals." a quiet dignity, "you have been pro
Miss Carey was greatly horrified, I fane and now you are discourteous. think more at the idea that Dr. Charl- Time will show. I am very sure that ton should be capable of entertaining the poor man is not so bad as you such a dreadful opinion about another suppose." human being than that any one should “But, madam,” Dr. Charlton anbe so judged.
swered despairingly, "I have already “But you have no proof, Richard," said that I do not look on him as bad, she said. "No proof whatever of these whatever he may be. I look on bim as terrible suspicions."
unfortunate that is all." "No, madam, no. I have no proofs. Miss Carey again laid her hand on I have not the entry of William White his arm pleadingly. “Forgive me, in the Newgate calendar, but I have Richard, I ought not to have spoken eyes and I observe—I see the restless, hastily as I did.” The doctor looked perpetually uneasy look of the man, bis at her a moment in silence, as if to nervous hands that never are still, his ask whether she really could be serious slim clever fingers. I have questioned in what she said. him too, about his work, if it did not “You, Amelia-bastily!" he repeated sometimes take him out late at night, then. "Can you really mean that you to account for the sad state of his are asking me to forgive you for speakchest--and startled him into the ad- ing hastily? Ah no! Forgive me, if mission that sometimes it did. “Mend- you can, I want your forgiveness, and ing glass?' I asked him; and then he everyone's forgiveness, for hastiness saw at once the mistake he had inade, every hour of my life.” and said nothing. One does not call in Miss Carey gave him her hand, a glazier's services as a rule after dark. which the doctor laid, with old-fash'Or cutting glass? I suggested. “Work- ioned gallantry, on his heart. ing with a diamond, perhaps?" and “He is very ill, is he not, the poor then I could see that he wished still man?" Miss Carey asked, when the more he had not made that slip." liond was thus sealed.
“Richard," Miss Carey declared, "He is ill, but he is for the present "you are dreadful. Do you mean to convalescent. It is for his daughter say that on such trifling evidences as that I really am more concerned than these you really would judge so hardly for himself." of any human being-especially of one "The daughter! I did not knowwho is so ill as poor Mr. White?" they did not tell me that she was
“My dear madam," the doctor re- ill." torted with impatience, "please do not “The symptoms, I take it, are only
beginning to develop. Hot hand, quick Mrs. Copman's house door to the wicket pulse, high temperature. I have or- gate giving on the road. The meetdered her immediately to bed."
ing was their first since their disagree"I will call at once," Miss Carey ment, and the path was at once so said, "and see how the poor girl is. short and so narrow that there was Is there anything you can recommend no possibility of avoiding it. The that I should take to her-some soup or Vicar blushed hotly with the embarrassjelly ?''
ment of the moment, but Dr. Charlton, “I'd be very glad of a little jelly for whose mind was absorbed with the sufher, Amelia, but for the present I must ferings and needs of the poor girl absolutely forbid you going to see her. within, nodded to him in a friendly It is impossible to tell, for the moment, way as if there had never been any into what it may develop."
trouble, for the moment probably for"And you fear something of an in- getting it. fectious nature? I am sorry indeed for Towards evening the doctor sumMrs. Copman."
moned Miss Carey and the Vicar into "Mrs. Copman won't catch it, Amelia, Mrs. Copman's parlor, where Mr. whatever it is. You may be sure of White, the father of the girl, already that. You might as well expect her was waiting, and held an informal kind oak 'burry' to catch something as Mrs. of consultation. Copman. A microbe couldn't get an “I am afraid," he said to the little honest living off her. But I'm afraid man, “that there is but one chance of for the girl herself. These anæmic saving your daughter's life, that is by town-bred girls have got no stamina. making an incision into the larynx and If anything should attack her now it extracting the poison by means of the might go badly with her.”
insertion of a tube. You will please Within the next twenty-four hours to understand that I cannot answer for the symptoms developed themselves its success. It may save your girl's rapidly, and justified Dr. Charlton in life—it may not. On the other hand, I the precautions he had taken of for- fear that unless that operation is perbidding access to the patient to all formed her death is inevitable. But whose services about her were not before I perform it I should like to needed. It was a distinct case of diph- have your consent to it, as she, poor theria with complications in the tonsal thing, is past giving her own, and I region. The temperature continued should like to have that consent given high and tended to rise, with the in- in the presence of our two friends evitable wasting of the girl's slight here.” (Miss Carey remarked with strength, which was so precious to her pleasure that he referred to the Vicar now that it became a question of fight- as a friend.) “It is not that I shrink ing for each breath she drew.
from the responsibility, please to unThe doctor was in and out of the derstand, but that I think it right that cottage every hour, and at each visit you should give your consent to it behis face appeared more grave and anx- fore I proceed." ious. Miss Carey was often down the Miss Carey told me that the little village street with her maid, Phæbe, man stood with his eyes blinking and bringing one or other of the innumera- his hands restlessly working all the ble small things that are needed in a while that the doctor addressed him, sick-room. The Vicar had met the doc- and when the latter concluded, and he tor in the course of the afternoon on had to make his decision, the restless the little bricked path that led from movements became more agitated still.
"You say, doctor, as it's the only sense of making the incision and inchance to save my poor Louisy's life?" serting the tube, but to the person he asked then; and the doctor answered who shall suck the poison through the firmly, "Most emphatically I do."
tube." "Then, doctor," he said, "I'd thank "I see," the Vicar said meditatively, you kindly to do your best.” And with "I see." that he put up his sleeve across his He told afterwards that he eyes to wipe the tears and went out thought he ought to have been astute of the room, Miss Carey following to enough to perceive that a trap of some give him such words of consolation as sort was being laid for him, for it was her kindly heart might suggest.
wholly unlike the doctor to insist on "Poor fellow, poor fellow," the Vicar the danger that he was about to incur, said pityingly. “We may be sorry for unless his insistence had some special him, even if he is—what Miss Carey motive. As it was,
the Vicar's tells me you suspect."
thoughts were engaged in a direction “Even if he is a thief,” the doctor re- which did not lead to the detection of marked, putting the dots upon the “i's." the motive. “Yes, your Scripture, I think, gives you The doctor watched him curiously. some high authority for showing pity Presently the Vicar said: "I suppose even on a thief.”
this is a thing—this sucking the tubeThe while the doctor and the Vicar that could be done just as well by an exchanged these words the former was unskilled person as by a practised busied with taking out from his black surgeon ?” bag the instruments he needed for the "Just as well-oh, every bit as well,” operation; but at his last sentence he the doctor replied, still closely watchglanced up and looked keenly at the ing him. clergyman, The words seemed to give There was silence again, while the him a new thought. "You do not un- doctor went on with his arrangements. derstand the nature of this operation, Subsequently the doctor has stated I suppose?” he said.
that these moments while he thus “Very vaguely," the Vicar admitted. waited were among the most intensely
"It consists," the doctor explained, interesting, the most exciting, of his "in making an incision down to the in- life. And then, at length, came that flammatory centre, inserting a tube, which he had been expecting-a hand and extracting, so far as is possible,
was laid heavily, yet not without a the poison by means of suction.”
tremor, on his shoulder, and the Vicar The Vicar nodded, not yet perceiv- said, in a voice that he tried to steady, ing the full significance of the explana- though it shook a little despite himtion.
self, “Doctor, I should esteem it a great “The matter is highly poisonous," the favor if you would let me be the one doctor said,
to suck the tube." The Vicar began to take his mean- The doctor laughed with a little ing. "Do I understand you to imply chuckle of irony. “What," he said, that the operation will be attended "you would risk your life for the with risk ?”
daughter of a thief?” “That is my meaning," said the doc- The other just nodded. “Yes," he tor. “It will be attended with consid- said. “I am willing to do it if you will erable risk, with very great risk, to the let me." person-not necessarily to the person The doctor laughed again, without who performs the operation in the any note of irony this time. “You are a good fellow," he said. “Perbaps it that he must get "to business and that is a pity you are a parson. I don't poor girl.” It is a business into which know. But at all events I beg your we certainly do not want to follow him pardon most sincerely for the words I too closely. It was told us afterwards said to you the other day, and I cer- by Mrs. Copman and by the Vicar, who tainly won't let you suck that tube. showed a nobly forgiving spirit, that That is my business. I am in charge his coolness and cheerfulness were wonof this case. It is my operation, and derful while he made his preparations. I am going to see it through. You may The Vicar had volunteered bis services make yourself easy on that point. I in administering the anæsthetic, but want no help with it.”
the doctor had preferred to put his His tone assured the Vicar, if he had faith in Mrs. Copman. “It takes a required assurance that there was no woman, my dear fellow, to have the good arguing with him.
nerve for a thing of this kind. A man "Well,” he said, “if you say so, it is no good in it, unless he is used to must be. I am sorry."
it." The doctor laughed, a laugh of genu- So the doctor said, softening his reine amusement then. "Oh no, you are jection of the other's proffered help by not," he said. "You are not sorry. his kindly tone and by a hand laid You are very glad, immensely relieved. sympathetically on his shoulder. As You are a good fellow and a plucky each instrument bad served its turn, in fellow, and I am sorry for what I said course of the actual operation, Mrs. to you, but look into your heart and Copman related that he threw it betell me what you find there, honestly. hind him with an utter disregard of You find, I know very well, that you such trifles as the probable turning of are very much relieved."
its edge or point and the injury it It was the Vicar's turn to laugh, in a might do any object that it struck. slightly embarrassed way, at that. No doubt all lesser matters that might “Certainly, doctor,” he said, "you are have claimed attention were forgotten the one man that makes me wish some- when he was concentrated on a task of times that I was not a parson, for you such delicacy. are the one man that makes me want Although he accepted with perfect to swear.”
readiness and composure the dangerous "Is that so, really," the doctor replied task that he had set himself of sucking briskly. "Why, there are a score of the poisonous matter from the girl's men a day that make me want to swollen throat, he neglected no preswear. And I generally yield to the caution to diminish the risk. It is a inclination. Now I must get to bus- risk that has been removed since that iness and that poor girl."
date by the invention of a mechanical If the doctor had found it difficult means of suction, but no such means to effect this reconciliation with the was in any general use at the time Vicar, I am sure he had his reward in that Dr. Charlton performed the operaMiss Carey's pleasure when he related tion. All the while that the dreadful to her all the circumstances, for, as work was in progress, Miss Carey and Miss Carey herself said to him, it was the Vicar remained below in Mrs. Copa reconciliation which was likely to be man's parlor. William White, the poor lasting because based on mutual es- girl's father, was walking up and down teem.
the village street in a state of agitaThe doctor bad concluded his concil- tion that forbade his exchanging even iatory words to the Vicar by saying the ordinary courtesies with a gossip.