Part 1 out of 9
This etext was prepared by Donald Lainson, email@example.com.
by Charles Reade
It has lately been objected to me, in studiously courteous terms of
course, that I borrow from other books, and am a plagiarist. To
this I reply that I borrow facts from every accessible source, and
am not a plagiarist. The plagiarist is one who borrows from a
homogeneous work: for such a man borrows not ideas only, but their
treatment. He who borrows only from heterogeneous works is not a
plagiarist. All fiction, worth a button, is founded on facts; and
it does not matter one straw whether the facts are taken from
personal experience, hearsay, or printed books; only those books
must not be works of fiction.
Ask your common sense why a man writes better fiction at forty than
he can at twenty. It is simply because he has gathered more facts
from each of these three sources,--experience, hearsay, print.
To those who have science enough to appreciate the above
distinction, I am very willing to admit that in all my tales I use
a vast deal of heterogeneous material, which in a life of study I
have gathered from men, journals, blue-books, histories,
biographies, law reports, etc. And if I could, I would gladly
specify all the various printed sources to which I am indebted.
But my memory is not equal to such a feat. I can only say that I
rarely write a novel without milking about two hundred
heterogeneous cows into my pail, and that "A Simpleton" is no
exception to my general method; that method is the true method, and
the best, and if on that method I do not write prime novels, it is
the fault of the man, and not of the method.
I give the following particulars as an illustration of my method:
In "A Simpleton," the whole business of the girl spitting blood,
the surgeon ascribing it to the liver, the consultation, the final
solution of the mystery, is a matter of personal experience
accurately recorded. But the rest of the medical truths, both fact
and argument, are all from medical books far too numerous to
specify. This includes the strange fluctuations of memory in a man
recovering his reason by degrees. The behavior of the doctor's
first two patients I had from a surgeon's daughter in Pimlico. The
servant-girl and her box; the purple-faced, pig-faced Beak and his
justice, are personal experience. The business of house-renting,
and the auction-room, is also personal experience.
In the nautical business I had the assistance of two practical
seamen: my brother, William Barrington Reade, and Commander Charles
Edward Reade, R.N.
In the South African business I gleaned from Mr. Day's recent
handbooks; the old handbooks; Galton's "Vacation Tourist;" "Philip
Mavor; or, Life among the Caffres;" "Fossor;" "Notes on the Cape of
Good Hope," 1821; "Scenes and Occurrences in Albany and Caffre-
land," 1827; Bowler's "South African Sketches;" "A Campaign in
South Africa," Lucas; "Five Years in Caffre-land," Mrs. Ward; etc.,
etc., etc. But my principal obligation on this head is to Mr.
Boyle, the author of some admirable letters to the Daily telegraph,
which he afterwards reprinted in a delightful volume. Mr. Boyle
has a painter's eye, and a writer's pen, and if the African scenes
in "A Simpleton" please my readers, I hope they will go to the
fountain-head, where they will find many more.
As to the plot and characters, they are invented.
The title, "A Simpleton," is not quite new. There is a French play
called La Niaise. But La Niaise is in reality a woman of rare
intelligence, who is taken for a simpleton by a lot of conceited
fools, and the play runs on their blunders, and her unpretending
wisdom. That is a very fine plot, which I recommend to our female
novelists. My aim in these pages has been much humbler, and is, I
hope, too clear to need explanation.
A young lady sat pricking a framed canvas in the drawing-room of
Kent Villa, a mile from Gravesend; she was making, at a cost of
time and tinted wool, a chair cover, admirably unfit to be sat
upon--except by some severe artist, bent on obliterating discordant
colors. To do her justice, her mind was not in her work; for she
rustled softly with restlessness as she sat, and she rose three
times in twenty minutes, and went to the window. Thence she looked
down, over a trim flowery lawn, and long, sloping meadows, on to
the silver Thames, alive with steamboats ploughing, white sails
bellying, and great ships carrying to and fro the treasures of the
globe. From this fair landscape and epitome of commerce she
retired each time with listless disdain; she was waiting for
Yet she was one of those whom few men care to keep waiting. Rosa
Lusignan was a dark but dazzling beauty, with coal-black hair, and
glorious dark eyes, that seemed to beam with soul all day long; her
eyebrows, black, straightish, and rather thick, would have been
majestic and too severe, had the other features followed suit; but
her black brows were succeeded by long silky lashes, a sweet oval
face, two pouting lips studded with ivory, and an exquisite chin,
as feeble as any man could desire in the partner of his bosom.
Person--straight, elastic, and rather tall. Mind--nineteen.
Accomplishments--numerous; a poor French scholar, a worse German, a
worse English, an admirable dancer, an inaccurate musician, a good
rider, a bad draughtswoman, a bad hairdresser, at the mercy of her
maid; a hot theologian, knowing nothing, a sorry accountant, no
housekeeper, no seamstress, a fair embroideress, a capital
geographer, and no cook.
Collectively, viz., mind and body, the girl we kneel to.
This ornamental member of society now glanced at the clock once
more, and then glided to the window for the fourth time. She
peeped at the side a good while, with superfluous slyness or
shyness, and presently she drew back, blushing crimson; then she
peeped again, still more furtively; then retired softly to her
frame, and, for the first time, set to work in earnest. As she
plied her harpoon, smiling now, the large and vivid blush, that had
suffused her face and throat, turned from carnation to rose, and
melted away slowly, but perceptibly, and ever so sweetly; and
somebody knocked at the street door.
The blow seemed to drive her deeper into her work. She leaned over
it, graceful as a willow, and so absorbed, she could not even see
the door of the room open and Dr. Staines come in.
All the better: her not perceiving that slight addition to her
furniture gives me a moment to describe him.
A young man, five feet eleven inches high, very square shouldered
and deep chested, but so symmetrical, and light in his movements,
that his size hardly struck one at first. He was smooth shaved,
all but a short, thick, auburn whisker; his hair was brown. His
features no more then comely: the brow full, the eyes wide apart
and deep-seated, the lips rather thin, but expressive, the chin
solid and square. It was a face of power, and capable of
harshness; but relieved by an eye of unusual color, between hazel
and gray, and wonderfully tender. In complexion he could not
compare with Rosa; his cheek was clear, but pale; for few young men
had studied night and day so constantly. Though but twenty-eight
years of age, he was literally a learned physician; deep in
hospital practice; deep in books; especially deep in German
science, too often neglected or skimmed by English physicians. He
had delivered a course of lectures at a learned university with
As my reader has divined, Rosa was preparing the comedy of a cool
reception; but looking up, she saw his pale cheek tinted with a
lover's beautiful joy at the bare sight of her, and his soft eye so
divine with love, that she had not the heart to chill him. She
gave him her hand kindly, and smiled brightly on him instead of
remonstrating. She lost nothing by it, for the very first thing he
did was to excuse himself eagerly. "I am behind time: the fact is,
just as I was mounting my horse, a poor man came to the gate to
consult me. He had a terrible disorder I have sometimes succeeded
in arresting--I attack the cause instead of the symptoms, which is
the old practice--and so that detained me. You forgive me?"
"Of course. Poor man!--only you said you wanted to see papa, and
he always goes out at two."
When she had been betrayed into saying this, she drew in suddenly,
and blushed with a pretty consciousness.
"Then don't let me lose another minute," said the lover. "Have you
prepared him for--for--what I am going to have the audacity to
Rosa answered, with some hesitation, "I MUST have--a little. When
I refused Colonel Bright--you need not devour my hand quite--he is
Her sentence ended, and away went the original topic, and
grammatical sequence along with it. Christopher Staines recaptured
them both. "Yes, dear, when you refused Colonel Bright"--
"Well, papa was astonished; for everybody says the colonel is a
most eligible match. Don't you hate that expression? I do.
Christopher made due haste, and recaptured her. "Yes, love, your
"I don't think I will tell you. He asked me was there anybody
else; and of course I said 'No.'"
"Oh, that is nothing; I had not time to make up my mind to tell the
truth. I was taken by surprise; and you know one's first impulse
is to fib--about THAT."
"But did you really deceive him?"
"No, I blushed; and he caught me; so he said, 'Come, now, there
"And you said, 'Yes, there is,' like a brave girl as you are."
"What, plump like that? No, I was frightened out of my wits, like
a brave girl as I am not, and said I should never marry any one he
could disapprove; and then--oh, then I believe I began to cry.
Christopher, I'll tell you something; I find people leave off
teasing you when you cry--gentlemen, I mean. Ladies go on all the
more. So then dear papa kissed me, and told me I must not be
imprudent, and throw myself away, that was all; and I promised him
I never would. I said he would be sure to approve my choice; and
he said he hoped so. And so he will."
Dr. Staines looked thoughtful, and said he hoped so too. "But now
it comes to the point of asking him for such a treasure, I feel my
"Why, what deficiencies? You are young, and handsome, and good,
and ever so much cleverer than other people. You have only to ask
for me, and insist on having me. Come, dear, go and get it over."
She added, mighty coolly, "There is nothing so DREADFUL as
"I'll go this minute," said he, and took a step towards the door;
but he turned, and in a moment was at her knees. He took both her
hands in his, and pressed them to his beating bosom, while his
beautiful eyes poured love into hers point-blank. "May I tell him
you love me? Oh, I know you cannot love me as I love you; but I
may say you love me a little, may I not?--that will go farther with
him than anything else. May I, Rosa, may I?--a little?"
His passion mastered her. She dropped her head sweetly on his
shoulder, and murmured, "You know you may, my own. Who would not
He parted lingeringly from her, then marched away, bold with love
and hope, to demand her hand in marriage.
Rosa leaned back in her chair, and quivered a little with new
emotions. Christopher was right; she was not capable of loving
like him; but still the actual contact of so strong a passion made
her woman's nature vibrate. A dewy tear hung on the fringes of her
long lashes, and she leaned back in her chair and fluttered awhile.
That emotion, almost new to her, soon yielded, in her girlish mind,
to a complacent languor; and that, in its turn, to a soft reverie.
So she was going to be married! To be mistress of a house; settle
in London (THAT she had quite determined long ago); be able to go
out into the streets all alone, to shop, or visit; have a gentleman
all her own, whom she could put her finger on any moment and make
him take her about, even to the opera and the theatre; to give
dinner-parties her own self, and even a little ball once in a way;
to buy whatever dresses she thought proper, instead of being
crippled by an allowance; have the legal right of speaking first in
society, even to gentlemen rich in ideas but bad starters, instead
of sitting mumchance and mock-modest; to be Mistress, instead of
Miss--contemptible title; to be a woman, instead of a girl; and all
this rational liberty, domestic power, and social dignity were to
be obtained by merely wedding a dear fellow, who loved her, and was
so nice; and the bright career to be ushered in with several
delights, each of them dear to a girl's very soul: presents from
all her friends; as many beautiful new dresses as if she was
changing her body or her hemisphere, instead of her name; eclat;
going to church, which is a good English girl's theatre of display
and temple of vanity, and there tasting delightful publicity and
whispered admiration, in a heavenly long veil, which she could not
wear even once if she remained single.
This bright variegated picture of holy wedlock, and its essential
features, as revealed to young ladies by feminine tradition, though
not enumerated in the Book of Common Prayer writ by grim males, so
entranced her, that time flew by unheeded, and Christopher Staines
came back from her father. His step was heavy; he looked pale, and
deeply distressed; then stood like a statue, and did not come close
to her, but cast a piteous look, and gasped out one word, that
seemed almost to choke him,--"REFUSED!"
Miss Lusignan rose from her chair, and looked almost wildly at him
with her great eyes. "Refused?" said she, faintly.
"Yes," said he, sadly. "Your father is a man of business; and he
took a mere business view of our love: he asked me directly what
provision I could make for his daughter and her children. Well, I
told him I had three thousand pounds in the Funds, and a good
profession; and then I said I had youth, health, and love,
boundless love, the love that can do, or suffer, the love that can
conquer the world."
"Dear Christopher! And what COULD he say to all that?"
"He ignored it entirely. There! I'll give you his very words. He
said, 'In that case, Dr. Staines, the simple question is, what does
your profession bring you in per annum?'"
"Oh! There! I always hated arithmetic, and now I abominate it."
"Then I was obliged to confess I had scarcely received a hundred
pounds in fees this year; but I told him the reason; this is such a
small district, and all the ground occupied. London, I said, was
"And so it is," said Rosa, eagerly; for this jumped with her own
little designs. "Genius is wasted in the country. Besides,
whenever anybody worth curing is ill down here, they always send to
London for a doctor."
"I told him so, dearest," said the lover. "But he answered me
directly, then I must set up in London, and as soon as my books
showed an income to keep a wife, and servants, and children, and
insure my life for five thousand pounds"--
"Oh, that is so like papa. He is director of an insurance company,
so all the world must insure their lives."
"No, dear, he was quite right there: professional incomes are most
precarious. Death spares neither young nor old, neither warm
hearts nor cold. I should be no true physician if I could not see
my own mortality." He hung his head and pondered a moment, then
went on, sadly, "It all comes to this--until I have a professional
income of eight hundred a year at least, he will not hear of our
marrying; and the cruel thing is, he will not even consent to an
engagement. But," said the rejected, with a look of sad anxiety,
"you will wait for me without that, dear Rosa?"
She could give him that comfort, and she gave it him with loving
earnestness. "Of course I will; and it shall not be very long.
Whilst you are making your fortune, to please papa, I will keep
fretting, and pouting, and crying, till he sends for you."
"Bless you, dearest! Stop!--not to make yourself ill! not for all
the world." The lover and the physician spoke in turn.
He came, all gratitude, to her side, and they sat, hand in hand,
comforting each other: indeed, parting was such sweet sorrow that
they sat, handed, and very close to one another, till Mr. Lusignan,
who thought five minutes quite enough for rational beings to take
leave in, walked into the room and surprised them. At sight of his
gray head and iron-gray eyebrows, Christopher Staines started up
and looked confused; he thought some apology necessary, so he
faltered out, "Forgive me, sir; it is a bitter parting to me, you
may be sure."
Rosa's bosom heaved at these simple words. She flew to her father,
and cried, "Oh, papa! papa! you were never cruel before;" and hid
her burning face on his shoulder; and then burst out crying, partly
for Christopher, partly because she was now ashamed of herself for
having taken a young man's part so openly.
Mr. Lusignan looked sadly discomposed at this outburst: she had
taken him by his weak point; he told her so. "Now, Rosa," said he,
rather peevishly, "you know I hate--noise."
Rosa had actually forgotten that trait for a single moment; but,
being reminded of it, she reduced her sobs in the prettiest way,
not to offend a tender parent who could not bear noise. Under this
homely term, you must know, he included all scenes, disturbances,
rumpuses, passions; and expected all men, women, and things in Kent
Villa to go smoothly--or go elsewhere.
"Come, young people," said he, "don't make a disturbance. Where's
the grievance? Have I said he shall never marry you? Have I
forbidden him to correspond? or even to call, say twice a year.
All I say is, no marriage, nor contract of marriage, until there is
an income." Then he turned to Christopher. "Now if you can't make
an income without her, how could you make one with her, weighed
down by the load of expenses a wife entails? I know her better
than you do; she is a good girl, but rather luxurious and self-
indulgent. She is not cut out for a poor man's wife. And pray
don't go and fancy that nobody loves my child but you. Mine is not
so hot as yours, of course; but believe me, sir, it is less
selfish. You would expose her to poverty and misery; but I say no;
it is my duty to protect her from all chance of them; and, in doing
it, I am as much your friend as hers, if you could but see it.
Come, Dr. Staines, be a man, and see the world as it is. I have
told you how to earn my daughter's hand and my esteem: you must
gain both, or neither."
Dr. Staines was never quite deaf to reason: he now put his hand to
his brow and said, with a sort of wonder and pitiful dismay, "My
love for Rosa selfish! Sir, your words are bitter and hard."
Then, after a struggle, and with rare and touching candor, "Ay, but
so are bark and steel; yet they are good medicines." Then with a
great glow in his heart and tears in his eyes, "My darling shall
not be a poor man's wife, she who would adorn a coronet, ay, or a
crown. Good-by, Rosa, for the present." He darted to her, and
kissed her hand with all his soul. "Oh, the sacrifice of leaving
you," he faltered; "the very world is dark to me without you. Ah,
well, I must earn the right to come again." He summoned all his
manhood, and marched to the door. There he seemed to turn calmer
all of a sudden, and said firmly, yet humbly, "I'll try and show
you, sir, what love can do."
"And I'll show you what love can suffer," said Rosa, folding her
beautiful arms superbly.
It was not in her to have shot such a bolt, except in imitation;
yet how promptly the mimic thunder came, and how grand the beauty
looked, with her dark brows, and flashing eyes, and folded arms!
much grander and more inspired than poor Staines, who had only
furnished the idea.
But between these two figures swelling with emotion, the
representative of common sense, Lusignan pere, stood cool and
impassive; he shrugged his shoulders, and looked on both lovers as
a couple of ranting novices he was saving from each other and
For all that, when the lover had torn himself away, papa's
composure was suddenly disturbed by a misgiving. He stepped
hastily to the stairhead, and gave it vent. "Dr. Staines," said
he, in a loud whisper (Staines was half way down the stairs: he
stopped). "I trust to you as a gentleman, not to mention this; it
will never transpire here. Whatever we do--no noise!"
Rosa Lusignan set herself pining as she had promised; and she did
it discreetly for so young a person. She was never peevish, but
always sad and listless. By this means she did not anger her
parent, but only made him feel she was unhappy, and the house she
had hitherto brightened exceeding dismal.
By degrees this noiseless melancholy undermined the old gentleman,
and he well-nigh tottered.
But one day, calling suddenly on a neighbor with six daughters, he
heard peals of laughter, and found Rosa taking her full share of
the senseless mirth. She pulled up short at sight of him, and
colored high; but it was too late, for he launched a knowing look
at her on the spot, and muttered something about seven foolish
He took the first opportunity, when they were alone, and told her
he was glad to find she was only dismal at home.
But Rosa had prepared for him. "One can be loud without being gay
at heart," said she, with a lofty, languid air. "I have not
forgotten your last words to HIM. We were to hide our broken
hearts from the world. I try to obey you, dear papa; but, if I had
my way, I would never go into the world at all. I have but one
desire now--to end my days in a convent."
"Please begin them first. A convent! Why, you'd turn it out of
window. You are no more fit to be a nun than--a pauper."
Not having foreseen this facer, Rosa had nothing ready; so she
received it with a sad, submissive, helpless sigh, as who would
say, "Hit me, papa: I have no friend now." So then he was sorry he
had been so clever; and, indeed, there is one provoking thing about
"a woman's weakness"--it is invincible.
The next minute, what should come but a long letter from Dr.
Staines, detailing his endeavors to purchase a practice in London,
and his ill-success. The letter spoke the language of love and
hope; but the facts were discouraging; and, indeed, a touching
sadness pierced through the veil of the brave words.
Rosa read it again and again, and cried over it before her father,
to encourage him in his heartless behavior.
About ten days after this, something occurred that altered her mood.
She became grave and thoughtful, but no longer lugubrious. She
seemed desirous to atone to her father for having disturbed his
cheerfulness. She smiled affectionately on him, and often sat on a
stool at his knee, and glided her hand into his.
He was not a little pleased, and said to himself, "She is coming
round to common-sense."
Now, on the contrary, she was farther from it than ever.
At last he got the clew. One afternoon he met Mr. Wyman coming out
of the villa. Mr. Wyman was the consulting surgeon of that part.
"What! anybody ill?" said Mr. Lusignan. "One of the servants?"
"No; it is Miss Lusignan."
"Why, what is the matter with her?"
Wyman hesitated. "Oh, nothing very alarming. Would you mind
"The fact is, she requested me not to tell you: made me promise."
"And I insist upon your telling me."
"And I think you are quite right, sir, as her father. Well, she is
troubled with a little spitting of blood."
Mr. Lusignan turned pale. "My child! spitting of blood! God
"Oh, do not alarm yourself. It is nothing serious."
"Don't tell me!" said the father. "It is always serious. And she
kept this from me!"
Masking his agitation for the time, he inquired how often it had
occurred, this grave symptom.
"Three or four times this last month. But I may as well tell you
at once: I have examined her carefully, and I do not think it is
from the lungs."
"From the throat, then?"
"No; from the liver. Everything points to that organ as the seat
of derangement: not that there is any lesion; only a tendency to
congestion. I am treating her accordingly, and have no doubt of
"Who is the ablest physician hereabouts?" asked Lusignan, abruptly.
"Dr. Snell, I think."
"Give me his address."
"I'll write to him, if you like, and appoint a consultation." He
added, with vast but rather sudden alacrity, "It will be a great
satisfaction to my own mind."
"Then send to him, if you please, and let him be here to-morrow
morning; if not, I shall take her to London for advice at once."
On this understanding they parted, and Lusignan went at once to his
daughter. "O my child!" said he, deeply distressed, "how could you
hide this from me?"
"Hide what, papa?" said the girl, looking the picture of
"That you have been spitting blood."
"Who told you that?" said she, sharply.
"Wyman. He is attending you."
Rosa colored with anger. "Chatterbox! He promised me faithfully
"But why, in Heaven's name? What! would you trust this terrible
thing to a stranger, and hide it from your poor father?"
"Yes," replied Rosa, quietly.
The old man would not scold her now; he only said, sadly, "I see
how it is: because I will not let you marry poverty, you think I do
not love you." And he sighed.
"O papa! the idea!" said Rosa. "Of course, I know you love me. It
was not that, you dear, darling, foolish papa. There! if you must
know, it was because I did not want you to be distressed. I
thought I might get better with a little physic; and, if not, why,
then I thought, 'Papa is an old man; la! I dare say I shall last
his time;' and so, why should I poison your latter days with
worrying about ME?"
Mr. Lusignan stared at her, and his lip quivered; but he thought
the trait hardly consistent with her superficial character. He
could not help saying, half sadly, half bitterly, "Well, but of
course you have told Dr. Staines."
Rosa opened her beautiful eyes, like two suns. "Of course I have
done nothing of the sort. He has enough to trouble him, without
that. Poor fellow! there he is, worrying and striving to make his
fortune, and gain your esteem--'they go together,' you know; you
told him so." (Young cats will scratch when least expected.) "And
for me to go and tell him I am in danger! Why, he would go wild.
He would think of nothing but me and my health. He would never
make his fortune: and so then, even when I am gone, he will never
get a wife, because he has only got genius and goodness and three
thousand pounds. No, papa, I have not told poor Christopher. I
may tease those I love. I have been teasing YOU this ever so long;
but frighten them, and make them miserable? No!"
And here, thinking of the anguish that was perhaps in store for
those she loved, she wanted to cry; it almost choked her not to.
But she fought it bravely down: she reserved her tears for lighter
occasions and less noble sentiments.
Her father held out his arms to her. She ran her footstool to him,
and sat nestling to his heart.
"Please forgive me my misconduct. I have not been a dutiful
daughter ever since you--but now I will. Kiss me, my own papa!
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
She took it from the servant with averted head, not wishing it to
be seen she had been crying, and she started at the handwriting; it
seemed such a coincidence that it should come just as she was
sending for him.
MY OWN BELOVED ROSA,--I now write to tell you, with a heavy heart,
that all is vain. I cannot make, nor purchase, a connection,
except as others do, by time and patience. Being a bachelor is
quite against a young physician. If I had a wife, and such a wife
as you, I should be sure to get on; you would increase my
connection very soon. What, then, lies before us? I see but two
things--to wait till we are old, and our pockets are filled, but
our hearts chilled or soured; or else to marry at once, and climb
the hill together. If you love me as I love you, you will be
saving till the battle is over; and I feel I could find energy and
fortitude for both. Your father, who thinks so much of wealth, can
surely settle something on YOU; and I am not too poor to furnish a
house and start fair. I am not quite obscure--my lectures have
given me a name--and to you, my own love, I hope I may say that I
know more than many of my elders, thanks to good schools, good
method, a genuine love of my noble profession, and a tendency to
study from my childhood. Will you not risk something on my
ability? If not, God help me, for I shall lose you; and what is
life, or fame, or wealth, or any mortal thing to me, without you?
I cannot accept your father's decision; YOU must decide my fate.
You see I have kept away from you until I can do so no more. All
this time the world to me has seemed to want the sun, and my heart
pines and sickens for one sight of you.
Darling Rosa, pray let me look at your face once more.
When this reaches you I shall be at your gate. Let me see you,
though but for a moment, and let me hear my fate from no lips but
yours.--My own love, your heart-broken lover,
This letter stunned her at first. Her mind of late had been turned
away from love to such stern realities. Now she began to be sorry
she had not told him. "Poor thing!" she said to herself, "he
little knows that now all is changed. Papa, I sometimes think,
would deny me nothing now; it is I who would not marry him--to be
buried by him in a month or two. Poor Christopher!"
The next moment she started up in dismay. Why, her father would
miss him. No; perhaps catch him waiting for her. What would he
think? What would Christopher think?--that she had shown her papa
She rang the bell hard. The footman came.
"Send Harriet to me this instant. Oh, and ask papa to come to me."
Then she sat down and dashed off a line to Christopher. This was
for Harriet to take out to him. Anything better than for
Christopher to be caught doing what was wrong.
The footman came back first. "If you please, miss, master has gone
"Run after him--the road to Gravesend."
"No. It is no use. Never mind."
Then Harriet came in. "Did you want me, miss?"
"Yes. No--never mind now."
She was afraid to do anything for fear of making matters worse.
She went to the window, and stood looking anxiously out, with her
hands working. Presently she uttered a little scream and shrank
away to the sofa. She sank down on it, half sitting, half lying,
hid her face in her hands, and waited.
Staines, with a lover's impatience, had been more than an hour at
the gate, or walking up and down close by it, his heart now burning
with hope, now freezing with fear, that she would decline a meeting
on these terms.
At last the postman came, and then he saw he was too soon; but now
in a few minutes Rosa would have his letter, and then he should
soon know whether she would come or not. He looked up at the
drawing-room windows. They were full of light. She was there in
all probability. Yet she did not come to them. But why should
she, if she was coming out?
He walked up and down the road. She did not come. His heart began
to sicken with doubt. His head drooped; and perhaps it was owing
to this that he almost ran against a gentleman who was coming the
other way. The moon shone bright on both faces.
"Dr. Staines!" said Mr. Lusignan surprised. Christopher uttered an
ejaculation more eloquent than words.
They stared at each other.
"You were coming to call on us?"
"N--no," stammered Christopher.
Lusignan thought that odd; however, he said politely, "No matter,
it is fortunate. Would you mind coming in?"
"No," faltered Christopher, and stared at him ruefully, puzzled
more and more, but beginning to think, after all, it might be a
They entered the gate, and in one moment he saw Rosa at the window,
and she saw him.
Then he altered his opinion again. Rosa had sent her father out to
him. But how was this? The old man did not seem angry.
Christopher's heart gave a leap inside him, and he began to glow
with the wildest hopes. For, what could this mean but relenting?
Mr. Lusignan took him first into the study, and lighted two candles
himself. He did not want the servants prying.
The lights showed Christopher a change in Mr. Lusignan. He looked
ten years older.
"You are not well, sir," said Christopher gently.
"My health is well enough, but I am a broken-hearted man. Dr.
Staines, forget all that passed here at your last visit. All that
is over. Thank you for loving my poor girl as you do; give me your
hand; God bless you. Sir, I am sorry to say it is as a physician I
invite you now. She is ill, sir, very, very ill."
"Ill! and not tell me!"
"She kept it from you, my poor friend, not to distress you; and she
tried to keep it from me, but how could she? For two months she
has had some terrible complaint--it is destroying her. She is the
ghost of herself. Oh, my poor child! my child!"
The old man sobbed aloud. The young man stood trembling, and ashy
pale. Still, the habits of his profession, and the experience of
dangers overcome, together with a certain sense of power, kept him
up; but, above all, love and duty said, "Be firm." He asked for an
outline of the symptoms.
They alarmed him greatly.
"Let us lose no more time," said he. "I will see her at once."
"Do you object to my being present?"
"Of course not."
"Shall I tell you what Dr. Snell says it is, and Mr. Wyman?"
"By all means--after I have seen her."
This comforted Mr. Lusignan. He was to get an independent
judgment, at all events.
When they reached the top of the stairs, Dr. Staines paused and
leaned against the baluster. "Give me a moment," said he. "The
patient must not know how my heart is beating, and she must see
nothing in my face but what I choose her to see. Give me your hand
once more, sir; let us both control ourselves. Now announce me."
Mr. Lusignan opened the door, and said, with forced cheerfulness,
"Dr. Staines, my dear, come to give you the benefit of his skill."
She lay on the sofa, just as we left her. Only her bosom began to
Then Christopher Staines drew himself up, and the majesty of
knowledge and love together seemed to dilate his noble frame. He
fixed his eye on that reclining, panting figure, and stepped
lightly but firmly across the room to know the worst, like a lion
walking up to levelled lances.
The young physician walked steadily up to his patient without
taking his eye off her, and drew a chair to her side.
Then she took down one hand--the left--and gave it him, averting
her face tenderly, and still covering it with her right; "For,"
said she to herself, "I am such a fright now." This opportune
reflection, and her heaving bosom, proved that she at least felt
herself something more than his patient. Her pretty consciousness
made his task more difficult; nevertheless, he only allowed himself
to press her hand tenderly with both his palms one moment, and then
he entered on his functions bravely. "I am here as your
"Very well," said she softly.
He gently detained the hand, and put his finger lightly to her
pulse; it was palpitating, and a fallacious test. Oh, how that
beating pulse, by love's electric current, set his own heart
throbbing in a moment!
He put her hand gently, reluctantly down, and said, "Oblige me by
turning this way." She turned, and he winced internally at the
change in her; but his face betrayed nothing. He looked at her
full; and, after a pause, put her some questions: one was as to the
color of the hemorrhage. She said it was bright red.
"Not a tinge of purple?"
"No," said she hopefully, mistaking him.
He suppressed a sigh.
Then he listened at her shoulder-blade and at her chest, and made
her draw her breath while he was listening. The acts were simple,
and usual in medicine, but there was a deep, patient, silent
intensity about his way of doing them.
Mr. Lusignan crept nearer, and stood with both hands on a table,
and his old head bowed, awaiting yet dreading the verdict.
Up to this time, Dr. Staines, instead of tapping and squeezing, and
pulling the patient about, had never touched her with his hand, and
only grazed her with his ear; but now he said "Allow me," and put
both hands to her waist, more lightly and reverently than I can
describe; "Now draw a deep breath, if you please."
"If you could draw a deeper still," said he, insinuatingly.
"There, then!" said she, a little pettishly.
Dr. Staines's eye kindled.
"Hum!" said he. Then, after a considerable pause, "Are you better
or worse after each hemorrhage?"
"La!" said Rosa; "they never asked me that. Why, better."
"Not a bit."
"Rather a sense of relief, perhaps?"
"Yes; I feel lighter and better."
The examination was concluded.
Dr. Staines looked at Rosa, and then at her father. The agony in
that aged face, and the love that agony implied, won him, and it
was to the parent he turned to give his verdict.
"The hemorrhage is from the lungs"--
Lusignan interrupted him: "From the lungs!" cried he, in dismay.
"Yes; a slight congestion of the lungs."
"But not incurable! Oh, not incurable, doctor!"
"Heaven forbid! It is curable--easily--by removing the cause."
"And what is the cause?"
"The cause?"--he hesitated, and looked rather uneasy.--"Well, the
cause, sir, is--tight stays."
The tranquillity of the meeting was instantly disturbed. "Tight
stays! Me!" cried Rosa. "Why, I am the loosest girl in England.
Look, papa!" And, without any apparent effort, she drew herself
in, and poked her little fist between her sash and her gown.
Dr. Staines smiled sadly and a little sarcastically: he was
evidently shy of encountering the lady in this argument; but he was
more at his ease with her father; so he turned towards him and
lectured him freely.
"That is wonderful, sir; and the first four or five female patients
that favored me with it, made me disbelieve my other senses; but
Miss Lusignan is now about the thirtieth who has shown me that
marvellous feat, with a calm countenance that belies the herculean
effort. Nature has her every-day miracles: a boa-constrictor,
diameter seventeen inches, can swallow a buffalo; a woman, with her
stays bisecting her almost, and lacerating her skin, can yet for
one moment make herself seem slack, to deceive a juvenile
physician. The snake is the miracle of expansion; the woman is the
prodigy of contraction."
"Highly grateful for the comparison!" cried Rosa. "Women and
Dr. Staines blushed and looked uncomfortable. "I did not mean to
be offensive; it certainly was a very clumsy comparison."
"What does that matter?" said Mr. Lusignan, impatiently. "Be
quiet, Rosa, and let Dr. Staines and me talk sense."
"Oh, then I am nobody in the business!" said this wise young lady.
"You are everybody," said Staines, soothingly. "But," suggested
he, obsequiously, "if you don't mind, I would rather explain my
views to your father--on this one subject."
"And a pretty subject it is!"
Dr. Staines then invited Mr. Lusignan to his lodgings, and promised
to explain the matter anatomically. "Meantime," said he, "would
you be good enough to put your hands to my waist, as I did to the
Mr. Lusignan complied; and the patient began to titter directly, to
put them out of countenance.
"Please observe what takes place when I draw a full breath.
"Now apply the same test to the patient. Breathe your best,
please, Miss Lusignan."
The patient put on a face full of saucy mutiny.
"To oblige us both."
"Oh, how tiresome!"
"I am aware it is rather laborious," said Staines, a little dryly;
"but to oblige your father!"
"Oh, anything to oblige papa," said she, spitefully. "There! And
I do hope it will be the last--la! no; I don't hope that, neither."
Dr. Staines politely ignored her little attempts to interrupt the
argument. "You found, sir, that the muscles of my waist, and my
intercostal ribs themselves, rose and fell with each inhalation and
exhalation of air by the lungs."
"I did; but my daughter's waist was like dead wood, and so were her
At this volunteer statement, Rosa colored to her temples. "Thanks,
papa! Pack me off to London, and sell me for a big doll!"
"In other words," said the lecturer, mild and pertinacious, "with
us the lungs have room to blow, and the whole bony frame expands
elastic with them, like the woodwork of a blacksmith's bellows; but
with this patient, and many of her sex, that noble and divinely
framed bellows is crippled and confined by a powerful machine of
human construction; so it works lamely and feebly: consequently too
little air, and of course too little oxygen, passes through that
spongy organ whose very life is air. Now mark the special result
in this case: being otherwise healthy and vigorous, our patient's
system sends into the lungs more blood than that one crippled organ
can deal with; a small quantity becomes extravasated at odd times;
it accumulates, and would become dangerous; then Nature,
strengthened by sleep, and by some hours' relief from the
diabolical engine, makes an effort and flings it off: that is why
the hemorrhage comes in the morning, and why she is the better for
it, feeling neither faint nor sick, but relieved of a weight.
This, sir, is the rationale of the complaint; and it is to you I
must look for the cure. To judge from my other female patients,
and from the few words Miss Lusignan has let fall, I fear we must
not count on any very hearty co-operation from her: but you are her
father, and have great authority; I conjure you to use it to the
full, as you once used it--to my sorrow--in this very room. I am
forgetting my character. I was asked here only as her physician.
He gave a little gulp, and hurried away, with an abruptness that
touched the father and offended the sapient daughter.
However, Mr. Lusignan followed him, and stopped him before he left
the house, and thanked him warmly; and to his surprise, begged him
to call again in a day or two.
"Well, Rosa, what do you say?"
"I say that I am very unfortunate in my doctors. Mr. Wyman is a
chatterbox and knows nothing. Dr. Snell is Mr. Wyman's echo.
Christopher is a genius, and they are always full of crotchets. A
pretty doctor! Gone away, and not prescribed for me!"
Mr. Lusignan admitted it was odd. "But, after all," said he, "if
medicine does you no good?"
"Ah! but any medicine HE had prescribed would have done me good,
and that makes it all the unkinder."
"If you think so highly of his skill, why not take his advice? It
can do no harm."
"No harm? Why, if I was to leave them off I should catch a
dreadful cold; and that would be sure to settle on my chest, and
carry me off, in my present delicate state. Besides, it is so
unfeminine not to wear them."
This staggered Mr. Lusignan, and he was afraid to press the point;
but what Staines had said fermented in his mind.
Dr. Snell and Mr. Wyman continued their visits and their
The patient got a little worse.
Mr. Lusignan hoped Christopher would call again, but he did not.
When Dr. Staines had satisfied himself that the disorder was easily
curable, then wounded pride found an entrance even into his loving
heart. That two strangers should have been consulted before him!
He was only sent for because they could not cure her.
As he seemed in no hurry to repeat his visit, Mr. Lusignan called
on him, and said, politely, he had hoped to receive another call
ere this. "Personally," said he, "I was much struck with your
observations; but my daughter is afraid she will catch cold if she
leaves off her corset, and that, you know, might be very serious."
Dr. Staines groaned, and, when he had groaned, he lectured.
"Female patients are wonderfully monotonous in this matter; they
have a programme of evasions; and whether the patient is a lady or
a housemaid, she seldom varies from that programme. You find her
breathing life's air with half a bellows, and you tell her so.
'Oh, no,' says she; and does the gigantic feat of contraction we
witnessed that evening at your house. But, on inquiry, you learn
there is a raw red line ploughed in her flesh by the cruel stays.
'What is that?' you ask, and flatter yourself you have pinned her.
Not a bit. 'That was the last pair. I changed them, because they
hurt me.' Driven out of that by proofs of recent laceration, they
say, 'If I leave them off I should catch my death of cold,' which
is equivalent to saying there is no flannel in the shops, no common
sense nor needles at home."
He then laid before him some large French plates, showing the
organs of the human trunk, and bade him observe in how small a
space, and with what skill, the Creator has packed so many large
yet delicate organs, so that they should be free and secure from
friction, though so close to each other. He showed him the liver,
an organ weighing four pounds, and of large circumference; the
lungs, a very large organ, suspended in the chest and impatient of
pressure; the heart, the stomach, the spleen, all of them too
closely and artfully packed to bear any further compression.
Having thus taken him by the eye, he took him by the mind.
"Is it a small thing for the creature to say to her Creator, 'I can
pack all this egg-china better than you can,' and thereupon to jam
all those vital organs close, by a powerful, a very powerful and
ingenious machine? Is it a small thing for that sex, which, for
good reasons, the Omniscient has made larger in the waist than the
male, to say to her Creator, 'You don't know your business; women
ought to be smaller in the waist than men, and shall be throughout
the civilized world'?"
In short, he delivered so many true and pointed things on this
trite subject, that the old gentleman was convinced, and begged him
to come over that very evening and convince Rosa.
Dr. Staines shook his head dolefully, and all his fire died out of
him at having to face the fair. "Reason will be wasted. Authority
is the only weapon. My profession and my reading have both taught
me that the whole character of her sex undergoes a change the
moment a man interferes with their dress. From Chaucer's day to
our own, neither public satire nor private remonstrance has ever
shaken any of their monstrous fashions. Easy, obliging, pliable,
and weaker of will than men in other things, do but touch their
dress, however objectionable, and rock is not harder, iron is not
more stubborn, than these soft and yielding creatures. It is no
earthly use my coming--I'll come."
He came that very evening, and saw directly she was worse. "Of
course," said he, sadly, "you have not taken my advice."
Rosa replied with a toss and an evasion, "I was not worth a
"A physician can prescribe without sending his patient to the
druggist; and when he does, then it is his words are gold."
Rosa shook her head with an air of lofty incredulity.
He looked ruefully at Mr. Lusignan and was silent. Rosa smiled
sarcastically; she thought he was at his wit's end.
Not quite: he was cudgelling his brains in search of some horribly
unscientific argument, that might prevail; for he felt science
would fall dead upon so fair an antagonist. At last his eye
kindled; he had hit on an argument unscientific enough for anybody,
he thought. Said he, ingratiatingly, "You believe the Old
"Of course I do, every syllable."
"And the lessons it teaches?"
"Then let me tell you a story from that book. A Syrian general had
a terrible disease. He consulted Elisha by deputy. Elisha said,
'Bathe seven times in a certain river, Jordan, and you will get
well.' The general did not like this at all; he wanted a
prescription; wanted to go to the druggist; didn't believe in
hydropathy to begin, and, in any case, turned up his nose at
Jordan. What! bathe in an Israelitish brook, when his own country
boasted noble rivers, with a reputation for sanctity into the
bargain? In short, he preferred his leprosy to such irregular
medicine. But it happened, by some immense fortuity, that one of
his servants, though an Oriental, was a friend, instead of a
flatterer; and this sensible fellow said, 'If the prophet told you
to do some great and difficult thing, to get rid of this fearful
malady, would not you do it, however distasteful? and can you
hesitate when he merely says, Wash in the Jordan, and be healed?'
The general listened to good sense, and cured himself. Your case
is parallel. You would take quantities of foul medicine; you would
submit to some painful operation, if life and health depended on
it; then why not do a small thing for a great result? You have
only to take off an unnatural machine which cripples your growing
frame, and was unknown to every one of the women whose forms in
Parian marble the world admires. Off with that monstrosity, and
your cure is as certain as the Syrian general's; though science,
and not inspiration, dictates the easy remedy."
Rosa had listened impatiently, and now replied with some warmth,
"This is shockingly profane. The idea of comparing yourself to
Elisha, and me to a horrid leper! Much obliged! Not that I know
what a leper is."
"Come, come! that is not fair," said Mr. Lusignan. "He only
compared the situation, not the people."
"But, papa, the Bible is not to be dragged into the common affairs
"Then what on earth is the use of it?"
"Oh, papa! Well, it is not Sunday, but I have had a sermon. This
is the clergyman, and you are the commentator--he! he! And so now
let us go back from divinity to medicine. I repeat" (this was the
first time she had said it) "that my other doctors give me real
prescriptions, written in hieroglyphics. You can't look at them
without feeling there MUST be something in them."
An angry spot rose on Christopher's cheek, but he only said, "And
are your other doctors satisfied with the progress your disorder is
making under their superintendence?"
"Perfectly! Papa, tell him what they say, and I'll find him their
prescriptions." She went to a drawer, and rummaged, affecting not
Lusignan complied. "First of all, sir, I must tell you they are
confident it is not the lungs, but the liver."
"The what!" shouted Christopher.
"Ah!" screamed Rosa. "Oh, don't!--bawling!"
"And don't you screech," said her father, with a look of misery and
apprehension impartially distributed on the resounding pair.
"You must have misunderstood them," murmured Staines, in a voice
that was now barely audible a yard off. "The hemorrhage of a
bright red color, and expelled without effort or nausea?"
"From the liver--they have assured me again and again," said
Christopher's face still wore a look of blank amazement, till Rosa
herself confirmed it positively.
Then he cast a look of agony upon her, and started up in a passion,
forgetting once more that his host abhorred the sonorous. "Oh,
shame! shame!" he cried, "that the noble profession of medicine
should be disgraced by ignorance such as this." Then he said,
sternly, "Sir, do not mistake my motives; but I decline to have
anything further to do with this case, until those two gentlemen
have been relieved of it; and, as this is very harsh, and on my
part unprecedented, I will give you one reason out of many I COULD
give you. Sir, there is no road from the liver to the throat by
which blood can travel in this way, defying the laws of gravity;
and they knew, from the patient, that no strong expellent force has
ever been in operation. Their diagnosis, therefore, implies
agnosis, or ignorance too great to be forgiven. I will not share
my patient with two gentlemen who know so little of medicine, and
know nothing of anatomy, which is the A B C of medicine. Can I see
These were handed to him. "Good heavens!" said he, "have you taken
"Most of them."
"Why, then you have drunk about two gallons of unwholesome liquids,
and eaten a pound or two of unwholesome solids. These medicines
have co-operated with the malady. The disorder lies, not in the
hemorrhage, but in the precedent extravasation that is a drain on
the system; and how is the loss to be supplied? Why, by taking a
little more nourishment than before; there is no other way; and
probably Nature, left to herself, might have increased your
appetite to meet the occasion. But those two worthies have struck
that weapon out of Nature's hand; they have peppered away at the
poor ill-used stomach with drugs and draughts, not very deleterious
I grant you, but all more or less indigestible, and all tending,
not to whet the appetite, but to clog the stomach, or turn the
stomach, or pester the stomach, and so impair the appetite, and so
co-operate, indirectly, with the malady."
"This is good sense," said Lusignan. "I declare, I--I wish I knew
how to get rid of them."
"Oh, I'll do that, papa."
"No, no; it is not worth a rumpus."
"I'll do it too politely for that. Christopher, you are very
clever--TERRIBLY clever. Whenever I threw their medicines away, I
was always a little better that day. I will sacrifice them to you.
It IS a sacrifice. They are both so kind and chatty, and don't
grudge me hieroglyphics; now you do."
She sat down and wrote two sweet letters to Dr. Snell and Mr.
Wyman, thanking them for the great attention they had paid her; but
finding herself getting steadily worse, in spite of all they had
done for her, she proposed to discontinue her medicines for a time,
and try change of air.
"And suppose they call to see whether you are changing the air?"
"In that case, papa--'not at home.'"
The notes were addressed and despatched.
Then Dr. Staines brightened up, and said to Lusignan, "I am now
happy to tell you that I have overrated the malady. The sad change
I see in Miss Lusignan is partly due to the great bulk of
unwholesome esculents she has been eating and drinking under the
head of medicines. These discontinued, she might linger on for
years, existing, though not living--the tight-laced cannot be said
to live. But if she would be healthy and happy, let her throw that
diabolical machine into the fire. It is no use asking her to
loosen it; she can't. Once there, the temptation is too strong.
Off with it, and, take my word, you will be one of the healthiest
and most vigorous young ladies in Europe."
Rosa looked rueful, and almost sullen. She said she had parted
with her doctors for him, but she really could not go about without
stays. "They are as loose as they can be. See!"
"That part of the programme is disposed of," said Christopher.
"Please go on to No. 2. How about the raw red line where the loose
machine has sawed you?"
"What red line? No such thing! Somebody or other has been peeping
in at my window. I'll have the ivy cut down to-morrow."
"Simpleton!" said Mr. Lusignan, angrily. "You have let the cat out
of the bag. There is such a mark, then, and this extraordinary
young man has discerned it with the eye of science."
"He never discerned it at all," said Rosa, red as fire; "and, what
is more, he never will."
"I don't want to. I should be very sorry to. I hope it will be
gone in a week."
"I wish YOU were gone now--exposing me in this cruel way," said
Rosa, angry with herself for having said an idiotic thing, and
furious with him for having made her say it.
"Oh, Rosa!" said Christopher, in a voice of tenderest reproach.
But Mr. Lusignan interfered promptly. "Rosa, no noise. I will not
have you snapping at your best friend and mine. If you are
excited, you had better retire to your own room and compose
yourself. I hate a clamor."
Rosa made a wry face at this rebuke, and then began to cry quietly.
Every tear was like a drop of blood from Christopher's heart.
"Pray don't scold her, sir," said he, ready to snivel himself.
"She meant nothing unkind: it is only her pretty sprightly way; and
she did not really imagine a love so reverent as mine"--
"Don't YOU interfere between my father and me," said this
reasonable young lady, now in an ungovernable state of feminine
"No, Rosa," said Christopher, humbly. "Mr. Lusignan," said he, "I
hope you will tell her that, from the very first, I was unwilling
to enter on this subject with HER. Neither she nor I can forget my
double character. I have not said half as much to her as I ought,
being her physician; and yet you see I have said more than she can
bear from me, who, she knows, love her and revere her. Then, once
for all, do pray let me put this delicate matter into your hands:
it is a case for parental authority."
"Unfatherly tyranny, that means," said Rosa. "What business have
gentlemen interfering in such things? It is unheard of. I will
not submit to it, even from papa."
"Well, you need not scream at me," said Mr. Lusignan; and he
shrugged his shoulders to Staines. "She is impracticable, you see.
If I do my duty, there will be a disturbance."
Now this roused the bile of Dr. Staines. "What, sir!" said he,
"you could separate her and me by your authority, here in this very
room; and yet, when her life is at stake, you abdicate! You could
part her from a man who loved her with every drop of his heart,--
and she said she loved him, or, at all events, preferred him to
others,--and you cannot part her from a miserable corset, although
you see in her poor wasted face that it is carrying her to the
churchyard. In that case, sir, there is but one thing for you to
do,--withdraw your opposition and let me marry her. As her lover I
am powerless; but invest me with a husband's authority, and you
will soon see the roses return to her cheek, and her elastic figure
expanding, and her eye beaming with health and the happiness that
comes of perfect health."
Mr. Lusignan made an answer neither of his hearers expected. He
said, "I have a great mind to take you at your word. I am too old
and fond of quiet to drive a Simpleton in single harness."
This contemptuous speech, and, above all, the word Simpleton, which
had been applied to her pretty freely by young ladies at school,
and always galled her terribly, inflicted so intolerable a wound on
Rosa's vanity, that she was ready to burst: on that, of course, her
stays contributed their mite of physical uneasiness. Thus
irritated mind and body, she burned to strike in return; and as she
could not slap her father in the presence of another, she gave it
"You can turn me out of doors," said she, "if you are tired of your
daughter, but I am not such a SIMPLETON as to marry a tyrant. No;
he has shown the cloven foot in time. A husband's AUTHORITY,
indeed!" Then she turned her hand, and gave it him direct. "You
told me a different story when you were paying your court to me;
then you were to be my servant,--all hypocritical sweetness. You
had better go and marry a Circassian slave. They don't wear stays,
and they do wear trousers; so she will be unfeminine enough, even
for you. No English lady would let her husband dictate to her
about such a thing. I can have as many husbands as I like, without
falling into the clutches of a tyrant. You are a rude, indelicate--
And so please understand it is all over between you and me."
Both her auditors stood aghast, for she uttered this conclusion
with a dignity of which the opening gave no promise, and the
occasion, weighed in masculine balances, was not worthy.
"You do not mean that. You cannot mean it," said Dr. Staines,
"I do mean it," said she, firmly; "and, if you are a gentleman, you
will not compel me to say it twice--three times, I mean."
At this dagger-stroke Christopher turned very pale, but he
maintained his dignity. "I am a gentleman," said he, quietly, "and
a very unfortunate one. Good-by, sir; thank you kindly. Good-by,
Rosa; God bless you! Oh, pray take a thought! Remember, your life
and death are in your own hand now. I am powerless."
And he left the house in sorrow, and just, but not pettish,
When he was gone, father and daughter looked at each other, and
there was the silence that succeeds a storm.
Rosa, feeling the most uneasy, was the first to express her
satisfaction. "There, HE is gone, and I am glad of it. Now you
and I shall never quarrel again. I was quite right. Such
impertinence! Such indelicacy! A fine prospect for me if I had
married such a man! However, he is gone, and so there's an end of
it. The idea! telling a young lady, before her father, she is
tight-laced! If you had not been there I could have forgiven him.
But I am not; it is a story. Now," suddenly exalting her voice, "I
know you believe him."
"I say nothing," whispered papa, hoping to still her by example.
This ruse did not succeed.
"But you look volumes," cried she: "and I can't bear it. I won't
bear it. If you don't believe ME, ask my MAID." And with this
felicitous speech, she rang the bell.
"You'll break the wire if you don't mind," suggested her father,
"All the better! Why should not wires be broken as well as my
heart? Oh, here she is! Now, Harriet, come here."
"And tell the truth. AM I tight-laced?"
Harriet looked in her face a moment to see what was required of
her, and then said, "That you are not, miss. I never dressed a
young lady as wore 'em easier than you do."
"There, papa! That will do, Harriet."
Harriet retired as far as the keyhole; she saw something was up.
"Now," said Rosa, "you see I was right; and, after all, it was a
match you did not approve. Well, it is all over, and now you may
write to your favorite, Colonel Bright. If he comes here, I'll box
his old ears. I hate him. I hate them all. Forgive your wayward
girl. I'll stay with you all my days. I dare say that will not be
long, now I have quarrelled with my guardian angel; and all for
what? Papa! papa! how CAN you sit there and not speak me one word
of comfort? 'SIMPLETON?' Ah! that I am to throw away a love a
queen is scarcely worthy of; and all for what? Really, if it
wasn't for the ingratitude and wickedness of the thing, it is too
laughable. Ha! ha!--oh! oh! oh!--ha! ha! ha!"
And off she went into hysterics, and began to gulp and choke
Her father cried for help in dismay. In ran Harriet, saw, and
screamed, but did not lose her head; this veracious person whipped
a pair of scissors off the table, and cut the young lady's stay-
laces directly. Then there was a burst of imprisoned beauty; a
deep, deep sigh of relief came from a bosom that would have done
honor to Diana; and the scene soon concluded with fits of harmless
weeping, renewed at intervals.
When it had settled down to this, her father, to soothe her, said
he would write to Dr. Staines, and bring about a reconciliation, if
"No," said she, "you shall kill me sooner. I should die of shame."
She added, "Oh, pray, from this hour, never mention his name to me."
And then she had another cry.
Mr. Lusignan was a sensible man: he dropped the subject for the
present; but he made up his mind to one thing--that he would never
part with Dr. Staines as a physician.
Next day Rosa kept her own room until dinner-time, and was as
unhappy as she deserved to be. She spent her time in sewing on
stiff flannel linings and crying. She half hoped Christopher would
write to her, so that she might write back that she forgave him.
But not a line.
At half-past six her volatile mind took a turn, real or affected.
She would cry no more for an ungrateful fellow,--ungrateful for not
seeing through the stone walls how she had been employed all the
morning; and making it up. So she bathed her red eyes, made a
great alteration in her dress, and came dancing into the room
humming an Italian ditty.
As they were sitting together in the dining-room after dinner, two
letters came by the same post to Mr. Lusignan from Mr. Wyman and
Mr. Wyman's letter:--
DEAR SIR,--I am sorry to hear from Miss Lusignan that she intends
to discontinue medical advice. The disorder was progressing
favorably, and nothing to be feared, under proper treatment.
Dr. Snell's letter:--
DEAR SIR,--Miss Lusignan has written to me somewhat impatiently and
seems disposed to dispense with my visits. I do not, however,
think it right to withdraw without telling you candidly that this
is an unwise step. Your daughter's health is in a very precarious
Rosa burst out laughing. "I have nothing to fear, and I'm on the
brink of the grave. That comes of writing without a consultation.
If they had written at one table, I should have been neither well
nor ill. Poor Christopher!" and her sweet face began to work
"There! there! drink a glass of wine."
She did, and a tear with it, that ran into the glass like
Warned by this that grief sat very near the bright, hilarious
surface, Mr. Lusignan avoided all emotional subjects for the
present. Next day, however, he told her she might dismiss her
lover, but no power should make him dismiss his pet physician,
unless her health improved.
"I will not give you that excuse for inflicting him on me again,"
said the young hypocrite.
She kept her word. She got better and better, stronger, brighter,
She took to walking every day, and increasing the distance, till
she could walk ten miles without fatigue.
Her favorite walk was to a certain cliff that commanded a noble
view of the sea. To get to it she must pass through the town of
Gravesend; and we may be sure she did not pass so often through
that city without some idea of meeting the lover she had used so
ill, and eliciting an APOLOGY from him. Sly puss!
When she had walked twenty times, or thereabouts, through the town,
and never seen him, she began to fear she had offended him past
hope. Then she used to cry at the end of every walk.
But by and by bodily health, vanity, and temper combined to rouse
the defiant spirit. Said she, "If he really loved me, he would not
take my word in such a hurry. And besides, why does he not watch
me, and find out what I am doing, and where I walk?"
At last she really began to persuade herself that she was an ill-
used and slighted girl. She was very angry at times, and
disconsolate at others; a mixed state in which hasty and impulsive
young ladies commit lifelong follies.
Mr. Lusignan observed the surface only: he saw his invalid daughter
getting better every day, till at last she became a picture of
health and bodily vigor. Relieved of his fears, he troubled his
head but little about Christopher Staines. Yet he esteemed him,
and had got to like him; but Rosa was a beauty, and could do better
than marry a struggling physician, however able. He launched out
into a little gayety, resumed his quiet dinner-parties; and, after
some persuasion, took his now blooming daughter to a ball given by
the officers of Chatham.
She was the belle of the ball beyond dispute, and danced with
ethereal grace and athletic endurance. She was madly fond of
waltzing, and here she encountered what she was pleased to call a
divine dancer. It was a Mr. Reginald Falcon, a gentleman who had
retired to the seaside to recruit his health and finances sore
tried by London and Paris. Falcon had run through his fortune, but
had acquired, in the process, certain talents which, as they cost
the acquirer dear, so they sometimes repay him, especially if he is
not overburdened with principle, and adopts the notion that, the
world having plucked him, he has a right to pluck the world. He
could play billiards well, but never so well as when backing
himself for a heavy stake. He could shoot pigeons well, and his
shooting improved under that which makes some marksmen miss--a
heavy bet against the gun. He danced to perfection; and being a
well-bred, experienced, brazen, adroit fellow, who knew a little of
everything that was going, he had always plenty to say. Above all,
he had made a particular study of the fair sex; had met with many
successes, many rebuffs; and, at last, by keen study of their
minds, and a habit he had acquired of watching their faces, and
shifting his helm accordingly, had learned the great art of
pleasing them. They admired his face; to me, the short space
between his eyes and his hair, his aquiline nose, and thin straight
lips, suggested the bird of prey a little too much: but to fair
doves, born to be clutched, this similitude perhaps was not very
alarming, even if they observed it.
Rosa danced several times with him, and told him he danced like an
angel. He informed her that was because, for once, he was dancing
with an angel. She laughed and blushed. He flattered deliciously,
and it cost him little; for he fell in love with her that night,
deeper than he had ever been in his whole life of intrigue. He
asked leave to call on her: she looked a little shy at that, and
did not respond. He instantly withdrew his proposal, with an
apology and a sigh that raised her pity. However, she was not a
forward girl, even when excited by dancing and charmed with her
partner; so she left him to find his own way out of that
He was not long about it. At the end of the next waltz he asked
her if he might venture to solicit an introduction to her father.
"Oh, certainly," said she. "What a selfish girl I am! this is
terribly dull for him."
The introduction being made, and Rosa being engaged for the next
three dances, Mr. Falcon sat by Mr. Lusignan and entertained him.
For this little piece of apparent self-denial he was paid in
various coin: Lusignan found out he was the son of an old
acquaintance, and so the door of Kent Villa opened to him;
meantime, Rosa Lusignan never passed him, even in the arms of a
cavalry officer, without bestowing a glance of approval and
gratitude on him. "What a good-hearted young man!" thought she.
"How kind of him to amuse papa; and now I can stay so much longer."
Falcon followed up the dance by a call, and was infinitely
agreeable: followed up the call by another, and admired Rosa with
so little disguise that Mr. Lusignan said to her, "I think you have
made a conquest. His father had considerable estates in Essex. I
presume he inherits them."
"Oh, never mind his estates," said Rosa, "he dances like an angel,
and gossips charmingly, and IS so nice."
Christopher Staines pined for this girl in silence: his fine frame
got thinner, his pale cheek paler, as she got rosier and rosier;
and how? Why, by following the very advice she had snubbed him for
giving her. At last, he heard she had been the belle of a ball,
and that she had been seen walking miles from home, and blooming as
a Hebe. Then his deep anxiety ceased, his pride stung him
furiously; he began to think of his own value, and to struggle with
all his might against his deep love. Sometimes he would even
inveigh against her, and call her a fickle, ungrateful girl,
capable of no strong passion but vanity. Many a hard term he
applied to her in his sorrowful solitude; but not a word when he
had a hearer. He found it hard to rest: he kept dashing up to
London and back. He plunged furiously into study. He groaned and
sighed, and fought the hard and bitter fight that is too often the
lot of the deep that love the shallow. Strong, but single-hearted,
no other lady could comfort him. He turned from female company,
and shunned all for the fault of one.
The inward contest wore him. He began to look very thin and wan;
and all for a Simpleton!
Mr. Falcon prolonged his stay in the neighborhood, and drove a
handsome dogcart over twice a week to visit Mr. Lusignan.
He used to call on that gentleman at four o'clock, for at that hour
Mr. Lusignan was always out, and his daughter always at home.
She was at home at that hour because she took her long walks in the
morning. While her new admirer was in bed, or dressing, or
breakfasting, she was springing along the road with all the
elasticity of youth, and health, and native vigor, braced by daily
Twenty-one of these walks did she take, with no other result than
health and appetite; but the twenty-second was more fertile--
extremely fertile. Starting later than usual, she passed through
Gravesend while Reginald Falcon was smoking at his front window.
He saw her, and instantly doffed his dressing-gown and donned his
coat to follow her. He was madly in love with her, and being a man
who had learned to shoot pigeons and opportunities flying, he
instantly resolved to join her in her walk, get her clear of the
town, by the sea-beach, where beauty melts, and propose to her.
Yes, marriage had not been hitherto his habit, but this girl was
peerless: he was pledged by honor and gratitude to Phoebe Dale; but
hang all that now. "No man should marry one woman when he loves
another; it is dishonorable." He got into the street and followed
her as fast as he could without running.
It was not so easy to catch her. Ladies are not built for running;
but a fine, tall, symmetrical girl who has practised walking fast
can cover the ground wonderfully in walking--if she chooses. It
was a sight to see how Rosa Lusignan squared her shoulders and
stepped out from the waist like a Canadian girl skating, while her
elastic foot slapped the pavement as she spanked along.
She had nearly cleared the town before Falcon came up with her.
He was hardly ten yards from her when an unexpected incident
occurred. She whisked round the corner of Bird Street, and ran
plump against Christopher Staines; in fact, she darted into his
arms, and her face almost touched the breast she had wounded so
Rosa cried "Oh!" and put up her hands to her face in lovely
confusion, coloring like a peony.
"I beg your pardon," said Christopher, stiffly, but in a voice that
"No," said Rosa, "it was I ran against you. I walk so fast now.
Hope I did not hurt you."
"Well, then, frighten you?"
"Oh, please don't quarrel with me in the STREET," said Rosa,
cunningly implying that he was the quarrelsome one. "I am going on
the beach. Good-by!" This adieu she uttered softly, and in a
hesitating tone that belied it. She started off, however, but much
more slowly than she was going before; and, as she went, she turned
her head with infinite grace, and kept looking askant down at the
pavement two yards behind her: moreover she went close to the wall,
and left room at her side for another to walk.
Christopher hesitated a moment; but the mute invitation, so arch
yet timid, so pretty, tender, sly, and womanly, was too much for
him, as it has generally proved for males, and the philosopher's
foot was soon in the very place to which the Simpleton with the
mere tail of her eye directed it.
They walked along, side by side, in silence, Staines agitated,
gloomy, confused, Rosa radiant and glowing, yet not knowing what to
say for herself, and wanting Christopher to begin. So they walked
along without a word.
Falcon followed them at some distance to see whether it was an
admirer or only an acquaintance. A lover he never dreamed of; she
had shown such evident pleasure in his company, and had received
his visits alone so constantly.
However, when the pair had got to the beach, and were walking
slower and slower, he felt a pang of rage and jealousy, turned on
his heel with an audible curse, and found Phoebe Dale a few yards
behind him with a white face and a peculiar look. He knew what the
look meant; he had brought it to that faithful face before to-day.
"You are better, Miss Lusignan."
"Better, Dr. Staines? I am health itself thanks to--hem!"
"Our estrangement has agreed with you?" This very bitterly.
"You know very well it is not that. Oh, please don't make me cry
in the streets."
This humble petition, or rather meek threat, led to another long
silence. It was continued till they had nearly reached the shore.
But, meantime, Rosa's furtive eyes scanned Christopher's face, and
her conscience smote her at the signs of suffering. She felt a
desire to beg his pardon with deep humility; but she suppressed
that weakness. She hung her head with a pretty, sheepish air, and
asked him if he could not think of something agreeable to say to
one after deserting one so long.
"I am afraid not," said Christopher, bluntly. "I have an awkward
habit of speaking the truth; and some people can't bear that, not
even when it is spoken for their good."
"That depends on temper, and nerves, and things," said Rosa,
deprecatingly; then softly, "I could bear anything from you now."
"Indeed!" said Christopher, grimly. "Well, then, I hear you had no
sooner got rid of your old lover, for loving you too well and
telling you the truth, than you took up another,--some flimsy man
of fashion, who will tell you any lie you like."
"It is a story, a wicked story," cried Rosa, thoroughly alarmed.
"Me, a lover! He dances like an angel; I can't help that."
"Are his visits at your house like angels'--few and far between?"
And the true lover's brow lowered black upon her for the first
Rosa changed color, and her eyes fell a moment. "Ask papa," she
said. "His father was an old friend of papa's."
"Rosa, you are prevaricating. Young men do not call on old
gentlemen when there is an attractive young lady in the house."
The argument was getting too close; so Rosa operated a diversion.
"So," said she, with a sudden air of lofty disdain, swiftly and
adroitly assumed, "you have had me watched?"
"Not I; I only hear what people say."
"Listen to gossip and not have me watched! That shows how little
you really cared for me. Well, if you had, you would have made a
little discovery, that is all."
"Should I?" said Christopher, puzzled. "What?"
"I shall not tell you. Think what you please. Yes, sir, you would
have found out that I take long walks every day, all alone; and
what is more, that I walk through Gravesend, hoping--like a goose--
that somebody really loved me, and would meet me, and beg my
pardon; and if he had, I should have told him it was only my
tongue, and my nerves, and things; my heart was his, and my
gratitude. And after all, what do words signify, when I am a good,
obedient girl at bottom? So that is what you have lost by not
condescending to look after me. Fine love!--Christopher, beg my
"May I inquire for what?"
"Why, for not understanding me; for not knowing that I should be
sorry the moment you were gone. I took them off the very next day,
to please you."
"Took off whom?--Oh, I understand. You did? Then you ARE a good
"Didn't I tell you I was? A good, obedient girl, and anything but