Part 3 out of 9
"I can't help it. She is a traitress."
"And you have quarrelled with her about an old wardrobe."
"No, for her disloyalty, and her base good-for-nothingness. Oh!
Uncle Philip got up, looking sour. "Good afternoon, Mrs.
Christopher," said he, very dryly.
Christopher accompanied him to the foot of the stairs. "Well,
Christopher," said he, "matrimony is a blunder at the best; and you
have not done the thing by halves. You have married a simpleton.
She will be your ruin."
"Uncle Philip, since you only come here to insult us, I hope in
future you will stay at home."
"Oh! with pleasure, sir. Good-by!"
Christopher Staines came back, looking pained and disturbed.
"There," said he, "I feared it would come to this. I have
quarrelled with Uncle Philip."
"Oh! how could you?"
"He affronted me."
"Never you mind. Don't let us say anything more about it, darling.
It is a pity, a sad pity--he was a good friend of mine once."
He paused, entered what had passed in his diary, and then sat down,
with a gentle expression of sadness on his manly features. Rosa
hung about him, soft and pitying, till it cleared away, at all
events for the time.
Next day they went together to clear the goods Rosa had purchased.
Whilst the list was being made out in the office, in came the fair-
haired boy, with a ten-pound note in his very hand. Rosa caught
sight of it, and turned to the auctioneer, with a sweet, pitying
"Oh! sir, surely you will not take all that money from him, poor
child, for a rickety old chair."
The auctioneer stared with amazement at her simplicity, and said,
"What would the vendors say to me?"
She looked distressed, and said, "Well, then, really we ought to
raise a subscription, poor thing!"
"Why, ma'am," said the auctioneer, "he isn't hurt: the article
belonged to his mother and her sister; the brother-in-law isn't on
good terms; so he demanded a public sale. She will get back four
pun ten out of it." Here the clerk put in his word. "And there's
five pounds paid, I forgot to tell you."
"Oh! left a deposit, did he?"
"No, sir. But the laughing hyena gave you five pounds at the end
of the sale."
"The laughing hyena, Mr. Jones?"
"Oh! beg pardon; that is what we call him in the room. He has got
such a curious laugh."
"Oh! I know the gent. He is a retired doctor. I wish he'd laugh
less and buy more: and HE gave you five pounds towards the young
gentleman's arm-chair! Well, I should as soon have expected blood
from a flint. You have got five pounds to pay, sir: so now the
chair will cost your mamma ten shillings. Give him the order and
the change, Mr. Jones."
Christopher and Rosa talked this over in the room whilst the men
were looking out their purchases. "Come," said Rosa; "now I
forgive him sneering at me; his heart is not really hard, you see."
Staines, on the contrary, was very angry. "What!" he cried, pity a
boy who made one bad bargain, that, after all, was not a very bad
bargain; and he had no kindness, nor even common humanity, for my
beautiful Rosa, inexperienced as a child, and buying for her
husband, like a good, affectionate, honest creature, amongst a lot
of sharpers and hard-hearted cynics--like himself."
"It WAS cruel of him," said Rosa, altering her mind in a moment,
and half inclined to cry.
This made Christopher furious. "The ill-natured, crotchety, old--
the fact is, he is a misogynist."
"Oh, the wretch!" said Rosa warmly. "And what is that?"
"Oh! is that all? Why, so do I--after that Florence Cole. Women
are mean, heartless things. Give me men; they are loyal and true."
"All of them?" inquired Christopher, a little satirically. "Read
"Every soul of them," said Mrs. Staines, passing loftily over the
proposed test. "That is, all the ones I care about; and that is my
own, own one."
Disagreeable creatures to have about one--these simpletons!
Mrs. Staines took Christopher to shops to buy the remaining
requisites: and in three days more the house was furnished, two
female servants engaged, and the couple took their luggage over to
Rosa was excited and happy at the novelty of possession and
authority, and that close sense of house proprietorship which
belongs to woman. By dinner-time she could have told you how many
shelves there were in every cupboard, and knew the Bijou by heart
in a way that Christopher never knew it. All this ended, as
running about and excitement generally does, with my lady being
exhausted, and lax with fatigue. So then he made her lie down on a
little couch, while he went through his accounts.
When he had examined all the bills carefully he looked very grave,
and said, "Who would believe this? We began with three thousand
pounds. It was to last us several years--till I got a good
practice. Rosa, there is only fourteen hundred and forty pounds
"Oh, impossible!" said Rosa. "Oh, dear! why did I ever enter a
"No, no, my darling; you were bitten once or twice, but you made
some good bargains too. Remember there was four hundred pounds set
apart for my life policy."
"What a waste of money!"
"Your father did not think so. Then the lease; the premium;
repairs of the drains that would have poisoned my Rosa; turning the
coach-house into a dispensary; painting, papering, and furnishing;
china, and linen, and everything to buy. We must look at this
seriously. Only fourteen hundred and forty pounds left. A slow
profession. No friends. I have quarrelled with Uncle Philip: you
with Mrs. Cole; and her husband would have launched me."
"And it was to please her we settled here. Oh, I could kill her:
"Never mind; it is not a case for despondency, but it is for
prudence. All we have to do is to look the thing in the face, and
be very economical in everything. I had better give you an
allowance for housekeeping; and I earnestly beg you to buy things
yourself whilst you are a poor man's wife, and pay ready money for
everything. My mother was a great manager, and she always said,
'There is but one way: be your own market-woman, and pay on the
spot; never let the tradesmen get you on their books, or, what with
false weight, double charges, and the things your servants order
that never enter the house, you lose more than a hundred a year by
Rosa yielded a languid assent to this part of his discourse, and it
hardly seemed to enter her mind; but she raised no objection; and
in due course he made her a special allowance for housekeeping.
It soon transpired that medical advice was to be had, gratis, at
the Bijou, from eight till ten: and there was generally a good
attendance. But a week passed, and not one patient came of the
class this couple must live by. Christopher set this down to what
people call "the transition period:" his Kent patients had lost
him; his London patients not found him. He wrote to all his
patients in the country, and many of his pupils at the university,
to let them know where he was settled: and then he waited.
Not a creature came.
Rosa bore this very well for a time, so long as the house was a
novelty; but when that excitement was worn out, she began to be
very dull, and used to come and entice him out to walk with her: he
would look wistfully at her, but object that, if he left the house,
he should be sure to lose a patient.
"Oh, they won't come any more for our staying in--tiresome things!"
But Christopher would kiss her, and remain firm. "My love," said
he, "you do not realize how hard a fight there is before us. How
should you? You are very young. No, for your sake, I must not
throw a chance away. Write to your female friends: that will while
away an hour or two."
"What, after that Florence Cole?"
"Write to those who have not made such violent professions."
"So I will, dear. Especially to those that are married and come to
London. Oh, and I'll write to that cold-blooded thing, Lady Cicely
Treherne. Why do you shake your head?"
"Did I? I was not aware. Well, dear, if ladies of rank were to
come here, I fear they might make you discontented with your lot."
"All the women on earth could not do that. However, the chances
are she will not come near me: she left the school quite a big
girl, an immense girl, when I was only twelve. She used to smile
at my capriccios; and once she kissed me--actually. She was an
awful Sawny, though, and so affected: I think I will write to her."
These letters brought just one lady, a Mrs. Turner, who talked to
Rosa very glibly about herself, and amused Rosa twice: at the third
visit, Rosa tried to change the conversation. Mrs. Turner
instantly got up, and went away. She could not bear the sound of
the human voice, unless it was talking about her and her affairs.
And now Staines began to feel downright uneasy. Income was going
steadily out: not a shilling coming in. The lame, the blind, and
the sick frequented his dispensary, and got his skill out of him
gratis, and sometimes a little physic, a little wine, and other
things that cost him money: but of the patients that pay, not one
came to his front door.
He walked round and round his little yard, like a hyena in its
cage, waiting, waiting, waiting: and oh! how he envied the lot of
those who can hunt for work, instead of having to stay at home and
wait for others to come, whose will they cannot influence. His
heart began to sicken with hope deferred, and dim forebodings of
the future; and he saw, with grief, that his wife was getting
duller and duller, and that her days dragged more heavily, far than
his own; for he could study.
At last his knocker began to show signs of life: his visitors were
physicians. His lectures on "Diagnosis" were well known to them;
and one after another found him out. They were polite, kind, even
friendly; but here it ended: these gentlemen, of course, did not
resign their patients to him; and the inferior class of
practitioners avoided his door like a pestilence.
Mrs. Staines, who had always lived for amusement, could strike out
no fixed occupation; her time hung like lead; the house was small;
and in small houses the faults of servants run against the
mistress, and she can't help seeing them, and all the worse for
her. It is easier to keep things clean in the country, and Rosa
had a high standard, which her two servants could never quite
attain. This annoyed her, and she began to scold a little. They
answered civilly, but in other respects remained imperfect beings;
they laid out every shilling they earned in finery; and, this, I am
ashamed to say, irritated Mrs. Staines, who was wearing out her
wedding garments, and had no excuse for buying, and Staines had
begged her to be economical. The more they dressed, the more she
scolded; they began to answer. She gave the cook warning; the
other, though not on good terms with the cook, had a gush of esprit
de corps directly, and gave Mrs. Staines warning.
Mrs. Staines told her husband all this: he took her part, though
without openly interfering; and they had two new servants, not so
good as the last.
This worried Rosa sadly; but it was a flea-bite to the deeper
nature, and more forecasting mind of her husband, still doomed to
pace that miserable yard, like a hyena, chafing, seeking, longing
for the patient that never came.
Rosa used to look out of his dressing-room window, and see him pace
the yard. At first, tears of pity stood in her eyes. By and by
she got angry with the world; and at last, strange to say, a little
irritated with him. It is hard for a weak woman to keep up all her
respect for the man that fails.
One day, after watching him a long time unseen, she got excited,
put on her shawl and bonnet, and ran down to him: she took him by
the arm: "If you love me, come out of this prison, and walk with
me; we are too miserable. I shall be your first patient if this
goes on much longer." He looked at her, saw she was very excited,
and had better be humored; so he kissed her and just said, with a
melancholy smile, "How poor are they that have not patience!" Then
he put on his hat, and walked in the Park and Kensington Gardens
with her. The season was just beginning. There were carriages
enough, and gay Amazons enough, to make poor Rosa sigh more than
Christopher heard the sigh; and pressed her arm, and said,
"Courage, love, I hope to see you among them yet."
"The sooner the better," said she, a little hardly.
"And, meantime, which of them all is as beautiful as you?"
"All I know is, they are more attractive. Who looks at me, walking
Christopher said nothing: but these words seemed to imply a thirst
for admiration, and made him a little uneasy.
By and by the walk put the swift-changing Rosa in spirits, and she
began to chat gayly, and hung prattling and beaming on her
husband's arm, when they entered Curzon Street. Here, however,
occurred an incident, trifling in itself, but unpleasant. Dr.
Staines saw one of his best Kentish patients get feebly out of his
carriage, and call on Dr. Barr. He started, and stopped. Rosa
asked what was the matter. He told her. She said, "We ARE
Staines said nothing; he only quickened his pace; but he was
greatly disturbed. She expected him to complain that she had
dragged him out, and lost him that first chance. But he said
nothing. When they got home, he asked the servant had anybody
"Surely you are mistaken, Jane. A gentleman in a carriage!"
"Not a creature have been since you went out, sir."
"Well, then, dearest," said he sweetly, "we have nothing to
reproach ourselves with." Then he knit his brow gloomily. "It is
worse than I thought. It seems even one's country patients go to
another doctor when they visit London. It is hard. It is hard."
Rosa leaned her head on his shoulder, and curled round him, as one
she would shield against the world's injustice; but she said
nothing; she was a little frightened at his eye that lowered, and
his noble frame that trembled a little, with ire suppressed.
Two days after this, a brougham drove up to the door, and a
tallish, fattish, pasty-faced man got out, and inquired for Dr.
He was shown into the dining-room, and told Jane he had come to
consult the doctor.
Rosa had peeped over the stairs, all curiosity; she glided
noiselessly down, and with love's swift foot got into the yard
before Jane. "He is come! he is come! Kiss me."
Dr. Staines kissed her first, and then asked who was come.
"Oh, nobody of any consequence. ONLY the first patient. Kiss me
Dr. Staines kissed her again, and then was for going to the first
"No," said she; "not yet. I met a doctor's wife at Dr. Mayne's,
and she told me things. You must always keep them waiting; or else
they think nothing of you. Such a funny woman! 'Treat 'em like
dogs, my dear,' she said. But I told her they wouldn't come to be
treated like dogs or any other animal."
"You had better have kept that to yourself, I think."
"Oh! if you are going to be disagreeable, good-by. You can go to
your patient, sir. Christie, dear, if he is very--very ill--and
I'm sure I hope he is--oh, how wicked I am; may I have a new
"If you really want one."
On the patient's card was "Mr. Pettigrew, 47 Manchester Square."
As soon as Staines entered the room, the first patient told him who
and what he was, a retired civilian from India; but he had got a
son there still, a very rising man; wanted to be a parson; but he
would not stand that; bad profession; don't rise by merit; very
hard to rise at all;--no, India was the place. "As for me, I made
my fortune there in ten years. Obliged to leave it now--invalid
this many years; no TONE. Tried two or three doctors in this
neighborhood; heard there was a new one, had written a book on
something. Thought I would try HIM."
To stop him, Staines requested to feel his pulse, and examine his
tongue and eye.
"You are suffering from indigestion," said he. "I will write you a
prescription; but if you want to get well, you must simplify your
diet very much."
While he was writing the prescription, off went this patient's
tongue, and ran through the topics of the day and into his family
Staines listened politely. He could afford it, having only this
At last, the first patient, having delivered an octavo volume of
nothing, rose to go; but it seems that speaking an "infinite deal
of nothing" exhausts the body, though it does not affect the mind;
for the first patient sank down in his chair again. "I have
excited myself too much--feel rather faint."
Staines saw no signs of coming syncope; he rang the bell quietly,
and ordered a decanter of sherry to be brought; the first patient
filled himself a glass; then another; and went off, revived, to
chatter elsewhere. But at the door he said, "I had always a
running account with Dr. Mivar. I suppose you don't object to that
system. Double fee the first visit, single afterwards."
Dr. Staines bowed a little stiffly; he would have preferred the
money. However, he looked at the Blue Book, and found his visitor
lived at 47 Manchester Square; so that removed his anxiety.
The first patient called every other day, chattered nineteen to the
dozen, was exhausted, drank two glasses of sherry, and drove away.
Soon after this a second patient called. This one was a deputy
patient--Collett, a retired butler--kept a lodging-house, and
waited at parties; he lived close by, but had a married daughter in
Chelsea. Would the doctor visit her, and HE would be responsible?
Staines paid the woman a visit or two, and treated her so
effectually, that soon her visits were paid to him. She was cured,
and Staines, who by this time wanted to see money, sent to Collett.
Collett did not answer.
Staines wrote warmly.
Collett dead silent.
Staines employed a solicitor.
Collett said he had recommended the patient, that was all. He had
never said he would pay her debts. That was her husband's
Now her husband was the mate of a ship; would not be in England for
The woman, visited by lawyer's clerk, cried bitterly, and said she
and her children had scarcely enough to eat.
Lawyer advised Staines to abandon the case, and pay him two pounds
fifteen shillings expenses. He did so.
"This is damnable," said he. "I must get it out of Pettigrew; by-
the-by, he has not been here this two days."
He waited another day for Pettigrew, and then wrote to him. No
answer. Called. Pettigrew gone abroad. House in Manchester
Square to let.
Staines went to the house-agent with his tale. Agent was
impenetrable at first; but, at last, won by the doctor's manner and
his unhappiness, referred him to Pettigrew's solicitor; the
solicitor was a respectable man, and said he would forward the
claim to Pettigrew in Paris.
But by this time Pettigrew was chattering and guzzling in Berlin;
and thence he got to St. Petersburg. In that stronghold of
gluttony, he gormandized more than ever, and, being unable to talk
it off his stomach, as in other cities, had apoplexy, and died.
But long before this Staines saw his money was as irrecoverable as
his sherry; and he said to Rosa, "I wonder whether I shall ever
live to curse the human race?"
"Heaven forbid!" said Rosa. "Oh, they use you cruelly, my poor,
Thus for months the young doctor's patients bled him, and that was
And Rosa got more and more moped at being in the house so much, and
pestered Christopher to take her out, and he declined: and, being a
man hard to beat, took to writing on medical subjects, in hopes of
getting some money from the various medical and scientific
publications; but he found it as hard to get the wedge in there as
to get patients.
At last Rosa's remonstrances began to rise into something that
sounded like reproaches. One Sunday she came to him in her bonnet,
and interrupted his studies, to say he might as well lay down the
pen, and talk. Nobody would publish anything he wrote.
Christopher frowned, but contained himself, and laid down the pen.
"I might as well not be married at all as be a doctor's wife. You
are never seen out with me, not even to church. Do behave like a
Christian, and come to church with me now."
Dr. Staines shook his head.
"Why, I wouldn't miss church for all the world. Any excitement is
better than always moping. Come over the water with me. The time
Jane and I went, the clergyman read a paper that Mr. Brown had
fallen down in a fit. There was such a rush directly, and I'm sure
fifty ladies went out--fancy, all Mrs. Browns! Wasn't that fun?"
"Fun? I don't see it. Well, Rosa, your mind is evidently better
adapted to diversion than mine is. Go you to church, love, and
I'll continue my studies."
"Then all I can say is, I wish I was back in my father's house.
Husband! friend! companion!--I have none."
Then she burst out crying violently; and, being shocked at what she
had said, and at the agony it had brought into her husband's face,
she went off into hysterics; and as his heart would not let him
bellow at her, or empty a bucket on her as he would on another
patient, she had a good long bout of them: and got her way, for she
broke up his studies for that day, at all events.
Even after the hysterics were got under, she continued to moan and
sigh very prettily, with her lovely, languid head pillowed on her
husband's arm; in a word, though the hysterics were real, yet this
innocent young person had the presence of mind to postpone entire
convalescence, and lay herself out to be petted all day. But fate
willed it otherwise: while she was sighing and moaning, came to the
door a scurrying of feet, and then a sharp, persistent ringing that
meant something. The moaner cocked eye and ear, and said, in her
every-day voice, which, coming so suddenly, sounded very droll,
"What is that, I wonder?"
Jane hurried to the street-door, and Rosa recovered by magic; and,
preferring gossip to hysterics, in an almost gleeful whisper,
ordered Christopher to open the door of the study. The Bijou was
so small that the following dialogue rang in their ears:--
A boy in buttons gasped out, "Oh, if you please, will you ast the
doctor to come round directly; there's a haccident."
"La, bless me!" said Jane, and never budged.
"Yes, miss. It's our missus's little girl fallen right off an
i-chair, and cut her head dreadful, and smothered in blood."
"La, to be sure!" And she waited steadily for more.
"Ay, and missus she fainted right off; and I've been to the regler
doctor, which he's out; and Sarah, the housemaid, said I had better
come here; you was only just set up, she said; you wouldn't have so
much to do, says she."
"That is all SHE knows," said Jane. "Why, our master--they pulls
him in pieces which is to have him fust."
"What an awful liar! Oh, you good girl!" whispered Dr. Staines and
Rosa in one breath.
"Ah, well," said Buttons, "any way, Sarah says she knows you are
clever, 'cos her little girl as lives with her mother, and calls
Sarah aunt, has bin to your 'spensary with ringworm, and you cured
her right off."
"Ay, and a good many more," said Jane, loftily. She was a
housemaid of imagination; and while Staines was putting some lint
and an instrument case into his pocket, she proceeded to relate a
number of miraculous cures. Dr. Staines interrupted them by
suddenly emerging, and inviting Buttons to take him to the house.
Mrs. Staines was so pleased with Jane for cracking up the doctor,
that she gave her five shillings; and, after that, used to talk to
her a great deal more than to the cook, which judicious conduct
presently set all three by the ears.
Buttons took the doctor to a fine house in the same street, and
told him his mistress's name on the way--Mrs. Lucas. He was taken
up to the nursery, and found Mrs. Lucas seated, crying and
lamenting, and a woman holding a little girl of about seven, whose
brow had been cut open by the fender, on which she had fallen from
a chair; it looked very ugly, and was even now bleeding.
Dr. Staines lost no time; he examined the wound keenly, and then
said kindly to Mrs. Lucas, "I am happy to tell you it is not
serious." He then asked for a large basin and some tepid water,
and bathed it so softly and soothingly that the child soon became
composed; and the mother discovered the artist at once. He
compressed the wound, and explained to Mrs. Lucas that the
principal thing really was to avoid an ugly scar. "There is no
danger," said he. He then bound the wound neatly up, and had the
girl put to bed. "You will not wake her at any particular hour,
nurse. Let her sleep. Have a little strong beef-tea ready, and
give it her at any hour, night or day, she asks for it. But do not
force it on her, or you will do her more harm than good. She had
better sleep before she eats."
Mrs. Lucas begged him to come every morning; and, as he was going,
she shook hands with him, and the soft palm deposited a hard
substance wrapped in paper. He took it with professional gravity
and seeming unconsciousness; but, once outside the house, went home
on wings. He ran up to the drawing-room, and found his wife
seated, and playing at reading. He threw himself on his knees, and
the fee into her lap; and, while she unfolded the paper with an
ejaculation of pleasure, he said, "Darling, the first real patient--
the first real fee. It is yours to buy the new bonnet."
"Oh, I'm so glad!" said she, with her eyes glistening. "But I'm
afraid one can't get a bonnet fit to wear--for a guinea."
Dr. Staines visited his little patient every day, and received his
guinea. Mrs. Lucas also called him in for her own little ailments,
and they were the best possible kind of ailments: for, being
imaginary, there was no limit to them.
Then did Mrs. Staines turn jealous of her husband. "They never ask
me," said she; "and I am moped to death."
"It is hard," said Christopher, sadly. "But have a little
patience. Society will come to you long before practice comes to
About two o'clock one afternoon a carriage and pair drove up, and a
gorgeous footman delivered a card--"Lady Cicely Treherne."
Of course Mrs. Staines was at home, and only withheld by propriety
from bounding into the passage to meet her school-fellow. However,
she composed herself in the drawing-room, and presently the door
was opened, and a very tall young woman, richly but not gayly
dressed, drifted into the room, and stood there a statue of
Rosa had risen to fly to her; but the reverence a girl of eighteen
strikes into a child of twelve hung about her still, and she came
timidly forward, blushing and sparkling, a curious contrast in
color and mind to her visitor; for Lady Cicely was Languor in
person--her hair whitey-brown, her face a fine oval, but almost
colorless; her eyes a pale gray, her neck and hands incomparably
white and beautiful--a lymphatic young lady, a live antidote to
emotion. However, Rosa's beauty, timidity, and undisguised
affectionateness were something so different from what she was used
to in the world of fashion, that she actually smiled, and held out
both her hands a little way. Rosa seized them, and pressed them;
they left her; and remained passive and limp.
"O Lady Cicely," said Rosa, "how kind of you to come."
"How kind of you to send to me," was the polite, but perfectly cool
reply. "But how you are gwown, and--may I say impwoved?--You la
petite Lusignan! It is incwedible," lisped her ladyship, very
"I was only a child," said Rosa. "You were always so beautiful and
tall, and kind to a little monkey like me. Oh, pray sit down, Lady
Cicely, and talk of old times."
She drew her gently to the sofa, and they sat down hand in hand;
but Lady Cicely's high-bred reserve made her a very poor gossip
about anything that touched herself and her family; so Rosa, though
no egotist, was drawn into talking about herself more than she
would have done had she deliberately planned the conversation. But
here was an old school-fellow, and a singularly polite listener,
and so out came her love, her genuine happiness, her particular
griefs, and especially the crowning grievance, no society, moped to
Lady Cicely could hardly understand the sentiment in a woman who so
evidently loved her husband. "Society!" said she, after due
reflection, "why, it is a boa." (And here I may as well explain
that Lady Cicely spoke certain words falsely, and others
affectedly; and as for the letter r, she could say it if she made a
hearty effort, but was generally too lazy to throw her leg over
it.) "Society! I'm dwenched to death with it. If I could only
catch fiah like other women, and love somebody, I would much rather
have a tete-a-tete with him than go teawing about all day and all
night, from one unintwisting cwowd to another. To be sure," said
she, puzzling the matter out, "you are a beauty, and would be more
"The idea! and--oh no! no! it is not that. But even in the country
we had always some society."
"Well, dyar, believe me, with your appeawance, you can have as much
society as you please; but it will boa you to death, as it does me,
and then you will long to be left quiet with a sensible man who
Said Rosa, "When shall I have another tete-a-tete with YOU, I
wonder? Oh, it has been such a comfort to me. Bless you for
coming. There--I wrote to Cecilia, and Emily, and Mrs. Bosanquet
that is now, and all my sworn friends, and to think of you being
the one to come--you that never kissed me but once, and an earl's
daughter into the bargain."
Ha! ha! ha!"--Lady Cicely actually laughed for once in a way, and
did not feel the effort. "As for kissing," said she, "if I fall
shawt, fawgive me. I was nevaa vewy demonstwative."
"No; and I have had a lesson. That Florence Cole--Florence Whiting
that was, you know--was always kissing me, and she has turned out a
traitor. I'll tell you all about her." And she did.
Lady Cicely thought Mrs. Staines a little too unreserved in her
conversation; but was so charmed with her sweetness and freshness
that she kept up the acquaintance, and called on her twice a week
during the season. At first she wondered that her visits were not
returned; but Rosa let out that she was ashamed to call on foot in
Lady Cicely shrugged her beautiful shoulders a little at that; but
she continued to do the visiting, and to enjoy the simple, innocent
rapture with which she was received.
This lady's pronunciation of many words was false or affected. She
said "good murning" for "good morning," and turned other vowels to
diphthongs, and played two or three pranks with her "r's." But we
cannot be all imperfection: with her pronunciation her folly came
to a full stop. I really believe she lisped less nonsense and bad
taste in a year than some of us articulate in a day. To be sure,
folly is generally uttered in a hurry, and she was too deplorably
lazy to speak fast on any occasion whatever.
One day Mrs. Staines took her up-stairs, and showed her from the
back window her husband pacing the yard, waiting for patients.
Lady Cicely folded her arms, and contemplated him at first with a
sort of zoological curiosity. Gentleman pacing back yard, like
hyena, she had never seen before.
At last she opened her mouth in a whisper, "What is he doing?"
"Waiting for patients."
"For patients that never come, and never will come."
"Cuwious! How little I know of life."
"It is that all day, dear, or else writing."
Lady Cicely, with her eyes fixed on Staines, made a motion with her
hand that she was attending.
"And they won't publish a word he writes."
"Nice for me; is it not?"
"I begin to understand," said Lady Cicely quietly; and soon after
retired with her invariable composure.
Meantime, Dr. Staines, like a good husband, had thrown out
occasional hints to Mrs. Lucas that he had a wife, beautiful,
accomplished, moped. More than that, he went so far as to regret
to her that Mrs. Staines, being in a neighborhood new to him, saw
so little society; the more so, as she was formed to shine, and had
not been used to seclusion.
All these hints fell dead on Mrs. Lucas. A handsome and skilful
doctor was welcome to her: his wife--that was quite another matter.
But one day Mrs. Lucas saw Lady Cicely Treherne's carriage standing
at the door. The style of the whole turnout impressed her. She
wondered whose it was.
On another occasion she saw it drive up, and the lady get out. She
recognized her; and the very next day this parvenue said adroitly,
"Now, Dr. Staines, really you can't be allowed to hide your wife in
this way. (Staines stared.) Why not introduce her to me next
Wednesday? It is my night. I would give a dinner expressly for
her; but I don't like to do that while my husband is in Naples."
When Staines carried the invitation to his wife, she was delighted,
and kissed him with childish frankness.
But the very next moment she became thoughtful, uneasy, depressed.
"Oh, dear; I've nothing to wear."
"Oh, nonsense, Rosa. Your wedding outfit."
"The idea! I can't go as a bride. It's not a masquerade."
"But you have other dresses."
"All gone by, more or less; or not fit for such parties as SHE
gives. A hundred carriages!"
"Bring them down, and let me see them."
"Oh yes." And the lady, who had nothing to wear, paraded a very
fair show of dresses.
Staines saw something to admire in all of them. Mrs. Staines found
more to object to in each.
At last he fell upon a silver-gray silk, of superlative quality.
"That! It is as old as the hills," shrieked Rosa.
"It looks just out of the shop. Come, tell the truth; how often
have you worn it?"
"I wore it before I was married."
"Ay, but how often?"
"Twice. Three times, I believe."
"I thought so. It is good as new."
"But I have had it so long by me. I had it two years before I made
"What does that matter? Do you think the people can tell how long
a dress has been lurking in your wardrobe? This is childish, Rosa.
There, with this dress as good as new, and your beauty, you will be
as much admired, and perhaps hated, as your heart can desire."
"I am afraid not," said Rosa naively. "Oh, how I wish I had known
a week ago."
"I am very thankful you did not," said Staines dryly.
At ten o'clock Mrs. Staines was nearly dressed; at a quarter past
ten she demanded ten minutes; at half-past ten she sought a
reprieve; at a quarter to eleven, being assured that the street was
full of carriages, which had put down at Mrs. Lucas's, she
consented to emerge; and in a minute they were at the house.
They were shown first into a cloak-room, and then into a tea-room,
and then mounted the stairs. One servant took their names, and
bawled them to another four yards off, he to another about as near,
and so on; and they edged themselves into the room, not yet too
crowded to move in.
They had not taken many steps, on the chance of finding their
hostess, when a slight buzz arose, and seemed to follow them.
Rosa wondered what that was; but only for a moment; she observed a
tall, stout, aquiline woman fix an eye of bitter, diabolical,
malignant hatred on her; and as she advanced, ugly noses were
cocked disdainfully, and scraggy shoulders elevated at the risk of
sending the bones through the leather, and a titter or two shot
after her. A woman's instinct gave her the key at once; the sexes
had complimented her at sight; each in their way; the men with
respectful admiration; the women, with their inflammable jealousy
and ready hatred in another of the quality they value most in
themselves. But the country girl was too many for them: she would
neither see nor bear, but moved sedately on, and calmly crushed
them with her Southern beauty. Their dry, powdered faces could not
live by the side of her glowing skin, with nature's delicate gloss
upon it, and the rich blood mantling below it. The got-up
beauties, i.e., the majority, seemed literally to fade and wither
as she passed.
Mrs. Lucas got to her, suppressed a slight maternal pang, having
daughters to marry, and took her line in a moment; here was a decoy
duck. Mrs. Lucas was all graciousness, made acquaintance, and took
a little turn with her, introducing her to one or two persons;
among the rest, to the malignant woman, Mrs. Barr. Mrs. Barr, on
this, ceased to look daggers and substituted icicles; but on the
hateful beauty moving away, dropped the icicles, and resumed the
The rooms filled; the heat became oppressive, and the mixed odors
of flowers, scents, and perspiring humanity, sickening. Some,
unable to bear it, trickled out of the room, and sat all down the
Rosa began to feel faint. Up came a tall, sprightly girl, whose
pertness was redeemed by a certain bonhomie, and said, "Mrs.
Staines, I believe? I am to make myself agreeable to you. That is
the order from headquarters."
"Miss Lucas," said Staines.
She jerked a little off-hand bow to him, and said, "Will you trust
her to me for five minutes?"
"Certainly." But he did not much like it.
Miss Lucas carried her off, and told Dr. Staines, over her
shoulder, now he could flirt to his heart's content.
"Thank you," said he dryly. "I'll await your return."
"Oh, there are some much greater flirts here than I am," said the
ready Miss Lucas; and whispering something in Mrs. Staines's ear,
suddenly glided with her behind a curtain, pressed a sort of button
fixed to a looking-glass door. The door opened, and behold they
were in a delicious place, for which I can hardly find a word,
since it was a boudoir and a conservatory in one: a large octagon,
the walls lined from floor to ceiling with looking-glasses of
moderate width, at intervals, and with creepers that covered the
intervening spaces of the wall, and were trained so as to break the
outline of the glasses without greatly clouding the reflection.
Ferns, in great variety, were grouped in a deep crescent, and in
the bight of this green bay were a small table and chairs. As
there were no hot-house plants, the temperature was very cool,
compared with the reeking oven they had escaped; and a little
fountain bubbled, and fed a little meandering gutter that trickled
away among the ferns; it ran crystal clear over little bright
pebbles and shells. It did not always run, you understand; but
Miss Lucas turned a secret tap, and started it.
"Oh, how heavenly!" said Rosa, with a sigh of relief; "and how good
of you to bring me here!"
"Yes; by rights I ought to have waited till you fainted. But there
is no making acquaintance among all those people. Mamma will ask
such crowds; one is like a fly in a glue-pot."
Miss Lucas had good nature, smartness, and animal spirits; hence
arose a vivacity and fluency that were often amusing, and passed
for very clever. Reserve she had none; would talk about strangers,
or friends, herself, her mother, her God, and the last buffoon-
singer, in a breath. At a hint from Rosa, she told her who the
lady in the pink dress was, and the lady in the violet velvet, and
so on; for each lady was defined by her dress, and, more or less,
quizzed by this show-woman, not exactly out of malice, but because
it is smarter and more natural to decry than to praise, and a
little medisance is the spice to gossip, belongs to it, as mint
sauce to lamb. So they chatted away, and were pleased with each
other, and made friends, and there, in cool grot, quite forgot the
sufferings of their fellow-creatures in the adjacent Turkish bath,
yclept society. It was Rosa who first recollected herself. "Will
not Mrs. Lucas be angry with me, if I keep you all to myself?"
"Oh no; but I'm afraid we must go into the hot-house again. I like
the greenhouse best, with such a nice companion."
They slipped noiselessly into the throng again, and wriggled about,
Miss Lucas presenting her new friend to several ladies and
Presently Staines found them, and then Miss Lucas wriggled away;
and in due course the room was thinned by many guests driving off
home, or to balls, and other receptions, and Dr. Staines and Mrs.
Staines went home to the Bijou. Here the physician prescribed bed;
but the lady would not hear of such a thing until she had talked it
all over. So they compared notes, and Rosa told him how well she
had got on with Miss Lucas, and made a friendship. "But for that,"
said she, "I should be sorry I went among those people, such a
"Dowdy!" said Staines. "Why, you stormed the town; you were the
great success of the night, and, for all I know, of the season."
The wretch delivered this with unbecoming indifference.
"It is too bad to mock me, Christie. Where were your eyes?"
"To the best of my recollection, they were one on each side of my
"Yes, but some people are eyes and no eyes."
"I scorn the imputation; try me."
"Very well. Then did you see that lady in sky-blue silk,
embroidered with flowers, and flounced with white velvet, and the
corsage point lace; and oh, such emeralds?"
"I did; a tall, skinny woman, with eyes resembling her jewels in
color, though not in brightness."
"Never mind her eyes; it is her dress I am speaking of. Exquisite;
and what a coiffure! Well, did you see HER in the black velvet,
trimmed so deep with Chantilly lace, wave on wave, and her head-
dress of crimson flowers, and such a riviere of diamonds; oh, dear!
"I did, love. The room was an oven, but her rubicund face and
suffocating costume made it seem a furnace."
"Stuff! Well, did you see the lady in the corn-colored silk, and
poppies in her hair?"
"Of course I did. Ceres in person. She made me feel hot, too; but
I cooled myself a bit at her pale, sickly face."
"Never mind their faces; that is not the point."
"Oh, excuse me; it is always a point with us benighted males, all
eyes and no eyes."
"Well, then, the lady in white, with cherry-velvet bands, and a
white tunic looped with crimson, and headdress of white illusion, a
la vierge, I think they call it."
"It was very refreshing; and adapted to that awful atmosphere. It
was the nearest approach to nudity I ever saw, even amongst
"It was lovely; and then that superb figure in white illusion and
gold, with all those narrow flounces over her slip of white silk
glacee, and a wreath of white flowers, with gold wheat ears amongst
them, in her hair; and oh! oh! oh! her pearls, oriental, and as big
"And oh! oh! oh! her nose! reddish, and as long as a woodcock's."
"Noses! noses! stupid! That is not what strikes you first in a
woman dressed like an angel."
"Well, if you were to run up against that one, as I nearly did, her
nose WOULD be the thing that would strike you first. Nose! it was
a rostrum! the spear-head of Goliah."
"Now, don't, Christopher. This is no laughing matter. Do you mean
you were not ashamed of your wife? I was."
"No, I was not; you had but one rival; a very young lady, wise
before her age; a blonde, with violet eyes. She was dressed in
light mauve-colored silk, without a single flounce, or any other
tomfoolery to fritter away the sheen and color of an exquisite
material; her sunny hair was another wave of color, wreathed with a
thin line of white jessamine flowers closely woven, that scented
the air. This girl was the moon of that assembly, and you were the
"I never even saw her."
"Eyes and no eyes. She saw you, and said, 'Oh, what a beautiful
creature!' for I heard her. As for the old stagers, whom you
admire so, their faces were all clogged with powder, the pores
stopped up, the true texture of the skin abolished. They looked
downright nasty, whenever you or that young girl passed by them.
Then it was you saw to what a frightful extent women are got up in
our day, even young women, and respectable women. No, Rosa, dress
can do little for you; you have beauty--real beauty."
"Beauty! That passes unnoticed, unless one is well dressed."
"Then what an obscure pair the Apollo Belvidere and the Venus de
Medicis must be."
"Oh! they are dressed--in marble."
Christopher Staines stared first, then smiled.
"Well done," said he, admiringly. "That IS a knockdown blow. So
now you have silenced your husband, go you to bed directly. I
can't afford you diamonds; so I will take care of that little
insignificant trifle, your beauty."
Mrs. Staines and Mrs. Lucas exchanged calls, and soon Mrs. Staines
could no longer complain she was out of the world. Mrs. Lucas
invited her to every party, because her beauty was an instrument of
attraction she knew how to use; and Miss Lucas took a downright
fancy to her; drove her in the park, and on Sundays to the
Zoological Gardens, just beginning to be fashionable.
The Lucases rented a box at the opera, and if it was not let at the
library by six o'clock, and if other engagements permitted, word
was sent round to Mrs. Staines, as a matter of course, and she was
taken to the opera. She began almost to live at the Lucases, and
to be oftener fatigued than moped.
The usual order of things was inverted; the maiden lady educated
the matron; for Miss Lucas knew all about everybody in the Park,
honorable or dishonorable; all the scandals, and all the
flirtations; and whatever she knew, she related point-blank. Being
as inquisitive as voluble, she soon learned how Mrs. Staines and
her husband were situated. She took upon her to advise her in many
things, and especially impressed upon her that Dr. Staines must
keep a carriage, if he wanted to get on in medicine. The piece of
advice accorded so well with Rosa's wishes, that she urged it on
her husband again and again.
He objected that no money was coming in, and therefore it would be
insane to add to their expenses. Rosa persisted, and at last
worried Staines with her importunity. He began to give rather
short answers. Then she quoted Miss Lucas against him. He treated
the authority with marked contempt; and then Rosa fired up a
little. Then Staines held his peace; but did not buy a carriage to
visit his no patients.
So at last Rosa complained to Lady Cicely Treherne, and made her
the judge between her husband and herself. Lady Cicely drawled out
a prompt but polite refusal to play that part. All that could be
elicited from her, and that with difficulty, was, "Why quall with
your husband about a cawwige; he is your best fwiend."
"Ah, that he is," said Rosa; "but Miss Lucas is a good friend, and
she knows the world. We don't; neither Christopher nor I."
So she continued to nag at her husband about it, and to say that he
was throwing his only chance away.
Galled as he was by neglect, this was irritating, and at last he
could not help telling her she was unreasonable. "You live a gay
life, and I a sad one. I consent to this, and let you go about
with these Lucases, because you were so dull; but you should not
consult them in our private affairs. Their interference is
indelicate and improper. I will not set up a carriage till I have
patients to visit. I am sick of seeing our capital dwindle, and no
income created. I will never set up a carriage till I have taken a
"Oh! Then we shall go splashing through the mud all our days."
"Or ride in a cab," said Christopher, with a quiet doggedness that
left no hope of his yielding.
One afternoon Miss Lucas called for Mrs. Staines to drive in the
Park, but did not come up-stairs; it was an engagement, and she
knew Mrs. Staines would be ready, or nearly. Mrs. Staines, not to
keep her waiting, came down rather hastily, and in the very passage
whipped out of her pocket a little glass, and a little powder puff,
and puffed her face all over in a trice. She was then going out;
but her husband called her into the study. "Rosa, my dear," said
he, "you were going out with a dirty face."
"Oh!" cried she, "give me a glass."
"There is no need of that. All you want is a basin and some nice
rain-water. I keep a little reservoir of it."
He then handed her the same with great politeness. She looked in
his eye, and saw he was not to be trifled with. She complied like
a lamb, and the heavenly color and velvet gloss that resulted were
He kissed her and said, "Ah! now you are my Rosa again. Oblige me
by handing over that powder-puff to me." She looked vexed, but
complied. "When you come back I will tell you why."
"You are a pest," said Mrs. Staines, and so joined her friend, rosy
with rain-water and a rub.
"Dear me, how handsome you look to-day!" was Miss Lucas's first
Rosa never dreamed that rain-water and rub could be the cause of
her looking so well.
"It is my tiresome husband," said she. "He objects to powder, and
he has taken away my puff."
"And you stood that?"
"Why, you poor-spirited little creature, I should like to see a
husband presume to interfere with me in those things. Here, take
Rosa hesitated a little. "Well--no--I think not."
Miss Lucas laughed at her, and quizzed her so on her allowing a man
to interfere in such sacred things as dress and cosmetics, that she
came back irritated with her husband, and gave him a short answer
or two. Then he asked what was the matter.
"You treat me like a child--taking away my very puff."
"I treat you like a beautiful flower, that no bad gardener shall
wither whilst I am here."
"What nonsense! How could that wither me? It is only violet
powder--what they put on babies."
"And who are the Herods that put it on babies?"
"Their own mothers, that love them ten times more than the fathers
"And kill a hundred of them for one a man ever kills. Mothers!--
the most wholesale homicides in the nation. We will examine your
violet-powder: bring it down here."
While she was gone he sent for a breakfast-cupful of flour, and
when she came back he had his scales out, and begged her to put a
teaspoonful of flour into one scale and of violet powder into
another. The flour kicked the beam, as Homer expresses himself.
"Put another spoonful of flour."
The one spoonful of violet powder outweighed the two of flour.
"Now," said Staines, "does not that show you the presence of a
mineral in your vegetable powder? I suppose they tell you it is
made of white violets dried, and triturated in a diamond mill. Let
us find out what metal it is. We need not go very deep into
chemistry for that." He then applied a simple test, and detected
the presence of lead in large quantities. Then he lectured her:
"Invisible perspiration is a process of nature necessary to health
and to life. The skin is made porous for that purpose. You can
kill anybody in an hour or two by closing the pores. A certain
infallible ass, called Pope Leo XII., killed a little boy in two
hours, by gilding him to adorn the pageant of his first procession
as Pope. But what is death to the whole body must be injurious to
a part. What madness, then, to clog the pores of so large and
important a surface as the face, and check the invisible
perspiration: how much more to insert lead into your system every
day of your life; a cumulative poison, and one so deadly and so
subtle, that the Sheffield file-cutters die in their prime, from
merely hammering on a leaden anvil. And what do you gain by this
suicidal habit? No plum has a sweeter bloom or more delicious
texture than the skin of your young face; but this mineral filth
hides that delicate texture, and substitutes a dry, uniform
appearance, more like a certain kind of leprosy than health.
Nature made your face the rival of peaches, roses, lilies; and you
say, 'No; I know better than my Creator and my God; my face shall
be like a dusty miller's.' Go into any flour-mill, and there you
shall see men with faces exactly like your friend Miss Lucas's.
But before a miller goes to his sweetheart, he always washes his
face. You ladies would never get a miller down to your level in
brains. It is a miller's DIRTY face our mono-maniacs of woman
imitate, not the face a miller goes a-courting with."
"La! what a fuss about nothing!"
"About nothing! Is your health nothing? Is your beauty nothing?
Well, then, it will cost you nothing to promise me never to put
powder on your face again."
"Very well, I promise. Now what will you do for me?"
"Work for you--write for you--suffer for you--be self-denying for
you--and even give myself the pain of disappointing you now and
then--looking forward to the time when I shall be able to say 'Yes'
to everything you ask me. Ah! child, you little know what it costs
me to say 'No' to YOU."
Rosa put her arms round him and acquiesced. She was one of those
who go with the last speaker; but, for that very reason, the
eternal companionship of so flighty and flirty a girl as Miss Lucas
was injurious to her.
One day Lady Cicely Treherne was sitting with Mrs. Staines, smiling
languidly at her talk, and occasionally drawling out a little plain
good sense, when in came Miss Lucas, with her tongue well hung, as
usual, and dashed into twenty topics in ten minutes.
This young lady in her discourse was like those little oily beetles
you see in small ponds, whose whole life is spent in tacking--
confound them for it!--generally at right angles. What they are in
navigation was Miss Lucas in conversation: tacked so eternally from
topic to topic, that no man on earth, and not every woman, could
At the sight and sound of her, Lady Cicely congealed and stiffened.
Easy and unpretending with Mrs. Staines, she was all dignity, and
even majesty, in the presence of this chatterbox; and the
smoothness with which the transfiguration was accomplished marked
that accomplished actress the high-bred woman of the world.
Rosa, better able to estimate the change of manner than Miss Lucas
was, who did not know how little this Sawny was afflicted with
misplaced dignity, looked wistfully and distressed at her. Lady
Cicely smiled kindly in reply, rose, without seeming to hurry,--
catch her condescending to be rude to Charlotte Lucas,--and took
her departure, with a profound and most gracious courtesy to the
lady who had driven her away.
Mrs. Staines saw her down-stairs, and said, ruefully, "I am afraid
you do not like my friend Miss Lucas. She is a great rattle, but
so good-natured and clever."
Lady Cicely shook her head. "Clevaa people don't talk so much
nonsense before strangaas."
"Oh, dear!" said Rosa. "I was in hopes you would like her."
"Do YOU like her?"
"Indeed I do; but I shall not, if she drives an older friend away."
"My dyah, I'm not easily dwiven from those I esteem. But you
undastand that is not a woman for me to mispwonownce my 'ah's
befaw--NOR FOR YOU TO MAKE A BOSOM FWIEND OF--WOSA STAINES."
She said this with a sudden maternal solemnity and kindness that
contrasted nobly and strangely with her yea-nay style, and Mrs.
Staines remembered the words years after they were spoken.
It so happened that after this Mrs. Staines received no more visits
from Lady Cicely for some time, and that vexed her. She knew her
sex enough to be aware that they are very jealous, and she
permitted herself to think that this high-minded Sawny was jealous
of Miss Lucas.
This idea, founded on a general estimate of her sex, was dispelled
by a few lines from Lady Cicely, to say her family and herself were
in deep distress; her brother, Lord Ayscough, lay dying from an
Then Rosa was all remorse, and ran down to Staines to tell him.
She found him with an open letter in his hand. It was from Dr.
Barr, and on the same subject. The doctor, who had always been
friendly to him, invited him to come down at once to Hallowtree
Hall, in Huntingdonshire, to a consultation. There was a friendly
intimation to start at once, as the patient might die any moment.
Husband and wife embraced each other in a tumult of surprised
thankfulness. A few necessaries were thrown into a carpet-bag, and
Dr. Staines was soon whirled into Huntingdonshire. Having
telegraphed beforehand, he was met at the station by the earl's
carriage and people, and driven to the Hall. He was received by an
old, silver-haired butler, looking very sad, who conducted him to a
boudoir; and then went and tapped gently at the door of the
patient's room. It was opened and shut very softly, and Lady
Cicely, dressed in black, and looking paler than ever, came into
"Dr. Staines, I think?"
"Thank you for coming so promptly. Dr. Barr is gone. I fear he
thinks--he thinks--O Dr. Staines--no sign of life but in his poor
hands, that keep moving night and day."
Staines looked very grave at that. Lady Cicely observed it, and,
faint at heart, could say no more, but led the way to the sick-
There in a spacious chamber, lighted by a grand oriel window and
two side windows, lay rank, title, wealth, and youth, stricken down
in a moment by a common accident. The sufferer's face was
bloodless, his eyes fixed, and no signs of life but in his thumbs,
and they kept working with strange regularity.
In the room were a nurse and the surgeon; the neighboring
physician, who had called in Dr. Barr, had just paid his visit and
Lady Cicely introduced Dr. Staines and Mr. White, and then Dr.
Staines stood and fixed his eyes on the patient in profound
silence. Lady Cicely scanned his countenance searchingly, and was
struck with the extraordinary power and intensity it assumed in
examining the patient; but the result was not encouraging. Dr.
Staines looked grave and gloomy.
At last, without removing his eye from the recumbent figure, he
said quietly to Mr. White, "Thrown from his horse, sir."
"Horse fell on him, Dr. Staines."
"Any visible injuries?"
"Yes. Severe contusions, and a rib broken and pressed upon the
lungs. I replaced and set it. Will you see?"
"If you please."
He examined and felt the patient, and said it had been ably done.
Then he was silent and searching.
At last he spoke again. "The motion of the thumbs corresponds
exactly with his pulse."
"Is that so, sir?"
"It is. The case is without a parallel. How long has he been so?"
"Nearly a week."
"It is so, sir."
Lady Cicely confirmed this.
"All the better," said Dr. Staines upon reflection. "Well, sir,"
said he, "the visible injuries having been ably relieved, I shall
look another way for the cause." Then, after another pause, "I
must have his head shaved."
Lady Cicely demurred a little to this; but Dr. Staines stood firm,
and his lordship's valet undertook the job.
Staines directed him where to begin; and when he had made a
circular tonsure on the top of the head, had it sponged with tepid
"I thought so," said he. "Here is the mischief;" and he pointed to
a very slight indentation on the left side of the pia mater.
"Observe," said he, "there is no corresponding indentation on the
other side. Underneath this trifling depression a minute piece of
bone is doubtless pressing on the most sensitive part of the brain.
He must be trephined."
Mr. White's eyes sparkled.
"You are an hospital surgeon, sir?"
"Yes, Dr. Staines. I have no fear of the operation."
"Then I hand the patient over to you. The case at present is
White was driven home, and soon returned with the requisite
instruments. The operation was neatly performed, and then Lady
Cicely was called in. She came trembling; her brother's fingers
were still working, but not so regularly.
"That is only HABIT," said Staines; "it will soon leave off, now
the cause is gone."
And, truly enough, in about five minutes the fingers became quiet.
The eyes became human next; and within half an hour after the
operation the earl gave a little sigh.
Lady Cicely clasped her hands, and uttered a little cry of delight.
"This will not do," said Staines, "I shall have you screaming when
"Oh, Dr. Staines! will he ever speak?"
"I think so, and very soon. So be on your guard."
This strange scene reached its climax soon after, by the earl
"Are her knees broke, Tom?"
Lady Cicely uttered a little scream, but instantly suppressed it.
"No, my lord," said Staines, smartly; "only rubbed a bit. You can
go to sleep, my lord. I'll take care of the mare."
"All right," said his lordship; and composed himself to slumber.
Dr. Staines, at the earnest request of Lady Cicely, stayed all
night; and in course of the day advised her how to nurse the
patient, since both physician and surgeon had done with him.
He said the patient's brain might be irritable for some days, and
no women in silk dresses or crinoline, or creaking shoes, must
enter the room. He told her the nurse was evidently a clumsy
woman, and would be letting things fall. She had better get some
old soldier used to nursing. "And don't whisper in the room," said
he; "nothing irritates them worse; and don't let anybody play a
piano within hearing; but in a day or two you may try him with slow
and continuous music on the flute or violin if you like. Don't
touch his bed suddenly; don't sit on it or lean on it. Dole
sunlight into his room by degrees; and when he can bear it, drench
him with it. Never mind what the old school tell you. About these
things they know a good deal less than nothing."
Lady Cicely received all this like an oracle.
The cure was telegraphed to Dr. Barr, and he was requested to
settle the fee. He was not the man to undersell the profession,
and was jealous of nobody, having a large practice, and a very
wealthy wife. So he telegraphed back--"Fifty guineas, and a guinea
a mile from London."
So, as Christopher Staines sat at an early breakfast, with the
carriage waiting to take him to the train, two notes were brought
him on a salver.
They were both directed by Lady Cicely Treherne. One of them
contained a few kind and feeling words of gratitude and esteem; the
other, a check, drawn by the earl's steward, for one hundred and
He bowled up to London, and told it all to Rosa. She sparkled with
pride, affection, and joy.
"Now, who says you are not a genius?" she cried. "A hundred and
thirty guineas for one fee! Now, if you love your wife as she
loves you--you will set up a brougham."
Doctor Staines begged leave to distinguish; he had not said he
would set up a carriage at the first one hundred guinea fee, but
only that he would not set up one before. There are misguided
people who would call this logic: but Rosa said it was
equivocating, and urged him so warmly that at last he burst out,
"Who can go on forever saying 'No,' to the only creature he
loves?"--and caved. In forty-eight hours more a brougham waited at
Mrs. Staines's door. The servant engaged to drive it was Andrew
Pearman, a bachelor, and, hitherto, an under-groom. He readily
consented to be coachman, and to do certain domestic work as well.
So Mrs. Staines had a man-servant as well as a carriage.
Ere long, three or four patients called, or wrote, one after the
other. These Rosa set down to brougham, and crowed; she even
crowed to Lady Cicely Treherne, to whose influence, and not to
brougham's, every one of these patients was owing. Lady Cicely
kissed her, and demurely enjoyed the poor soul's self-satisfaction.
Staines himself, while he drove to or from these patients, felt
more sanguine, and buoyed as he was by the consciousness of
ability, began to hope he had turned the corner.
He sent an account of Lord Ayscough's case to a medical magazine:
and so full is the world of flunkeyism, that this article, though
he withheld the name, retaining only the title, got the literary
wedge in for him at once: and in due course he became a paid
contributor to two medical organs, and used to study and write
more, and indent the little stone yard less than heretofore.
It was about this time circumstances made him acquainted with
Phoebe Dale. Her intermediate history I will dispose of in fewer
words than it deserves. Her ruin, Mr. Reginald Falcon, was
dismissed from his club, for marking high cards on the back with
his nail. This stopped his remaining resource--borrowing: so he
got more and more out at elbows, till at last he came down to
hanging about billiard-rooms, and making a little money by
concealing his game; from that, however, he rose to be a marker.
Having culminated to that, he wrote and proposed marriage to Miss
Dale, in a charming letter: she showed it to her father with pride.
Now, if his vanity, his disloyalty, his falsehood, his ingratitude,
and his other virtues had not stood in the way, he would have done
this three years ago, and been jumped at.
But the offer came too late; not for Phoebe--she would have taken
him in a moment--but for her friends. A baited hook is one thing,
a bare hook is another. Farmer Dale had long discovered where
Phoebe's money went: he said not a word to her; but went up to town
like a shot; found Falcon out, and told him he mustn't think to eat
his daughter's bread. She should marry a man that could make a
decent livelihood; and if she was to run away with HIM, why they'd
starve together. The farmer was resolute, and spoke very loud,
like one that expects opposition, and comes prepared to quarrel.
Instead of that, this artful rogue addressed him with deep respect
and an affected veneration, that quite puzzled the old man;
acquiesced in every word, expressed contrition for his past
misdeeds, and told the farmer he had quite determined to labor with
his hands. "You know, farmer," said he, "I am not the only
gentleman who has come to that in the present day. Now, all my
friends that have seen my sketches, assure me I am a born painter;
and a painter I'll be--for love of Phoebe."
The farmer made a wry face. "Painter! that is a sorry sort of a
"You are mistaken. It's the best trade going. There are gentlemen
making their thousands a year by it."
"Not in our parts, there bain't. Stop a bit. What be ye going to
paint, sir? Housen, or folk?"
"Oh, hang it, not houses. Figures, landscapes."
"Well, ye might just make shift to live at it, I suppose, with here
and there a signboard. They are the best paid, our way: but, Lord
bless ye, THEY wants headpiece. Well, sir, let me see your work.
Then we'll talk further."
"I'll go to work this afternoon," said Falcon eagerly; then with
affected surprise, "Bless me; I forgot. I have no palette, no
canvas, no colors. You couldn't lend me a couple of sovereigns to
buy them, could you?"
"Ay, sir; I could. But I woan't. I'll lend ye the things, though,
if you have a mind to go with me and buy 'em."
Falcon agreed, with a lofty smile; and the purchases were made.
Mr. Falcon painted a landscape or two out of his imagination. The
dealers to whom he took them declined them; one advised the
gentleman painter to color tea-boards. "That's your line," said
"The world has no taste," said the gentleman painter: "but it has
got lots of vanity: I'll paint portraits."
He did; and formidable ones: his portraits were amazingly like the
people, and yet unlike men and women, especially about the face.
One thing, he didn't trouble with lights and shades, but went slap
at the features.
His brush would never have kept him; but he carried an instrument,
in the use of which he was really an artist, viz., his tongue. By
wheedling and underselling--for he only charged a pound for the
painted canvas--he contrived to live; then he aspired to dress as
well as live. With this second object in view, he hit upon a
He used to prowl about, and when he saw a young woman sweeping the
afternoon streets with a long silk train, and, in short, dressed to
ride in the park, yet parading the streets, he would take his hat
off to her, with an air of profound respect, and ask permission to
take her portrait. Generally he met a prompt rebuff; but if the
fair was so unlucky as to hesitate a single moment, he told her a
melting tale; he had once driven his four-in-hand; but by indorsing
his friends' bills, was reduced to painting likeness, admirable
likenesses in oil, only a guinea each.
His piteous tale provoked more gibes than pity, but as he had no
shame, the rebuffs went for nothing: he actually did get a few
sitters by his audacity: and some of the sitters actually took the
pictures, and paid for them; others declined them with fury as soon
as they were finished. These he took back with a piteous sigh,
that sometimes extracted half a crown. Then he painted over the
rejected one and let it dry; so that sometimes a paid portrait
would present a beauty enthroned on the debris of two or three
rivals, and that is where few beauties would object to sit.
All this time he wrote nice letters to Phoebe, and adopted the tone
of the struggling artist, and the true lover, who wins his bride by
patience, perseverance, and indomitable industry; a babbled of
Meantime, Phoebe was not idle: an excellent business woman, she
took immediate advantage of a new station that was built near the
farm, to send up milk, butter, and eggs to London. Being genuine,
they sold like wildfire. Observing that, she extended her
operations, by buying of other farmers, and forwarding to London:
and then, having of course an eye to her struggling artist, she
told her father she must have a shop in London, and somebody in it
she could depend upon.
"With all my heart, wench," said he; "but it must not be thou. I
can't spare thee."
"May I have Dick, father?"
"Dick! he is rather young."
"But he is very quick, father, and minds every word I tell him."
"Ay, he is as fond of thee as ever a cow was of a calf. Well, you
can try him."
So the love-sick woman of business set up a little shop, and put
her brother Dick in it, and all to see more of her struggling
artist. She stayed several days, to open the little shop, and
start the business. She advertised pure milk, and challenged
scientific analysis of everything she sold. This came of her being
a reader; she knew, by the journals, that we live in a sinful and
adulterating generation, and anything pure must be a godsend to the
poor poisoned public.
Now, Dr. Staines, though known to the profession as a diagnost, was
also an analyst, and this challenge brought him down on Phoebe
Dale. He told her he was a physician, and in search of pure food
for his own family--would she really submit the milk to analysis?
Phoebe smiled an honest country smile, and said, "Surely, sir."
She gave him every facility, and he applied those simple tests
which are commonly used in France, though hardly known in England.
He found it perfectly pure, and told her so; and gazed at Phoebe
for a moment, as a phenomenon.
She smiled again at that, her broad country smile. "That is a
wonder in London, I dare say. It's my belief half the children
that die here are perished with watered milk. Well, sir, we shan't
have that on our souls, father and I; he is a farmer in Essex.
This comes a many miles, this milk."
Staines looked in her face, with kindly approval marked on his own
eloquent features. She blushed a little at so fixed a regard.
Then he asked her if she would supply him with milk, butter, and
"Why, if you mean sell you them, yes, sir, with pleasure. But for
sending them home to you in this big town, as some do, I can't; for
there's only brother Dick and me: it is an experiment like."
"Very well," said Staines: "I will send for them."
"Thank you kindly, sir. I hope you won't be offended, sir; but we
only sell for ready money."
"All the better: my order at home is, no bills."
When he was gone, Phoebe, assuming vast experience, though this was
only her third day, told Dick that was one of the right sort: "and
oh, Dick," said she, "did you notice his eye?"
"Not particklar, sister."
"There now; the boy is blind. Why, 'twas like a jewel. Such an
eye I never saw in a man's head, nor a woman's neither."
Staines told his wife about Phoebe and her brother, and spoke of
her with a certain admiration that raised Rosa's curiosity, and
even that sort of vague jealousy that fires at bare praise. "I
should like to see this phenomenon," said she. "You shall," said
he. "I have to call on Mrs. Manly. She lives near. I will drop
you at the little shop, and come back for you."
He did so, and that gave Rosa a quarter of an hour to make her
purchases. When he came back he found her conversing with Phoebe,
as if they were old friends, and Dick glaring at his wife with awe
and admiration. He could hardly get her away.
She was far more extravagant in her praises than Dr. Staines had
been. "What a good creature!" said she. "And how clever! To
think of her setting up a shop like that all by herself; for her
Dick is only seventeen."
Dr. Staines recommended the little shop wherever he went, and even
extended its operations. He asked Phoebe to get her own wheat
ground at home, and send the flour up in bushel bags. "These
assassins, the bakers," said he, "are putting copper into the flour
now, as well as alum. Pure flour is worth a fancy price to any
family. With that we can make the bread of life. What you buy in
the shops is the bread of death."
Dick was a good, sharp boy, devoted to his sister. He stuck to the
shop in London, and handed the money to Phoebe, when she came for
it. She worked for it in Essex, and extended her country
connection for supply as the retail business increased.
Staines wrote an article on pure food, and incidentally mentioned
the shop as a place where flour, milk, and butter were to be had
pure. This article was published in the Lancet, and caused quite a
run upon the little shop. By and by Phoebe enlarged it, for which
there were great capabilities, and made herself a pretty little
parlor, and there she and Dick sat to Falcon for their portraits;
here, too, she hung his rejected landscapes. They were fair in her
eyes; what matter whether they were like nature? his hand had
painted them. She knew, from him, that everybody else had rejected
them. With all the more pride and love did she have them framed in
gold, and hung up with the portraits in her little sanctum.
For a few months Phoebe Dale was as happy as she deserved to be.
Her lover was working, and faithful to her--at least she saw no
reason to doubt it. He came to see her every evening, and seemed
devoted to her: would sit quietly with her, or walk with her, or
take her to a play, or a music-hall--at her expense.
She now lived in a quiet elysium, with a bright and rapturous dream
of the future; for she saw she had hit on a good vein of business,
and should soon be independent, and able to indulge herself with a
husband, and ask no man's leave.
She sent to Essex for a dairymaid, and set her to churn milk into
butter, coram populo, at a certain hour every morning. This made a
new sensation. At other times the woman was employed to deliver
milk and cream to a few favored customers.
Mrs. Staines dropped in now and then, and chatted with her. Her
sweet face and her naivete won Phoebe's heart; and one day, as
happiness is apt to be communicative, she let out to her, in reply
to a feeler or two as to whether she was quite alone, that she was
engaged to be married to a gentleman. "But he is not rich, ma'am,"
said Phoebe plaintively; "he has had trouble: obliged to work for
his living, like me; he painted these pictures, EVERY ONE OF THEM.
If it was not making too free, and you could spare a guinea--he
charges no more for the picture, only you must go to the expense of
"Of course I will," said Rosa warmly. "I'll sit for it here, any
day you like."
Now, Rosa said this, out of her ever ready kindness, not to wound
Phoebe: but having made the promise, she kept clear of the place
for some days, hoping Phoebe would forget all about it. Meantime
she sent her husband to buy.
In about a fortnight she called again, primed with evasions if she
should be asked to sit; but nothing of the kind was proposed.
Phoebe was dealing when she went in. The customers disposed of,
she said to Mrs. Staines, "Oh, ma'am, I am glad you are come. I
have something I should like to show you." She took her into the
parlor, and made her sit down: then she opened a drawer, and took
out a very small substance that looked like a tear of ground glass,
and put it on the table before her. "There, ma'am," said she,
"that is all he has had for painting a friend's picture."
"Oh! what a shame."
"His friend was going abroad--to Natal; to his uncle that farms out
there, and does very well; it is a first-rate part, if you take out
a little stock with you, and some money; so my one gave him credit,
and when the letter came with that postmark, he counted on a five-
pound note; but the letter only said he had got no money yet, but
sent him something as a keepsake: and there was this little stone.
Poor fellow! he flung it down in a passion; he was so disappointed."
Phoebe's great gray eyes filled; and Rosa gave a little coo of
sympathy that was very womanly and lovable.
Phoebe leaned her cheek on her hand, and said thoughtfully, "I
picked it up, and brought it away; for, after all--don't you think,
ma'am, it is very strange that a friend should send it all that
way, if it was worth nothing at all?"
"It is impossible. He could not be so heartless."
"And do you know, ma'am, when I take it up in my fingers, it
doesn't feel like a thing that was worth nothing."
"No more it does: it makes my fingers tremble. May I take it home,
and show it my husband? he is a great physician and knows everything."
"I am sure I should be obliged to you, ma'am."
Rosa drove home, on purpose to show it to Christopher. She ran
into his study: "Oh, Christopher, please look at that. You know
that good creature we have our flour and milk and things of. She
is engaged, and he is a painter. Oh, such daubs! He painted a
friend, and the friend sent that home all the way from Natal, and
he dashed it down, and SHE picked it up, and what is it? ground
glass, or a pebble, or what?"
"Humph!--by its shape, and the great--brilliancy--and refraction of
light, on this angle, where the stone has got polished by rubbing
against other stones, in the course of ages, I'm inclined to think
it is--a diamond."
"A diamond!" shrieked Rosa. "No wonder my fingers trembled. Oh,
can it be? Oh, you good, cold-blooded Christie!--Poor things!--
Come along, Diamond! Oh you beauty! Oh you duck!"
"Don't be in such a hurry. I only said I thought it was a diamond.
Let me weigh it against water, and then I shall KNOW."
He took it to his little laboratory, and returned in a few minutes,
and said, "Yes. It is just three times and a half heavier than
water. It is a diamond."
"Are you positive?"
"I'll stake my existence."
"What is it worth?"
"My dear, I'm not a jeweller: but it is very large and pear-shaped,
and I see no flaw: I don't think you could buy it for less than
three hundred pounds."
"Three hundred pounds! It is worth three hundred pounds."
"Or sell it for more than a hundred and fifty pounds."
"A hundred and fifty! It is worth a hundred and fifty pounds."
"Why, my dear, one would think you had invented 'the diamond.'
Show me how to crystallize carbon, and I will share your
"Oh, I leave you to carbonize crystal. I prefer to gladden hearts:
and I will do it this minute, with my diamond."
"Do, dear; and I will take that opportunity to finish my article on
Rosa drove off to Phoebe Dale.
Now Phoebe was drinking tea with Reginald Falcon, in her little
parlor. "Who is that, I wonder?" said she, when the carriage drew
Reginald drew back a corner of the gauze curtain which had been
drawn across the little glass door leading from the shop.
"It is a lady, and a beautiful--Oh! let me get out." And he rushed
out at the door leading to the kitchen, not to be recognized.
This set Phoebe all in a flutter, and the next moment Mrs. Staines
tapped at the little door, then opened it, and peeped. "Good news!
may I come in?"
"Surely," said Phoebe, still troubled and confused by Reginald's
"There! It is a diamond!" screamed Rosa. "My husband knew it
directly. He knows everything. If ever you are ill, go to him and
nobody else--by the refraction, and the angle, and its being three
times and a half as heavy as water. It is worth three hundred
pounds to buy, and a hundred and fifty pounds to sell."
"So don't you go throwing it away, as he did. (In a whisper.) Two
teacups? Was that him? I have driven him away. I am so sorry.
I'll go; and then you can tell him. Poor fellow!"
"Oh, ma'am, don't go yet," said Phoebe, trembling. "I haven't half
"Oh, bother thanks. Kiss me; that is the way."
"You may, and must. There--and there--and there. Oh dear, what
nice things good luck and happiness are, and how sweet to bring
them for once."
Upon this Phoebe and she had a nice little cry together, and Mrs.
Staines went off refreshed thereby, and as gay as a lark, pointing
slyly at the door, and making faces to Phoebe that she knew he was
there, and she only retired, out of her admirable discretion, that
they might enjoy the diamond together.
When she was gone, Reginald, whose eye and ear had been at the
keyhole, alternately gloating on the face and drinking the accents
of the only woman he had ever really loved, came out, looking pale,
and strangely disturbed; and sat down at table, without a word.
Phoebe came back to him, full of the diamond. "Did you hear what
she said, my dear? It is a diamond; it is worth a hundred and
fifty pounds at least. Why, what ails you? Ah! to be sure! you
know that lady."
"I have cause to know her. Cursed jilt!"
"You seem a good deal put out at the sight of her."
"It took me by surprise, that is all."
"It takes me by surprise too. I thought you were cured. I thought
MY turn had come at last."
Reginald met this in sullen silence. Then Phoebe was sorry she had
said it; for, after all, it wasn't the man's fault if an old
sweetheart had run into the room, and given him a start. So she
made him some fresh tea, and pressed him kindly to try her home-
made bread and butter.
My lord relaxed his frown and consented, and of course they talked
He told her, loftily, he must take a studio, and his sitters must
come to him, and must no longer expect to be immortalized for one
pound. It must be two pounds for a bust, and three pounds for a
"Nay, but, my dear," said Phoebe, "they will pay no more because
you have a diamond."
"Then they will have to go unpainted," said Mr. Falcon.
This was intended for a threat. Phoebe instinctively felt that it
might not be so received; she counselled moderation. "It is a
great thing to have earned a diamond," said she: "but 'tis only
once in a life. Now, be ruled by me: go on just as you are. Sell
the diamond, and give me the money to keep for you. Why, you might
add a little to it, and so would I, till we made it up two hundred
pounds. And if you could only show two hundred pounds you had made
and laid by, father would let us marry, and I might keep this shop--
it pays well, I can tell you--and keep my gentleman in a sly
corner; you need never be seen in it."
"Ay, ay," said he, "that is the small game. But I am a man that
have always preferred the big game. I shall set up my studio, and
make enough to keep us both. So give me the stone, if you please.
I shall take it round to them all, and the rogues won't get it out
of ME for a hundred and fifty; why, it is as big as a nut."
"No, no, Reginald. Money has always made mischief between you and
me. You never had fifty pounds yet, you didn't fall into
temptation. Do pray let me keep it for you; or else sell it--I
know how to sell; nobody better--and keep the money for a good
"Is it yours, or mine?" said he, sulkily.
"Why yours, dear; you earned it."
"Then give it me, please." And he almost forced it out of her
So now she sat down and cried over this piece of good luck, for her
heart filled with forebodings.
He laughed at her, but at last had the grace to console her, and
assure her she was tormenting herself for nothing.
"Time will show," said she, sadly.
Time did show.
Three or four days he came, as usual, to laugh her out of her
forebodings. But presently his visits ceased. She knew what that
meant: he was living like a gentleman, melting his diamond, and
playing her false with the first pretty face he met.
This blow, coming after she had been so happy, struck Phoebe Dale
stupid with grief. The line on her high forehead deepened; and at
night she sat with her hands before her, sighing, and sighing, and
listening for the footsteps that never came.
"Oh, Dick!" she said, "never you love any one. I am aweary of my
life. And to think that, but for that diamond--oh, dear! oh, dear!
Then Dick used to try and comfort her in his way, and often put his
arm round her neck, and gave her his rough but honest sympathy.
Dick's rare affection was her one drop of comfort; it was something
to relieve her swelling heart.
"Oh, Dick!" she said to him one night, "I wish I had married him."
"What, to be ill-used?"
"He couldn't use me worse. I have been wife, and mother, and
sweetheart, and all, to him; and to be left like this. He treats
me like the dirt beneath his feet."
"'Tis your own fault, Phoebe, partly. You say the word, and I'll
break every bone in his carcass."
"What, do him a mischief! Why, I'd rather die than harm a hair of
his head. You must never lift a hand to him, or I shall hate you."
"Hate ME, Phoebe?"
"Ay, boy: I should. God forgive me: 'tis no use deceiving
ourselves; when a woman loves a man she despises, never you come
between them; there's no reason in her love, so it is incurable.
One comfort, it can't go on forever; it must kill me, before my
time and so best. If I was only a mother, and had a little
Reginald to dandle on my knee and gloat upon, till he spent his
money, and came back to me. That's why I said I wished I was his
wife. Oh! why does God fill a poor woman's bosom with love, and
nothing to spend it on but a stone; for sure his heart must be one.
If I had only something that would let me always love it, a little