George Fenn.

The Rosery Folk





Prayle seems to be working very hard for you, old fellow.

Yes.

You trust him, I suppose, with all the settlement of your London affairs?

Yes: everything.

Thoroughly trustworthy fellow, of course?

Yes, yes, I tell you, cried Scarlett angrily. He is my cousin.

Yes, of course, said the doctor, quietly noting every change in his friend the while.

Come somewhere else, said Scarlett, leaping up in an excited manner. I cant bear to sit here.

All right all right, said the doctor cheerily. Lets go down to the waterside.

No, no! exclaimed Scarlett, with a shudder. Come to the rhododendrons.

By all means. But I say, old fellow, you must fight down this weakness.

Weakness? What weakness? Is it a weakness to prefer one part of the garden to the other?

O no; of course not. Lets go down there.

They strolled down between two great banks of the grand flowering shrubs, now rich with the glossy green of their summer growth, and sat down, when a new trouble assailed Scarlett, and he sprang up impatiently. Hah! he exclaimed. I cant bear it.

Why, whats the matter now?

Those blue-bottles buzzing about me like that; just as if they expected I should soon be carrion.

Pooh! What an absurd idea! But you are wrong, old fellow, as usual. I am the more fleshy subject, and they would be after me. Lets go down yonder under the firs.

Why? What is there there, that you should choose that part? said Scarlett, with a quick suspicious glance.

Fir-trees, shade, seats to sit down, said the doctor quietly.

Yes, yes, of course; that will do, said Scarlett hastily. Lets go there.

They strolled along a sun-burned path; and the doctor had just made the remark that commences this chapter, when there was a rustling noise among the shrubs, a whining yelp, and Scarletts favourite dog, a little white fox-terrier, rushed out at them, to leap up at its master, barking with delight. It came upon them so suddenly, that Scarlett uttered a wild cry, caught at the doctors arm, screened himself behind his sturdy body, and stood there trembling like a leaf.

Why, its only Fritz! cried the doctor, smiling.

He startled me so so sudden, panted Scarlett. Drive the brute away.

Ist! Go home; go back! cried the doctor; and, as if understanding the state of affairs, and dejected and wretched at being treated like this, where he had expected to be patted and caressed, the dog drooped his head and tail, looked wistfully up at his master, and slowly trotted away. He turned at the end of the path, and looked back at them, as if half expecting to be recalled, and then went on out of sight.

Ill sell that dog, Jack; hes growing vicious, said Scarlett, speaking in an excited tone. Ive watched him a good deal lately. What are the first signs of hydrophobia?

Hydrophobia, said the doctor smiling water-hating; but I have never studied the diseases of dogs only sad dogs.

I wish you would not be so flippant, Jack, Im sure that dog is going mad.

He hates water now.

Dont agree with you, old fellow, said the doctor, throwing himself upon a great rustic seal beneath some pines; the dog was quite wet, and I saw him, an hour ago, plashing about after the rats.

Ah, but he avoids it sometimes. I have a horror of mad dogs.

Scarlett settled himself down in the seat in a moody, excitable way, looking uneasily round; and the doctor offered him a cigar, which he took and lit, Scales also lighting one, and the friends sat smoking in the delicious pine-scented shade.

I wish that woman would not be so fond of coming over here, said Scarlett suddenly.

What woman?

That Lady Martlett. Coarse, masculine, horsy creature. She is spoiling Kate.

The doctors countenance grew lowering, and there was a red spot on either cheek, but he only said quietly: Think so?

Yes. I shall put a stop to the intimacy.

Im not going to have my home-life spoiled. Her coming makes me nervous.

Does it? said the doctor cheerfully. Ill soon put that right for you.

How? said Scarlett suspiciously.

You shall have a shower-bath every morning, old fellow.

Water? ah! The poor fellow shuddered, and started up. Here, lets have a stroll down by the meadow-side.

All right! cried the doctor with alacrity, What a glorious day it is!

Glorious? Ah, yes. Not breeze enough though. Now, lets go back to the lawn.

As you like, old fellow; but I dont think Lady Martlett has gone.

Why, what a dislike you seem to have taken to Lady Martlett, Jack!

Well, you know what a woman-hater I am.

Yes, of course. Lets go on down by the meadow. Perhaps it will be best.

They strolled down a green path separated from the meadow, where the cows were placidly grazing, by an iron fence; and as they went slowly on, two of the soft mousy-coloured creatures came slowly from the middle of the field, blinking their eyes to get rid of the clustering black flies, and giving a pendulum-like swing to their long tails. They timed their approach so accurately, that as the doctor and his patient reached the corner, they were there, with their heads stretched over the railings, ready for the caress and scrap of oilcake which they expected to receive.

Scarletts attention was so taken up by his thoughts, that he came upon the two patient animals quite suddenly, stopping as if paralysed, and trembling like one afflicted with the palsy. He did not speak, but stood staring, fascinated as it were by the great soft eyes gazing at him; but he stretched out one hand slowly and cautiously behind him, feeling about for his friend, till Scales placed his hand within. Then the poor fellow clasped the fingers with a sob of relief, shuddering as he tore himself away from the inoffensive beasts, and suffering himself to be led back to the seat they had quitted, where he sank down shivering, and covered his face with his hands, sobbing like a child.

The doctor sat gazing at him gravely thinking it better to let him give free vent to his emotion; but, as it grew more and more intense, he laid his hand upon his friends shoulder, saying nothing, but firmly pressing it; the effect of which was to make Scarlett snatch at his hand and grasp it passionately, as he panted out in a voice choked with sobs: Its a judgment on me, Jack. Ive been living here in wealth and idleness, thinking of nothing but self and my own enjoyment. I have not had a thought of anything but pleasure, and I felt so strong and well, that it did not seem possible for a cloud to come across my life. Now, look at me! One stroke, and I have been taught what a poor frail helpless worm I am. Jack, Jack! my nerve is gone. I hate everything. I mistrust every one, even my poor wife, and I see danger everywhere. I darent stir a step. You pretend not to see it; but you are always reading me. Jack, old man, Im afraid of you sometimes, but I do believe in and trust you. Ill obey you; Ill do every thing you want, even if it kills me with fear. I will I will indeed; but, for Gods sake, dont let them take me away. Dont leave me. Dont trust anybody. Dont get any other advice. Go by your own judgment, old fellow, and no matter what I say or do, dont let me drive you away. You are the only one I can trust.

My dear Scarlett, be calm.

I cant I cant! cried the wretched man passionately, knowing what I do knowing what I am; but I will I will try so so hard.

Of course; and youll succeed.

No no! Im getting worse much worse, and I can see what everybody thinks. Kate sees it, and has turned from me in horror. You see it; I can read it in your eyes. You wouldnt say so, but you know it as well as can be. Tell me; isnt it true?

What, that the shock of that half-drowning has upset your nerves, so that you are weak, and have developed a temper that would try an angel? Yes; thats true enough.

No no! I mean the other that horror that dreadful thought that makes me lie and shudder, and ask myself whether I had not better, He stopped short and crouched away in the corner of the seat, his face ghastly, his eyes wild and staring, till the doctor spoke in a firm imperious voice, that made him reply, as it were, in spite of himself. Better what?

End it all, and be at rest.

Why? said the doctor, bending towards him as if about to drag forth an answer.

Because

Well? Speak. I know what you are going to say, but speak out.

Because, said Scarlett, in a low hoarse whisper, as if he dreaded that the very breeze might bear away his confession I know it I feel it I can tell as well as can be, without something always seeming to whisper it in my ears I am going mad! He covered his face with his hands, and sank lower in his seat, panting heavily, and his breath coming and going each minute in a piteous sigh; while, after watching him intently for a few moments, the doctor rose and stood by his side.

Volume Two Chapter Three.
Doctor and Friend

A wonderful stillness seemed to have fallen, and not even a bird twittered or uttered a note in the hot midsummer sunshine. Once from the distance came the low soft murmur of the weir, but that died away, and scarcely a leaf rustled, so that when the doctor spoke, his firm deep tones sounded as if all nature in that lovely country-home were listening for the verdict he was about to deliver to the stricken man.

James Scarlett, he said firmly, I hold a double position here: I am your old friend I am your doctor.

Yes, said Scarlett in a whisper, but without changing his position.

I am going to speak the simple truth; I am going to hide nothing. I am about to give you plain facts. Will you trust me?

Yes. I have always trusted you.

Will you believe me? I need not swear?

No, Jack, no, said Scarlett, letting his hands fall from his haggard face. I believe your word: I do indeed.

You asked me not to leave you.

Yes: for heavens sake, stay.

I will not leave you; and if I can, Ill bring you back to health.

Yes, said Scarlett, shuddering. And you will not let them drag me away. Jack! Kate has been planning it with Arthur an asylum and I dare not speak, I should be so violent, and make it worse.

You shant be dragged away, old man, and you need not fancy that any such plans are being made.

Even if it came to the worst, said Scarlett pitifully, you could keep me down. O Jack, I could not bear it; Id sooner die!

Let me speak out at once, my dear boy, said the doctor. The terrible shock to your nerves has made you so weak that you fancy all these things. It is the natural outcome of such a state as yours. Now, listen: you said you would believe me.

Yes, yes; and I will.

I am glad you have spoken. I knew all this; but I am not sorry you indorsed it. You are haunted by a horrible dread that you are about to lose your reason.

Yes, moaned Scarlett; and it is so hard so hard!

Then you may take this comfort to your heart: you are not in the slightest degree likely to become insane; and, what is more, I am as good as certain that, sooner or later, you will recover your health.

Jack!

You said that you would trust in me.

Yes I did and I will try so hard. There, I am trying you see how I am trying. Stand by me, Jack, and help me. Tell me what to do do you hear! Tell me what to do!

I will, cried Scales. Give me your hand. Stand up like a man. Now, grasp it firmly. Firmly, man; a good grip. Thats better. Now, listen! What are you to do?

Yes: tell me quickly. My own strength is gone.

Ill tell you, then, said the doctor. Give yourself up to me as if you were a man who could not swim.

Dont talk about the water, Jack. For Gods sake, dont!

I will talk about the water, and you shall listen. Now, then, you must act as if you were helpless and I a strong swimmer. You must trust to me. Recollect, if you struggle and fight against me, you must drown morally drown: the black waters will close over your spirit, and nothing that I can do will save you. Now, then, drowning man, is it to be trust in the swimmer? Thats right! he cried, as Scarlett placed his hands upon his arm thats well. I wont leave you, James Scarlett, till you are sound and strong as I am now!

The stricken man made an effort to speak, but the words would not come. He could only gaze wistfully in his friends face, his wild eyes looking his gratitude, while they seemed to promise the fidelity of a dog.

Thats right, old fellow. Now, we pretty well understand each other, only Ive got to preach at you a little. First of all, I must have full confidence, you know. You must come to me with every symptom and sensation.

I will tell you everything, said Scarlett humbly.

And I would just make up my mind to meet my troubles like a man. You have yours now; and they come the more painfully after a long course of prosperity and happiness; but even then, old fellow, life is too good a gift to talk of throwing it away.

Scarlett shuddered, and the doctor watched him narrowly.

Existence accompanied by a most awful fit of neuralgia would not be pleasant; but all the same I would not refuse it, even with those conditions, for the intervals when the neuralgia is not stinging you are about the most delicious moments by contrast that can be imagined.

Yes, yes; of course.

Well, then, now let us go and join them on the lawn. What do you say to beginning to fight the nervous foe at once?

Yes, at once, said Scarlett, speaking as if under the influence of the doctor.

Come along, then; and we shall master yet.

Scarlett hesitated and hung back; but the doctor did not speak. He could see that his patient was trying to avoid his eye. Once Scarlett glanced up, but the look was rapid as lightning. He saw that the doctor was watching him, and he avoided his look again instantly, like a schoolboy who had committed some fault. At the end of a minute, though, he gradually raised his eyes again, slowly and furtively, and in a way that troubled the doctor more than he would have cared to own; but he had his consolation directly in finding his patient gazing fully at him while Scarlett uttered a low sigh of satisfaction, as if he rejoiced at being in charge of a stronger will than his own; and then, without a word, they moved towards the lawn.

I must do my bit of fighting too, said the doctor to himself, as his eyes fell upon Lady Martlett. Shes very handsome; she knows it; and she wants to make me feel it; but she shall not. Humph! How that fellow Prayle hangs about Lady Scarletts side. They cant always be wanting to talk over business matters.

Well, James, have you had a pleasant stroll? said Aunt Sophia, as the two men joined the group.

Yes very, he answered quietly.

Have you seen how the peaches are getting on upon the little bush? she continued.

I? No. I have not been in the peach-house for days.

You dont go half often enough. Lets go now.

What, I? N The poor fellow met the doctors eye, and said hastily: Well, yes; I will, aunt. Will you come too, Naomi?

O yes, cried the girl eagerly.

Perhaps Lady Martlett will come and see the rosy-cheeked beauties of the peach-house? said the doctor half-mockingly. Shell give me such a snub, he added to himself.

Yes; I should like to see them, said her Ladyship quietly; my gardener tells me that they are far more beautiful than mine.

I should have thought it impossible, cried the doctor. Your Ladyships wealth and position ought to be able to secure for you everything.

But it does not, said Lady Martlett; not even such a simple thing as deference or respect.

Ah, but money could not buy those at least not genuine, sterling qualities of that kind, Lady Martlett, said the doctor, as they moved towards the end of the garden.

So it seems, Doctor Scales.

There are some people who even have the impertinence to look down upon the rich who do not carry their honours with graceful humility.

How dares he speak to me like this! thought Lady Martlett; but Ill humble him yet.

Let me see, she replied coolly; what do you cull that class of person a radical, is it not?

Yes; I suppose that is the term.

And I understand that there are radicals of all kinds: in politics; in those who pass judgment on social behaviour; and even in medicine.

Thats a clever thrust, thought the doctor. Just so, Lady Martlett; and I am one of the radicals in medicine.

Of course, then, not in social matters, Doctor Scales?

Will your Ladyship deign to notice the tints upon these peaches? said the doctor evasively. Here is one, he said, lowering his voice, that seems as if it had been mocking you, when your cheek is flushed with the exercise of riding, and you imperiously command the first poor wretch who passes your way to open the gate.

The peaches look very fine, said her Ladyship, refusing to notice the remark much finer than mine, dear Lady Scarlett. My head-gardener says that some disease has attacked the leaves.

You should invite Doctor Scales over to treat the ailment, said Aunt Sophia archly. My dear James, what is the matter?

It is too bad it is disgraceful! cried Scarlett, stamping his foot. Because I am weak and ill, every one imposes on me. That old scoundrel has been neglecting everything.

What! Monnick? cried Aunt Sophia.

Yes. No one else has the key. Ah! here you are, he said more angrily, look, Kate, you ought to be more particular. These keys should be brought to you.

What is wrong, dear? said Lady Scarlett anxiously, as she came down that side of the peach-house, closely followed by Prayle.

Everything is wrong, cried the unhappy man, gazing at her wildly. I cannot bear it. He hurried from the peach-house, followed by the doctor, who calmed him by degrees.

Some of the best peaches stolen, he cried. It is too bad; I set such a store by them.

And I set such store by your recovery, old fellow, said the doctor. That was a wretched fit of temper; but its over now. Dont worry about it, man; and now go and lie down till dinner-time.

No no: I have no wish to

Mind what I say. Yes, you have, my dear boy. Come: a quiet nap till dinner-time, and then you will have forgotten this petty trouble, and be fresh and cool.

Scarlett sighed and walked slowly to the house, his companion seeing him lie down before going to his own room, and taking up a book which he read till it was time to get ready for the evening meal. Then he made his few simple preparations and strolled out into the garden again, to think out his plans and go over the events of the day and the possibility of his effecting a permanent cure. Item: to think a little about his own sore place, and how long it would take to heal up so thoroughly that he could always with impunity look Lady Martlett in the face.

Volume Two Chapter Four.
Mr Saxby has Aspirations

A couple of months had passed.

Mr Saxby wants to speak to you, maam, said Fanny; and Aunt Sophia jumped up in a pet. What does he want now? This is four times he has been down this month. Where is he?

In the study, maam. He wouldnt come in here.

Aunt Sophia entered the study to find quite a strong odour in the room. It was something between lemon-scented verbena and magnolia; and as soon as she noticed it, she began to sniff, with the result that the busy City man, so strong in his office, so weak outside, began to turn red.

Well, Mr Saxby, said Aunt Sophia, have you sold those consols for me?

Yes, maam, as you insisted; but youll excuse me, Im sure, when I tell you that

There, there, there, man! I know what you are going to say; but it is my own money, and I shall do with it what I please, and Sniff, sniff, sniff. Whatever is it smells so strong?

Strong, maam, strong? said Mr Saxby, wiping his brow, for Aunt Sophia had a peculiar effect upon him, causing him to grow moist about the palms of his hands and dew to form upon his temples.

Why, its that handkerchief, man: and youve been putting scent upon your hair!

Well, a little, maam, just a little, said Saxby, with a smile that was more indicative of feebleness than strength. I was coming into the country, you see, and, ahem! sweets to the sweet.

Stuff! How about that money.

Theres the cheque, maam, said Mr Saxby, taking out his pocket-book; but I give it to you with regret; and let me beg of you, my dear madam, to be guided by me.

That will do, Saxby. I know what I am about; and now, I suppose, you have some eligible investment to propose?

Well, no, my dear madam; no. Things are very quiet. Moneys cheap as dirt.

May I ask, then, why you have come down?

The er the cheque, my dear madam.

Might very well have come by post, Mr Saxby.

Yes, but I was anxious to see and hear about how poor Sir James is getting on; to say a few words of condolence to Lady Scarlett. I esteem them both very highly, Miss Raleigh; I do indeed.

Dear me! Ah! said Aunt Sophia; and Shall I finish for you, Saxby?





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