It was many hours yet before the doctor
came, for the life of one patient is no more to a
medical man than that of another, and the great physician
had several urgent cases to see before he could use
the special train placed at his disposal by Hazel’s
elderly lover, who had never left the station all
the morning, and had given instructions that the starting
of the train should be telegraphed to him from the
terminus in town.
In addition, he had a messenger, in
the shape of Feelier’s brother, who came to
and fro every hour to where Mr William Forth Burge
was walking up and down the platform, to deliver a
report from Miss Burge on the patient’s state.
One of these messages was to the effect
that the local doctor had been, and said that there
was no change; and that he was stopping at home on
purpose to meet the great physician when he came.
So was Mr William Forth Burge’s
carriage, and so was a group of the tradespeople and
others, for in the easy-going life of a little country
town the loss of a day was as nothing compared to the
chance of seeing the Queen’s own physician when
he came down.
At last, but not till far in the afternoon,
came the lightning message speeding along the wires,
“Special left King’s Cross 3:30;”
and then how slow seemed the rapid special, and by
comparison how it lagged upon its way, for it would
be quite an hour and a half, the station-master said,
perhaps two hours, even at express speed.
And all this time William Forth Burge
waited, and would have taken nothing but for the thoughtfulness
of the station-master’s wife, who brought him
“No, six, not yet; that’s
the fast down.” Or, “No sir, not
yet; that’s only the afternoon goods.”
Or again, “No sir; that’s only the slow
local. They’ll wire me from Marshton when
This from the chief official; and
at last the wired message came, and after what seemed
to be an interminable time, a fast engine, tender,
one saloon carriage, and brake steamed into the station,
and a little, quiet dark man stepped out as the door
was held open by the station-master, waiting ready
to do honour to the man greater in his power than the
magician kings of old, but very weak even then.
“Mr William Forth Burge?
Thanks. Carriage waiting. Thanks.
Now tell me a little of the case.”
This was mastered principally by questions
as they drove to the cottage.
“Yes,” said the great
man. “I see. The old thing, my dear
sir. What can you expect with sanitary arrangements
such as these?”
He pointed right and left as they
drove along, Mr William Forth Burge suddenly checking
the driver, as they were about halfway, to pick up
Doctor Bartlett, the resident medical man.
Next followed a consultation in the
wretched keeping-room of the cottage, the great doctor
treating his humble brother with the most profound
respect, and then they went up to the bedroom, and
little Miss Burge came down to her brother with her
handkerchief to her eyes.
A dreary half-hour followed before
the doctors came down, the two occupants of the room
gazing up at them with appeal in their eyes as they
vacated their chairs in the great man’s favour.
“I can only say, Mr William
Forth Burge, that we must hope,” said the great
baronet. “It is the most ordinary form
of typhoid fever, and must have its course.
I may add that I almost regret that you should have
called me down, unless my opinion is any comfort to
you; for I can neither add to nor detract from the
skilful treatment adopted by my confrere, Doctor
Bartlett, who is carefully watching the case.
What we want is the best of nursing; and, at any
cost, let the poor girl be taken to some light, wholesome,
“Might we risk moving her?” panted Mr
“It is a grave risk; but it
must be ventured, with the greatest care, under Doctor
Bartlett’s instructions; for I have no hesitation
in saying that if our patient stays here she will
“God bless you, Sir Henry; I’d
have given all I possess for that!” gasped Burge,
as he placed a slip of paper in the doctor’s
There was the drive back to the station,
the little train steamed out, and that evening, while
poor Feelier Potts slept, Hazel Thorne was carried
down to the Burges’ carriage, and lay that night
in the west room, to keep on talking incessantly of
her cruelty to one who had been so noble, so true,
and good, and to make appeals to him for his forgiveness,
as she now knew how to value his honest love.