TREATS OF QUEEKER AND OTHERS ALSO
OF YOUTHFUL JEALOUSY, LOVE, POETRY, AND CONFUSION
Returning, now, to the moon-struck
and Katie-smitten Queeker, we find that poetic individual
walking disconsolately in front of Mr George Durant’s
In a previous chapter it has been
said that, after composing his celebrated lines to
the lantern of the floating light, he resolved to
drop in upon the Durants about tea-time and
well did Queeker know their tea-time, although, every
time he went there uninvited, the miserable hypocrite
expressed surprise at finding them engaged with that
meal, and said he had supposed they must have finished
tea by that time!
But, on arriving at the corner of
the street, his fluttering heart failed him.
The thought of the cousin was a stumbling-block which
he could not surmount. He had never met her
before; he feared that she might be witty, or sarcastic,
or sharp in some way or other, and would certainly
make game of him in the presence of Katie. He
had observed this cousin narrowly at the singing-class,
and had been much impressed with her appearance; but
whether this impression was favourable or unfavourable
was to him, in the then confused state of his feelings,
a matter of great uncertainty. Now that he was
about to face her, he felt convinced that she must
be a cynic, who would poison the mind of Katie against
him, and no power within his unfortunate body was capable
of inducing him to advance and raise the knocker.
Thus he hung in torments of suspense
until nine o’clock, when in a fit
of desperation, he rushed madly at the door and committed
himself by hitting it with his fist.
His equanimity was not restored by
its being opened by Mr Durant himself.
“Queeker!” exclaimed the
old gentleman in surprise; “come in, my dear
sir; did you stumble against the door? I hope
you haven’t hurt yourself?”
“Not at all a no,
not at all; the fact is, I ran up the steps rather
hastily, and how do you do, Miss Durant?
I hope you are quite well?”
Poor Queeker said this and shook hands
with as much earnestness as if he had not seen Katie
for five years.
“Quite well, thank you.
My cousin, Fanny Hennings Mr Queeker.”
Fanny bowed and Mr Queeker bowed,
and, with a flushed countenance, asked her about the
state of her health with unnatural anxiety.
“Thank you, Mr Squeeker, I am very well,”
The unhappy youth would have corrected
her in regard to his name, but hesitated and missed
the opportunity, and when, shortly afterwards, while
engaged in conversation with Mr Durant, he observed
Fanny giggling violently in a corner by herself, he
felt assured that Katie had kindly made the correction
The announcement of supper relieved
him slightly, and he was beginning to calm down over
a piece of bread and cheese when the door-bell rang.
Immediately after a heavy foot was heard in the passage,
the parlour door was flung open, the maid announced
Mr Hall, and a tall elegant young man entered the
room. His figure was slender, but his chest was
deep and his shoulders were broad and square.
An incipient moustache of fair hair floated like
a summer cloud on his upper lip, which expanded with
a hearty smile as he advanced towards Mr Durant and
held out his hand.
“You have forgotten me, I fear,” he said.
“Forgotten you!” exclaimed
the old gentleman, starting up and seizing the young
man’s hand, which he shook violently “forgotten
Stanley Hall little Stanney, as I used
to call you? Man, how you are grown,
to be sure. What a wonderful change!”
“For the worse, I fear!” exclaimed the
“Come, no fishing for compliments,
sir. Let me introduce you to my daughter Katie,
my niece Fanny Hennings, and my young friend Queeker.
Now, then, sit down, and make yourself at home; you’re
just in time; we’ve only just begun; ring the
bell for another plate, Katie. How glad I am
to see you, Stanney, my boy I can’t
call you by any other than the old name, you see.
How did you leave your father, and what brings you
here? Come, out with it all at once. I
declare you have quite excited me.”
Well was it for poor Queeker that
every one was too much occupied with the newcomer
to pay any attention to him, for he could not prevent
his visage from betraying something of the feelings
which harrowed up his soul. The moment he set
eyes on Stanley Hall, mortal jealousy keen,
rampant, virulent jealousy of the worst type penetrated
every fibre of his being, and turned his heart to
stone! We cannot afford space to detail the
various shades of agony, the degrees of despair, through
which this unfortunate young man passed during that
evening. A thick volume would not suffice to
contain it all. Language is powerless to express
it. Only those who have similarly suffered can
Of course, we need scarcely add that
there was no occasion for jealousy. Nothing was
further from the mind of Stanley than the idea of falling
in love with Katie. Nevertheless, politeness
required that he should address himself to her occasionally.
At such times, Queeker’s soul was stabbed in
an unutterable manner. He managed to command
himself, notwithstanding. To his credit, be
it said, that he refrained from using the carving-knife.
He even joined with some show of interest (of course
hypocritical) in the conversation.
Stanley Hall was not only good-looking,
but good-humoured, and full of quiet fun and anecdote,
so that he quickly ingratiated himself with all the
members of the family.
“D’you know it makes me
feel young again to hear these old stories about your
father’s college-life,” said Mr Durant.
“Have some more cheese, Stanney you
look like a man who ought to have a good appetite fill
your glass and pass the bottle thanks.
Now, how comes it that you have turned up in this
out-of-the-way part of the world? By-the-bye,
I hope you intend to stay some time, and that you
will take up your quarters with me? You can’t
imagine how much pleasure it would give me to have
the son of my old companion as a guest for some time.
I’m sure that Katie joins me heartily in this
Queeker’s spirit sank with horror,
and when Katie smilingly seconded her father’s
proposal, his heart stood still with dismay.
Fanny Hennings, who had begun to suspect that there
was something wrong with Queeker, put her handkerchief
to her mouth, and coughed with what appeared to be
“I regret,” said Stanley
(and Queeker’s breath came more freely), “that
my stay must necessarily be short. I need not
say that it would afford me the highest pleasure to
accept your kind invitation” (he turned with
a slight bow to Katie, and Queeker almost fainted),
“but the truth is, that I have come down on
a particular piece of business, in regard to which
I wish to have your advice, and must return to London
to-morrow or next day at furthest.”
Queeker’s heart resumed its office.
“I am sorry to hear that very
sorry. However, you shall stay to-night at all
events; and you shall have the best advice I can give
you on any subject you choose to mention. By
the way talking of advice, you’re an M.D. now,
“Not yet,” replied Stanley.
“I am not quite fledged, although nearly so,
and I wish to go on a voyage before completing my course.”
“Quite right, quite right see
a little of life first, eh? But how comes it,
Stanney, that you took kindly to the work at last,
for, when I knew you first you could not bear the
idea of becoming a doctor?”
“One’s ideas change, I
suppose,” replied the youth, with a smile, “probably
my making the discovery that I had some talent in that
direction had something to do with it.”
“H’m; how did you make
that discovery, my boy?” asked the old gentleman.
“That question can’t easily
be answered except by my inflicting on you a chapter
of my early life,” replied Stanley, laughing.
“Then inflict it on us without
delay, my boy. I shall delight to listen, and
so, I am sure, will Katie and Fanny. As to my
young friend Queeker, he is of a somewhat literary
turn, and may perhaps throw the incidents into verse,
if they are of a sufficiently romantic character!”
Katie and Fanny declared they would
be charmed to hear about it, and Queeker said, in
a savagely jesting tone, that he was so used to things
being inflicted on him, that he didn’t mind rather
liked it than otherwise!
“But you must not imagine,”
said Stanley, “that I have a thrilling narrative
to give you, I can merely relate the two incidents
which fixed my destiny in regard to a profession.
You remember, I daresay, that my heart was once set
upon going to sea. Well, like most boys, I refused
to listen to advice on that point, and told my father
that I should never make a surgeon that
I had no taste or talent for the medical profession.
The more my father tried to reason me out of my desire,
the more obstinate I became. The only excuse
that I can plead is that I was very young, very ignorant,
and very stupid. One day, however, I was left
in the surgery with a number of dirty phials to wash my
father having gone to visit a patient at a short distance,
when our servant came running in, saying that there
was a cab at the door with a poor boy who had got
his cheek badly cut. As I knew that my father
would be at home in less than quarter of an hour,
I ordered him to be brought in. The poor child a
little delicate boy was very pale, and bleeding
profusely from a deep gash in the cheek, made accidentally
by a knife with which he had been playing. The
mouth was cut open almost to the ear. We laid
him on a sofa, and I did what I could to stop the flow
of blood. I was not sixteen at the time, and,
being very small for my age, had never before felt
myself in a position to offer advice, and indeed I
had not much to offer. But one of the bystanders
said to me while we were looking at the child,
“`What do you think should be done, sir?’
“The mere fact of being asked
my opinion gratified my vanity, and the respectful
`sir’ with which the question concluded caused
my heart to beat high with unwonted emotion.
It was the first time I had ever been addressed gravely
as a man; it was a new sensation, and I think may be
regarded as an era in my existence.
“With much gravity I replied
that of course the wound ought to be sewed up.
“`Then sooner it’s done
the better, I think,’ said the bystander, `for
the poor child will bleed to death if it is allowed
to go on like that.’
“A sudden resolution entered
into my mind. I stroked my chin and frowned,
as if in deep thought, then, turning to the man who
had spoken, said, `It ought certainly to
be done with as little delay as possible; I expect
my father to return every minute; but as it is an urgent
case, I will myself undertake it, if the parents of
the child have no objection.’
“`Seems to me, lad,’ remarked
a country fellow, who had helped to carry the child
in, `that it beant a time to talk o’ parients
objectin’ w’en the cheeld’s blood’n
to deth. Ye’d better fa’ to
work at once if ’ee knows how.’
“I cast upon this man a look
of scorn, but made no reply. Going to the drawer
in which the surgical instruments were kept, I took
out those that suited my purpose, and went to work
with a degree of coolness which astonished myself.
I had often seen my father sew up wounds, and had
assisted at many an operation of the kind, so that,
although altogether unpractised, I was not ignorant
of the proper mode of procedure. The people
looked on with breathless interest. When I had
completed the operation, I saw my father looking over
the shoulders of the people with an expression of
unutterable surprise not unmingled with amusement.
I blushed deeply, and began some sort of explanation,
which, however, he cut short by observing in an off-hand
manner, that the thing had been done very well, and
the child had better be carried into my bedroom and
left there to rest for some time. He thus got
the people out of the surgery, and then, when we were
alone, told me that I was a born surgeon, that he
could not have done it much better himself, and, in
short, praised me to such an extent that I felt quite
proud of my performance.”
Queeker, who had listened up to this
point with breathless attention, suddenly said
“D’you mean to say that you really
“I do,” replied Stanley with an amused
“Sewed up a mouth cut all the way to the ear?”
“With a a ”
“With a needle and thread,” said Stanley.
Queeker’s powers of utterance
were paralysed. He looked at the young doctor
with a species of awe-stricken admiration. Jealousy,
for the time, was in abeyance.
“This, then, was the beginning
of your love for the profession?” said Mr Durant.
“Undoubtedly it was, but a subsequent
event confirmed me in my devotion to it, and induced
me to give up all thoughts of the sea. The praise
that I had received from my father who was
not usually lavish of complimentary remarks made
me ambitious to excel in other departments of surgery,
so I fixed upon the extraction of teeth as my next
step in the profession. My father had a pretty
large practice in that way. We lived, as you
remember, in the midst of a populous rural district,
and had frequent visits from farm servants and labourers
with heads tied up and lugubrious faces.
“I began to fit myself for duty
by hammering big nails into a block of wood, and drawing
them out again. This was a device of my own,
for I wished to give my father another surprise, and
did not wish to betray what I was about, by asking
his advice as to how I should proceed. I then
extracted the teeth from the jaw-bones of all the sheep’s-heads
that I could lay hands on; after a good deal of practice
in this way, I tried to tempt our cook with an offer
of five shillings to let me extract a back tooth which
had caused her a great deal of suffering at intervals
for many months; but she was a timid woman, and would
not have allowed me for five guineas, I believe, even
to look into her mouth. I also tried to tempt
our small stable-boy with a similar sum. He was
a plucky little fellow, and, although there was not
an unsound tooth in his head, agreed to let me draw
one of the smallest of his back teeth for seven
and sixpence if it should come out the first pull,
and sixpence for every extra rug! I thought
the little fellow extravagant in his demands, but,
rather than lose the chance, submitted. He sat
down quite boldly on our operating chair, but grew
pale when I advanced with the instrument; when I tried
to open his mouth, he began to whimper, and finally,
struggling out of my grasp, fled. I afterwards
gave him sixpence, however, for affording me, as I
told him, so much pleasurable anticipation.
“After this I cast about for
another subject, but failed to procure a live one.
It occurred to me, however, that I might try my hand
on two skeletons that hung in our garret, so I got
their heads off without delay, and gradually extracted
every tooth in their jaws. As there were about
sixty teeth, I think, in each pair, I felt myself much
improved before the jaws were toothless. At
last, I resolved to take advantage of the first opportunity
that should offer, during my father’s absence,
to practise on the living subject. It was not
long before I had a chance.
“One morning my father went
out, leaving me in the surgery, as was his wont.
I was deeply immersed in a book on anatomy, when I
heard a tremendous double rap as if made
with the head of a stick at the outer door,
and immediately after the question put in the gruff
bass voice of an Irishman, `Is the dactur within?’
“A tremendous growl of disappointment
followed the reply. Then, after a pause, `Is
the assistant within?’ This was followed by
a heavy tread in the passage and, next moment; an
enormous man, in very ragged fustian, with a bronzed
hairy face, and a reaping-hook under his arm, stood
in the surgery, his head almost touching the ceiling.
“`Sure it’s niver the
dactur’s assistant ye are?’ he exclaimed,
with a look of surprise.
“I rose, drew myself up, and,
endeavouring to look very solemn, said that I was,
and demanded to know if I could do anything for him.
“`Ah, then, it’s a small
assistant ye are, anyhow,’ he remarked; but
stopped suddenly and his huge countenance was convulsed
with pain, as he clapped his hand to his face, and
uttered a groan, which was at least three parts composed
of a growl.
“`Hooroo! whirr-r-hach! musha,
but it’s like the cratur o’ Vesoovious
all alive-o in me head. Av it
don’t split up me jaw there ha och!’
“The giant stamped his foot
with such violence that all the glasses, cups, and
vials in the room rang again, and, clapping both hands
over his mouth, he bent himself double in a paroxysm
“I felt a strange mixture of
wild delight and alarm shoot through me. The
chance had come in my way, but in anticipating it I
had somehow always contemplated operating on some
poor boy or old woman. My thoughts had never
depicted such a herculean and rude specimen of humanity.
At first, he would not believe me capable of extracting
a tooth; but I spoke with such cool self-possession
and assurance though far from feeling either that
he consented to submit to the operation. For
the sake of additional security, I seated him on the
floor, and took his head between my knees; and I confess
that when seated thus, in such close proximity to
his rugged as well as massive head, gazing into the
cavern filled with elephantine tusks, my heart almost
failed me. Far back, in the darkest corner of
the cave, I saw the decayed tooth a massive
lump of glistening ivory, with a black pit in the middle
of it. Screwing up my courage to the utmost,
I applied the key. The giant winced at the touch,
but clasped his hard hands together evidently
prepared for the worst. I began to twist with
right good-will. The man roared furiously, and
gave a convulsive heave that almost upset myself and
the big chair, and disengaged the key!
“`Oh, come,’ said I, remonstratively,
`you ought to stand it better than that! why, the
worst of it was almost over.’
“`Was it, though?’ he
inquired earnestly, with an upward glance, that gave
to his countenance in that position a hideous aspect.
`Sure it had need be, for the worst baits all that
iver I drained of. Go at it again, me boy.’
“Resolving to make sure work
of it next time, I fixed the key again, and, after
getting it pretty tight at which point he
evidently fancied the worst had been again reached I
put forth all my strength in one tremendous twist.
“I failed for a moment to draw
the tusk, but I drew forth a prolonged roar, that
can by no means be conceived or described. The
Irishman struggled. I held on tight to his head
with my knees. The chair tottered on its legs.
Letting go the hair of his head, I clapped my left
hand to my right, and with both arms redoubled the
strain. The roar rose into a terrible yowl.
There was a crash like the rending of a forest tree.
I dropped the instrument, sprang up, turned the chair
on the top of the man, and cramming it down on him
rushed to the door, which I threw open, and then faced
“There was a huge iron pestle
lying on a table near my hand. Seizing it, I
swayed it gently to and fro, ready to knock him down
with it if he should rush at me, or to turn and fly,
as should seem most advisable. I was terribly
excited, and a good deal alarmed as to the possible
consequences, but managed with much difficulty to look
“The big chair was hurled into
a corner as he rose sputtering from the floor, and
holding his jaws with both hands.
“`Och! ye spalpeen, is that the way ye trait
“`Yes,’ I replied in a
voice of forced calmness, `we usually put a restraint
on strong men like you, when they’re likely to
“I saw the corners of his eyes
wrinkle a little, and felt more confidence.
“`Arrah, but it’s the
jawbone ye’ve took out, ye goormacalluchscrowl!’
“`No, it isn’t, it’s
only the tooth,’ I replied, going forward and
picking it up from the floor.
“The amazement of the man is
not to be described. I gave him a tumbler of
water, and, pointing to a basin, told him to wash out
his mouth, which he did, looking at me all the time,
however, and following me with his astonished eyes,
as I moved about the room. He seemed to have
been bereft of the power of speech; for all that he
could say after that was, `Och! av yer small
“On leaving he asked what was
to pay. I said that I’d ask nothing, as
he had stood it so well; and he left me with the same
look of astonishment in his eyes and words of commendation
on his lips.”
“Well, that was a tremendous
experience to begin with,” said Mr Durant, laughing;
“and so it made you a doctor?”
“It helped. When my father
came home I presented him with the tooth, and from
that day to this I have been hard at work; but I feel
a little seedy just now from over-study, so I have
resolved to try to get a berth as surgeon on board
a ship bound for India, Australia, China, or South
America, and, as you are a shipowner and old friend,
I thought it just possible you might be not only willing
but able to help me to what I want.”
“And you thought right, Stanney,
my boy,” said the old gentleman heartily; “I
have a ship going to sail for India in a few weeks,
and we have not yet appointed a surgeon. You
shall have that berth if it suits you.”
At this point they were interrupted
by the entrance of a servant maid with the announcement
that there was a man in the lobby who wished to see
“I’ll be back shortly,”
said the old gentleman to Stanley as he rose; “go
to the drawing-room, girls, and give Mr Hall some music.
You’ll find that my Katie sings and plays very
sweetly, although she won’t let me say so.
Fanny joins her with a fine contralto, I believe,
and Queeker, too, he sings a a
what is it, Queeker? a bass or a baritone eh?”
Without waiting for a reply, Mr Durant
left the room, and found Morley Jones standing in
the lobby, hat in hand.
The old gentleman’s expression
changed instantly, and he said with much severity
“Well, Mr Jones, what do you want?”
Morley begged the favour of a private
interview for a few minutes. After a moment’s
hesitation, Mr Durant led him into his study.
“Another loan, I suppose?”
said the old gentleman, as he lit the gas.
“I had expected to have called
to pay the last loan, sir,” replied Mr Jones
somewhat boldly, “but one can’t force the
market. I have my sloop down here loaded with
herrings, and if I chose to sell at a loss, could
pay my debt to you twice over; but surely it can scarcely
be expected of me to do that. I hear there is
a rise in France just now, and mean to run over there
with them. I shall be sure to dispose of ’em
to advantage. On my return, I’ll pay your
loan with interest.”
Morley Jones paused, and Mr Durant
looked at him attentively for a few seconds.
“Is this all you came to tell me?”
“Why, no sir, not exactly,”
replied Jones, a little disconcerted by the stern
manner of the old gentleman. “The sloop
is not quite filled up, she could stow a few more
casks, but I have been cleaned out, and unless I can
get the loan of forty or fifty pounds ”
“Ha! I thought so.
Are you aware, Mr Jones, that your character for
honesty has of late been called in question?”
“I am aware that I have got
enemies,” replied the fish-merchant coldly.
“If their false reports are to be believed to
my disadvantage, of course I cannot expect ”
“It is not my belief in their
reports,” replied Mr Durant, “that creates
suspicion in me, but I couple these reports with the
fact that you have again and again deceived me in
regard to the repayment of the loans which you have
already received at various times from me.”
“I can’t help ill-luck,
sir,” said Morley with a downcast look.
“If men’s friends always deserted them
at the same time with fortune there would be an end
of all trade.”
“Mr Jones,” said the other
decidedly, “I tell you plainly that you are
presumptuous when you count me one of your friends.
Your deceased brother, having been an old and faithful
servant of mine, was considered by me a friend, and
it is out of regard to his memory alone that I have
assisted you. Even now, I will lend you
the sum you ask, but be assured it is the last you
shall ever get from me. I distrust you, sir,
and I tell you so flatly.”
While he was speaking the old gentleman
had opened a desk. He now sat down and wrote
out a cheque, which he handed to his visitor, who
received it with a grim smile and a curt acknowledgment,
and instantly took his leave.
Mr Durant smoothed the frown from
his brow, and returned to the drawing-room, where
Katie’s sweet voice instantly charmed away the
memory of the evil spirit that had just left him.
The table was covered with beautiful
pencil sketches and chalk-heads and water-colour drawings
in various stages of progression all of
which were the production of the same fair, busy,
and talented little hand that copied the accounts
for the Board of Trade, for love instead of money,
without a blot, and without defrauding of dot or stroke
a single i or t!
Queeker was gazing at one of the sketches
with an aspect so haggard and savage that Mr Durant
could not refrain from remarking it.
“Why, Queeker, you seem to be
displeased with that drawing, eh? What’s
wrong with it?”
“Oh, ah!” exclaimed the
youth, starting, and becoming very red in the face “no,
not with the drawing, it is beautiful most
beautiful, but I in fact I was
thinking, sir, that thought sometimes leads us into
regions of gloom in which where one
can’t see one’s way, and ignes fatui
mislead or or ”
“Very true, Queeker,”
interrupted the old gentleman, good-humouredly; “thought
is a wonderful quality of the mind transports
us in a moment from the Indies to the poles; fastens
with equal facility on the substantial and the impalpable;
gropes among the vague generalities of the abstract,
and wriggles with ease through the thick obscurities
of the concrete eh, Queeker? Come,
give us a song, like a good fellow.”
“I never sing I cannot
sing, sir,” said the youth, hurriedly.
“No! why, I thought Katie said
you were attending the singing-class.”
The fat cousin was observed here to
put her handkerchief to her mouth and bend convulsively
over a drawing.
Queeker explained that he had just
begun to attend, but had not yet attained sufficient
confidence to sing in public. Then, starting
up he suddenly pulled out his watch, exclaimed that
he was quite ashamed of having remained so late, shook
hands nervously all round, and, rushing from the house,
left Stanley Hall in possession of the field!
Now, the poor youth’s state
of mind is not easily accounted for. Stanley,
being a close observer, had at an early part of the
evening detected the cause of Queeker’s jealousy,
and, being a kindly fellow, sought, by devoting himself
to Fanny Hennings, to relieve his young friend; but,
strange to say, Queeker was not relieved!
This fact was a matter of profound astonishment even
to Queeker himself, who went home that night in a
state of mind which cannot be adequately described,
sat down before his desk, and, with his head buried
in his hands, thought intensely.
“Can it be,” he murmured
in a sepulchral voice, looking up with an expression
of horror, “that I love them both?
Impossible. Horrible! Perish the thought yes.”
Seizing a pen:
“Perish the thought
Which never ought
Let not the thing.”
“Thing wing bing ping jing ring ling ting cling dear
me! what a lot of words with little or no meaning
there are in the English language! what
will rhyme with ah! I have
it sting ”
“Let not the thing
Reveal its sting
Having penned these lines, Queeker
heaved a deep sigh cast one long lingering
gaze on the moon, and went to bed.