Chapter 24

To resume. The night passed as usual without producing any change for the better in Miss Halcombe. The next day she seemed to improve a little. The day after that her ladyship the Countess, without mentioning the object of her journey to any one in my hearing, proceeded by the morning train to London -- her noble husband, with his customary attention, accompanying her to the station.

I was now left in sole charge of Miss Halcombe, with every apparent chance, in consequence of her sister's resolution not to leave the bedside, of having Lady Glyde herself to nurse next.

The only circumstance of any importance that happened in the course of the day was the occurrence of another unpleasant meeting between the doctor and the Count.

His lordship, on returning from the station, stepped up into Miss Halcombe's sitting-room to make his inquiries. I went out from the bedroom to speak to him, Mr Dawson and Lady Glyde being both with the patient at the time. The Count asked me many questions about the treatment and the symptoms. I informed him that the treatment was of the kind described as `saline,' and that the symptoms, between the attacks of fever, were certainly those of increasing weakness and exhaustion. rust as I was mentioning these last particulars, Mr Dawson came out from the bedroom.

`Good morning, sir,' said his lordship, stepping forward in the most urbane manner, and stopping the doctor, with a high-bred resolution impossible to resist, `I greatly fear you find no improvement in the symptoms today?'

`I find decided improvement,' answered Mr Dawson.

`You still persist in your lowering treatment of this case of fever?' continued his lordship.

`I persist in the treatment which is justified by my own professional experience,' said Mr Dawson.

`Permit me to put one question to you on the vast subject of professional experience,' observed the Count. `I presume to offer no more advice -- I only presume to make an inquiry. You live at some distance, sir, from the gigantic centres of scientific activity -- London and Paris. Have you ever heard of the wasting effects of fever being reasonably and intelligibly repaired by fortifying the exhausted patient with brandy, wine, ammonia, and quinine? Has that new heresy of the highest medical authorities ever reached your ears -- Yes or no?'

`When a professional man puts that question to me I shall be glad to answer him,' said the doctor, opening the door to go out. `You are not a professional man, and I beg to decline answering you.'

Buffeted in this inexcusably uncivil way on one cheek, the Count, like a practical Christian, immediately turned the other, and said, in the sweetest manner, `Good morning, Mr Dawson.'

If my late beloved husband had been so fortunate as to know his lordship, how highly he and the Count would have esteemed each other!

Her ladyship the Countess returned by the last train that night, and brought with her the nurse from London. I was instructed that this person's name was Mrs Rubelle. Her personal appearance, and her imperfect English when she spoke, informed me that she was a foreigner.

I have always cultivated a feeling of humane indulgence for foreigners. They do not possess our blessings and advantages, and they are, for the most part, brought up in the blind errors of Popery. It has also always been my precept and practice, as it was my dear husband's precept and practice before me (see Sermon xxix, in the Collection by the late Rev. Samuel Michelson, M.A.), to do as I would be done by. On both these accounts I will not say that Mrs Rubelle struck me as being a small, wiry, sly person, of fifty or thereabouts, with a dark brown or Creole complexion and watchful light grey eyes. Nor will I mention, for the reasons just alleged, that I thought her dress, though it was of the plainest black silk,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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