Im walting till they get up at another house a lodging-house not here, the woman patiently returns. Im waiting here because there will be sun here presently to warm me.
I am afraid you are tired. I am sorry to see you sitting in the street.
Thank you, sir. It dont matter.
A habit in him of speaking to the poor, and of avoiding patronage or condescension, or childishness (which is the favourite device, many people deeming it quite a subtlety to talk to them like little spelling books), has put him on good terms with the woman easily.
Let me look at your forehead, he says, bending down. I am a doctor. Dont be afraid. I wouldnt hurt you for the world.
He knows that by touching her with his skilful and accustomed hand, he can soothe her yet more readily. She makes a slight objection, saying, Its nothing; but he has scarcely laid his fingers on the wounded place when she lifts it up to the light.
Aye! A bad bruise, and the skin sadly broken. This must be very sore.
It do ache a little, sir, returns the woman, with a started tear upon her cheek.
Let me try to make it more comfortable. My handkerchief wont hurt you.
O dear no sir, Im sure of that!
He cleanses the injured place and dries it; and having carefully examined it and gently pressed it with the palm of his hand, takes a small case from his pocket, dresses it, and binds it up. While he is thus employed, he says, after laughing at his establishing a surgery in the street:
And so your husband is a brickmaker?
How do you know that, sir? asks the woman, astonished.
Why, I suppose so, from the colour of the clay upon your bag and on your dress. And I know brickmakers go about working at piecework in different places. And I am sorry to say I have known them cruel to their wives too.
The woman hastily lifts up her eyes as if she would deny that her injury is referable to such a cause. But feeling the hand upon her forehead, and seeing his busy and composed face, she quietly drops them again.
Where is he now? asks the surgeon.
He got into trouble last night, sir; but hell look for me at the lodging-house.
He will get into worse trouble if he often misuses his large and heavy hand as he has misused it here. But you forgive him, brutal as he is, and I say no more of him, except that I wish he deserved it. You have no young child?
The woman shakes her head. One as I calls mine, sir, but its Lizs.
Your own is dead. I see! Poor little thing!
By this time he has finished, and is putting up his case. I suppose you have some settled home. Is it far from here? he asks, good-humouredly making light of what he has done, as she gets up and curtsys.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|