The cause for the change in Mr. Gibson’s wishes just referred to was as follows. It has been mentioned that he took pupils—rather against his inclination, it is true; but there they were, a Mr. Wynne and a Mr. Coxe, “the young gentlemen,” as they were called in the household; “Mr. Gibson’s young gentlemen,” as they were termed in the town. Mr. Wynne was the elder, the more experienced one, who could occasionally take his master’s place, and who gained experience by visiting the poor and the “chronic cases.” Mr. Gibson used to talk over his practice with Mr. Wynne, and try and elicit his opinions in the vain hope that, some day or another, Mr. Wynne might start an original thought. The young man was cautious and slow; he would never do any harm by his rashness, but at the same time he would always be a little behind his day. Still Mr. Gibson remembered that he had had far worse “young gentlemen” to deal with; and was content with, if not thankful for, such an elder pupil as Mr. Wynne. Mr. Coxe was a boy of nineteen or so, with brilliant red hair, and a tolerably red face, of both of which he was very conscious and much ashamed. He was the son of an Indian officer, an old acquaintance of Mr. Gibson’s. Major Coxe was at some unpronounceable station in the Punjaub, at the present time; but the year before he had been in England, and had repeatedly expressed his great satisfaction at having placed his only child as a pupil with his old friend, and had in fact almost charged Mr. Gibson with the guardianship as well as the instruction of his boy, giving him many injunctions which he thought were special in this case; but which Mr. Gibson, with a touch of annoyance, assured the major were always attended to in every case, with every pupil. But, when the poor major ventured to beg that his boy might be considered as one of the family, and that he might spend his evenings in the drawing-room instead of the surgery, Mr. Gibson turned upon him with a direct refusal.

“He must live like the others. I can’t have the pestle and mortar carried into the drawing-room, and the place smelling of aloes.”

“Must my boy make pills himself, then?” asked the major ruefully.

“To be sure. The youngest apprentice always does. It’s not hard work. He’ll have the comfort of thinking he won’t have to swallow them himself. And he’ll have the run of the pomfret cakes, and the conserve of hips, and on Sundays he shall have a taste of tamarinds to reward him for his weekly labour at pill- making.”

Major Coxe was not quite sure whether Mr. Gibson was not laughing at him in his sleeve; but things were so far arranged, and the real advantages were so great, that he thought it was best to take no notice, but even to submit to the indignity of pill-making. He was consoled for all these rubs by Mr. Gibson’s manner at last when the supreme moment of final parting arrived. The doctor did not say much; but there was something of real sympathy in his manner that spoke straight to the father’s heart, and an implied “You have trusted me with your boy, and I have accepted the trust in full,” in each of the few last words.

Mr. Gibson knew his business and human nature too well to distinguish young Coxe by any overt marks of favouritism; but he could not help showing the lad occasionally that he regarded him with especial interest as the son of a friend. Besides this claim upon his regard, there was something about the young man himself that pleased Mr. Gibson. He was rash and impulsive, apt to speak, hitting the nail on the head sometimes with unconscious cleverness, at other times making gross and startling blunders. Mr. Gibson used to tell him that his motto would always be “kill or cure,” and to this Mr. Coxe once made answer that he thought it was the best motto a doctor could have; for if he could not cure the patient, it was surely best to get him out of his misery quietly, and at once. Mr. Wynne looked up in surprise, and observed that he should be afraid that such putting out of misery might be looked upon as homicide by some people. Mr. Gibson said, in a dry tone, that for his part he should not mind the imputation of homicide, but that it would not do to make away with profitable patients in so speedy a manner; and that he thought that, as long as they were willing and able to pay two-and-sixpence for the doctor’s visit, it was his duty to keep them alive; of course, when they became paupers the case was different. Mr. Wynne pondered over this speech; Mr. Coxe only laughed. At last Mr. Wynne said—

  By PanEris using Melati.

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