`Oh, thank you, sir!' said Jude gratefully, but in gasps, for the amazing speed of the physician's walk kept him in a dog-trot which was giving him a stitch in the side. `I think you'd better drop behind, my young man. Now I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll get you the grammars, and give you a first lesson, if you'll remember, at every house in the village, to recommend Physician Vilbert's golden ointment, life-drops, and female pills.'
`Where will you be with the grammars?'
`I shall be passing here this day fortnight at precisely this hour of five-and-twenty minutes past seven. My movements are as truly timed as those of the planets in their courses.'
`Here I'll be to meet you,' said Jude.
`With orders for my medicines?'
Jude then dropped behind, waited a few minutes to recover breath, and went home with a consciousness of having struck a blow for Christminster.
Through the intervening fortnight he ran about and smiled outwardly at his inward thoughts, as if they were people meeting and nodding to him - smiled with that singularly beautiful irradiation which is seen to spread on young faces at the inception of some glorious idea, as if a supernatural lamp were held inside their transparent natures, giving rise to the flattering fancy that heaven lies about them then.
He honestly performed his promise to the man of many cures, in whom he now sincerely believed, walking miles hither and thither among the surrounding hamlets as the Physician's agent in advance. On the evening appointed he stood motionless on the plateau, at the place where he had parted from Vilbert, and there awaited his approach. The road-physician was fairly up to time; but, to the surprise of Jude on striking into his pace, which the pedestrian did not diminish by a single unit of force, the latter seemed hardly to recognize his young companion, though with the lapse of the fortnight the evenings had grown light. Jude thought it might perhaps be owing to his wearing another hat, and he saluted the physician with dignity.
`Well, my boy?' said the latter abstractedly.
`I've come,' said Jude.
`You? who are you? Oh yes - to be sure! Got any orders, lad?'
`Yes.' And Jude told him the names and addresses of the cottagers who were willing to test the virtues of the world-renowned pills and salve. The quack mentally registered these with great care.
`And the Latin and Greek grammars?' Jude's voice trembled with anxiety.
`What about them?'
`You were to bring me yours, that you used before you took your degree.'
`Ah, yes, yes! Forgot all about it - all! So many lives depending on my attention, you see, my man, that I can't give so much thought as I would like to other things.'
Jude controlled himself sufficiently long to make sure of the truth; and he repeated, in a voice of dry misery, `You haven't brought 'em!'
`No. But you must get me some more orders from sick people, and I'll bring the grammars next time.'
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