In a fiacre she promptly, but with admirable coolness and self-possession, departed to fetch a surgeon.

It appeared she did not find the family surgeon at home; but that mattered not. She sought until she laid her hand on a substitute to her mind, and brought him back with her. Meantime I had cut the child’s sleeve from its arm, undressed, and put it to bed.

We none of us, I suppose (by we I mean the bonne, the cook, the portress, and myself, all which personages were now gathered in the small and heated chamber), looked very scrutinizingly at the new doctor when he came into the room. I, at least, was taken up with endeavouring to soothe Fifine, whose cries (for she had good lungs) were appalling to hear. These cries redoubled in intensity as the stranger approached her bed; when he took her up, “Let alone!” she cried passionately, in her broken English (for she spoke English, as did the other children). “I will not you; I will Dr. Pillule!”

“And Dr. Pillule is my very good friend,” was the answer, in perfect English; “but he is busy at a place three leagues off, and I am come in his stead. So now, when we get a little calmer, we must commence business; and we will soon have that unlucky little arm bandaged and in right order.”

Hereupon he called for a glass of eau sucrée, fed her with some teaspoonfuls of the sweet liquid (Fifine was a frank gourmande; anybody could win her heart through her palate), promised her more when the operation should be over, and promptly went to work. Some assistance being needed, he demanded it of the cook, a robust, strong-armed woman; but she, the portress, and the nurse instantly fled. I did not like to touch that small, tortured limb; but, thinking there was no alternative, my hand was already extended to do what was requisite. I was anticipated. Madame Beck had put out her own hand. Hers was steady, while mine trembled.

“Ça vaudra mieux,” said the doctor, turning from me to her.

He showed wisdom in his choice. Mine would have been feigned stoicism, forced fortitude. Hers was neither forced nor feigned.

“Merci, madame; très bien, fort bien!” said the operator, when he had finished. “Voilà un sang froid bien opportun, et qui vaut mille élans de sensibilité déplacée.”

He was pleased with her firmness, she with his compliment. It is likely, too, that his whole general appearance, his voice, mien, and manner, wrought impressions in his favour. Indeed, when you looked well at him, and when a lamp was brought in—for it was evening and now waxing dusk—you saw that, unless Madame Beck had been less than woman, it could not well be otherwise. This young doctor (he was young) had no common aspect. His stature looked imposingly tall in that little chamber, and amidst that group of Dutchmade women. His profile was clear, fine, and expressive. Perhaps his eye glanced from face to face rather too vividly, too quickly, and too often; but it had a most pleasant character, and so had his mouth; his chin was full, cleft, Grecian, and perfect. As to his smile, one could not in a hurry make up one’s mind as to the descriptive epithet it merited; there was something in it that pleased, but something too that brought surging up into the mind all one’s foibles and weak points, all that could lay one open to a laugh. Yet Fifine liked this doubtful smile, and thought the owner genial. Much as he had hurt her, she held out her hand to bid him a friendly good-night. He patted the little hand kindly, and then he and madame went downstairs together, she talking in her highest tide of spirits and volubility, he listening with an air of good-natured amenity, dashed with that unconscious roguish archness I find it difficult to describe.

I noticed that though he spoke French well, he spoke English better; he had, too, an English complexion, eyes, and form. I noticed more. As he passed me in leaving the room, turning his face in my direction one moment—not to address me, but to speak to madame, yet so standing that I almost necessarily looked up at him—a recollection which had been struggling to form in my memory since the first moment I heard his voice started up perfected. This was the very gentleman to whom I had spoken at the bureau; who had helped me in the matter of the trunk; who had been my guide through the dark, wet park. Listening,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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