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arrived and re-established himself in his old position at the Vicarage, than he made a push and a successful one to introduce his dumpy daughters, the pretext being that in Mrs. Medlicott's absence they would be useful in the evening to make tea for the party. In yielding this point the Vicar made a mistake which he very soon deeply regretted, yet what else could he well have done? The Misses Pigwidgeon were sent for, and ere the dinner was half over they were seen waddling up the principal walk of the garden, approaching the house in muslin frocks, prettily spotted with peonies, and every now and then dropping into the form of cheeses, or rounds of beef, to pick the gooseberries or currants, just as a pair of ducks, though bent on a journey to the pond, will halt every now and then to gobble up a snail in the grass. “My poor girls,” cried the apothecary with paternal rapture; he was seated so as to have a full view of the corpulent nymphs to whom he was so nearly related. The church warden, who was the gayest of the party, paid broad compliments to their personal charms, although he could only see them over his shoulder. As to the Vicar and the Rural Dean, they were content with the side-long prospects their places afforded them, and took a glass of port together, while the apothecary was recounting to the farmer the gifts and accomplishments of his girls. After all, it was the churchwarden and Mr. Pigwidgeon who redeemed the dinner from stupidity; for though neither was a pleasant fellow himself, the collision between them, as it often happens, proved a source of some little amusement. The conversation having casually turned upon domestic arrangements, the farmer began talking of his house, and the apothecary must do the same.
“You know my house," said Mr. Pigwidgeon.
The Vicar and the Rural Dean looked at one another, and both enjoyed the visible elongation of the apothecary's already sufficiently long face.
"Well, Pigwidgeon," continued the church warden, “now your daughters are come home to take care of you, you will be showing your friends the inside of your house some of these days."
Aye," said Pigwidgeon, wriggling in his chair, and making a vigorous effort to look good-humoured, “ we must soon be thinking of doing something to keep the house warm."
“The best way of doing that is by keeping good fires in the kitchen," said Mr. Barber ; " I look upon the kitchen as the heart
of the house, and I need not tell a gentleman of Mr. Pigwidgeon's profession the importance of keeping up the caloric in that region."
Pigwidgeon," said the farmer, “ you must not let it be said you have a cold heart, which you sce his reverence considers as bad as a cold kitchen."
The apothecary again tried to laugh; but made the worst attempt possible.
“ There is not a more hospitable fellow alive than I am,” he said, “ or one that loves more to have his friends about him, but the misfortune of my profession is, that it leaves a man no time to think of hospitality; sometimes not a moment even to get a comfortable bit of dinner.”
“That's a very hard case,” said the church warden, with affected commiseration.
" There is no doubt," said Mr. Barber, benevolently coming to Mr. Pigwidgeon's rescue, “ there are many men so situated, either professionally or domestically, that they are not in a position to be as social and convivial in their own houses as they would wish to be. Sometimes a man is very hospitable and generous himself, but is cursed with an unsocial or stingy wife.”
“Or he may have a sickly family," added the Vicar, thinking of the apothecary's vigorous brood of children.
“However,” pursued Mr. Barber, “what I was coming to is this, that there are two ways fortunately of being social and convivial; one is being convivial at home, which means giving dinners, and the other is being convivial abroad, which means accepting them."
“I just view of hospitality,” said the Vicar, smiling, “ and a classical one, being strictly in harmony with the two senses of the Latin word hospes, which signifies guest as well as host.”
“I don't understand Latin and Greek,” said the blunt churchwarden," but I hope I understand plain English, and my notion is that a man ought not to dine with his friends and neighbours if he can't or won't entertain them in return."
Here Mr. Barber, observing that the farmer's tone was serious, while himself and the Vicar had been only jocular, and remarking also that Mr. Pigwidgeon was sore at the turn the conversation had taken, rose from the table and gave Mr. Medlicott's proposition of another bottle a decided negative.
The Vicar himself was relieved by the adjournment to the tea-table. Only one of the fair Pigwidgeons was there. The
other, it appeared, had been taken suddenly ill, and had retired to another room. The apothecary hastened to see her, and soon returned, saying that it was nothing serious; she would be well presently and able to walk home. When tea was over, Mr. Pigwidgeon went up again, and the other sister with him. He now was absent for about a quarter of an hour, and when he came back it was to announce that his daughter was rather seriously indisposed, and that he feared he must trespass on the Vicar's goodness to allow her to remain where she was just for the night. It was only common humanity to accede to such a request, but the consciousness of that virtue was Mr. Medlicott's only reward, for before he was out of bed the next morning, Mr. Pigwidgeon came to inform him that his poor girl was in a very bad way, though whether it would end in scarletina or small-pox he had not yet formed a decisive opinion. It proved to be malignant scarletina, and no sooner did one sister begin to recover than the other thought proper to catch the same complaint; nor was this all, for the young doctor, who had been absent for some days previous, quartered himself at the Vicarage on his return in the capacity of resident physician, so that the Vicar now saw his house in the absolute possession of the Pigwidgeons, and turned into a regular infirmary.
Luckily, this unpleasant occurrence took place just at the moment when it was proper for bim to set out for Westbury, but he must have gone on his travels under any circumstances, for he was nervous on the score of infection, and to have remained at home would probably have endangered his life.
A FEW PLEASANT DAYS WITH THE DOOTOR.-REUBEN RECEIVES
THE HONOURS OF A PRIMA DONNA, AND TAE WHOLE PARTY SET OUT ON A TOUR.
“It will cost you a barrel of vinegar and a ton of potash, at the very least,” said Dr. Page; “I recollect that Pigwidgeon well. When I commenced life as physician to one of the London hospitals, he was the manager and resident apothecary there. We quarrelled originally on the subjects of ventilation and ablution. The governors sided with me; and the cause of cleanliness triumphed in my person over Pigwigeon and the opposite principle. There was a case of moral dirt against him also—jobbing in drugs and wine for the patients-you understand me- I might have pressed the charge if I had wished to ruin him, but I was as merciful as I was strong; so I gave the poor devil the alternative of resigning his place, or being exposed and probably prosecuted; he resigned and settled in your neighbourhood, it seems; probably because he heard your larders and cellars well spoken of."
" That accounts," said the Vicar," for the feeling he displayed when he heard your name mentioned.”
Oh, he hates me as he hates soap and water," said the Doctor.
“He has turned us out of our house at all events,” said the Vicar; “I don't expect to be settled there again for three weeks."
“ Not for twice that time,” said Dr. Page, “independently of the fear of infection. By Jove, a wise man in your circunstances would burn the house down; there's a young gentleman yonder would do it in no time.”
This was a pleasant hit at Reuben, who was lying reading on a sofa at some distance, after returning from one of his first walks.
“ What are you reading, my dear?” asked his mother, who had just finished a letter to Mrs. Wyndham, to acquaint her with the improvement in Reuben's healtń.
“Shakspeare, or the Pharmacopoeia ?” added the Doctor.
“I do remember an apothecary,” said Reuben, smiling and holding up the play of “Romeo and Juliet.”
“I believe," said the Vicar, " there is something in Shakspeare pat to every subject one can talk of.”
“A very just observation,” said the Doctor; “I have often made it myself; only the other day I prescribed for a patient out of Henry the Fourth. I'll tell you about it. An olel lady, a neighbour and patient of mine, was plaguing me lately about her complaints (all imagination, you must know): Well, madam, said I, how do you feel to-day? She said she felt—she didn't know how she felt—at last she said she felt hurt inside. Try parmaceti, ma'am, said I. Spermaceti! said she; sure that's only applied externally. Then you know better than Dr. Shakspeare, said I, for he tells you, there's nought like parmaceti for an inward bruise.'”
“ Very pleasant," said the Vicar, “if you didn't lose your patient by your joke.”
“ No great loss, if I did lose her,” replied the Doctor; "she was a bad patient; she had none of the virtues of a patient, not a single one of them.”
“I never before heard of those virtues," said Mr. Medlicott; "pray enumerate them."
If you consider a moment,” said the Doctor, "you will see that several excellent qualities are necessary to make a good patient; candour in the first place,-a patient must be perfectly candid with his physician, or how can the physician understand his case? Then obedience; he must be thoroughly obedient, or what is the use of prescribing for him? Faith comes next, unbounded confidence in his doctor's skill, or the pills and potions won't do their duty, for medicine works morally as well as physically, let
you. The moment I find a patient either deceiving me, disobeying me, or doubting me, I leave him to the quacks and Pigwidgeons."
“Your list of virtues is far from complete," said the Vicar; “methinks you have omitted two very important ones—
s-gratitude and generosity."
“As to gratitude,” said the Doctor, “ I hold that to be a virtue as incumbent on the physician in a great many cases, as on the patient,—if my young friend here (for example) is grateful to me for doing my best to bring him round, I am no less grateful to him for the opportunity of making his acquaintance, and renewing my old friendship with his worthy father."
With this civil speech on his lips, the Doctor went to his cellar, to bring up an old bottle of wine to treat his old friend with, for it was near dinner time.
“I am inclined to think,” said the Vicar to his wife, “ though the doctor and patient may divide the gratitude, the former will insist upon having the virtue of generosity all to himself.”
“What do you propose to do ?" said Mrs. Medlicott; “I suppose you will offer him a suitable sum of money."
“I'll follow the golden rule,” replied the Vicar, after a moment's deliberation." I would not like to have money offered me by an old friend myself, and I'll treat Page as I should wish to be treated by him."
"It would be a golden rule, indeed, father," said Reuben, "if we could often make such advantageous applications of it.”
“I think so, Reuben," said his mother, highly pleased at her son's acute observation.