“Pull yourself together, Evesham! I should have thought you’d made a big enough fool of yourself for one night. Drink this! Don’t spill it now! And don’t sit down on the fire, for I don’t feel equal to pulling you off!”
His manner was briskly professional, the manner he usually reserved for the hysterical portion of his patients. He was still feeling decidedly shaky himself, but Piers’ collapse was an admirable restorative. He stood by, vigilant and resolute, while the brandy did its work.
Piers drank in silence, not looking at him. All the arrogance had gone out of him. He looked broken and unmanned.
“Better?” asked Tudor at length.
He nodded mutely, and set down the glass.
Tudor surveyed him questioningly. “What happened to you?” he asked finally.
“Nothing!” Piers found his voice at last, it was low and shamed. “Nothing whatever! You—you—my God!—I thought you were dead, that’s all.”
“That all?” said Tudor. He put his hand up to his temple. There was a fair-sized lump there already, and it was swelling rapidly.
Piers nodded again. The deathly pallor had gone from his face, but he still avoided Tudor’s eyes. He spoke again, below his breath, as if more to himself than to Tudor.
“You looked so horribly like—like—a man I once—saw killed.”
“If you are wise, you will go home to bed,” said Tudor gruffly.
Piers flashed a swift look at him. He stood hesitating. “You’re not really hurt?” he questioned, after a moment.
“Thank you,” said Tudor drily, “I am not.”
He made no movement of reconciliation. Perhaps it was hardly to be expected of him. Piers made none either. He turned away in silence.
The clock on the mantelpiece chimed the hour. Two o’clock! Tudor looked at it with a wry smile. It had been a lively quarter of an hour.
The surgery-door banged upon Piers’ departure. He heard his feet move heavily to the gate, and the dull clang of the latter closing behind him. Then, after a protracted pause, there came the sound of his motor.
As this throbbed away into distance Tudor smiled again grimly, ironically. “Yes, you young ruffian,” he said. “It’s given your nerves a nasty jolt, and serves you jolly well right! I never saw any fellow in such a mortal funk before, and—from your somewhat rash remark—I gather that it’s not the first lesson after all. I wonder when—and how—you killed that other man.”
He was still speculating as he turned out the light and went to his room.
HORNS AND HOOFS