In one of these paroxysms he was walking the room when the elder surgeon, who had attended his opponent to the field, was announced. Soane still retained so much of his life habit as to show an unmoved front; the man of the scalpel thought him hard and felt himself repelled; and though he had come from the sick-room hot-foot and laden with good news, descended to a profound apology for the intrusion.
‘But I thought that you might like to hear, sir,’ he continued, nursing his hat, and speaking as if the matter were of little moment, ’that Mr. Dunborough is as—as well as can be expected. A serious case—I might call it a most serious case,’ he continued, puffing out his cheeks. ’But with care—with care I think we may restore him. I cannot say more than that.’
‘Has the ball been extracted?’
’It has, and so far well. And the chair being on the spot, Sir George, so that he was moved without a moment’s delay—for which I believe we have to thank Mr.—Mr.—’
‘Fishwick,’ Soane suggested.
‘To be sure—that is so much gained. Which reminds me,’ the smug gentleman continued, ’that Mr. Attorney begged me to convey his duty and inform you that he had made the needful arrangements and provided bail, so that you are at liberty to leave, Sir George, at any hour.’
‘Ah!’ Soane said, marvelling somewhat. ’I shall stay here, nevertheless, until I hear that Mr. Dunborough is out of danger.’
‘An impulse that does you credit, sir,’ the surgeon said impressively. ‘These affairs, alas! are very greatly to be de—’
‘They are d—d inconvenient,’ Sir George drawled. ’He is not out of danger yet, I suppose?’
The surgeon stared and puffed anew. ‘Certainly not, sir,’ he said.
‘Ah! And where have you placed him?’
‘The Honourable Mr.—, the sufferer?’
‘To be sure! Who else, man?’ Soane asked impatiently.
‘In some rooms at Magdalen,’ the doctor answered, breathing hard. And then, ‘Is it your wish that I should report to you to-morrow, sir?’
‘You will oblige me. Thank you. Good-day.’
A FISH OUT OF WATER
Sir George spent a long day in his own company, and heedless that on the surgeon’s authority he passed abroad for a hard man and a dashed unfeeling fellow, dined on Lord Lyttelton’s ’Life of King Henry the Second,’ which was a new book in those days, and the fashion; and supped on gloom and good resolutions. He proposed to call and inquire after his antagonist at a decent hour in the morning, and if the report proved favourable, to go on to Lord——’s in the afternoon.