“We’ll have to get you up to bed,” said the latter, rising slowly and dusting himself.
Mr. Scutts, who was lying full length on the floor, acquiesced, and sent his wife for some neighbours. One of them was a professional furniture-remover, and, half-way up the narrow stairs, the unfortunate had to remind him that he was dealing with a British working man, and not a piano. Four pairs of hands deposited Mr. Scutts with mathematical precision in the centre of the bed and then proceeded to tuck him in, while Mrs. Scutts drew the sheet in a straight line under his chin.
“Don’t look much the matter with ’im,” said one of the assistants.
“You can’t tell with a face like that,” said the furniture-remover. “It’s wot you might call a ’appy face. Why, he was ’arf smiling as we, carried ’im up the stairs.”
“You’re a liar,” said Mr. Scutts, opening his eyes.
“All right, mate,” said the furniture-remover; “all right. There’s no call to get annoyed about it. Good old English pluck, I call it. Where d’you feel the pain?”
“All over,” said Mr. Scutts, briefly.
His neighbours regarded him with sympathetic eyes, and then, led by the furniture-remover, filed out of the room on tip-toe. The doctor, with a few parting instructions, also took his departure.
“If you’re not better by the morning,” he said, pausing at the door, “you must send for your club doctor.”
Mr. Scutts, in a feeble voice, thanked him, and lay with a twisted smile on his face listening to his wife’s vivid narrative to the little crowd which had collected at the front door. She came back, followed by the next-door neighbour, Mr. James Flynn, whose offers of assistance ranged from carrying Mr. Scutts out pick-a-back when he wanted to take the air, to filling his pipe for him and fetching his beer.
“But I dare say you’ll be up and about in a couple o’ days,” he concluded. “You wouldn’t look so well if you’d got anything serious the matter; rosy, fat cheeks and——”
“That’ll do,” said the indignant invalid. “It’s my back that’s hurt, not my face.”
“I know,” said Mr. Flynn, nodding sagely; “but if it was hurt bad your face would be as white as that sheet-whiter.”
“The doctor said as he was to be kep’ quiet,” remarked Mrs. Scutts, sharply.
“Right-o,” said Mr. Flynn. “Ta-ta, old pal. Keep your pecker up, and if you want your back rubbed with turps, or anything of that sort, just knock on the wall.”
He went, before Mr. Scutts could think of a reply suitable for an invalid and, at the same time, bristling with virility. A sinful and foolish desire to leap out of bed and help Mr. Flynn downstairs made him more rubicund than ever.
He sent for the club doctor next morning, and, pending his arrival, partook of a basin of arrowroot and drank a little beef-tea. A bottle of castor-oil and an empty pill-box on the table by the bedside added a little local colour to the scene.