Some one knocked at the door. It was Holmes, who came to say that the physician, Doctor Longstreet, had arrived.
“Oh—it is Doctor Longstreet is it?” said the squire. “Ask him to come up.”
Doctor Longstreet was not the freethinking physician of Billingsfield. The latter was out when Mr. Juxon’s groom went in search of him, and the man had driven on to the town, six miles away. The doctor was an old man with a bright eye, a deeply furrowed forehead, a bald head and clean shaved face. He walked as though his frame were set together with springs and there was a curious snapping quickness in his speech. He seemed full of vitality and bore his years with a jaunty air of merriment which inspired confidence, for he seemed perpetually laughing at the ills of the flesh and ready to make other people laugh at them too. But his bright eyes had a penetrating look and though he judged quickly he generally was right in his opinion. He entered the room briskly, not knowing that the sick man was there.
“Now, Mr. Juxon,” he said cheerfully, “I am with you.” He had the habit of announcing his presence in this fashion, as though his brisk and active personality were likely to be overlooked. A moment later he caught sight of the bed. “Dear me,” he added in a lower voice, “I did not know our patient was here.”
He went to Walter Goddard’s side, looked at him attentively, felt his pulse, and his forehead, glanced at the bandages the squire had roughly put upon his throat and hand, drew up the sheet again beneath his chin and turned sharply round.
“Brain fever, sir,” he said cheerfully. “Brain fever. You must get some ice and have some beef tea made as soon as possible. He is in a very bad way—curious, too; he looks like a cross between a ticket of leave man and a gentleman. Tramp, you say? That would not prevent his being either. You cannot disturb him—don’t be afraid. He hears nothing—is off, the Lord knows where, raving delirious. Must look to his scratches though—dangerous—inflammation. Do you mind telling me what happened—how long he has been here?”
The squire in a few words informed Doctor Longstreet of the attack made upon him in the park. The doctor looked at his watch.
“Only two hours and a half since,” he remarked. “It is just midnight now, very good—the man must have been in a fever all day—yesterday, too, perhaps. He is not badly hurt by the dog—like to see that dog, if you don’t mind—the fright most likely sent him into delirium. You have nothing to accuse yourself of, Mr. Juxon: it was certainly not your fault. Even if the dog had not bitten him, he would most likely have been in his present state by this time. Would you mind sending for some ice at once? Thank you. It was very lucky for the fellow that he attacked you just when he did—secured him the chance of being well taken care of. If he had gone off like this in the park he would have been dead before morning.”