“No,” said Herbert. “You did quite right. Hadn’t you better mention exactly what’s the matter with me?”
“If I did, you wouldn’t understand it,” said the doctor, who generally adopted a cheerful, half-humorous tone. “In plain English, you have two ribs broken, besides a number of contusions, and I’m inclined to suspect your nervous system has received a nasty shock.”
“And the cure?”
“Complete rest, patience, and perhaps a change of scene when you’re able to get about.”
“That means I’ll have to drop all active interest in my business for some time?”
“I’m afraid so; by and by we’ll consider when you can resume it.”
It struck the doctor that Herbert was not displeased with the information; and that seemed strange, considering that he was a busy, energetic man. He lay silent a while with an undisturbed expression.
“I wonder if you would write a telegram and a letter for me?” he asked at length.
“With pleasure, if you don’t think you have talked enough. Can’t you wait until to-morrow?”
“I’ll feel easier when I’ve got it off my mind.”
The doctor thought this likely. He made a sign of acquiescence and took out his notebook; and Herbert give him the rubber company’s London address and then dictated:
“Regret I am incapacitated for business for indefinite period by motor accident. If advisable appoint new director in my place before shareholders’ meeting, which cannot attend. Compelled to remain in strict quietness.”
“You might send these people a short note,” he added, “stating that I’m submitting to your advice, and giving them a few particulars about my injuries.”
“I’ll be glad to do so.”
“Then there’s only another thing. I’d like some notice of the accident put into a leading London paper—it will explain my retirement to people who would soon begin to wonder why I wasn’t at my post.”
“It shall be attended to; but I scarcely think Mr. Phillips and his motoring friend will appreciate the notoriety you will confer on them.”
“There’s no reason why I should consider Phillips. If he will drive furiously in the dark and run over people—this isn’t his first accident—he must take the consequences. But you can tell him, with my compliments, that I’ll let him off, if he’ll be more cautious in future. Now I feel that I’d like to rest or go to sleep again.”
The doctor went out somewhat puzzled—his patient seemed singularly resigned to inaction and glad to escape from commercial affairs, instead of chafing at his misfortune. After exchanging a few words with Mrs. Lansing, he met Sylvia in the hall.
“How is he this morning?” she asked.
“Better than I expected, able to take an interest in things. I was glad to find him so acquiescent—it isn’t usual. He didn’t seem disturbed when he asked me to write a telegram expressing his willingness to give up his director’s post.”