The lecturer, I am bound to say, behaved admirably. So far was he from losing his head, that he instantly seized on the accident to turn it to account.
“First aid!” he cried. “Subject: Fainting. Patient No. 1, head to be pressed down below her knees and kept there for a few minutes. Patient No. 2, to be extended on the floor, care being taken to keep head and body level. A form being handy, we could, as an alternative, have hung Patient No. 1 over it, head downwards.”
But at this point, unfortunately, the humour of the situation became too much for Miss Gertrude Hansombody, another of the students. She began to titter, went on to laugh uncontrollably, then to clench her hands and sob.
“Subject: Hysterics!” called the lecturer. “Treatment: Be firm with the patient, hold her firmly by the wrists and threaten her with cold water—”
He spoke to empty benches. The rest of his pupils had escaped from the room and were now on their way home, and running for dear life.
I do not expect that St. John of Jerusalem will figure prominently in our Primrose fete. My reason for saying so is an urgent letter just received from Sir Felix, who wishes to confer with me in the course of the day.
We are not litigious in Troy, and we obey the laws of England cheerfully if we sometimes claim to interpret them in our own way. I leave others to determine whether the Chief Constable’s decision, that one policeman amply suffices for us, be an effect or a cause, but certain it is that we rarely trouble any court, and almost never that of Assize.
This accounts in part for the popular interest awakened by the suit of Cox versus Pretyman, heard a few days ago at the Bodmin Assizes. I say “in part,” because the case presented (as the newspapers phrase it) some unusual features, and differed noticeably from the ordinary Action for Breach of Promise. “No harm in that,” you will say? Indeed no; and we should have regarded it as no more than our due but for an apprehension that the conduct alleged against the defendant concerned us all by compromising the good name of our town.
At any rate, last Wednesday found the streets full of citizens hurrying to the railway station, and throughout the morning our stationmaster had difficulty in handling the traffic. The journey to Bodmin is not a long one as the crow flies, but, as our carpenter, Mr. Hansombody, put it, “we are not crows, and, that being the case, naturally resent being packed sixteen in a compartment.” Mr. Hansombody taxed the Great Western Company with lack of foresight in not running excursion trains, and appealed to me to support his complaint. I argued (with the general approval of our fellow-travellers) that there was something heartless in the idea of an excursion to listen to the recital of a woman’s wrongs, especially of Miss Cox’s, whom we had known so long and esteemed. Driven from this position, Mr. Hansombody took a fresh stand on the superiority of the old broad-gauge carriages; and this, since it raised no personal question, we discussed in very good humour while we unpacked and ate our luncheons.