IN SUMMER WEATHER
One morning Dr. Leslie remembered an old patient whom he liked to go to see now and then, perhaps more from the courtesy and friendliness of the thing than from any hope of giving professional assistance. The old sailor, Captain Finch, had long before been condemned as unseaworthy, having suffered for many years from the effects of a bad fall on shipboard. He was a cheerful and wise person, and the doctor was much attached to him, besides knowing that he had borne his imprisonment with great patience, for his life on one of the most secluded farms of the region, surrounded by his wife’s kinsfolk, who were all landsmen, could hardly be called anything else. The doctor had once made a voyage to Fayal and from thence to England in a sailing-vessel, having been somewhat delicate in health in his younger days, and this made him a more intelligent listener to the captain’s stories than was often available.
Dr. Leslie had brought his case of medicines from mere force of habit, but by way of special prescription he had taken also a generous handful of his best cigars, and wrapped them somewhat clumsily in one of the large sheets of letter-paper which lay on his study table near by. Also he had stopped before the old sideboard in the carefully darkened dining-room, and taken a bottle of wine from one of its cupboards. “This will do him more good than anything, poor old fellow,” he told himself, with a sudden warmth in his own heart and a feeling of grateful pleasure because he had thought of doing the kindness.
Marilla called eagerly from the kitchen window to ask where he was going, putting her hand out hastily to part the morning-glory vines, which had climbed their strings and twisted their stems together until they shut out the world from their planter’s sight. But the doctor only answered that he should be back at dinner time, and settled himself comfortably in his carriage, smiling as he thought of Marilla’s displeasure. She seldom allowed a secret to escape her, if she were once fairly on the scent of it, though she grumbled now, and told herself that she only cared to know for the sake of the people who might come, or to provide against the accident of his being among the missing in case of sudden need. She found life more interesting when there was even a small mystery to be puzzled over. It was impossible for Dr. Leslie to resist teasing his faithful hand-maiden once in a while, but he did it with proper gravity and respect, and their friendship was cemented by these sober jokes rather than torn apart.