“Name!” cried Geoffrey’s admirers, still fighting the battle on their side, in the absence of any encouragement from Geoffrey himself.
“I am not in the habit of mentioning my patients’ names,” replied the surgeon. “But if you insist on my producing an example of a man broken by athletic exercises, I can do it.”
“Do it! Who is he?”
“You all know him perfectly well.”
“Is he in the doctor’s hands?”
“Where is he?”
In a pause of breathless silence—with the eyes of every person in the room eagerly fastened on him—the surgeon lifted his hand and pointed to Geoffrey Delamayn.
As soon as the general stupefaction was allayed, the general incredulity asserted itself as a matter of course.
The man who first declared that “seeing” was “believing” laid his finger (whether he knew it himself or not) on one of the fundamental follies of humanity. The easiest of all evidence to receive is the evidence that requires no other judgment to decide on it than the judgment of the eye—and it will be, on that account, the evidence which humanity is most ready to credit, as long as humanity lasts. The eyes of every body looked at Geoffrey; and the judgment of every body decided, on the evidence there visible, that the surgeon must be wrong. Lady Lundie herself (disturbed over her dinner invitations) led the general protest. “Mr. Delamayn in broken health!” she exclaimed, appealing to the better sense of her eminent medical guest. “Really, now, you can’t expect us to believe that!”
Stung into action for the second time by the startling assertion of which he had been made the subject, Geoffrey rose, and looked the surgeon, steadily and insolently, straight in the face.
“Do you mean what you say?” he asked.
“You point me out before all these people—”
“One moment, Mr. Delamayn. I admit that I may have been wrong in directing the general attention to you. You have a right to complain of my having answered too publicly the public challenge offered to me by your friends. I apologize for having done that. But I don’t retract a single word of what I have said on the subject of your health.”