“Good heavens, madam!” said I eagerly and respectfully, “allow me to send for Mr Cophagus.”
“By no means,” replied she. “I come to you. I am aware,” continued she in an undertone, “that you dispense medicines, give advice, and receive money yourself.”
I felt very much agitated, and the blush of detection mounted up to my forehead. Timothy, who heard what she said, showed his uneasiness in a variety of grotesque ways. He drew up his legs alternately, as if he were dancing on hot plates; he slapped his pockets, grinned, clenched his fists, ground his teeth, and bit his lips till he made the blood come. At last he sidled up to me, “She has been peeping and screwing those eyes of her’s into this shop for something. It’s all up with both of us, unless you can buy her off.”
“I have, madam,” said I, at last, “ventured to prescribe in some trivial cases, and, as you say, received money when my master is not here; but I am entrusted with the till.”
“I know—I know—you need not fear me. You are too modest. What I would request is, that you would prescribe for me, as I have no great opinion of your master’s talents.”
“If you wish it, madam,” said I, bowing respectfully.
“You have camphor julep ready made up, have you not?”
“Yes, madam,” replied I.
“Then do me the favour to send the boy with a bottle to my house directly.” I handed down the bottle, she paid for it, and putting it into Timothy’s hands, desired him to take it to the direction which she gave him. Timothy put on his hat, cocked his eye at me, and left us alone.
“What is your name?” said she, in the same melodious voice.
“Japhet Newland, madam,” replied I.
“Japhet—it is a good, a scriptural name,” said the lady, musirg in half soliloquy. “Newland—that sounds of mammon.”
“This mystery is unravelled,” thought I, and I was right in my conjectures. “She is some fanatical methodist;” but I looked at her again, and her dress disclaimed the idea, for in it there was much taste displayed.
“Who gave you that name?” said she, after a pause.
The question was simple enough, but it stirred up a host of annoying recollections; but not wishing to make a confidant of her, I gently replied, as I used to do in the Foundling Hospital on Sunday morning—“My godfathers and godmothers in my baptism, ma’am.”
“My dear sir, I am very ill,” said she, after a pause, “will you feel my pulse?”
I touched a wrist, and looked at a hand that was worthy of being admired. What a pity, thought I, that she should be old, ugly, and half crazy!
“Do you not think that this pulse of mine exhibits considerable nervous excitement? I reckoned it this morning, it was at a hundred and twenty.”
“It certainly beats quick,” replied I, “but perhaps the camphor julep may prove beneficial.”
“I thank you for your advice, Mr Newland,” said she, laying down a guinea, “and if I am not better, I will call again, or send for you. Good-night.”