“Heda is coming home in a day or two; she might be here any time,” remarked Rodd as he knocked the ashes out of his pipe.
“Yes, because you made me write and say that I wanted her. But what of that?”
“Nothing in particular, except that I am not sure that I wish her to associate with ‘an English gentleman’ like this Anscombe.”
Marnham laughed scornfully. “Ah! I understand,” he said. “Too clean and straight. Complications might ensue and the rest of it. Well, I wish to God they would, for I know the Anscombes, or used to, and I know the genus called Rodd.”
“Don’t be insulting; you may carry the thing too far one day, and whatever I have done I have paid for. But you’ve not paid—yet.”
“The man is very ill. You are a skilled doctor. If you’re afraid of him, why don’t you kill him?” asked Marnham with bitter scorn.
“There you have me,” replied Rodd. “Men may shed much, but most of them never shed their professional honour. I shall do my honest best to cure Mr. Anscombe, and I tell you that he will take some curing.”
Then I woke up, and as no one was in sight, wondered whether or no I had been dreaming. The upshot of it was that I made up my mind to send Footsack to Pretoria for the oxen, not to go myself.
A GAME OF CARDS
I slept in Anscombe’s room that night and looked after him. He was very feverish and the pain in his leg kept him awake a good deal. He told me that he could not bear Dr. Rodd and wished to get away at once. I had to explain to him that this was impossible until his spare oxen arrived which I was going to send for to Pretoria, but of other matters, including that of the dangerous state of his foot, I said nothing. I was thankful when towards two in the morning, he fell into a sound sleep and allowed me to do the same.
Before breakfast time, just as I had finished dressing myself in some of the clean things which had been brought from the wagon, Rodd came and made a thorough and business-like examination of his patient, while I awaited the result with anxiety on the stoep. At length he appeared and said—
“Well, I think that we shall be able to save the foot, though I can’t be quite sure for another twenty-four hours. The worst symptoms have abated and his temperature is down by two degrees. Anyway he will have to stay in bed and live on light food till it is normal, after which he might lie in a long chair on the stoep. On no account must he attempt to stand.”
I thanked him for his information heartily enough and asked him if he knew where Marnham was, as I wanted to speak to him with reference to the despatch of Footsack to fetch the oxen from Pretoria.
“Not up yet, I think,” he answered. “I fancy that yesterday was one of his ‘wet’ nights, excitement of meeting strangers and so on.”