The Nabob eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 434 pages of information about The Nabob.

THE NABOB

by Alphonse Daudet

DOCTOR JENKIN’S PATIENTS

Standing on the steps of his little town-house in the Rue de Lisbonne, freshly shaven, with sparkling eyes, and lips parted in easy enjoyment, his long hair slightly gray flowing over a huge coat collar, square shouldered, strong as an oak, the famous Irish doctor, Robert Jenkins, Knight of the Medjidjieh and of the distinguished order of Charles III of Spain, President and Founder of the Bethlehem Society.  Jenkins in a word, the Jenkins of the Jenkins Pills with an arsenical base—­that is to say, the fashionable doctor of the year 1864, the busiest man in Paris, was preparing to step into his carriage when a casement opened on the first floor looking over the inner court-yard of the house, and a woman’s voice asked timidly: 

“Shall you be home for luncheon, Robert?”

Oh, how good and loyal was the smile that suddenly illumined the fine apostle-like head with its air of learning, and in the tender “good-morning” which his eyes threw up towards the warm, white dressing-gown visible behind the raised curtains; how easy it was to divine one of those conjugal passions, tranquil and sure, which habit re-enforces and with supple and stable bonds binds closer.

“No, Mrs. Jenkins.”  He was fond of thus bestowing upon her publicly her title as his lawful wife, as if he found in it an intimate gratification, a sort of acquittal of conscience towards the woman who made life so bright for him.  “No, do not expect me this morning.  I lunch in the Place Vendome.”

“Ah! yes, the Nabob,” said the handsome Mrs. Jenkins with a very marked note of respect for this personage out of the Thousand and One Nights of whom all Paris had been talking for the last month; then, after a little hesitation, very tenderly, in a quite low voice, from between the heavy tapestries, she whispered for the ears of the doctor only: 

“Be sure you do not forget what you promised me.”

Apparently it was something very difficult to fulfil, for at the reminder of this promise the eyebrows of the apostle contracted into a frown, his smile became petrified, his whole visage assumed an expression of incredible hardness; but it was only for an instant.  At the bedside of their patients the physiognomies of these fashionable doctors become expert in lying.  In his most tender, most cordial manner, he replied, disclosing a row of dazzling white teeth: 

“What I promised shall be done, Mrs. Jenkins.  And now, go in quickly and shut your window.  The fog is cold this morning.”

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The Nabob from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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