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Émile Gaboriau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 483 pages of information about Within an Inch of His Life.

“Cocoleu is found.”

The doctor jumped up, and in a moment his hat on his head, and stick in hand, asked,—­

“Where is he?”

“At the hospital.  I have seen him myself put into a separate room.”

“I am going there.”

“What, at this hour?”

“Am I not one of the hospital physicians?  And is it not open to me by night and by day?”

“The sisters will be in bed.”

The doctor shrugged his shoulders furiously; then he said,—­

“To be sure, it would be a sacrilege to break the slumbers of these good sisters, these dear sisters, as you say.  Ah, my dear mayor!  When shall we have laymen for our hospitals?  And when will you put good stout nurses in the place of these holy damsels?”

M. Seneschal had too often discussed that subject with the doctor, to open it anew.  He kept silent, and that was wise; for Dr. Seignebos sat down, saying,—­

“Well, I must wait till to-morrow.”

VI.

“The hospital in Sauveterre,” says the guide book, “is, in spite of its limited size, one of the best institutions of the kind in the department.  The chapel and the new additions were built at the expense of the Countess de Maupaison, the widow of one of the ministers of Louis Philippe.”

But what the guide book does not say is, that the hospital was endowed with three free beds for pregnant women, by Mrs. Seneschal, or that the two wings on both sides of the great entrance-gate have also been built by her liberality.  One of these wings, the one on the right, is used by the janitor, a fine-looking old man, who formerly was beadle at the cathedral, and who loves to think of the happy days when he added to the splendor of the church by his magnificent presence, his red uniform, his gold bandelaire, his halbert, and his gold-headed cane.

This janitor was, on Sunday morning, a little before eight o’clock, smoking his pipe in the yard, when he saw Dr. Seignebos coming in.  The doctor was walking faster than usual, his hat over his face, and his hands thrust deep into his pockets, evident signs of a storm.  Instead of coming, as he did every day before making the rounds, into the office of the sister-druggist, he went straight up to the room of the lady superior.  There, after the usual salutations, he said,—­

“They have no doubt brought you, my sister, last night, a patient, an idiot, called Cocoleu?”

“Yes, doctor.”

“Where has he been put?”

“The mayor saw him himself put into the little room opposite the linen room.”

“And how did he behave?”

“Perfectly well:  the sister who kept the watch did not hear him stir.”

“Thanks, my sister!” said Dr. Seignebos.

He was already in the door, when the lady superior recalled him.

“Are you going to see the poor man, doctor?” she asked.

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