“What is it?”
“A piece of information.”
“I’ll take it!”
“And a piece of advice.”
“I’ll take that, too; you can’t frighten me.”
“It is a betrayal of confidence on my part,” said the doctor slowly, and with an air of reconsidering his offer.
“Well, then, Ruth’s asking for you, the other night, rather amazed Denham when he came to think it over quietly, and Mrs. Denham judged it best to inform him of the conversation which took place between you and her the morning you set out for Paris. Denham was still more amazed. She had attempted to cure him of one astonishment by giving him another. Similia similibus curantur did not work that time. Then the two came to me for consultation, and I told them I thought Ruth’s case required a doctor of divinity rather than a doctor of medicine.”
“Did you say that!”
“Certainly I did. I strongly advised an operation, and designated the English church here as a proper place in which to have it performed. Moreover, as a change of air would be beneficial as soon as might be afterwards, I suggested for the invalid a short trip to Geneva—with not too much company. My dear fellow, you need not thank me; I am looking exclusively to Ruth’s happiness—yours can come in incidentally, if it wants to. Mrs. Denham is your ally.”
“Is she, indeed? I thought differently. And Ruth”—
“Ruth,” interposed the doctor, with a twinkle in his eyes, “Ruth is the good little girl in the primer who doesn’t speak until she’s spoken to.”
“By Jove, she doesn’t speak even then! I have tried her twice: once she evaded me, and once she refused to listen.”
“The results of her false education,” said the doctor sententiously.
“To what view of the question does Mr. Denham incline?” he asked.
“Denham is not as unreasonable as he used to be; but he is somewhat stunned by the unexpectedness of the thing.”
“That’s the information; and now for the advice, Doctor.”
“I advise you to speak with Denham the first chance you get. You will have an opportunity this evening. I took the liberty of asking him to come up here and smoke a cigar with us as soon as he finishes his coffee.”
Lynde nodded his head approvingly, and the doctor went on—
“I shall leave you together after a while, and then you must manage it. At present he is in no state to deny Ruth anything; he would give her a lover just as he would buy her a pair of ear-rings. His joy over her escape from death—it was a fearfully narrow escape, let me tell you— has left him powerless. Moreover, her illness, in which there has not been a symptom of the old trouble, has reassured him on a most painful point. In short, everything is remarkably smooth for you. I think that’s Denham’s step now in the hall,” added Dr. Pendegrast hurriedly.” You can say what you please to him of Ruth; but mind you, my dear boy, not a word at this juncture about the Queen of Sheba—she’s dethroned, you know!”