“Well, you can cure her if you want to,” the doctor declared, “and if you do, you will have the sweetest companion for life any man could have. But you’ll have to give up the idea of town houses and racing and yachting, and grouse moors in Scotland, and all those sort of things I suppose you’ve been looking forward to. You’ll have for some time, at any rate, to give every moment of your time to your wife.”
Dominey moved uneasily in his chair.
“For the next few months,” he said, “that would be impossible.”
The doctor repeated the word, seemed to roll it round in his mouth with a sort of wondering scorn.
“I am not quite the idler I used to be,” Dominey explained, frowning. “Nowadays, you cannot make money without assuming responsibilities. I am clearing off the whole of the mortgages upon the Dominey estates within the next few months.”
“How you spend your time is your affair, not mine,” the doctor muttered. “All I say about the matter is that your wife’s cure, if ever it comes to pass, is in your hands. And now—come over to me here, in the light of this window. I want to look at you.”
Dominey obeyed with a little shrug of the shoulders. There was no sunshine, but the white north light was in its way searching. It showed the sprinkling of grey in his ruddy-brown hair, the suspicion of it in his closely trimmed moustache, but it could find no weak spot in his steady eyes, in the tan of his hard, manly complexion, or even in the set of his somewhat arrogant lips. The old doctor took up his box of flies again and jerked his head towards the door.
“You are a miracle,” he said, “and I hate miracles. I’ll come and see Lady Dominey in a day or so.”
Dominey spent a curiously placid, and, to those with whom he was brought into contact, an entirely satisfactory afternoon. With Mr. Mangan by his side, murmuring amiable platitudes, and Mr. Johnson, his agent, opposite, revelling in the unusual situation of a satisfied landlord and delighted tenants, he made practically the entire round of the Dominey estates. They reached home late, but Dominey, although he seemed to be living in another world, was not neglectful of the claims of hospitality. Probably for the first time in their lives, Mr. Johnson and Lees, the bailiff, watched the opening of a magnum of champagne. Mr. Johnson cleared his throat as he raised his glass.
“It isn’t only on my own account, Sir Everard,” he said, “that I drink your hearty good health. I have your tenants too in my mind. They’ve had a rough time, some of them, and they’ve stood it like white men. So here’s from them and me to you, sir, and may we see plenty of you in these parts.”
Mr. Lees associated himself with these sentiments, and the glasses were speedily emptied and filled again.
“I suppose you know, Sir Everard,” the agent observed, “that what you’ve promised to do to-day will cost a matter of ten to fifteen thousand pounds.”