Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesDoctor Therne - Chapter X - JANE MEETS DR. MERCHISON
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Doctor Therne - Chapter X - JANE MEETS DR. MERCHISON Post by :e-spired Category :Long Stories Author :H. Rider Haggard Date :June 2011 Read :2062

Click below to download : Doctor Therne - Chapter X - JANE MEETS DR. MERCHISON (Format : PDF)

Doctor Therne - Chapter X - JANE MEETS DR. MERCHISON

CHAPTER X - JANE MEETS DR. MERCHISON


Nobody disputed my inheritance, for, so far as I could learn, Mrs.
Strong had no relatives. Nor indeed could it have been disputed, for I
had never so much as hypnotised the deceased. When it was known how
rich I had become I grew even more popular in Dunchester than I had
been before, also my importance increased at headquarters to such an
extent that on a change of Government I became, as I have said, Under-
Secretary to the Home Office. Although I was a useful man hitherto I
had always been refused any sort of office, because of the extreme
views which I professed--on platforms in the constituencies--or so
those in authority alleged. Now, however, these views were put down to
amiable eccentricity; moreover, I was careful not to obtrude them.
Responsibility sobers, and as we age and succeed we become more
moderate, for most of us have a method in our madness.

In brief, I determined to give up political knight-errantry and to
stick to sober business. Very carefully and in the most conservative
spirit I took stock of the situation. I was still a couple of years on
the right side of fifty, young looking for my age (an advantage), a
desirable /parti/ (a great advantage, although I had no intention of
re-marrying), and in full health and vigour. Further, I possessed a
large fortune all in cash or in liquid assets, and I resolved that it
should not diminish. I had experienced enough of ups and downs; I was
sick of vicissitudes, of fears and uncertainties for the future. I
said to my soul: "Thou hast enough laid up for many days; eat, drink
and be merry," and I proceeded to invest my modest competence in such
a fashion that it brought in a steady four per cent. No South African
mines or other soul-agonising speculations for me; sweet security was
what I craved, and I got it. I could live with great comfort, even
with modest splendour, upon about half my income, and the rest of it I
purposed to lay out for my future benefit. I had observed that
brewers, merchants and other magnates with cash to spare are in due
course elevated to the peerage. Now I wished to be elevated to the
peerage, and to spend an honoured and honourable old age as Lord
Dunchester. So when there was any shortage of the party funds, and
such a shortage soon occurred on the occasion of an election, I posed
as the friend round the corner.

Moreover, I had another aim. My daughter Jane had now grown into a
lovely, captivating and high-spirited young woman. To my fancy,
indeed, I never saw her equal in appearance, for the large dark eyes
shining in a fair and /spirituelle/ face, encircled by masses of
rippling chestnut hair, gave a /bizarre/ and unusual distinction to
her beauty, which was enhanced by a tall and graceful figure. She was
witty also and self-willed, qualities which she inherited from her
American mother, moreover she adored me and believed in me. I, who
since my wife's death had loved nothing else, loved this pure and
noble-minded girl as only a father can love, for my adoration had
nothing selfish in it, whereas that of the truest lover, although he
may not know it, is in its beginnings always selfish. He has something
to gain, he seeks his own happiness, the father seeks only the
happiness of his child.

On the whole, I think that the worship of this daughter of mine is a
redeeming point in my character, for which otherwise, sitting in
judgment on it as I do to-day, I have no respect. Jane understood that
worship, and was grateful to me for it. Her fine unsullied instinct
taught her that whatever else about me might be unsound or tarnished,
this at least rang true and was beyond suspicion. She may have seen my
open faults and divined my secret weaknesses, but for the sake of the
love I bore her she overlooked them all, indeed she refused to
acknowledge them, to the extent that my worst political extravagances
became to her articles of faith. What I upheld was right; what I
denounced was wrong; on other points her mind was open and
intelligent, but on these it was a shut and bolted door. "My father
says so," was her last argument.

My position being such that I could ensure her a splendid future, I
was naturally anxious that she should make a brilliant marriage, since
with monstrous injustice destiny has decreed that a woman's road to
success must run past the altar. But as yet I could find no man whom I
considered suitable or worthy. One or two I knew, but they were not
peers, and I wished her to marry a peer or a rising politician who
would earn or inherit a peerage.

And so, good easy man, I looked around me, and said that full surely
my greatness was a-ripening. Who thinks of winter and its frosts in
the glow of such a summer as I enjoyed?

For a while everything went well. I took a house in Green Street, and
entertained there during the sitting of Parliament. The beauty of the
hostess, my daughter Jane, together with my own position and wealth,
of which she was the heiress, were sufficient to find us friends, or
at any rate associates, among the noblest and most distinguished in
the land, and for several seasons my dinner parties were some of the
most talked about in London. To be asked to one of them was considered
a compliment, even by men who are asked almost everywhere.

With such advantages of person, intelligence and surroundings at her
command, Jane did not lack for opportunities of settling herself in
life. To my knowledge she had three offers in one season, the last of
them from perhaps the best and most satisfactory /parti/ in England.
But to my great and ever-increasing dismay, one after another she
refused them all. The first two disappointments I bore, but on the
third occasion I remonstrated. She listened quite quietly, then said:

"I am very sorry to vex you, father dear, but to marry a man whom I do
not care about is just the one thing I can't do, even for your sake."

"But surely, Jane," I urged, "a father should have some voice in such
a matter."

"I think he has a right to say whom his daughter shall not marry,
perhaps, but not whom she shall marry."

"Then, at least," I said, catching at this straw, "will you promise
that you won't become engaged to any one without my consent?"

Jane hesitated a little, and then answered: "What is the use of
talking of such a thing, father, as I have never seen anybody to whom
I wish to become engaged? But, if you like, I will promise you that if
I should chance to see any one and you don't approve of him, I will
not become engaged to him for three years, by the end of which time he
would probably cease to wish to become engaged to me. But," she added
with a laugh, "I am almost certain he wouldn't be a duke or a lord, or
anything of that sort, for, provided a man is a gentleman, I don't
care twopence about his having a title."

"Jane, don't talk so foolishly," I answered.

"Well, father," she said astonished, "if those are my opinions at
least I got them from you, for I was always brought up upon strictly
democratic principles. How often have I heard you declare in your
lectures down at Dunchester that men of our race are all equal--except
the working-man, who is better than the others--and that but for
social prejudice the 'son of toil' is worthy of the hand of any titled
lady in the kingdom?"

"I haven't delivered that lecture for years," I answered angrily.

"No, father, not since--let me see, not since old Mrs. Strong left you
all her money, and you were made an Under-Secretary of State, and
lords and ladies began to call on us. Now, I shouldn't have said that,
because it makes you angry, but it is true, though, isn't it?" and she
was gone.

 

That August when the House rose we went down to a place that I owned
on the outskirts of Dunchester. It was a charming old house, situated
in the midst of a considerable estate that is famous for its shooting.
This property had come to me as part of Mrs. Strong's bequest, or,
rather, she held a heavy mortgage on it, and when it was put up for
sale I bought it in. As Jane had taken a fancy to the house, which was
large and roomy, with beautiful gardens, I let my old home in the
city, and when we were not in town we came to live at Ashfields.

On the borders of the Ashfields estate--indeed, part of the land upon
which it was built belongs to it--lies a poor suburb of Dunchester
occupied by workmen and their families. In these people Jane took
great interest; indeed, she plagued me till at very large expense I
built a number of model cottages for them, with electricity, gas and
water laid on, and bicycle-houses attached. In fact, this proved a
futile proceeding, for the only result was that the former occupants
of the dwellings were squeezed out, while persons of a better class,
such as clerks, took possession of the model tenements at a totally
inadequate rent.

It was in visiting some of the tenants of these cottages that in an
evil hour Jane first met Dr. Merchison, a young man of about thirty,
who held some parish appointment which placed the sick of this
district under his charge. Ernest Merchison was a raw-boned, muscular
and rather formidable-looking person, of Scotch descent, with
strongly-marked features, deep-set eyes, and very long arms. A man of
few words, when he did speak his language was direct to the verge of
brusqueness, but his record as a medical man was good and even
distinguished, and already he had won the reputation of being the best
surgeon in Dunchester. This was the individual who was selected by my
daughter Jane to receive the affections which she had refused to some
of the most polished and admired men in England, and, as I believe,
largely for the reason that, instead of bowing and sighing about after
her, he treated her with a rudeness which was almost brutal.

In one of these new model houses lived some people of the name of
Smith. Mr. Smith was a compositor, and Mrs. Smith, /nee/ Samuels, was
none other than that very little girl whom, together with her brother,
who died, I had once treated for erysipelas resulting from
vaccination. In a way I felt grateful to her, for that case was the
beginning of my real success in life, and for this reason, out of
several applicants, the new model house was let to her husband as soon
as it was ready for occupation.

Could I have foreseen the results which were to flow from an act of
kindness, and that as this family had indirectly been the cause of my
triumph so they were in turn to be the cause of my ruin, I would have
destroyed the whole street with dynamite before I allowed them to set
foot in it. However, they came, bringing with them two children, a
little girl of four, to whom Jane took a great fancy, and a baby of
eighteen months.

In due course these children caught the whooping-cough, and Jane
visited them, taking with her some delicacies as a present. While she
was there Dr. Merchison arrived in his capacity of parish doctor, and,
beyond a curt bow taking no notice of Jane, began his examination, for
this was his first visit to the family. Presently his eye fell upon a
box of sweets.

"What's that?" he asked sharply.

"It's a present that Miss Therne here has brought for Tottie,"
answered the mother.

"Then Tottie mustn't eat them till she is well. Sugar is bad for
whooping-cough, though, of course, a young lady couldn't be expected
to know that," he added in a voice of gruff apology, then went on
quickly, glancing at the little girl's arm, "No marks, I see.
Conscientious Objector? Or only lazy?"

Then Mrs. Smith fired up and poured out her own sad history and that
of her poor little brother who died, baring her scarred arm in proof
of it.

"And so," she finished, "though I do not remember much about it
myself, I do remember my mother's dying words, which were 'to mind
what the doctor had told her, and never to have any child of mine
vaccinated, no, not if they crawled on their knees to ask it of me.'"

"The doctor!" said Merchison with scorn, "you mean the idiot, my good
woman, or more likely the political agitator who would sell his soul
for a billet."

Then Jane rose in wrath.

"I beg your pardon for interrupting you, sir," she said, "but the
gentleman you speak of as an idiot or a political agitator is Dr.
Therne, my father, the member of Parliament for this city."

Dr. Merchison stared at her for a long while, and indeed when she was
angry Jane was beautiful enough to make any one stare, then he said
simply, "Oh, indeed. I don't meddle with politics, so I didn't know."

This was too much for Jane, who, afraid to trust herself to further
speech, walked straight out of the cottage. She had passed down the
model garden and arrived at the model gate when she heard a quick
powerful step behind her, and turned round to find herself face to
face with Dr. Merchison.

"I have followed you to apologise, Miss Therne," he said; "of course I
had no idea who you were and did not wish to hurt your feelings, but I
happen to have strong feelings about vaccination and spoke more
roughly than I ought to have done."

"Other people, sir, may also have strong opinions about vaccination,"
answered Jane.

"I know," he said, "and I know, too, what the end of it all will be,
as you will also, Miss Therne, if you live long enough. It is useless
arguing, the lists are closed and we must wait until the thing is put
to the proof of battle. When it is, one thing is sure, there will be
plenty of dead," he added with a grim smile. Then taking off his hat
and muttering, "Again I apologise," he returned into the cottage.

It seems that for a while Jane was very angry. Then she remembered
that, after all, Dr. Merchison had apologised, and that he had made
his offensive remarks in the ignorance and prejudice which afflicted
the entire medical profession and were more worthy of pity than of
anger. Further, she remembered that in her indignation she had
forgotten to acknowledge or accept his apology, and, lastly, she asked
him to a garden-party.

It is scarcely necessary for me to dwell upon the subsequent
developments of this unhappy business--if I am right in calling it
unhappy. The piteous little drama is played, both the actors are dead,
and the issue of the piece is unknown and, for the present,
unknowable. Bitterly opposed as I was to the suit of Merchison,
justice compels me to say that, under the cloak of a rough unpromising
manner, he hid a just and generous heart. Had that man lived he might
have become great, although he would never have become popular. As
least something in his nature attracted my daughter Jane, for she, who
up to that time had not been moved by any man, became deeply attached
to him.

In the end he proposed to her, how, when or where I cannot say, for I
never inquired. One morning, I remember it was that of Christmas day,
they came into my library, the pair of them, and informed me how
matters stood. Merchison went straight to the point and put the case
before me very briefly, but in a manly and outspoken fashion. He said
that he quite understood the difficulties of his position, inasmuch as
he believed that Jane was, or would be, very rich, whereas he had
nothing beyond his profession, in which, however, he was doing well.
He ended by asking my consent to the engagement subject to any
reasonable conditions that I might choose to lay down.

To me the shock was great, for, occupied as I was with my own affairs
and ambitions, I had been blind to what was passing before my face. I
had hoped to see my daughter a peeress, and now I found her the
affianced bride of a parish sawbones. The very foundation of my house
of hopes was sapped; at a blow all my schemes for the swift
aggrandisement of my family were laid low. It was too much for me.
Instead of accepting the inevitable, and being glad to accept it
because my child's happiness was involved, I rebelled and kicked
against the pricks.

By nature I am not a violent man, but on that occasion I lost my
temper and became violent. I refused my consent; I threatened to cut
my daughter off with nothing, but at this argument she and her lover
smiled. Then I took another ground, for, remembering her promise that
she would consent to be separated for three years from any suitor of
whom I did not approve, I claimed its fulfilment.

Somewhat to my surprise, after a hurried private consultation, Jane
and her lover accepted these conditions, telling me frankly that they
would wait for three years, but that after these had gone by they
would consider themselves at liberty to marry, with my consent if
possible, but, if necessary, without it. Then in my presence they
kissed and parted, nor until the last did either of them attempt to
break the letter of their bond. Once indeed they met before that
dreadful hour, but then it was the workings of fate that brought them
together and not their own design.

Content of CHAPTER X - JANE MEETS DR. MERCHISON (H. Rider Haggard's novel: Doctor Therne)

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Doctor Therne - Chapter XI - THE COMING OF THE RED-HEADED MAN Doctor Therne - Chapter XI - THE COMING OF THE RED-HEADED MAN

Doctor Therne - Chapter XI - THE COMING OF THE RED-HEADED MAN
CHAPTER XI - THE COMING OF THE RED-HEADED MANHalf of the three years of probation had gone by and once more wefound ourselves at Dunchester in August. Under circumstances still toorecent to need explanation, the Government of which I was a member haddecided to appeal to the country, the General Election being fixed forthe end of September, after the termination of harvest. Dunchester wasconsidered to be a safe Radical seat, and, as a matter ofparliamentary tactics, the poll for this city, together with that ofeight or ten other boroughs, was fixed for the earliest possible day,in the hope that the results
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Doctor Therne - Chapter IX - FORTUNE Doctor Therne - Chapter IX - FORTUNE

Doctor Therne - Chapter IX - FORTUNE
CHAPTER IX - FORTUNEMy return to Parliament meant not only the loss of a seat to theGovernment, a matter of no great moment in view of their enormousmajority, but, probably, through their own fears, was construed bythem into a solemn warning not to be disregarded. Certain papers andopposition speakers talked freely of the writing on the wall, and nonesaw that writing in larger, or more fiery letters, than the members ofHer Majesty's Government. I believe that to them it took the form notof Hebraic characters, but of two large Roman capitals, the letters Aand V.Hitherto the anti-vaccinators had been known as
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT