Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Ourselves at a loss, we assured The invalid, who was half her, with the usual assumption sitting up in bed supported by of professional medical know- an array of pillows, produced ledge, that everything was fol- the morning paper. lowing a normal course, and “United German Pickles have that nothing was to be appre- gone down to 48, just two hended at present. All de points above what I gave for pended, we explained, upon them," he replied, pointing keeping up the strength of the with a perfectly steady hand, patient.

I noticed, to the Bourse report For several ensuing days the of the preceding day. “I have, shares of United German therefore, decided to sell out Pickles, Ltd., went up and at once." down in the most astonishing “Capital !” cried Dr Lenkenmanner. Dr Lenkenzimmer re- zimmer. “A most wise thing ported to me by telephone the for you to do, I am sure, from news that neither the tempera- every point of view." ture nor the pulse of his patient “So will you be so kind," had been affected by these continued the patient, “as to fluctuations, which he seemed telephone at once to my brokers, to follow with the keenest Maulswerth and Grosshaufen, interest. It was, in fact, by instructing them to sell out the merest coincidence that, my entire holding?" meeting early one morning in “With the greatest pleasure,” the neighbourhood of the declared the doctor, and he Gewandhaus, the doctor sug- promptly left the room with gested my accompanying him Frau Breitbach to carry out the again to Herr Breitbach's ilat, undertaking. whither he was bound at that Watching the patient narmoment. I went with him rowly, I observed a look of gladly. To tell the truth, I weariness come into his already had been turning over this emaciated face, and I intercase in my mind for some days, preted it as a sudden weakening and was far from satisfied that of his hold on life. The light we had estimated its unusual seemed to have gone out of it features at their proper value. altogether. He took no notice I determined on this occasion of my presence, but closed his to apply my powers of observa- eyes and leaned back heavily tion as keenly as possible. on the pillows behind him.

Herr Breitbach was evidently When the doctor returned in pleased at our visit.

a few minutes I could see that You are just in time to do it cost the sick man a considerme a favour,” he called out to able effort to come back, as it my colleague as we entered the were, to consciousness and room.

speak to him. “Well, what can I do for “Well, is it done?” he asked

wearily.

you?

[ocr errors]

“ Yes, yes, make your mind for a medical man. There easy,” replied the doctor in would have been irregularity loud cheerful tones. “The in the pulse, and probably a shares will be sold at once, and rise in temperature. you need not trouble about been evident to me, on the conthem any more. All you have trary, both from my own obto do now is to take nourishing servation and from the daily food, and get well."

reports of my colleague, that The patient made no re- the episode of the shares had sponse. He uttered a deep brought an accession of strength, sigh, and sank down, rigid and not of weakness, to the invalid. motionless.

More than that; he had maniI hastened to his side and fested an intense interest in placed my hand over the region the fluctuations of the market, of the heart. It had ceased to but no unhealthy excitement. beat. He was dead.

From that circumstance I In the certificate, which he made, then, the correct deducwrote out immediately down- tion that an absorbing interest stairs, Dr Lenkenzimmer stated will stand between death and that death was caused by failure its victim. The man had been of the heart due to extreme kept alive by his interest in weakness after double pneu- certain financial operations. monia, and accelerated by ex- Directly he discarded that incitement. Discussing the matter terest, death claimed him. It privately with me afterwards, set me thinking in the right he expressed to me the opinion direction ; but the clues were that death might have occurred still wanting that were to be at any moment during the last supplied by later experience. few days. That it should have occurred at the precise moment

(2) A Victim of Pain. when the patient had disposed of his shares struck him as pure

Several other cases occurring coincidence. He attributed no during this period of my inquiry significance whatever, medical cases in which dying persons or otherwise, to that remarkable seemed to have their existence circumstance. But to me it prolonged by some absorbing had the greatest significance. interest—are enumerated in the Dr Lenkenzimmer had stated in Appendix. They served to his certificate that the patient's strengthen my conviction that weaknese had been accelerated a strong interest actually inby excitement. That he was terposes an obstacle to death. completely in error in this re- But it did not occur to me to gard I had no doubt at all. An make this belief the subject of increase of weakness, whether any experiment until an opporcaused by excitement or by tunity practically thrust itself anything else, would have in my way. written itself in plain language This happened during one of my periodical visits to Eng. measures being taken that you land, the main object of which may think fit to propose.' was to keep in touch with the All medical objection having valuable research work carried been disposed of in this man. on-far removed from the lime- ner, I at once accompanied the light, as is the modest custom baronet to his house in Eaton of English scientific men-in Square. After a brief and the metropolis. One day, a most distressing interview with baronet named Sir

named Sir Charles Lady Wentworth, who only Wentworth, whom I had met prayed that her daughter might several times at a friend's house, be released from her sufferings came to me in considerable dis- as quickly as possible, I went up tress. He told me that his myself to examine the patient. daughter Sybil, a charming girl It must be understood that I of twenty-two, whom I had had no hope of curing any also seen on one or two occa- disease, least of all cancer, sions, was dying of cancer; where the skill of first-class that the doctors had done all physicians had already failed. they possibly could to alleviate But my experience had taught her sufferings; but that nature me that very essential factors was taking its course in so slow are often overlooked by qualia fashion as to have become un- fied men, chiefly through ignorbearable to the patient and her ance of the working of forces unhappy family.

which lie outside the province With tears in his eyes he of approved medical science ; begged me, in the most urgent though where such an omission terms, to come to his aid would lead me, if it existed at and see if anything had been all, I had not the least idea. overlooked that might be I was there, at the house of done to put an end to the Sir Charles Wentworth, simply situation.

because my humanity would not “But medical etiquette !"I permit me to refuse his appeal.

I exclaimed, lifting up my hands The first thing that greeted in dismay.

You cannot call me as I entered the sick-room me in without your doctors' was the fragrant smell of cigarconsent to another opinion." ette smoke; and there, truly

“I have obtained it already,” enough, lay the unfortunate Sir Charles Wentworth replied. victim of the most dreaded of

Your reputation is well known all diseases, peacefully smoking to them. They say that every- a cigarette. I do not wish, in thing possible has already been a scientific treatise, to dwell done ; that there could be no upon the painful side of these mistake either in the diagnosis matters ; but I felt, as I or their treatment; but that looked down upon that beautithey have not the slightest ful emaciated face, that I would objection to your opinion being gladly give up all the knowledge sought by me, to any and all the science I possessed

[ocr errors]

or

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

if the sacrifice would enable me say they are not allowed to to make this one cure.

keep me under morphia all the “ You must not forbid me time,” she added pathetically. to smoke,” said Sybil Went- I took the poor girl by the worth, with a pleading smile, hand, and, speaking with great as I pressed her thin hand in gravity, saidsilence. “It is the only plea- "It is the cigarettes which sure I have left."

are keeping you alive. Give Are you a great smoker ? them up and death will speedily I asked gently.

release you.” “Yes, I am awfully keen on The pure innocent eyes of it,” she answered. And I am Sybil Wentworth searched my sure,” she went on quickly, face for a long time. Appar

that it agrees with me, and ently the scrutiny satisfied her acts as a regular tonic, for it of my good faith. picks me up better than any- 'Father says you are wonthing else.”

derfully clever,” she said in a The words were like a flash low voice. “I believe in you, of light to my understanding. and trust you, and will give

Do you enjoy your food! up smoking from this moment." I inquired.

Saying this, she dropped her She shook her head.

cigarette into an ash-tray on “I can barely get anything a table by the side of her bed, down now,

she whispered. and looked up at me with a sad “All appetite has utterly gone, but resolute smile. and the mere idea of food gives Before leaving the house I me nausea.'

impressed upon the parents the “So that smoking is the importance of what I had only thing you care about ?” achieved, and assured them of "The only thing.

my conviction that the cigarette “Would you give it up to smoking was responsible for please me?” I asked.

prolonging their daughter's A look of entreaty came into miserable existence. They were her face.

too well bred to be openly Oh, please don't ask me to sceptical ; but I could see that do that,” she begged.

they were both difficult soil “Do you want to die ? ” I for the planting of new ideas. said abruptly.

At any rate, they promised “Yes, indeed I do," the girl me that my advice should be repeated fervently. And if loyally followed.

“If Sybil you think the cigarette smoking gave you her word that she is hastening my death, I beg wouldn't smoke any more, of you earnestly, in the name declared Lady Wentworth, in of humanity, not to take away a choking voice, as I took leave from me anything that may of her, "you may rely upon it cut short the terrible pain I that she will never touch anoften have to endure. They other cigarette.”

.

[ocr errors]

The experiment proved a forms a somewhat painful recomplete success, and the result collection. I ought, as a man was exactly what I had antici- of scientific training, to have pated. From the moment when proceeded with more caution. the cigarette smoking was aban- That I freely admit. Yet I doned, the patient began to cannot help seeing that withweaken perceptibly. I went out this precipitance on my frequently to the house to make part, due to over-confidence, I inquiries, and on one occasion might not have blundered upon I saw the poor girl once more. the truth at all. She thanked me with her eyes, Amongst the many acquaintand with a quiet pressure of ances I had made in London the hand, but was too weak to was Bryn Williams, the comspeak. The morphia injections, poser of serious musical works too, did their work more ex- of sterling originality. He was peditiously under the new con- an immense favourite everyditions ; and in a few days where, full of fun and vitality; the victim had passed on, to a typical musician in appearthe unutterable relief of her ance, with bright living eyes grief-stricken parents, to a place that could have a very farwhere it is hoped no counter- away look in them, and quanpart will be found of earthly tities of fluffy hair, turning grey. diseases.

Healthy, happy, and working The collapse coincided ex- at an art that he loved, Bryn actly with the cessation of Williams was the last man I smoking. The patient's interest should have expected to sucin living was cancelled by the cumb to a serious illness at abandonment of the habit. It comparatively early age. The left no doubt whatever in my more so because his wife, a mind that, as in the case of most capable and charming the fluctuating shares, proof was little woman, devoted her whole here afforded that a sufficiently existence in the most unselfish absorbing interest will bind the way to making his surroundings individual to this earth and comfortable and attractive. keep him there.

For the last year, however, Mrs Bryn Williams had been

extremely anxious about her (3) In the Realm of

husband's health.

His appeImagination.

tite went; he became thin, Alas for human fallibility! took less interest in his work, My confidence in the conclu- and exhibited unaccountable sion to which my experiences signs of breaking up. His and reflections had led me was physician, Dr Gordon, with to suffer a severe shock before whom I was well acquainted, the whole truth penetrated my was puzzled to account for mind. In one sense, therefore, these alarming symptoms and my next case of importance tried various remedies, such as

a

« PreviousContinue »