Chapter 15 | A Physician Unhealed | The Bag of Diamonds

James Poynter sat polishing his hat with his handkerchief, and staring at Hendon with a contraction, half smile, half grin, upon his face.

“I tell you I can’t pay you. You forced the money upon me.”

“I forced it on you! Come, that’s a good one! Now, are you going to pay?”

“You know I can’t, Poynter. You must wait.”

“Not likely. Well, I must have my money, and what your father owes me too.”

“I have only your word that he does owe you money, James Poynter.”

“All right, Mr Hendon; go on. Insult me. The more patient I am the more advantage you take. Ask him if he don’t.”

“Ask him?” said the young man bitterly; “you know his mind is as good as gone.”

“Is it as bad as that?” said Poynter, with assumed pity, but his eyes twinkling with eagerness, as he wound the handkerchief round and round.

“Bad? Yes. Millington, our best man, saw him yesterday, and he says nothing but an operation and raising the bone pressing on the brain will relieve him; and at his age he would not be responsible for the result.”

Poynter drew a breath fall of satisfaction, and smiled at his polished hat.

“Well, I think the operation ought to be performed, so as to bring him to his senses again. Poor old boy! He does seem queer. I asked him—”

“What, you spoke to that poor old man about your cursed debt!” cried Hendon furiously.

“Of course I did. Cursed debt, indeed! Why, I’ve behaved as well as a man could behave. Lookye here, do you want me to sell you up?”

Hendon uttered an ejaculation, and, writhing under his impotence, he began pacing the old dining-room, while with a show of proprietorship James Poynter set down his hat, put his handkerchief therein, took out his case, and selected a cigar.

“Have a weed?” he said, nipping the end of the one he was about to smoke.

“Damn you, and your cigars too!” cried the young man furiously.

“Thank ye, cub!” said Poynter, lighting up. “There, you won’t make me waxy. I’m a true friend in disguise. Ah, this is one of a noo lot I bought. Have one, old man.”

Hendon made a fierce gesticulation, and scowled in the grinning face.

“How long are you going to stop here?” he said.

“Long as I like. P’raps I shall have the house done up, and come and live here.”


“Ah! what indeed! Suppose I bought the lease of the governor? What have you got to say to that?”

Hendon glared at him wildly.

“How’s the little angel—Janet?”

Hendon’s hands clenched, and he ground his teeth, while Poynter laughed at him.

“So the big brother’s out of the hospital; got over his D.T., and lodging with his sister, eh?”

Hendon made no reply.

“Come, old chap,” continued Poynter, “have a cigar, and do try and be sensible. I don’t want to do nothing hard, but of course a man must fight for his own hand. I haven’t come here to sell you up, but to bring you to your senses, like the friend I always was. Now look here, Hendon, this brother seems to be as loose a fish as a girl could have for a relation; but Miss Heath’s as smart a little lass as e’er stepped—”

“Have the goodness to leave Miss Heath’s name alone, sir.”

“Waxy again. Now look here, Hendon, I’m a rich man. Suppose I say to you, my lad, look out for a snug little practice; I’ll lend you the money—can’t afford to give it—buy the practice, and marry Janet. Isn’t that being a friend?”

Hendon went on pacing the room.

“Sulky, eh? All right: answer me this, then. Shouldn’t I make your sister a better husband than this Mark Heath? Come, be sensible; take me up-stairs to see her. Now, at once. Let me make things pleasant for all of you. What’s the good of being enemies, when we might be friends?”


“Better than being master and slave, eh, Hendon, my lad? Borrower slave to the lender, eh?”

“Ah!” ejaculated Hendon.

“Come, come, you’re sensible now. Take me up-stairs, and let’s have it out with Rich.”

“With Rich!” cried Hendon passionately.

“There, don’t you be so cocky, young man. I don’t call your Janet, Jenny. Yes, with Rich; my own dear darling Rich. There! How do you like that? Now then, let’s get it over.”

“My sister is not at home.”

“Then we’ll go up and see the old man; and let’s hear what he’ll say to it all. He won’t deny that he’s in my debt.”

“Poor old fellow, no,” groaned Hendon to himself.

“I say,” said Poynter, turning grave, “where’s Rich? She hasn’t gone to see that sailor chap?”

“I don’t know whom you mean by ‘sailor chap,’” said Hendon bitterly.

“Then I’ll tell you,” he said. “I mean Mark Heath, and I’ve got a theory of my own about him.”

“Curse you and your theories!” cried Hendon fiercely.

“Yes, and bless me and my money,” said Poynter, laughingly.

“Stop! Where are you going?”

“This is my house, or as good as mine,” said Poynter; “and I’m going up to see my poor old father-in-law to be. I don’t think he’s properly seen to, and I mean to have him off down to the seaside, to try and pull him round. Coming?”

Hendon was so much staggered by his visitor’s cool insolence that Poynter was at the foot of the staircase before he thought to follow; and then, feeling that this man had a hold upon him that he dared not shake off, he followed him up-stairs, and into the sparely-furnished front drawing-room in which the doctor had been lying all through his illness.

He was seated where he could see the window, and his handsome face looked vacant and strange as he turned his head to Elizabeth, who was waiting on him in her mistress’s absence.

“Is that Rich?” he said feebly.

“No, doctor, it’s me, come for a bit of advice,” cried Poynter. “Here,” he said, turning to the maid, as he whisked his handkerchief round his hat, “you be off.”

Elizabeth left the room, wiping her eyes, and Poynter sat down beside the doctor, and shook hands.

“Why, I ought to feel your pulse now, and not you mine,” he said boisterously.

“Glad to see you, Mr Poynter. Pretty well, thank you. Is my Rich coming?”

“To be sure she is, old boy. Now I just want a cosy chat with you about Rich.”

“About Rich? Yes, yes.”

“You remember how I proposed for her?”

The doctor looked at him blankly; and shook his head. “Is Rich coming, Hendon?” he said.

“Yes, father; she is here,” he cried; for there was the sound of wheels; and running to the window, he smiled grimly as he saw who descended from the cab.

“Might have stopped a little longer,” grumbled Poynter to himself. “It don’t matter; the game’s mine now. Damn!”

He started from his seat as he saw Rich enter the room, closely followed by Mark Heath and Janet, to whom Hendon hurried with outstretched hands, and after a little hesitation, two little dark well-mended gloves and their contents were placed in his strong grasp.

“Dearest father,” said Rich softly, as she hurried to the old man’s side.

“Ah,” he said, taking her hands, and fondling them, while a brighter smile came into his pleasant vacant face; “that’s better—that’s better. Here’s Mr—Mr—Mr—”

“Poynter, doctor,” said that individual, glad of an opportunity to remove his eyes from Mark’s, which were gazing at him rather inimically.

“Yes, yes, Mr Poynter come to see us, Rich.”

“And I have come to see you too, doctor,” said Mark. “You remember me?”

The doctor looked up at him keenly, and then shook his head, and, with a troubled look in his eyes.

“No,” he said. “No—no—no.”

“Hah!” ejaculated Poynter, with a smile of satisfaction.

“Mark Heath, father dear,” said Rich gently, “Don’t you remember Mr Heath, who went to the Cape?”

“Heath?” said the doctor; “Heath—Heath? No—no,” he added thoughtfully. “Glad to see Mr Heath. Friend of Hendon’s?” His words were calm, but he seemed to wince.

“No, doctor: I’m Hendon’s friend,” said Poynter, with a laugh; and he gave his hat a loving wipe.

“Yes, Mr Poynter. You came to see me the day before yesterday. I remember—remember. I prescribed—”

“That’s right, sir; that’s right,” cried Poynter, with one of his horse laughs.

“Is this man going, Hendon?” whispered Mark impatiently.

“No, Mr Mark Heath, he ain’t,” said Poynter fiercely. “Speak lower if you don’t want people to hear; we’ve got sharp ears in the City, and I’m not going.”

“No, no; Mr Poynter has come to see me,” said the doctor, gazing in a frightened way at Mark. “Don’t go, Mr Poynter. It’s very dull here.”

“I’m not going, doctor. It’s all right,” said the unwelcome visitor. “You’re going to set me right.”

“You’ll excuse me—Mr Poynter, I think,” said Mark; “but I have some private business to transact with Dr Chartley.”

“Yes, I’ll excuse you as much as you like. I’ve got private business with Doctor Chartley, too.”

“Why, Mark,” cried Hendon, “have you found out anything about your loss?”

“Yes. No. Well, yes; I have learned something,” cried Mark excitedly, and he glanced again angrily at Poynter.

But the latter’s unwelcome presence seemed to be ignored by all, in the intense excitement of the moment. For Rich threw herself upon her knees at her father’s feet, and took his hands.

“Father dear,” she said gently, “I want you to try and remember something.”

“Yes, my dear, yes—certainly, certainly,” said the old man, bending down to kiss her tenderly.

“That night, you know, when—when you were taken ill.”

“Yes, my love, that night I was taken ill? Was I taken ill?”

“Yes, dear; but you are nearly well now. Do you remember Mr Heath coming? Try and remember, dear.”

Poynter’s face grew convulsed and angry, and he seemed to be looking about for some moral weapon with which to attack his enemy, but contented himself with a whisk of his handkerchief across his hat.

“Heath, dear? This is Mr Heath, you say—Heath?” and the doctor’s face grew troubled.

“Yes, yes. Do you remember his coming to see you?”

The doctor looked from one to the other, and shook his head.

“Oh, father, dear father, for my sake try!” cried Rich. “Do you not remember his coming to you?”

The doctor put his hand to his head, and looked wildly round.

“No,” he said at last. “No, I don’t think I have seen Mr Heath before;” but the wild look was still in his eyes.

“Don’t say that, doctor,” said Mark, taking his hand. “You have forgotten. Don’t you remember? That dreadful foggy night. I came to you, and you let me into the surgery?”

“Yes, dear, you recollect,” cried Rich, piteously.

“I was utterly exhausted, and worn out—very much excited,” continued Mark. “You took me into the consulting-room, and I lay down upon the sofa. You gave me brandy, and some narcotic.”

“Brandy and a narcotic,” said the doctor, smiling; “rather a strange mixture. Did I?”

“Yes; you recollect now?” said Mark eagerly.

The doctor looked at him intently, and then at Rich; but ended by shaking his head slowly.

“No,” he said, “I do not recollect.”

“All this is maddening!” muttered Mark, “just when one’s hopes were reviving, and there was a chance of discovering something. Doctor,” he continued excitedly, “try and recollect.”

“Yes, dear, for Mark Heath’s sake try,” continued Rich; and Poynter ground his teeth, as he felt what he would give to evoke the same interest for himself.

“I will try, my love,” said the doctor blandly. “Of course.”

“Then you remember I told you I had just come from the Cape; that I had a bag of diamonds in my breast?”

Poynter uttered a sneering laugh, which made Heath wince, and turn upon him wrathfully.

“Diamonds? did you say a bag of diamonds?” said the doctor.

“Yes, yes; you remember.”

“Was it not a very unsafe place to carry diamonds?”

“Yes, of course it was; but I could trust no one but myself! You remember then, doctor?”

Dr Chartley paused for a few moments, and shook his head again.

“No,” he said blandly, “I do not remember. Diamonds, you say?”

“Yes, yes, diamonds!”

“I hope they were not lost,” said the doctor simply.

“Yes; lost, lost!” cried Mark frantically. “The night you were struck down!”

“Here, hold hard!” cried Poynter sharply. “Look here, Mr Mark Heath, you came here that night?”

“Why do you interfere, sir?”

“Never mind. P’r’aps I know something.”

“You know something?”

“P’r’aps so. You say you came here—late?”

“Yes, very late.”

“That night the doctor was struck down?”

“Yes; but why do you ask?”

“Because, you scoundrel, we’ve got the clue at last. You were the man!”

So sudden was the charge that Mark literally staggered back, and, weak from his illness, he gasped, and looked to a superficial observer as much like a guilty man as ever recoiled from a sudden denunciation. But as a wave of the advancing tide merely retires to gain fresh force, Mark Heath recovered himself.

“You scoundrel!” he cried; and he would have sprung at Poynter’s throat, but for the restraining arm of Janet and Hendon.

“Scoundrel yourself!” cried Poynter savagely. “Look at his face! Here—the police!”

He strode towards the door, upon which at that moment there was a loud tapping; and before he could reach it, Bob stood in the opening, very rough of head, very ragged, and looking as if he had not been washed since he was missed.