Chapter 3 | The Doctor At Home | The Bag of Diamonds

“Yes, my father is at home, Mr Poynter,” said Richmond, speaking calmly, and drawing back for the visitor to enter.

Then to Janet, in a whisper.

“Can you stay with me a few minutes?”

“I daren’t, dear; I am late now, and— Yes, I understand. I will.”

It was Richmond’s turn to display her firmness, and mastering a nervous trepidation which she felt, she bent down, kissed her friend, and, with a meaning pressure of the hand, said “good-bye,” and ushered the fresh visitor, who was busily turning a crimson silk handkerchief round a painfully glossy hat, into the dining-room.

“Thankye,” he said, sitting down, but jumping up again, and placing another chair, “beg pardon, won’t you sit down? I’m in no hurry if the doctor’s engaged.”

He nervously seized a very thick gold chain, and dragged a great gold watch from his pocket to consult.

“Eleven,” he said; “thought I’d come and see him as I went into the City. Nothing the matter, much, but it’s as well to see your medical man.”

“I’ll tell my father you are here, Mr Poynter.”

“No, don’t hurry. I’m very busy at my place, but plenty of time. How’s Hendon?”

“My brother is quite well.”

“Is he, now? That’s right. Fine thing, good health, ain’t it?”

“Of course,” said Richmond quietly.

“Yes, of course; so it is, Miss Chartley. Hendon always seems to be a fine strong fellow. I always liked him since I met him at a fellow’s rooms. Not at home now?”

“Oh, no; he has gone on to the hospital.”

“Ah, yes. Feel sometimes as if I should go to the hospital.”

The visitor appeared to be a florid, strongly-built man, in the most robust health, save that probably a love of too many of the good things of this life had made its mark upon him.

“I will tell my father you are here,” said Richmond again; and this time she escaped from the room, to come suddenly upon Bob outside, striking an attitude indictive of a determination to crush the glossy hat left upon the table in the hall; and so sudden was Richmond’s appearance that the boy stood fast, as if struck with catalepsy, for a few seconds before he bethought himself of a way out of his difficulty, when, pretending to catch a fly which did not exist, he turned upon his heel, and beat an ignominious retreat to the lower regions.

Dr Chartley’s patient was no sooner left alone than he started up, and began smoothing his short, carefully-parted hair, took off a second glove to display half a dozen jewelled rings, and wetting fingers and thumbs, he twirled the begummed points of his moustache, and fell into a state of agitation about the cut of his ultra-fashionably made clothes.

He looked round in vain, for there was no looking-glass; still, he had some satisfaction, for he was able to see that his tightly-fitting patent-leather boots were spotless, and that the drab gaiters with pearl buttons were exactly in their places; though the largely-checked trousers he wore did give him trouble as to the exact direction the outer seams should take, whilst his sealskin vest would look spotty in certain lights.

He was in the act of re-smoothing his hair when Richmond returned, and, hard City man as he was, he could not avoid an increase of depth in his colour as he saw that the handsome woman before him was watching him intently.

“My father will come to you directly, Mr Poynter,” she said quietly.

“Oh, all right; but don’t let me drive you away, Miss Chartley. I don’t see much society, and chat’s pleasant sometimes, ain’t it?”

“Of course,” said Richmond quietly; “but I thought my brother said you were fond of society.”

“Fond of it? yes, of course,” said Poynter hastily; and he smoothed his double fringe over his forehead again, where the hairdresser had cut it into a pattern which he had assured him was in the height of fashion, but only with the result of making him look like butcher turned betting-man. “Yes, fond of it,” he said again, “and of course I can get plenty with fellows, but—er—ladies’ society is what I like.”

James Poynter directed at Richmond a smiling leer, one which had proved very successful at more than one metropolitan bar, where he had paved the way for its success with gifts of flowers and a cheap ring or two; but it was utterly lost here, for its intended recipient was looking another way, and as it faded from its inventor’s face there was a blank, inane expression left, bordering upon the grotesque.

“You should go more into ladies’ society, then, Mr Poynter, as soon as your health permits,” said Richmond, with provoking coolness.

“Oh, I’m not ill,” he said hastily; and his forehead grew damp as he floundered about, looking fishy now about the eyes and mouth, which opened and shut at intervals, as if to give passage to words which never came. “Felt I was—er—little out of sorts, you know, and thought I’d see the doctor. Let’s see, I said so before, didn’t I?”

“Yes, I think you did, Mr Poynter. Here is my father.”

There was a slight cough just then, the door opened, and the doctor entered, his bland, aristocratic presence contrasting broadly with that of his patient.

“Ah, Poynter,” he said, “good-morning. Don’t go, my dear; Mr Poynter will come into my consulting-room, I daresay.”

“Yes, of course,” cried the patient, shaking hands, and forgetting to leave off. “I shall—shall you?—good-morning, Miss Chartley.”

He released the doctor’s hand, to turn and shake Richmond’s which he pressed desperately, and then followed the bland, calm, stately doctor out of the room, when he caught up his hat savagely and ground his teeth in the dark passage.

“I feel just like a fool when I’m with her!” he said to himself. “I never feel so anywhere else. And I ain’t a fool. I should just like to see the man who would say I was.”

The doctor led the way through the glazed door into the dim surgery, with its rows of bottles, and stoppered glass jars containing unpleasant looking specimens preserved in spirits, all carefully labelled and inscribed in the doctor’s own neat hand, but grown yellow with time; and as he closed the door after his patient, the latter’s nostrils distended slightly, and an air of disgust chased the inane look as he breathed the unpleasant medicinal druggy air.

“I was just busy over my discovery,” continued the doctor blandly, “and I thought as a friend you would not mind coming here—it is the consulting-room, my dear Poynter; and I could go on, and we could chat over your ailment the while.”

“Oh, it’s all the same to me,” said Poynter; and, once out of Richmond’s presence, he seemed another being. Instead of carrying his glossy hat in his hand, he had resumed it, and wore it with a vulgar cock; he walked with the swagger of the low-class City man; and his face shone as he whisked out a second crimson silk handkerchief redolent of perfume, and blew his nose with a loud blast, which sounded defiant.

“Here we are,” said the doctor, smiling at his patient, as if after a long search he had found the ill which troubled him, and pulled it up by the roots. “Take that chair, my dear Poynter,” he continued, pointing to one by the fire, where a bright copper kettle was on the hob, and closing the door, while his patient took off his hat, glanced round the room, and blew the dust off the top of a side table before depositing thereon his new head-covering.

There was a litter on the table, a chemist’s set of weights and scales, divers papers, a spatula, pestle and mortar of glass, toy-like in size, and a book with memoranda, and pen and ink.

“Very busy, you see, Poynter; I’ve nearly completed my task, and in a few months, perhaps weeks, the medical world will be startled by my discovery.”

“What are you going to do with it when you’ve done?”

“Do with it?”

“Yes. Now, if I was you, I should say to a friend, ‘Lend me a thou.,’ and then take a little shop, put it up in bottles, with three-halfpenny stamps, and advertise it well as the new patent medicine.”

“My dear Mr Poynter!”

“Hold hard, doctor, I haven’t done,” he cried, speaking in a hard, browbeating manner, as if he were giving orders. “Give it a spanking name, ‘Heal-all,’ or ‘Cure all;’ won’t do to say Kill-all eh? Haw, haw, haw!”

He burst into a coarse, loud laugh, and the doctor sank back in his chair, with his brows twitching slightly.

“Hold hard, I have it. Nothing like a good name for the fools who swallow everything. Get something out of one of your Greek and Latin physic-books—one of those words like hippocaustus or allegorus, or something they can’t understand.”

“I do not quite see the force of your argument, my dear Mr Poynter,” said the doctor blandly.

“Not see? Why, man, it would be patent medicine then, and no one could take it from you. Look at Hannodyne—good stuff, too, when you’ve got a headache in the morning—Government stamp, to imitate which is forgery!”

“But still, I—”

“Don’t see? Nonsense! Make a fortune. You want it. Patients pretty scarce, eh?”

He laughed again offensively, and the doctor winced, but kept up his bland smooth smile.

“And suppose I took your advice, my dear Poynter, where is the friend to lend me a thousand pounds?”

“Ah! where’s the friend!” said Poynter, with a meaning look. “P’r’aps I know the friend, if things went as he wanted.”

The doctor’s face changed slightly, but his visitor was too obtuse to see it.

“And would you suggest that I should—er—preside in the little shop and sell the allegorus?”

“Ah, that ain’t a bad name, is it?” said Poynter, giving his head a shake in the stiff collar in which it rested as an egg does in a cup. “No, not you; not businesslike enough. Make Hendon do that.”

“Ah,” said the doctor slowly, as he took up the bottle, removed the stopper, and smelled the contents before moistening one finger and tasting it.

“You’ll end by poisoning yourself with that stuff, doctor,” said Poynter, chuckling.

“No,” he said blandly, “no, my dear James Poynter, no; it is a life-giver, not a destroyer. Now, if you were to take, say, twenty drops in water—”

“With sugar?” said Poynter, grinning.

“Yes, with sugar, if you liked. There’s no objection to flavouring the vehicle—water.”

“Vehicle—water? Why, I never heard of water being called a vehicle! Thought vehicle meant a carriage or trap.”

“In this case the water would be the vehicle, Poynter, and, as I was saying, if you were to take twenty drops of this extract, or rather, compound, you would feel as if a new lease of life were beginning—that everything looked brighter; that nerve and muscle were being strung up; your power of thought greater, and—try a little, my dear sir.”

“No, thankye, doctor; but if you’ve got a drop of brandy in the place and a bottle of soda, you may make it more than twenty drops of that.”

“I have some brandy,” said the doctor, rising, “but no soda-water. I can mix you a little soda and tartaric acid, though, in a glass of water, and it will have all the effect.”

James Poynter showed his great white teeth in a broad grin, threw himself back in the patients’ chair, and unhooking his watch-chain, began to swing round the big seal, pencil-case, and sovereign-purse which hung at the end.

“No, thankye, doctor,” he said. “Let’s have the brandy-and-water, and sugar purissima, as you folks call it now, and you can mix me up a tonic and send it on.”

“Certainly, my dear Poynter, certainly,” said the doctor, going to a closet, and taking out a spirit decanter, tumbler, and sugar, which he placed upon the stained green-baize table-cover, smilingly looking on afterwards with a little bright copper kettle in his hand as his visitor poured out liberally into his glass.

“All right, eh, doctor?” said the young man, looking up in the bland, smooth face, with a good many wrinkles about his right eye.

“I—er—do not understand you.”

“Brandy all right? No pilly-coshy or anything of that sort in it? Fill right up.”

“No,” said the doctor, smiling. “It’s the best brandy, and I’ll take a little with you.”

He filled up his guest’s glass, and then smilingly took a second tumbler from the cupboard, and mixed himself a draught.

“Yes, not bad brandy, doctor, but wants age,” said Poynter, rinsing his mouth with the hot spirit and water, as if he had been cleaning his teeth. “Now, I have a few dozen of a fine old cognac in my cellar that would give this fifty in a hundred, and lick it hollow.”

Perhaps to be expressive, Mr James Poynter shuffled his shoulders against the cushion of the chair and licked his lips, ending with a fish-like smack.

“Let me send you a dozen, doctor.”

“No, no, my dear sir. I did not know you were in the wine and spirit trade.”

“Stuff and nonsense!”

“And I could not afford—”

“Yah! Who asked you to? I meant as a present. Wine and spirit trade, indeed! Hang it! Do I look like a publican?”

Dr Chartley told an abominable lie, for if ever man, from the crown of his pomatumed head, down over his prominent nubbey forehead, small eyes, prominent cheekbones, unpleasant nose, and heavy jaw, to the toes of his boots, looked like a fast, race-attending licenced victualler, it was James Poynter.

Dr Chartley said, in answer to the indignant question, “No.”

“Humph!” ejaculated the visitor, mollifying himself with a large draught of brandy-and-water. “I should think not, indeed. I shall send you a dozen of that brandy.”

“No, no, I beg!” said the doctor earnestly; and his white forehead puckered up.

“Yes, I shall. May I smoke?”


A very large, well-filled cigar case was already in the visitor’s hands.

“Take one.”

“No, thanks. I never smoke.”

“Never mind, Hendon does. Here, I shall leave those six for him.”

“I really would rather you did not, Poynter; indeed I would.”

“Get out? What’s the good of having these things if some one else don’t enjoy ’em too? Make Hendon a bit more civil to me. He is so jolly—so jolly—what do you call it?—soopercilious with me. Because I’m not a doctor, I suppose. There’s half a dozen good ones for him when he comes in. Now then, doctor, go ahead. Want to see my tongue?”

“No—no,” said the doctor; “the look of your eye is sufficient, Mr Poynter. It is much clearer. Felt any more of the chest symptoms?”

“No, not so much of them; but I don’t sleep as I should: feverish and tossy—spend half my nights punching my pillow.”

“Have you given up the suppers?”

“Well, not quite. You see a man can’t drop everything. I know a lot of men, and one’s obliged, you see, to do as they do. But now look here; doctor. You’ve been treating me these three months.”

“Dear me! is it so long as that?”

“More. You’ve poked my chest about, and listened to my works, and given me all sorts of stuff to take, and told me to eat this and drink that, and now I suppose you think I’m sound, wind and limb?”

“Certainly, my dear sir, certainly. I told you so at the first, and that no treatment was necessary.”

“Yes, yes, all right; but I’d got to be a bit nervous doctor, and now, as I say, you think me sound, wind and limb?”


“Then you’ll agree, won’t you?”

“Agree?” said the doctor, looking over the glasses he had put on when commencing to be professional.

“Yes. I’m as good a man as there is at Mincing Lane over a tea bargain; but a job like this knocks the wind out of me, makes me feel a damaged lot where the sea-water’s got in, or a Maloo mixture. Can’t do it: but you understand.”

“Really, Mr Poynter, I—”

“Now don’t run away, doctor; don’t, please. I’m a warm man, and I’m getting warmer. My house is tip-top. I gave two-fifty for the piano, I did, ’pon my soul, and fifty apiece for the cut-glass chandies in the drawing-room. There ain’t a better garden in Sydenham. You’re willing, ain’t you?”

“Do you mean—”

“Yes, that’s it. Say the word. There, I’ve loved her ever since I first saw her. And situated as you are, doctor—”

“Mr Poynter.”

“No offence meant—far from it; but of course I can’t help seeing how things are. Come, you’ll give your consent, and get hers, and I’ll make settlements—anything you like. You shall come and have a bit o’ dinner with us every Sunday, and a glass o’ real port wine; and if you’d rather have a cab to come home, why, there you are. Come, there’s my hand. Where’s yours?”

“Do I understand—”

“Stop a moment, doctor. Of course you’ll attend us, whether we’re ill or whether we ain’t. Keep us in order, like; and as to your fees, why, I ask you now, as a man, what is a fee to me?”

“Mr Poynter!”

“One moment, doctor. I don’t say anything about a brougham. If Miss Richmond—I say, doctor, what made you call her Richmond and him Hendon?”

“A foolish whim—eccentricity,” said the doctor coldly. “One child was born on the North Road, the other at the pretty old place on the south west.”

“I see. Well, as I was saying, if Miss Richmond likes it to be a brougham, either the real thing, or on the job, she has only got to speak, and it’s lies.”

“Am I to understand, Mr Poynter, that this is a formal proposal for my daughter’s hand?”

“That’s it. How you can put it, doctor! You’re right; it is, and there’s my hand.”

“Mr Poynter,” said the doctor, drawing himself up in his chair, and without taking the extended hand, “that is a matter upon which I am not prepared to speak.”

“Why, you’re her father, ain’t you?”

“Does my daughter sanction this?”

“Well—er—yes—no—hardly, because I’ve never put it to her plump. But you know what women are—sealskins, a carriage, bit o’ jewellery, and their own way. Why, of course she does; did you ever know a woman as didn’t want to marry? They often say so, but—you know. There, say the word: I’ll just go in and see her, and it’ll be a good job for all of us, and I shall go away with the day fixed.”

“No, Mr Poynter,” said the doctor gravely; “I have been a medical man for thirty years—a great student, but I must frankly confess that I do not know what women are. As to my daughter, she is of an age to judge for herself, and when she accepts a man for her husband—”

“I say, hold hard; there’s nothing on, is there?”

“You have told me that you love my child.”

“Like all that, doctor. But you know what I mean: old lover, prior attachment, and that sort of thing.”

“As far as I know, there has never been any attachment. Richmond is not like most girls.”

“Right doctor. She isn’t. That fetched me. Why, in her plain shabby things—”

The doctor winced. “She knocks my sister into fits, and Lyddy spends two-fifty a year in dressmaking and millinery, without counting jewellery and scent.”

“I may say,” continued the doctor, “that my daughter has always devoted herself to her brother and me.”

“Oh, yes, doctor, I’ve spotted that,” said the visitor, smoking furiously.

“And I have never seen any sign of an attachment. I once thought that there was a liking between her and young Mark Heath.”

“What, brother to that Miss Janet who comes here?” cried Poynter eagerly.

“The same; but that was years ago.”

“And he’s abroad, isn’t he?”

“He went to the Cape—to seek his fortune,” said the doctor gravely; “but he has not been heard of now for two years.”

“Dead, safe!” said Poynter, drawing a breath full of relief.

“I’m afraid so.”


“It would be sad if the young man had ended his career like that.”

“Of course. But they weren’t engaged?”

“Certainly not, Mr Poynter.”

“And you’ve no objection to me, doctor?”

“N–no—I—that is, Mr Poynter, I look upon this as a matter for my daughter to decide.”

“Of course, doctor. Well, I’ll just finish my cigar and grog, and then I’ll go and put it to her, plump and plain; and, as I said before, it’ll be a fine day’s work for us all.”

The doctor sighed.

“I say, you know,” continued his visitor, with the wrinkles coming about his eyes, “it was all a dodge of mine.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“There wasn’t anything the matter with me when I came.”

“Nothing whatever,” said the doctor, nodding acquiescence.

“What! you knew that?”

“Of course I did. I looked upon it as all imaginary.”

“But you took the fees, doctor?” said the young man, laughing.

“You took up my time.”

“But I say, doctor, isn’t that too bad?”

“Not at all. My dear sir, the medical profession. Won’t I be a poor one if we had no patients with imaginary ills. We treat them; they think we do them good; and they grow better. Surely we earn our fees.”

“Oh, but, doctor,” said the young man jocularly, “why not honestly tell them they are all right, instead of taking their coin?”

“Because if we did they would not believe us, and would go to some other medical man.”

“Then you knew I was all right?”

“Certainly I did.”

“And made me up that wretched physic to take.”

“You would not have been satisfied without.”

“Ah, well,” said the young man, with a chuckle which resulted in his wiping his eyes with his highly scented handkerchief, “I never took a drop.”

“I know that too,” said the doctor.

“Ah, well; we understand one another now, and I’d better go.”

James Poynter, however, seemed to be in no hurry to go, but sipped his brandy-and-water, smoked his cigar down to the throwing-away length, and then brought out from his vest-pocket an amber and meerschaum mouthpiece, tipped with gold, into which he fitted the wet end of the cigar, and smoked till he could smoke no longer, when he rose, flush-faced, and with the dew upon his forehead.

“I suppose I must go and get it done, doctor,” he said; “but it’s rather a—well, it makes a man feel—I say, doctor, what is there in a pretty woman that makes a man feel half afraid of her, like?”

“I told you, Mr Poynter, a short time back, that I did not understand women,” said the doctor gravelly. “I cannot tell. Say Nature’s heaven-gift for her defence.”

“Humph!” said Poynter, staring. “I say, doctor—cigar, you know. Could you give a fellow a mouthful of something that would take the taste out of one’s mouth? Going to see a lady.”

“Try cold water,” said the doctor, in a tone of voice which sounded like throwing that fluid upon he young man’s hopes; but he had so much faith in himself that the verbal water glanced from his fine feathers, and after rinsing his mouth, he shook hands clumsily, intending to leave the doctor’s fee within his palm, but managed to drop the more valuable of the two coins on the edge of the fender, when it flew beneath the grate, and had to be fished out with the tongs.

“Dodgy stuff, money, doctor,” said Poynter, setting down the fire-iron, and blowing the coin.

“Don’t take all that trouble, pray.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble, doctor. I was never above picking up a sov. There, don’t you come. I know my way;” and he left the consulting-room to go into the house and learn his fate.

“Brute!” said the doctor, with a look of disgust, as he sank into his chair. “Why is Fate so unfair with her gold! I thought as much, but Richmond will say no.”

“Old lunatic!” said James Poynter, with his fat upper lip curling in disgust, as his eyes lit on the row of glass jars with their ghastly contents. “Once I get my lady home, I don’t mean to see much of him. Here, boy,” he said, as he reached the hall, and so suddenly that there was nearly a serious accident, for Bob was coming down the balustrade from the first floor, gliding upon the central part of his person with arms and legs extended—taking hold having grown common.

The sharp “Here, boy!” so startled him that he overbalanced himself, went right over, but caught at the upright spindly bars, and so far saved himself that he came down upon his feet in a couple of somersaults, recovering himself directly, and coming forward with a grin upon his bloodless face, as if the feat had been intended.

“Ah, you’ll break your neck some day. Here’s a shilling for you. Take me into Miss Chartley at once.”

Bob bit the coin, and slipped it into his pocket before he replied, “Gone out.”

“Gone out? Will she be long?”

“Dessay she’ll be hours, sir.”

James Poynter stamped with his foot, and muttered something unparliamentary.

“Tell Miss Chartley,” he said. “No, don’t tell her anything. Here, let me out.”

Bob ran to the ponderous old door, and stood holding it open with his eyes glittering as he stared at the visitor, till he had hurried out with his hat set very much on one side, and walked sharply away.

“Thought he’d want the bob again,” said the boy. “Just do for the old gal. Well, I’m blessed!”

This last consequent upon his catching sight of a shabby-looking figure in black, with a damaged bonnet, and a weirdly dissipated look, rising slowly into sight up the area-steps, and then coming out of the creaking gate to the boy, who grew more serious the nearer the figure came.

It was not a pleasant face to look upon, for it was not over-clean; the black and grey hair was ill-arranged, and the eyes that shone above the flushed cheeks belied the woman sadly if they did not tell the truth about potations.

“Why, Bob, my darling,” she said, with an exaggerated fawning smile, “and how is my bonny boy?”

“Here stow that, mother,” cried the lad, struggling from an embrace. “Don’t! Can’t yer see I’ve been brushing my hair?”

“Yes, and it looks beautiful, ducky. I’ve been knocking ever so long at the hairy door, and that fine madam saw me, and wouldn’t let me in.”

“No; she says I ain’t never to let you in no more.”

“Not let me in no more to see my own boy?”

“No; she says you took some fresh butter last time you was here, and you sha’n’t come.”

“Then you sha’n’t stay, Bob; I’ll take you away, my darling. Oh, it’s a wicked, cruel world!”

“Here, I say, mother, stow that. Whatcher want?”

“What, my darling? Yes, that’s it: want—staring want; but you sha’n’t stay here.”

“Get out. I shall.”

“No, you sha’n’t, you ungrateful boy. I won’t be separated from my own child. Bob dear, have you got any money?”


“Anybody give you anything?” whined the woman. “There ain’t been nothing pass my lips this blessed day.”

“Oho! what a wunner!” cried the boy. “Why, I can smell yer.”

“No, no, my dear; that’s Mrs Billson as you can smell. I’ve been talking to her, and she drink ’orrid. Ain’tcher got a few pence for your poor lone mother, who’s ready to break her heart sometimes because she’s parted from her boy?”

“Will you go away if I give you something?”

“Go away? Oho!” whined the woman, wiping off a maudlin tear with the end of her shawl.

“Here, I say, don’t cry on the front-doorsteps. Come down in the hairy, where nobody can’t see you.”

“Driven away by my own boy! Oho, oho!”

“’Tain’t my fault. Doctor said you wasn’t to come, and if you did he’d send me away.”

“Then come home, Bob, to your poor heartbroken mother.”

“Walker!” cried the boy. “Why yer ain’t got no home to give a chap.”

“No home?”

“Well, I don’t call that a home, living up in a hattic along o’ old Mother Billson.”

“Oh, you ungrateful boy! Ain’t it enough for me to have come down so that I’m obliged to see my own son in liveries, without him turning against me.”

“Who’s a-turning again you? Don’t cry, I tell yer,” he said, angrily stamping a foot.

“Then you shall come home.”

“Sha’n’t. I ain’t going to leave the doctor and Miss Rich for nobody, so there.”

“Ugh, you viper!”

“Here, stow that. Who’s a viper? See what they’ve done for me when I was runned over. Why, if it hadn’t been for Miss Rich a-nussing of me when you was allus tipsy, you wouldn’t have had no boy at all, only a dead ’un berrid out at Finchley along o’ the old man.”

“Ah, you wicked ungrateful little serpent! They’ve been setting you again’ your poor suffering mother.”

“Stow that, I say. You’ll have the doctor hear you if you don’t be quiet.”

“I won’t be quiet, you wicked, wicked—”

“Look here! If you don’t hold your row, I won’t give you the bob and two coppers I’ve got for you.”

“Have you got some money for your poor mother, then?”

“I’ve got a bob a gent give me, and twopence, my half of what we got for the bones me and ’Lisbeth sold.”

“Ah? I’m a poor suffering woman, and I do say things sometimes as I don’t mean,” whined the wretched creature. “Give me the money, dear, and let me go.”

“If I give it to yer, you won’t say no more about my coming away?”

“No, dear; I only want to see you happy.”

“Well, there, then,” he said, giving her the coins; “and, I say—”

“Yes, my precious.”

“You ain’t to spend none of it in gin.”

“Gin? Oh, no, my dear.”

“Get some pudding out of Holborn, and a saveloy; and, I say, mother, get yourself a bit o’ tea.”

“Yes, my darling.”

“And don’t let Mrs Billson gammon you into lending her none of it.”

“No, my dear. And there, good-bye, Bob; be a good boy. I won’t come wherriting of you no more’n I can help.”

The miserable object, from whom out of compassion Richmond Chartley had rescued the boy, shuffled along the street to the nearest public-house, to buy more plus spirit with which to attack her miserable minus spirit, with the result that, as a mathematical problem, one would kill the other as sure as Fate.

Meanwhile Bob stood on the step watching her.

“Wonder whether the old gal does like me? Somehow she allus goes as soon as she gets all a chap’s got. Now she’ll go and have a drop. She allus does when she says she won’t.”

“Bob! you Bob!” came in a shrill voice from the kitchen stairs.

“Can’t you see I’m a-coming?” cried the boy; and hurriedly closing the door, he returned to his work.