Read CHAPTER FORTY THREE - THE QUEEN’S PHYSICIAN of The New Mistress A Tale , free online book, by George Manville Fenn, on

It was many hours yet before the doctor came, for the life of one patient is no more to a medical man than that of another, and the great physician had several urgent cases to see before he could use the special train placed at his disposal by Hazel’s elderly lover, who had never left the station all the morning, and had given instructions that the starting of the train should be telegraphed to him from the terminus in town.

In addition, he had a messenger, in the shape of Feelier’s brother, who came to and fro every hour to where Mr William Forth Burge was walking up and down the platform, to deliver a report from Miss Burge on the patient’s state.

One of these messages was to the effect that the local doctor had been, and said that there was no change; and that he was stopping at home on purpose to meet the great physician when he came.

So was Mr William Forth Burge’s carriage, and so was a group of the tradespeople and others, for in the easy-going life of a little country town the loss of a day was as nothing compared to the chance of seeing the Queen’s own physician when he came down.

At last, but not till far in the afternoon, came the lightning message speeding along the wires, “Special left King’s Cross 3:30;” and then how slow seemed the rapid special, and by comparison how it lagged upon its way, for it would be quite an hour and a half, the station-master said, perhaps two hours, even at express speed.

And all this time William Forth Burge waited, and would have taken nothing but for the thoughtfulness of the station-master’s wife, who brought him some tea.

“No, six, not yet; that’s the fast down.”  Or, “No sir, not yet; that’s only the afternoon goods.”  Or again, “No sir; that’s only the slow local.  They’ll wire me from Marshton when she passes.”

This from the chief official; and at last the wired message came, and after what seemed to be an interminable time, a fast engine, tender, one saloon carriage, and brake steamed into the station, and a little, quiet dark man stepped out as the door was held open by the station-master, waiting ready to do honour to the man greater in his power than the magician kings of old, but very weak even then.

“Mr William Forth Burge?  Thanks.  Carriage waiting.  Thanks.  Now tell me a little of the case.”

This was mastered principally by questions as they drove to the cottage.

“Yes,” said the great man.  “I see.  The old thing, my dear sir.  What can you expect with sanitary arrangements such as these?”

He pointed right and left as they drove along, Mr William Forth Burge suddenly checking the driver, as they were about halfway, to pick up Doctor Bartlett, the resident medical man.

Next followed a consultation in the wretched keeping-room of the cottage, the great doctor treating his humble brother with the most profound respect, and then they went up to the bedroom, and little Miss Burge came down to her brother with her handkerchief to her eyes.

A dreary half-hour followed before the doctors came down, the two occupants of the room gazing up at them with appeal in their eyes as they vacated their chairs in the great man’s favour.

“I can only say, Mr William Forth Burge, that we must hope,” said the great baronet.  “It is the most ordinary form of typhoid fever, and must have its course.  I may add that I almost regret that you should have called me down, unless my opinion is any comfort to you; for I can neither add to nor detract from the skilful treatment adopted by my confrere, Doctor Bartlett, who is carefully watching the case.  What we want is the best of nursing; and, at any cost, let the poor girl be taken to some light, wholesome, airy room.”

“Might we risk moving her?” panted Mr Burge.

“It is a grave risk; but it must be ventured, with the greatest care, under Doctor Bartlett’s instructions; for I have no hesitation in saying that if our patient stays here she will die.”

“God bless you, Sir Henry; I’d have given all I possess for that!” gasped Burge, as he placed a slip of paper in the doctor’s hands.

There was the drive back to the station, the little train steamed out, and that evening, while poor Feelier Potts slept, Hazel Thorne was carried down to the Burges’ carriage, and lay that night in the west room, to keep on talking incessantly of her cruelty to one who had been so noble, so true, and good, and to make appeals to him for his forgiveness, as she now knew how to value his honest love.