Read CHAPTER XVIII. of The Doctor's Family , free online book, by Mrs Margaret Oliphant, on

“I always thought there was good in him by his looks,” said Miss Wodehouse, standing in the porch of St Roque’s, after the wedding-party had gone away.  “To think he should have come in such a sweet way and married Mrs Fred! just what we all were wishing for, if we could have ventured to think it possible.  Indeed, I should have liked to have given Mr Chatham a little present, just to mark my sense of his goodness.  Poor man!  I wonder if he repents -”

“It is to be hoped not yet,” said Lucy, hurrying her sister away before Mr Wentworth could come out and join them; for affairs were seriously compromised between the perpetual curate and the object of his affections; and Lucy exhibited a certain acerbity under the circumstances which somewhat amazed the tender-hearted old maid.

“When people do repent, my belief is that they do it directly,” said Miss Wodehouse.  “I daresay he can see what she is already, poor man; and I hope, Lucy, it won’t drive him into bad ways.  As for Nettie, I am not at all afraid about her.  Even if they should happen to quarrel, you know, things will always come right.  I am glad they were not married both at the same time.  Nettie has such sense! and of course, though it was the very best thing that could happen, and a great relief to everybody concerned, to be sure, one could not help being disgusted with that woman.  And it is such a comfort they’re going away.  Nettie says -”

“Don’t you think you could walk a little quicker? there is somebody in Grove Street that I have to see,” said Lucy, not so much interested as her sister; “and papa will be home at one to lunch.”

“Then I shall go on, dear, if you have no objection, and ask when the doctor and Nettie are coming home,” said Miss Wodehouse, “and take poor little Freddy the cakes I promised him.  Poor child! to have his mother go off and marry and leave him.  Never mind me, Lucy, dear; I do not walk so quickly as you do, and besides I have to go home first for the cakes.”

So saying the sisters separated; and Miss Wodehouse took her gentle way to the doctor’s house, where everything had been brightened up, and where Freddy waited the return of his chosen guardians.  It was still the new quarter of Carlingford, a region of half-built streets, vulgar new roads, and heaps of desolate brick and mortar.  If the doctor had ever hoped to succeed Dr Marjoribanks in his bowery retirement in Grange Lane, that hope nowadays had receded into the darkest distance.  The little surgery round the corner still shed twinkles of red and blue light across that desolate triangle of unbuilt ground upon the other corner houses where dwelt people unknown to society in Carlingford, and still Dr Rider consented to call himself M.R.C.S., and cultivate the patients who were afraid of a physician.  Miss Wodehouse went in at the invitation of Mary to see the little drawing-room which the master of the house had provided for his wife.  It had been only an unfurnished room in Dr Rider’s bachelor days, and looked out upon nothing better than these same new streets-the vulgar suburb which Carlingford disowned.  Miss Wodehouse lingered at the window with a little sigh over the perversity of circumstances.  If Miss Marjoribanks had only been Nettie, or Nettie Miss Marjoribanks!  If not only love and happiness, but the old doctor’s practice and savings, could but have been brought to heap up the measure of the young doctor’s good-fortune!  What a pity that one cannot have everything!  The friendly visitor said so with a real sigh as she went down-stairs after her inspection.  If the young people had but been settling in Grange Lane, in good society, and with Dr Marjoribanks’s practice, this marriage would have been perfection indeed!

But when the doctor brought Nettie home, and set her in that easy-chair which her image had possessed so long, he saw few drawbacks at that moment to the felicity of his lot.  If there was one particular in which his sky threatened clouds, it was not the want of Dr Marjoribanks’s practice, but the presence of that little interloper, whom the doctor in his heart was apt to call by uncomplimentary names, and did not regard with unmixed favour.  But when Susan and her Australian were fairly gone, and all fear of any invasion of the other imps-which Dr Rider inly dreaded up to the last moment-was over, Freddy grew more and more tolerable.  Where Fred once lay and dozed, and filled the doctor’s house with heavy fumes and discreditable gossip, a burden on his brother’s reluctant hospitality, little Freddy now obliterated that dismal memory with prayers and slumbers of childhood; and where the discontented doctor had grumbled many a night and day over that bare habitation of his, which was a house, and not a home, Nettie diffused herself till the familiar happiness became so much a part of his belongings that the doctor learned to grumble once more at the womanish accessories which he had once missed so bitterly.  And the little wayward heroine who, by dint of hard labour and sacrifice, had triumphantly had her own way in St Roque’s Cottage, loved her own way still in the new house, and had it as often as was good for her.  But so far as this narrator knows, nothing calling for special record has since appeared in the history of the doctor’s family, thus reorganised under happier auspices, and discharging its duties, social and otherwise, though not exactly in society, to the satisfaction and approval of the observant population of Carlingford.