THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
A REALLY GOOD CASE. [a legend of st. Michael’s hospital.] [continued.] At last, one afternoon I was sitting in Adams’ room in a leisure interval, when a lady’s card was brought in. It had a deep black border, and bore the inscription : “ Mrs. Stead, The Cedars.” She wished to see Mr. Adams. Immediately afterwards the lady was shown in. Adams motioned me to stay. She was a fine tall woman of fifty, dressed in deep mourning, with hair just turning grey, a firm mouth, soft, keen grey eyes, and a face combining intellect and kindness.
“ Have I the pleasure of speaking to Mr.. Adams ?’’ she said. He bowed. She then produced a paper which gave an account of our famous case and of the part Adams had played in it. “ May I inquire whether this patient is still in the hospital ? Can I see her ?”
“ Yes, certainly. Would the lady be able to identify her ? Would it not be better for the patient to see the card first, to avoid sudden excitement; that is, if the lady’s visit were likely to cause excitement?”
“ Perhaps it would be better to take up the card and say that Mrs. Stead desires to see her.”
Wonderfully calm and self-possessed the lady seemed to us, and yet she could not entirely suppress some signs of emotion or excitement. She said that illness in' her family had prevented her from seeing the papers for some time, or she would probably have been here before. - :
I took the card up and showed it to the patient. She turned very pale, then buried her face in her pillow and burst into tears. “ Shall the lady come up ?” I said. I thought she sobbed out “ Yes.” The visitor came : up. Slowly and calmly she walked up the ward. The news had somehow - got about, and several of-the-men found that they had business in that part of the hospital just then. The lady stood by the bed and said softly, “ Elizabeth.” The girl looked up, and their eyes met. One glance at, that face was
enough. “ Yes,” said the lady; “I can identify her.” It is your daughter ?” asked Adams.
“It is my cook,” said the lady, “ Elizabeth Saunders.” I think I said that I only once saw Adams discomposed, and that was on the present occasion. “I—l—thought her name was Stead,” he said, and his eyes rested on a pocket-handkerchief lying on the pillow. The lady’s eyes followed his, and a slight smile played on her features. Yes, it was even so. The acute scientific observer, the far-sighted young surgeon, famed for his diagnostic acumen, had seen through his case, but not through his patient. It turned out that the girl, being remarkably goodlooking, and having acquired from a previous situation in a raobleman’s family a very correct way of speaking and some very ladyish manners, was fond of dressing up in her holidays and frequenting places of amusement, where she usually attracted a good deal of attention. Her mistress having been called away from home to nurse a sick ( relative, had allowed her servant to go, as she thought, to visit., her parents in the country 5 but the girl, having her wages in her pocket, had preferred to remain with an acquaintance in London, where she enjoyed her-Christmas holidays very much to her own satisfaction, until her accident put a stop to her manoeuvres, or rather changed her field of action. Finding, as she recovered, that she was being addressed.as “Miss Stead,” and that she was the object of much care and attention, it seems to me—judging by what experience of human nature on its female side I have since acquired—not very remarkable - that she preferred to keep up the delusion, golden silence being her main line of tactics. And, fair readers, do you think it very contrary to your experience of human nature on its male side, that an otherwise exceedingly acute young man should be the subject of a delusion of this particular kind ? The lady spoke very kindly to the girl, and guessing, I fancy, how matters stood, said some very graceful things to Adams. Subsequently, you will perhaps be glad to hear, she a very kind friend to him, and her influence was of no small assistance to him in his future professional advancement. She became, in fact, quite a mother to him, though not a mother-in-law.
I really do not know what befel the girl, except that at her own desire the lady obtained for her “ a situation in the country, out of the way of temptation,” and that she proved to be a faithful servant.
I am sorry to have to state that public interest in this case at . St. Michael’s somewhat rapidly declined after Mrs. Steals visit; perhaps because, as the Lancet said, the interesting symytoms had all disappeared. But I said then, say now, and always will say, that it was, from all points of view, “ a really good case.”— Chambers' Journal.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 226, 27 December 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 226, 27 December 1880
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