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PAID IN HIS OWN COIN.

Bv Edward J. Goodman, Author of ‘ Too Curious,’

VOL, lII.—CHAPTER VII,

DOCTORS DISAGREE. Ever since that unhappy day when he, pitted in anger from the woman l.e loved, Mark Elliot had been profoundly miserable. He keenly felt the hardship of that separation, and not less acutely did he feel that he had been unjustly treated. After all, what had ho done that he should be discarded in this way ? He might have committed an error in judgment in having failed to explain matters more clearly to Mrs Fleming and to Helen. Vet that was no unpardonable sin. And if he had made mistakes, so had Helen, who seemed determined not to understand his position. lie did not blame her very severely for that why should she be bo hard upon him ?

An honorable man, on reflection, fools shame and regret when be has put himself in tho wrong, but Mark Elliot was laboring under a sense of unrecognised virtue, and that, we all know, is very irritating. In all ether respects, save as regards hia weakness and W’aut of courage iu leaving Helen and Mrs Fleming to come to an understanding about him, he considered that he had behaved very well indeed—far better than many other men would have done under Ihe circumstances. If now and then he had been dazzled by the personal charms of that fair widow, he had struggled manfully and successfully against all temptation. Helen ought to have rew’arded him for such constancy : instead of which she had punished him cruelly—ho almost felt tempted to add heartlessly. And cow that he had lost her he was utterly alone. Ho was sick and weary of his life ; his surroundings every day were beaming more and more distasteful to him, and ho felt that under tho load of depression that weighed so heavily upon his spirits ho must at last break down.

He would net continue much longer to live in this miserable way. If nothing occurred soon to bring him and Helen together again, lie would sell his practice, and remove to some distant provincial town, or seek an appointment abroad. Helen would then, perhaps, discover what a mistake she had made.

Dwelling on these bitter thoughts, he sat one morning by his breakfast table, whence his servant had just removed the remains of a meal for which he had had but little appetite. Such thoughts, indeed, were everpresent, and sent him forth with a heavy heart to his daily labor, as they were sending him forth now'. But he reflected that he must no longer sit indulging in these gloomy cogitations. He must bo up and away to his work among his poverty-stricken patients, and do his duty, while he had it to do.

lie had lately engaged a new assistant, and he now summoned the young man to give him the usual daily instructions before departing on his round of visits. But he had not been long occupied in this way when lie heard his outer door bell sound. The assistant went to answer the call, and in a moment returned.

“ A lady wishes to see you immediately, sir,” said the young man. That was nothing extraordinary. People were accustomed to call on Dr Elliot at that early hour, and every decently-dressed female visitor was, of course, a “ lady.” “ Show her in,” said the doctor, and he added to himself: “I wonder what the woman wants. I hope she will not keep me long—l am late ns it is.” Ho was standing for the moment with bis back to the door, and when he turned to greet the visitor ho found himself face to face with HeKu Musi'rave. “ Helen !" he erica in astonishment; but in an instant bo recovered his presence of mind, and, in a more reserved tone, he added : “ Miss Musgravc !” “Dr Elliot,” Helen said, “ I have come to beg your assistance for my father, who is ill—dangerously ill. There is not a moment to be lost. Ho may even now be dying, if not dead. You will not refuse mo, will you ‘'■Refuse you?” replied Mark. “Ho; I will go to your father at once. But, briefly us you pirate, you must first toil me the nature of his case.”

“ Wy father,” said Helen, “hashad aparaly tic stroke, and was recovering. _ He is now sullering from some other complaint, and bis symptoms seem exactly like those of my uncle before he died.”

“.Symplons of what? of poisoning?” “ 1 fear so.” “ Who Ins been attending him?” “ Dr Wynd.” “Ah!” .Dr Elliot uttered this exclamation with mingled wrath, astonishment, and alarm. “Is one of those symtoms a comatose sleep or insensibility ?” “It is.”

“ Wait a moment,” said Mark, and having left Helen in his room, he proceeded at once to the surgery. In a few minutes he had collected certain medical appliances and remedies which he knew the case vyould require, and, having spoken a few words to his assistant, he rejoined Helen in tho inner chamber.

“lam ready,’ he said. “Have you a cab here 5”

“Yes, it is waiting at the door.” And then Helen and Mark started together on their short journey to Eden Villa. As they proceeded on their way Helen told Mark more fully the history of her father’s illness. She described how Mr Musgravc had been first attacked ; how Dr Wynd had been called in to attend him ; how the latter had lately discontinued his visits, and what she believed to bo the chief cause of his absence ; how he had, nevertheless, still supplied her father with medicine, and how that medicine had been usually administered to him by Mr Craykc. Though burning with indignation at the inference to which these facts pointed, Dr Elliot was sufficiently master of himself not to give way to the feeling that inspired him. The whole story, he thought, could hut lead to one conclusion, that Abel W yud, for some purpose, the nature of which he was utterly at a loss to guess, had attempted the life of Matthew Miwgravc. “ Hut we will not talk of that now, Miss Musgrave,” said Mark. “At present there is only one thing to he done, to save your father’s life—if, indeed, it is not to late.” No other words passed between them. No tone of tenderness or allusion to their past relations tempered the tenor of their conversation. Their every thought was centred in the object of their mission. Helen’s mind was absorbed by her father’s danger, Mark’s was bent on the means cf averting it. They soon arrived at the gate of Eden Villa, and Dr Elliot assisted bis companion to alight. Tom stood at the open door waiting to receive them, and Helen at once asked him how her father was.

“ Just the same,” replied her brother ; “he is still lying asleep or insensible.” “ Who is with him ?” inquired Helen. “ Mother and Tessie,” said Tom. “ And Mr Craylce ?” she further asked. “ We have not let him go into the room,” said Tom ; “ I saw to that. He wanted to come in, and mother would have allowed him, but I said ‘ No, that’s against Helen’s orders, and they will have to be obeyed.’ ” “ You did right, Tom,” said his sister. “ And now,” she added, turning to Mark, “ lot us go up at once.” Without further delay Helen and Mark ascended the staircase to the sick man s room. There they found Mrs Musgrave and Tessie standing scared and weeping by the bedside, watching the insensible poet as he lay still and pale as death itself. A glance at the sufferer told Dr Elliot that there was no time to be lost. In that tone of quiet command which no patient of his ever resisted, he said :

“ You, Mrs Musgrave and Miss Tessie, be good enough to leave the room. You, Miss Musgrave, will please remain here to assist me.” The wife and younger daughter felt deeply annoyed at the course that was being adopted; yet their alarm and anxiety were so great that they experienced some sense of relief at the intervention of Dr Elliot. So they meekly yielded, left the room, and proceeded downstairs, where they sat in silent and sorrowful suspense awaiting the result of the doctor’s ministrations. Mr Crayke had disappeared. When Tom had opposed his entry into Mr Musgrave a chamber, he said nothing, but turned

and betook himself forthwith to his own apartment. Once safe from observation, Oliver Crayke gave way to his long pent-up excitement, yet without altogether losing his selfcontrol. He paced to and fro with hasty, irregular steps ; his fingers quivered as he thrust them through his long yellow-red hair, or nervously stroked his lips and chin. “ Have 1 succeeded ? Will the man die ? Will they suspect and accuse me?’ he muttered at intervals ; “or have I blundered? Ah, there is always something forgotten, and I, perhaps, am as foolish as tho rest of them. Who would have thought that Elliot would be summoned ? But he may be too late. If so, what then ? Well, perhaps, after all, that were better. It would make my chance of being suspected stronger. Oh, I will puzzle them yet—l wi’l astonish them all—the fools ! ’ Then, becoming calmer, he sat down, rested his head upon bis hand, and reflected, “ Yes, ye?, lam safe—quite safe. If the man recovers I can ward off all suspicion and cast it upon Wynd. If ho dies I can ho silent, and leave them to form their own conclusions. V r,, t might they not suspect Wynd in either case, regarding mo as his confederate ? But he could hardly have a stronger motive than I. Aha ! Anyway it will puzz’c them rarely. A strange mystery a fine mystery !” Meanwhile Dr Elliot and Helen remained all that morning and afternoon in close attendance on the sick man until, thanks to hia skill and her devoted help, the patient w'aa at last aroused from his death-likc sleep. As dusk began to full Mark observed to Helen:

“ Your father is out of immediate danger and will recover if proper care be taken. But a certain course must be pursued, and you must sec that it is carried out, if his life is to ho saved.”

Helen was one of those who, knowing how to command, knew also how to obey. “ Whatever course you recommend,” she said, “shall bo strictly followed. I will see to that,”

Mr Musgrave, meanwhile, lay only half conscious of what Mas going on around him. Dr Elliot said he must bo left undisturbed for a time, and conversed with Helen at intervals in whispers. “You f,ay, : ’ he observed, “that your father has been waited upon at eight by Mr Crayke ?” “ He has,” replied Helen. “That was not wise,” remarked the doctor. “ I would not trust that man.” “ Why not ?” Helen inquired. “He is Abel Wynd’s friend,” was the significant reply. I have thought of that,” said Helen. “Have you noticed anything suspicious in his conduct ?” asked Mark. “ I cannot exactly answer that question,” replied Helen. “He has seemed most kind and attentive to father ; but there has been something in his manner and appearance that excited doubts in my mind.” Dr Elliot raid nothing for some minutes ; then he observed : “ Mr Crayke must wait upon your father no more lie must not be permitted even to see him. It may be a needless precaution, but it must be taken.”

“It shall be taken, if you order it,” said Helen.

No further conversation passed between them for a while. Then Dr Elliot, observing that the patient seemed more at ease, inatinoted Helen to call up the other - members of the family. Mrs Musgrave, Tessio, and Tom presently returned w Ith Holtn, and found Dr Elliot awaiting them E t tho head of the stairs. “Mr Musgrave,” be said, “has born buffering from the (fleets of narcotic prisoning. Whctiu-r that poison has been given to him by accident or by design it is not f-rme to say' at present. Meanwhile, if his health is to be restored, and no further danger is to bo incurred, certain measures will have to be adopted. In the first place, the medical man who has been attending him must not be allowed to enter his room again, nor must any medicine which that person may send in be given to him. \ou, Miss Mnsgravo, must, for a time, watch your father by day and by night, and you must not permit any person whatever—no matter who it may' be—except the members of your family, to pass this door. This is not tho time for discussions or (xphmaticns cr inquiries. The orders I have given, and may give, will have to be obeyed if Mr Musgravo’s life is to be saved.” Mrs Mu'gravc and Tessie, though overjoyed at the news that the beloved patient was out of danger, were struck dumb with surprise and horror at Dr Elliot’s announcement as to the cause of his illness. Nor did they dare to question his instructions or resent his presumption, as they regarded it, in thus assuming such a tone of authority. They had but to direct their eyes upon Helen’s eouutcnance to see that she was resolved that the doctor should be obeyed, and they stood listening to his stern commands in silence. Helen herself said :

“ What you have ordered, Dr Elliot, shall be done. Wo all consent to that.” “ Hear, hear !” observed Tom. “ Now, Miss Musgrave,” continued Dr Elliot, “you can return to your father’s room. Your brother can relieve you in your attendance at intervals, and your mother and sister can, of course, join you when they desire to do so. I must for the present leave your father in your care, and can now do so safely; but later in tho evening I will call again and see him.” Then he turned and left tho room, and slowly dccseuded the stairs. His work so far was done, and Matthew life was saved. But saved fiom what? From an attempt upon it by the villain who had murdered his brother. Of that Mark Elliot felt convinced. What his motive was Elliot could not imagine. The fact of the attempt was enough for him, and to his mind Abel Wynd was capable of any enormity. Had that man, Oliver Crayke, assisted him ? It might be so ; but that mattered little. The prime mover in this crime—for crime it was —had been Wynd himself, and that blackhearted villain must be made to suffer for his guilt. How and when were questions for the future.

These thoughts passed rapidly through Dr Elliot’s mind as he prepared to quit the house. And they were thoughts inspired by a feeling of intense wrath and hatred towards tho criminal whose V>aso designs ho had foiled. Woe betido Abel Wynd were ho to come across his path ! He would but, there, he reflected, he must not indulge in such vengeful fancies. Justice must be meted out to that wretch, but not by him.

Then he took up hid hat from the hall table and walked to the street door. He opened it and stepped into the porch. Dusk had fallen, and the light above the doorway was already burning, and throw a gleam of brightness on the garden path before him.

And there, pausing on his way up the gravelled walk, stood Abel Wynd. It may be hard to say which of the two doctors was the more astonished as thus they met face to face. But there was furious rage as well as surprise in the minds of both—a rage which each felt it difficult to control. There they stood silent for a few moments, Dr Elliot holding his ground firmly to bar the way of Dr Wynd, who seemed inclined to pass him by. It was Mark who first found his voice, and he spoke in stern and steady tones. “ Dr Wynd,” he said, “ you cannot enter this house.” “Whynot?” exclaimed the other. “Who dares to prevent me?” “ I do.”

“ By what right ?” “By the right of one who has tried to save the man you tried to murder.” “Dr Elliot!” cried Wynd, in a voice trembling with agitation, “ bewarehow you make such a charge against me again ! You have accused mo falsly once, and might have suffered for it, but for my for bearance. Why you are here now, and what you mean, I cannot tell; but if you dare to impute to mo any evil design against anyone in that house, by Heaven, you shall pay dearly for it. Now, sir, let me pas.?.” Dr Elliot raised his band, in warning rather than in threat. “Stand back !” he exclaimed. “Your presence here is forbidden by my orders, and those orders I now enforce myself.” “What if I resist ‘those orders’?” sneered Wynd, his wrath overcoming even the terror with which his heart was throbbing. “Will you dare to prevent my entry into a house where you yourself are an intruder, whence only lately you were disi missed ?” 1 “ I will,” replied Mark,

“I refuse to obey your command,” said Dr Wynd. “I desire to learn from those who have a right to decide whether I am to be refused admittance here or not.” 11 You shall not trouble them now,” replied Dr Elliot. “You shall not add to the distress of those women whom you have injured and deceived.” “ I deceived —I, Mark Elliot ? ’ cned Wynd, his rage now fairly overmastering his reason, “Do you presume to use this language to me—you, who have yourself deceived the beat and dearest woman in this house—you, her discarded lover, cast off for your infidelity—you, who courted Helen Musgrave with Mrs Fleming's kisses fresh upon your lips ?'' ‘•Oh! Dr Elliot! Mark! for Heaven’s sake !” cried Helen, who, having heard the sounds of altercation between the two men, had hastily descended from the room above, rushed to the open door, and now appeared in the porch. Hut she was too late. The instant that Ahr-1 Wy nil's last venomous words were spoken, Mark Elliot, maddened with fury, sprang at him, and, with all the force of his powerful arm, struck him full in the face. So strong and straight was tho blow that Abel Wynd was felled by it to tho ground. There ho lay for ft few moments stunned, while his enraged enemy stood over him, gazing upon him with mingled wrath and contempt. Helen was clinging to the arm which had struck that blow ; Mark Elliot intended no further violence, and he gently put her aside. “G i hack into the house,” hesaid ; “this wretched worm is safe from me. He will not dare to retaliate.”

Hut he waited for Dr Wynd to rise, and at last the miserable man staggered to his feet, quivering with rage and terror, his ashen face bruised and bleeding. “Oh!” he cried, shaking his trembling fiat at Murk, but increasing the distance between them, “you shall pay for this—you shall pay for this !’’ Dr Elliot, perceiving that his foe was slowly retreating in tho direction of the garden gate, now suffered himself to be led into the house by Helen, who then closed the door.

Though still full of anger, the fierce heat of his fury had subsided, and he soon became calm enough to listen to tire words of expostulation which Helen thou addrc-seid to him.

“ Dr Elliot,” she said, “ you were wrong to use such violence.”

“Was I?” ho replied bitterly. “Did you hear what that scoundrel said ?” “ I did,” answered Helen, in a low voice.

She looked at him for a moment, and sighed. Yes, she bad indeed heard those taunting words “ You courted Helen Mnsgrave with Mrs Fleming’s kisses fresh upon your lips !” And she almost rejoiced to have heard them, terrible as the consequence had been. For would he not now declare them to be an infamous falsehood ? But Marl: Elliot was silent. He, too, reflected that Helen had heard those slanderous words. Strange that they shou’d provoke from her no sign of indignation. Would she not even ask him what the villain meant ?

Then there was a painful pause. Mark gazed long and anxiously upon Helen’s face; but her eyes were averted from him. At lust he broke the silence.

“ Well,” he exclaimed, “have you nothing to say to me ?” Helen looked up, and replied : “ Nothing.” Then Dr Elliot turned away from her and left tho house. “ Oh !” cried Helen in her heart as she passed up to her father’s room, “why did he not speak—why did he not say it was a cruel lie V” ( To be. continued.)

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890810.2.35.2

Bibliographic details

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN., Evening Star, Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement

Word Count
3,452

PAID IN HIS OWN COIN. Evening Star, Issue 7982, 10 August 1889, Supplement

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