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|The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices||Charles Dickens|
|Page 6 of 22||
'Mr. Goodchild's friend has met with accident, Lorn,' said Doctor Speddie. 'We want the lotion for a bad sprain.'
'My dear fellow, you are more than usually absent to-night. The lotion for a bad sprain.'
'Ah! yes! Directly.'
He was evidently relieved to turn away, and to take his white face and his wild eyes to a table in a recess among the bottles. But, though he stood there, compounding the lotion with his back towards them, Goodchild could not, for many moments, withdraw his gaze from the man. When he at length did so, he found the Doctor observing him, with some trouble in his face. 'He is absent,' explained the Doctor, in a low voice. 'Always absent. Very absent.'
'Is he ill?'
'No, not ill.'
'I have my suspicions that he was,' assented the Doctor, 'once.'
Francis Goodchild could not but observe that the Doctor accompanied these words with a benignant and protecting glance at their subject, in which there was much of the expression with which an attached father might have looked at a heavily afflicted son. Yet, that they were not father and son must have been plain to most eyes. The Assistant, on the other hand, turning presently to ask the Doctor some question, looked at him with a wan smile as if he were his whole reliance and sustainment in life.
It was in vain for the Doctor in his easy-chair, to try to lead the mind of Mr. Goodchild in the opposite easy-chair, away from what was before him. Let Mr. Goodchild do what he would to follow the Doctor, his eyes and thoughts reverted to the Assistant. The Doctor soon perceived it, and, after falling silent, and musing in a little perplexity, said:
'My dear Doctor.'
'Would you go to the Inn, and apply that lotion? You will show the best way of applying it, far better than Mr. Goodchild can.'
The Assistant took his hat, and passed like a shadow to the door.
'Lorn!' said the Doctor, calling after him.
'Mr. Goodchild will keep me company till you come home. Don't hurry. Excuse my calling you back.'
'It is not,' said the Assistant, with his former smile, 'the first time you have called me back, dear Doctor.' With those words he went away.
'Mr. Goodchild,' said Doctor Speddie, in a low voice, and with his former troubled expression of face, 'I have seen that your attention has been concentrated on my friend.'
'He fascinates me. I must apologise to you, but he has quite bewildered and mastered me.'
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