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My Lady Ludlow Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter V.

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"The doctor was, I should think, a clever man; but he had that kind of abrupt manner which people get who have much to do with the lower orders.

"I told him the story of his patient, the interest I had in her, and the wish I entertained of removing her to my own house.

"'It can't be done,' said he. 'Any change will kill her.'

"'But it must be done,' I replied. 'And it shall not kill her.'

"'Then I have nothing more to say,' said he, turning away from the carriage door, and making as though he would go back into the house.

"'Stop a moment. You must help me; and, if you do, you shall have reason to be glad, for I will give you fifty pounds down with pleasure. If you won't do it, another shall.'

"He looked at me, then (furtively) at the carriage, hesitated, and then said: 'You do not mind expense, apparently. I suppose you are a rich lady of quality. Such folks will not stick at such trifles as the life or death of a sick woman to get their own way. I suppose I must e'en help you, for if I don't, another will.'

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"I did not mind what he said, so that he would assist me. I was pretty sure that she was in a state to require opiates; and I had not forgotten Christopher Sly, you may be sure, so I told him what I had in my head. That in the dead of night--the quiet time in the streets,--she should be carried in a hospital litter, softly and warmly covered over, from the Leicester Square lodging-house to rooms that I would have in perfect readiness for her. As I planned, so it was done. I let Clement know, by a note, of my design. I had all prepared at home, and we walked about my house as though shod with velvet, while the porter watched at the open door. At last, through the darkness, I saw the lanterns carried by my men, who were leading the little procession. The litter looked like a hearse; on one side walked the doctor, on the other Clement; they came softly and swiftly along. I could not try any farther experiment; we dared not change her clothes; she was laid in the bed in the landlady's coarse night-gear, and covered over warmly, and left in the shaded, scented room, with a nurse and the doctor watching by her, while I led Clement to the dressing-room adjoining, in which I had had a bed placed for him. Farther than that he would not go; and there I had refreshments brought. Meanwhile, he had shown his gratitude by every possible action (for we none of us dared to speak): he had kneeled at my feet, and kissed my hand, and left it wet with his tears. He had thrown up his arms to Heaven, and prayed earnestly, as I could see by the movement of his lips. I allowed him to relieve himself by these dumb expressions, if I may so call them,--and then I left him, and went to my own rooms to sit up for my lord, and tell him what I had done.

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My Lady Ludlow
Elizabeth Gaskell

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