"Where is your husband?" was his
"Waiting at the public-house,
Sir, till the hour is up."
"You can take him the money or
not, as you think right," said Kirke, quietly. "I have only one thing to tell
you, so far as your husband is concerned. If you want to see every bone in his
skin broken let him come to the house while I am in it. Stop! I have something
more to say. Do you know of any doctor in the neighborhood who can be depended
"Not in our neighborhood, Sir.
But I know of one within half an hour's walk of us?"
"Take the cab at the door, and if
you find him at home bring him back in it. Say I am waiting here for his opinion
on a very serious case. He shall be well paid, and you shall be well paid. Make
The woman left the room.
Kirke sat down alone to wait for
her return. He hid his face in his hands, and tried to realize the strange and
touching situation in which the accidentsof a moment had placed him.
Hidden in the squalid by-ways of
London, under a false name, cast, friendless and helpless, on the mercy of
strangers by illness which had struck her prostrate, mind and body alike, so he
met her again, the woman who had opened a new world of beauty to his mind—the
woman who had called Love to life in him by a look! What horrible misfortune had
struck her so cruelly, and struck her so low? What mysterious destiny had guided
him to the last refuge of her poverty and despair in the hour of her sorest
need? "If it is ordered that I am to see her again I shall see her." Those words
came back to him now—the memorable words that he had spoken to his sister at
parting. With that thought in his heart he had gone where his duty waited for
him. Months and months had passed; thousands and thousands of miles, protracting
their desolate length on the unresting waters, had rolled between them. And
through the lapse of time, and over the waste of oceans, day after day, and
night after night, as the winds of heaven blew, and the good ship toiled on
before them, he had advanced nearer and nearer to the end that was waiting for
him—he had journeyed blindfold to the meeting on the threshold of that miserable
door. "What has brought me here?" he said to himself in a whisper. "The mercy of
chance? No! The mercy of God."
He waited, unregardful of the
place, unconscious of the time, until the sound of footsteps on the stairs came
suddenly between him and his thoughts. The door opened, and the doctor was shown
into the room.
"Dr. Merrick," said the landlady,
placing a chair for him.
"Mr. Merrick," said the visitor,