BOOK III. WAITING FOR DEATH.
26. CHAPTER XXVI.
"He beats me and I rail at him: O worthy satisfaction! would it
were otherwise--that I could beat him while he railed at me.--"
--Troilus and Cressida.
But Fred did not go to Stone Court the next day, for reasons that
were quite peremptory. From those visits to unsanitary Houndsley
streets in search of Diamond, he had brought back not only a bad
bargain in horse-flesh, but the further misfortune of some ailment
which for a day or two had deemed mere depression and headache,
but which got so much worse when he returned from his visit to Stone
Court that, going into the dining-room, he threw himself on the sofa,
and in answer to his mother's anxious question, said, "I feel very ill:
I think you must send for Wrench."
Wrench came, but did not apprehend anything serious, spoke of a
"slight derangement," and did not speak of coming again on the morrow.
He had a due value for the Vincys' house, but the wariest men are apt
to be dulled by routine, and on worried mornings will sometimes go
through their business with the zest of the daily bell-ringer.
Mr. Wrench was a small, neat, bilious man, with a well-dressed wig:
he had a laborious practice, an irascible temper, a lymphatic wife
and seven children; and he was already rather late before setting out
on a four-miles drive to meet Dr. Minchin on the other side of Tipton,
the decease of Hicks, a rural practitioner, having increased Middlemarch
practice in that direction. Great statesmen err, and why not small
medical men? Mr. Wrench did not neglect sending the usual white parcels,
which this time had black and drastic contents. Their effect was
not alleviating to poor Fred, who, however, unwilling as he said
to believe that he was "in for an illness," rose at his usual easy
hour the next morning and went down-stairs meaning to breakfast,
but succeeded in nothing but in sitting and shivering by the fire.
Mr. Wrench was again sent for, but was gone on his rounds,
and Mrs. Vincy seeing her darling's changed looks and general misery,
began to cry and said she would send for Dr. Sprague.
"Oh, nonsense, mother! It's nothing," said Fred, putting out his
hot dry hand to her, "I shall soon be all right. I must have taken
cold in that nasty damp ride."