'The Forlorn Hope' features the bohemian and turbulent life of a wealthy young man named Ramsay Caird. Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894) was a British journalist, novelist and dramatist. His first career was a clerk in the General Post Office, becoming in 1862 head of the missing letter department, and where he stayed until 1872. Meanwhile, he entered journalism, working on the 'Court Journal' and then 'Daily News', under Charles Dickens. In 1854 he published his first book 'My Haunts and their Frequenters', after which followed a succession of novels and plays.
Master and Pupil. Table of Contents
Duncan Forbes was given to exaggeration, as is the fashion of the day; but he had scarcely exaggerated the beauty of Burnside, even in the rapturous terms which he chose to employ in speaking of it. It was, indeed, a most lovely spot, standing on the summit of a high hill, wooded from base to crest, and with the silver Tay--now rushing over a hard pebbly bed, now softly flowing in a scarcely fathomable depth of still water through a deep ravine with towering rocks on either side--bubbling at its feet. From the higher windows--notably from the turret; and it was a queer rambling turreted house, without any preponderating style of architecture, but embracing, and that not unpicturesquely, a great many--you looked down upon the pretty little town of Dunkeld, with its broad bridge spanning the flood, and the gray old tower of its cathedral rearing itself aloft like a hoary giant athwart the horizon, and the trim lawn of the ducal residence in the distance--an oasis of culture in a desert of wildness, yet harmonising sufficiently with its surroundings. Sloping down the steep bank on which the house was placed, and overhanging the brawling river beneath, ran a broad gravel path, winding between the trees, which at certain points had been cut away to give the best views of the neighbouring scenery; and on this path, at an early hour on the morning succeeding the night on which Duncan Forbes had arrived at Kilsyth, two men were walking, engaged in earnest conversation. An old man one of them, but in the enjoyment of a vigorous old age: his back is bowed, and he uses a stick; but if you remark, he does not use it as a crutch, lifting it now and again to point his remark, or striking it on the ground to emphasize his decision. A tall old man, with long white hair flowing away from under the brim of his wideawake hat, with bright blue eyes and well-cut features, and a high forehead and white hands, with long lithe clever-looking fingers. Those eyes and fingers have done their work in their day, professionally and socially. Those eyes have looked into the eyes of youth and loveliness, and have read in them that in a few months their light would be quenched for ever; those fingers have clasped the beating pulses of seemingly full and vigorous manhood, and have recognised that the axe was laid at the root of the apparently tall and flourishing tree, and that in a little time it would topple headlong down. Those eyes "looked love to eyes that spake again;" those hands clasped hands that returned their clasp, and that trembled fondly and confidingly within them; that voice, professionally modulated to babble of sympathy, compassion, and hope, trembled with passion and whispered all its human aspirations into the trellised ear of beauty, once and once only. Looking at the old gentleman, so mild and gentle and benevolent, with his shirt-front sprinkled with snuff, and his old-fashioned black gaiters and his gouty shoes, you could hardly imagine that he was the hero of a scandal which five-and-thirty years before had rung through society, and given the Satirist, and other scurrilous publications of the time, matter for weeks and weeks of filthy comment. And yet it was so. Sir Saville Rowe (then Dr. Rowe), physician to one of the principal London hospitals, and even then a man of mark in his profession, was called in to attend a young lady who represented herself as a widow, and with whom, after a time, he fell desperately in love. For months he attended her through a trying illness, from which, under his care, she recovered. Then, when her recovery was complete, he confessed his passion, and they were engaged to be married. One night, within a very short time of the intended wedding, he called at her lodgings and found a man there, a coarse slangy blackguard, who, after a few words, abruptly proclaimed himself to be the lady's husband, and demanded compensation for his outraged honour. Words ensued; and more than words: the man--half-drunk, all bully--struck the doctor; and Rowe, who was a powerful man, and who was mad with rage at what he imagined was a conspiracy, returned the blows with interest. The police were summoned, and Rowe was hauled off to the station-house; but on the following day the prosecutor was not forthcoming, and the doctor was liberated. The scandal spread, and ruffians battened on it, as they ever will; but Dr. Rowe's courage and professional skill enabled him to live it down; and when, two years after, in going round a hospitalward with his pupils, he came upon his old love at the verge of death, his heart, which he thought had been sufficiently steeled, gave way within him, and once more he set himself to the task of curing her. He did all that could be done; had her removed to a quiet suburban cottage, tended by the most experienced nurses, never grudged one moment of his time to visit her constantly; but it was too late: hard living and brutal treatment had done their work; and Dr. Rowe's only love died in his arms, imploring Heaven's blessings on him. That wound in his life, deep as it was, has long since cicatrised and healed over, leaving a scar which was noticeable to very few long before he attained to the first rank in his profession and received the titular reward of his services to royalty. He has for some time retired from active practice, though he will still meet in consultation some old pupil or former colleague; but he takes life easily now, passing the season in London, the autumn in Scotland, and the winter at Torquay; in all of which places he finds old friends chattable and kindly, who help him to while away the pleasant autumn of his life.
The other man is about eight-and-thirty, with keen bright brown eyes, a broad brow, straight nose, thin lips, and heavy jaw, indicative of firmness, not to say obstinacy; a tall man with stooping shoulders, and a look of quiet placid attention in his face; with a slim figure, a jerky walk, and a habit of clasping his hands behind his back, and leaning forward as though listening; a man likely to invite notice at first sight from his unmistakable earnestness and intellect, otherwise a quiet gentlemanly man, whose profession it was impossible to assign, yet who was obviously a man of mark in his way. This was Chudleigh Wilmot, who was looked upon by those who ought to know as the coming man in the London medical profession; whose lectures were to be attended before those of any other professor at St. Vitus's Hospital; whose contributions on fever cases to the Scalpel had given the Times subject-matter for a leader, in which he had been most honourably mentioned; and who was commencing to reap the harvest of honour and profit which accrues to the fortunate few. He is an old pupil of Sir Saville Rowe's, and there is no one in whose company the old gentleman has greater delight.
"Smoke, Chudleigh, smoke! Light up at once. I know you're dying to have your cigar, and daren't out of deference to me. Fancy I'm your master still, don't you?"
"Not a bit of it, old friend. I've given up after-breakfast smoking as a rule, because, you see, that delightful bell in Charles-street begins to ring about a quarter to ten, and--"
"So much the better. Let them ring. They were knockers in my day, and I recollect how delighted I used to be at every rap. But there's no one to ring or knock here; and so you may take your cigar quietly. I've been longing for this time; longing to have what the people about here call a 'crack' with you--impossible while those other men were here; but now I've got you all to myself."
"Yes," said Wilmot, who by this time had lighted his cigar--"yes, and you'll have me all to yourself for the next four days; that is to say, if you will."
"If I will! Is there any thing in the world could give me greater pleasure? I get young again, talking to you, Chudleigh. I mind me of the time when you used to come to lecture, a great raw boy, with, I should say, the dirtiest hands and the biggest note-book in the whole hospital." And the old gentleman chuckled at his reminiscence.
"Well, I've managed to wash the first, and to profit by the manner in which I filled the second from your lectures," said Wilmot, not without a blush.
"Not a bit, not a bit," interposed Sir Saville; "you would have done well enough without any lectures of mine, though I'm glad to think that in that celebrated question of anæsthetics you stuck by me, and enabled me triumphantly to defeat Macpherson of Edinburgh. That was a great triumph for us, that was! Dear me, when I think of the charlatans! Eh, well, never mind; I'm out of all that now. So, you have a few days more, you were saying, and you're going to give them up to me."
"Nothing will please me so much. Because, you see, I shall make it a combination of pleasure and business. There are several things on which I want to consult you,--points which I have reserved from time to time, and on which I can get no such opinion as yours. I'm not due in town until the 3d of next month. Whittaker, who has taken my practice, doesn't leave until the 5th, which is a Sunday, and even then only goes as far as Guildford, to a place he's taken for some pheasant-shooting; a nice, close, handy place, where Mrs. Whittaker can accompany him. She thinks he's so fascinating, that she does not like to let him out of her sight."
"Whittaker! Whittaker!" said Sir Saville; "is it a bald man with a cock-eye?--used to be at Bartholomew's."
"That's the man! He's in first-rate practice now, and deservedly, for he's thoroughly clever and reliable; but his beauty has not improved by time. However, Mrs. Whittaker doesn't see that; and it's with the greatest difficulty he ever gets permission to attend a lady's...