My name is Leicester; my father, Major-General Wyn Leicester, a distinguished officer of artillery, succumbed five years ago to a complicated liver complaint acquired in the deadly climate of India. A year later my only brother, Francis, came home after an exceptionally ...
My name is Leicester; my father, Major-General Wyn Leicester, a
distinguished officer of artillery, succumbed five years ago to a
complicated liver complaint acquired in the deadly climate of India. A
year later my only brother, Francis, came home after an exceptionally
brilliant career at the University, and settled down with the resolution
of a hermit to master what has been well called the great legend of the
law. He was a man who seemed to live in utter indifference to everything
that is called pleasure; and though he was handsomer than most men, and
could talk as merrily and wittily as if he were a mere vagabond, he
avoided society, and shut himself up in a large room at the top of the
house to make himself a lawyer. Ten hours a day of hard reading was at
first his allotted portion; from the first light in the east to the late
afternoon he remained shut up with his books, taking a hasty half-hour's
lunch with me as if he grudged the wasting of the moments, and going out
for a short walk when it began to grow dusk. I thought that such
relentless application must be injurious, and tried to cajole him from
the crabbed textbooks, but his ardour seemed to grow rather than
diminish, and his daily tale of hours increased. I spoke to him
seriously, suggesting some occasional relaxation, if it were but an idle
afternoon with a harmless novel; but he laughed, and said that he read
about feudal tenures when he felt in need of amusement, and scoffed at
the notions of theatres, or a month's fresh air. I confessed that he
looked well, and seemed not to suffer from his labours, but I knew that
such unnatural toil would take revenge at last, and I was not mistaken.
A look of anxiety began to lurk about his eyes, and he seemed languid,
and at last he avowed that he was no longer in perfect health; he was
troubled, he said, with a sensation of dizziness, and awoke now and then
of nights from fearful dreams, terrified and cold with icy sweats. "I am
taking care of myself," he said, "so you must not trouble; I passed the
whole of yesterday afternoon in idleness, leaning back in that
comfortable chair you gave me, and scribbling nonsense on a sheet of
paper. No, no; I will not overdo my work; I shall be well enough in a
week or two, depend upon it."
Yet in spite of his assurances I could see that he grew no better, but
rather worse; he would enter the drawing-room with a face all miserably
wrinkled and despondent, and endeavour to look gaily when my eyes fell
on him, and I thought such symptoms of evil omen, and was frightened
sometimes at the nervous irritation of his movements, and at glances
which I could not decipher. Much against his will, I prevailed on him to
have medical advice, and with an ill grace he called in our old doctor.
Dr. Haberden cheered me after examination of his patient.
"There is nothing really much amiss," he said to me. "No doubt he reads
too hard and eats hastily, and then goes back again to his books in too
great a hurry, and the natural sequence is some digestive trouble and a
little mischief in the nervous system. But I think--I do indeed,
Miss Leicester--that we shall be able to set this all right. I have
written him a prescription which ought to do great things. So you have
no cause for anxiety."