Page:Court Royal.djvu/154

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found, but that would entail a journey to Bath or Bristol. Dulcina, poor child, is so prostrated by her pains last night that I hardly like to move her so far. If you saw the sweet flower, you would say the same—so fragile, so fair, so languishing.’

‘You may rely on Vigurs,’ said the Archdeacon. ‘He has drawn many of my teeth and stopped others. Vigurs is quite a first-rate man.’

‘If the tooth be drawn, ether or nitrous oxide must be used. Can I trust this man to employ such means? My child’s life is too precious to be played with. She is my only child, heiress to all the fortune I have toiled for forty years to gain. She will be worth ten thousand a year after I am gone. Judge if the world can do without one so gifted. As for me, I live only for Dulcina. Were she to expire under nitrous oxide I should blow out my brains.’

‘Have perfect confidence in Vigurs. He is a man of note. This neighbourhood is well peopled with county families, and they all go to Vigurs in preference to London dentists. Where is your daughter now?’

‘She is at the White Hart. Miss Stokes, her aunt, is with her. She has administered soothing drops, and Dulcina is asleep. Poor soul, she needs repose after the torture of toothache or neuralgia. I do not pretend to determine which it is, but she has a carious molar. I have seen it. You are positive that Mr. Vigurs may be allowed to look at my daughter’s jaw?’

‘Positive. First-rate man, gentle as a lamb with ladies. Now Rigsby, as your daughter is asleep, spare me a few minutes to tell me something about yourself. You look well burnt like a coffee-berry, but hearty—more so than myself, who am but a creaking gate. Have you definitely left Ceylon?’

‘Yes; Dulcina and I came here to look at a house and park that is for sale. Dulcina and I intend to settle in the country. I have sold my estates in Ceylon, providentially before the coffee disease invaded the island, so that I sold them well, and the purchaser, not I, has been ruined, for which I cannot be too thankful. We like this county, and this part of the country. It is rich, well wooded, and there seem to be many gentlemen’s seats about. I cannot say that Shotley Park is quite to our taste, but we will think over it, and discuss it together when Dulcina’s tooth ceases to distract her. Poor dear, she can give her attention to nothing now but her tooth and the nerve that runs up into the head across the cheek from the jaw.’